Our Test Systems and 3DMark06
HOW WE CONFIGURED THE TEST SYSTEMS: We tested all of the graphics cards used in this article on either an EVGA nForce 680i SLI motherboard (NVIDIA GPUs) or an Asus P5E3 Deluxe (ATI GPUs) powered by a Core 2 Extreme QX6850 quad-core processor and 2GB of low-latency Corsair RAM. The first thing we did when configuring the test systems was enter their respective BIOSes and set all values to their "optimized" or "performance" default settings. Then we manually configured the memory timings and disabled any integrated peripherals that wouldn't be put to use. The hard drive was then formatted, and Windows Vista Ultimate was installed. When the installation was complete we fully updated the OS, and installed the latest DX10 redist and various hotfixes along with the necessary drivers and applications.
Video Cards -
Hard Drive -
Video Drivers -
Synthetic (DX) -
Windows Vista Ultimate
NVIDIA Forceware v169.09/v169.28
ATI Catalyst Bets v8.451
Company of Heros - DX10
Crysis - DX10
Half Life 2: Episode 2*
Enemy Territory: Quake Wars*
* - Custom Test
(HH Exclusive demo)
Performance Comparisons with 3DMark06 v1.0.2 Details: www.futuremark.com/products/3dmark06
3DMark06 is the most recent addition to the 3DMark franchise. This version differs from 3Dmark05 in a number of ways, and includes not only Shader Model 2.0 tests, but Shader Model 3.0 and HDR tests as well. Some of the assets from 3DMark05 have been re-used, but the scenes are now rendered with much more geometric detail and the shader complexity is vastly increased as well. Max shader length in 3DMark05 was 96 instructions, while 3DMark06 ups that number to 512. 3DMark06 also employs much more lighting and there is extensive use of soft shadows. With 3DMark06, Futuremark has also updated how the final score is tabulated. In this latest version of the benchmark, SM 2.0 and HDR / SM3.0 tests are weighted and the CPU score is factored into the final tally as well.
For reference, we've included a Radeon HD 3870 CrossFire benchmark scores in our graphs. Please take note, however, that this is the ONLY dual-card setup represented in the results.
As you can see, the new Radeon HD 3870 X2 clearly outperforms every other single-card setup in 3DMark06, and finished essentially right on par with the dual-card Radeon HD 3870 CrossFire setup.
Drilling down into 3DMark06's individual Shader Model 2.0 and Shader Model 3.0 / HDR test results, we see the same performance trend. In both tests, the Radeon HD 3870 X2 was as fast as the Radeon HD 3870 CrossFire setup, and measurably faster than any of the other single-card configurations.