Here is where we begin the benchmark portion of this article, but first let me show you our test system plus the software we used.
MSI X58 Big Bang XPower
Core i7 965 @ 3750 MHz
GeForce GTX 560 Palit Sonic Platinum - 1024MB
6144 MB (3x 2048 MB) DDR3 Corsair @ 1500 MHz
Power Supply Unit
Dell 3007WFP - up to 2560x1600
OS related software
Windows 7 RTM 64-bit DirectX 9/10 End User Runtime ATI Catalyst 11.4 NVIDIA GeForce series 275.20 driver
Software benchmark suite
Battlefield Bad Company 2
Colin McRae Dirt 2
Far Cry 2
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
A word about 'FPS'
What are we looking for in gaming, performance wise? First off, obviously Guru3D tends to think that all games should be played at the best image quality (IQ) possible. There's a dilemma though, IQ often interferes with the performance of a graphics card. We measure this in FPS, the number of frames a graphics card can render per second, the higher it is the more fluently your game will display itself.
A game's frames per second (FPS) is a measured average of a series of tests. That test is often a time demo, a recorded part of the game which is a 1:1 representation of the actual game and its gameplay experience. After forcing the same image quality settings; this time-demo is then used for all graphics cards so that the actual measuring is as objective as can be.
Frames per second
very limited gameplay
average yet very playable
best possible gameplay
So if a graphics card barely manages less than 30 FPS, then the game is not very playable, we want to avoid that at all cost.
With 30 FPS up-to roughly 40 FPS you'll be very able to play the game with perhaps a tiny stutter at certain graphically intensive parts. Overall a very enjoyable experience. Match the best possible resolution to this result and you'll have the best possible rendering quality versus resolution, hey you want both of them to be as high as possible.
When a graphics card is doing 60 FPS on average or higher then you can rest assured that the game will likely play extremely smoothly at every point in the game, turn on every possible in-game IQ setting.
Over 100 FPS? You either have a MONSTER graphics card or a very old game.
Setup your monitor first
Before playing games, setting up your monitor's contrast & brightness levels is a very important thing to do. I realized recently that a lot of you guys have set up your monitor improperly. How do we know this? Because we receive a couple of emails every now and then telling us that a reader can't distinguish between the benchmark charts (colors) in our reviews. We realized, if that happens, your monitor is not properly set up.
This simple test pattern is evenly spaced from 0 to 255 brightness levels, with no profile embedded. If your monitor is correctly set up, you should be able to distinguish each step, and each step should be visually distinct from its neighbors by the same amount. Also, the dark-end step differences should be about the same as the light-end step differences. Finally, the first step should be completely black.
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