|MSI N460GTX Cyclone 1GD5/OC Video Card|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Video Cards|
|Written by Bruce Normann|
|Wednesday, 11 August 2010|
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3DMark Vantage Performance Tests
3DMark Vantage is a computer benchmark by Futuremark (formerly named Mad Onion) to determine the DirectX 10 performance of 3D game performance with graphics cards. A 3DMark score is an overall measure of your system's 3D gaming capabilities, based on comprehensive real-time 3D graphics and processor tests. By comparing your score with those submitted by millions of other gamers you can see how your gaming rig performs, making it easier to choose the most effective upgrades or finding other ways to optimize your system.
There are two graphics tests in 3DMark Vantage: Jane Nash (Graphics Test 1) and New Calico (Graphics Test 2). The Jane Nash test scene represents a large indoor game scene with complex character rigs, physical GPU simulations, multiple dynamic lights, and complex surface lighting models. It uses several hierarchical rendering steps, including for water reflection and refraction, and physics simulation collision map rendering. The New Calico test scene represents a vast space scene with lots of moving but rigid objects and special content like a huge planet and a dense asteroid belt.
At Benchmark Reviews, we believe that synthetic benchmark tools are just as valuable as video games, but only so long as you're comparing apples to apples. Since the same test is applied in the same controlled method with each test run, 3DMark is a reliable tool for comparing graphic cards against one-another.
1680x1050 is rapidly becoming the new 1280x1024. More and more widescreen are being sold with new systems or as upgrades to existing ones. Even in tough economic times, the tide cannot be turned back; screen resolution and size will continue to creep up. Using this resolution as a starting point, the maximum settings were applied to 3DMark Vantage include 8x Anti-Aliasing, 16x Anisotropic Filtering, all quality levels at Extreme, and Post Processing Scale at 1:2.
3DMark Vantage GPU Test: Jane Nash
Our first test shows the GTX460 placed right where NVIDIA wants it, just ahead of the ATI HD 5830. The MSI N460GTX Cyclone is overclocked from the factory, by about 7.5% (+50MHz), and I am also showing the results from a more substantial overclock of 25%, to 850 MHz on the core. When overclocked by 25%, the N460GTX outperforms the HD 5850 by over 8%. All the results are very even and linear, just the way synthetic benchmarks are supposed to be. The only hitch in the graph is caused by the older GT200-based cards, which I am including for reference in case you want to see whether it's worth upgrading. The synthetic results overwhelmingly say, Yes.
At 1920x1200 native resolution, things look much the same as they did at the lower screen size; just the absolute values are lower, the ranking stays the same. One thing you may have noticed is how well the HD 5830 does on this test, compared to the HD 5770. That issue has been beat to death, but I mention it to demonstrate that the N460GTX beats the HD 5830 even when it has everything going for it. The 5870 is the only card that can break 30FPS at this resolution, and it's pretty obvious as the test plays out on the screen. All the lower choices seem choppy by comparison. Let's take a look at test#2, which has a lot more surfaces to render, with all those asteroids flying around the doomed planet New Calico.
3DMark Vantage GPU Test: New Calico
In the medium resolution New Calico test, the slightly overclocked MSI N460GTX Cyclone does so well that it edges out an ATI HD 5850 with base clocks. That's an impressive feat for a card in this price range. The higher overclock results show that synthetic performance scales linearly with higher clock rates, just as you would suspect. Even though the 850 MHz GTX 460 gets within 4 FPS to a highly overclocked HD 5870, it still takes a 1.0 GHz Cypress core to get over 30 FPS in this benchmark, which shows how tough this test really is.
At a higher screen resolution of 1920x1200, the N460GTX Cyclone with its mild factory OC keeps a slim lead over the HD 5850, less than 1 FPS. Again, an increase in Core and Shader clocks for the GTX 460 provides a roughly 1:1 increase in frame rates. Even the fastest single GPU cards have trouble rendering this scene, with an average frame rate in the mid 20s. Soon this benchmark suite may be replaced with DX11-based tests, but in the fading days of DX10 it has been a very reliable benchmark for high-end video cards.
We need to look at some actual gaming performance to verify these results, so let's take a look in the next section, at how these cards stack up in the standard bearer for gaming benchmarks, Crysis.