The hardware chosen was picked to reflect that of a relatively modern computer system that an enthusiast may own. The configuration of the system is as follows:
A base Windows 7 Professional 64-bit install is used for the operating system. Non-essential services including Fax, Windows Defender, Windows Search, Windows Update were disabled, as they can affect testing results.
All tests were performed 5 times each, and the average of all test runs were used as the results.
Note: Unless specified, the video cards used for comparison purposes were all clocked at the stock speeds of the reference design of the GPU. This means factory overclocked video cards were downclocked.
Unigine is a real time 3D engine supporting DirectX 11 rendering features. Heaven is the name of the benchmarking tool using the Unigine engine. Looking at current DirectX 11 games, it looks like there is a strong focus on pushing the realism envelope with the use of tessellation, and Heaven can be used to test performance when tessellation is used heavily. In our test, we maxed out all of the settings, including "extreme tessellation". Compared to the last generation single GPU leaders from AMD and nVidia, the Radeon HD 6970 and GeForce GTX 580 respectively, the Radeon HD 7870 squeeks out on top. Diamond's Double Black Diamond adds a bit more performance on top of that.
Futuremark's 3DMark 11 is a the latest benchmark from a long running series which tests the performance of the new features in DirectX 11, including tessellation, Shader Model 5.0 and multi-threading. It presents the results of its series of sub-tests with an aggregate score. While the Radeon HD 7870 didn't come out on top, it was able to match the score of its predecessor the Radeon HD 6970. Diamond's Double Black Diamond edition of the 7870 scored about 80 points higher than the reference clocked version of the card.