|PowerColor AX6990 4GBD5-M4D Video Card|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Video Cards|
|Written by Bruce Normann|
|Sunday, 20 March 2011|
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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 synthetic test shows the base HD 6990 configuration establishing a firm lead over all the other graphics cards. This is in the 830 MHz configuration; we'll look at the "overclocked" settings later. These synthetic tests really thrive on shaders, the more the better. There's a catch, though as the new VLIW4 shaders in the HD 6000 series is more efficient than the VLIW5 units in the HD 5000 series, So despite the fact that the CrossFireX combination of HD 5870 cards brings 3200 shaders to the party, the HD 6990 with only 3072 shaders tops it, operating with a 45 MHz core clock deficit no less. The top 3 performers in this test all have a combination of 64 ROP units on the back end, which equalizes their performance somewhat. It's a bit surprising to see the HD 6870 duo doing so well, but the 6870 has some unique talents that help it to keep up with its bigger brothers in some benchmarks.
At 1920x1200 native resolution, things are much the same as the lower screen size; just the absolute values are lower, the ranking stays the same. Once again, the PowerColor Radeon HD 6990 puts on a stellar performance. This benchmark was running smooth as silk with the 6990, even at its lower clock rate of 830 MHz for the core.
Let's take a look at test #2 now, 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 GeForce cards show a little extra muscle, particularly the GTX 460 SLI pairing which jumps into third place ahead of the HD 6870 CrossFireX duo. The PowerColor Radeon HD 6990 pulls way ahead, which is exactly what I would expect, based on the cards I used in this comparison.
At the higher screen resolution of 1920x1200, the PowerColor HD 6990 once again comes out swinging and leaves the lower-spec cards gasping for air. The consistent performance gains that the 6990 shows over a CrossFireX pair of HD 5870 cards is a good sign that the architecture improvements of the HD 6000 series are working well. Don't forget, these are the 830 MHz (keep my warrantee) numbers for the Radeon HD 6990. We'll look at the overclocked performance later in the article.
Our next test is a relatively new one for Benchmark Reviews. It's a DirectX 10 game with all the stops pulled out. Just Cause 2 uses a brand new game engine called Avalanche Engine 2.0, which enabled the developers to create games of epic scale and with great variation across genres and artistic styles, for the next generation of gaming experiences. Sounds like fun, let's take a look...