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So just how fast is NVIDIA's Fermi graphics card? We find out.

by Tarinder Sandhu on 19 January 2010, 16:56


Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qavpm

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The competition

AMD Radeon HD 5870

To gain some idea of comparative performance, we ran the Radeon card in our labs on the latest drivers, keeping the settings identical. NVIDIA used an Intel Core i7 960 with Windows 7 and 6GB of RAM. We used the slightly faster 975 EE for the AMD box, but retesting with a '960 showed no real difference in the scores.

PowerColor Radeon HD 5870 PCS+ 1,024MB - click to enlarge

The card is a slightly overclocked Radeon HD 5870 from PowerColor, running at 875MHz core and 4,900MHz memory. The build of Far Cry 2 we used was v1.3.

The results show that, with the same settings, the card scores an average frame-rate of 65.84fps with a maximum of 136.47fps (we can kind of ignore this as it's the first frame) and a minimum of 40.40fps - rising to 48.40fps on the highest of three runs.

It's understandably difficult to draw accurate comparisons when we don't know the exact configuration of the NVIDIA system, but taking the company at its word about Fermi suggests that there's plenty of horsepower, propelled by the 3bn-transistor design.

Far Cry 2 generally shows good scaling with extra compute power, yet NVIDIA wanted to show what Fermi could do when games' engines were particularly suited to its architecture.

AMD Radeon HD 5970

The same test but with a stock-clocked Radeon HD 5970 in situ.

Sapphire Radeon HD 5970 2,048MB - click to enlarge

Average frame-rate increases to 99.79fps with the dual-GPU card, beating out Fermi handily. Maximum frame-rate is 133.52fps and minimum is 76.42fps. It's hard to beat the sheer grunt of AMD's finest, clearly.

Further, changing the speed of the supporting CPU does little to influence performance here.