Gaming Video Cards for a Steal: The GeForce GTX 560 & Radeon HD 6870 at $150

Performance Test Platform

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:

  • Intel Core i7 2700k @ 4.5GHz (overclocked)
  • ASRock Z68 Extreme3 motherboard
  • G.Skill Sniper 2x4GB DDR3-1600 memory kit
  • Crucial m4 128GB solid state drive
  • Liteon iHAS124B SATA DVD-writer
  • Thermaltake Level 10 GT (Snow White)
  • Corsair H100 Liquid CPU Cooler

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.

Video Card Drivers

  • XFX Radeon HD 6870 (HD687AZHFC): Catalyst 12.3
  • Zotac GeForce GTX 560 (ZT-50708-10H): ForceWare 296.10 

Performance Testing Results: Synthetic Benchmarks

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".  Most of the sub-tests were choppy, evident with the low minimum framerates of 9-10fps and average framerates close to 20fps.  The Radeon HD 6870 held a slight lead over the GTX 560.

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.  Testing using  Extreme level settings, the 6870 beats the GTX 560 by 5%.