TECHNOLOGY X TESTING PROTOCOL
At Technology X, we test our graphics cards slightly different depending on the purpose of the product, whether it’s for an entry level user or if its for an extreme gamer. Throughout all of our testing, we ensure that our system has been optimized with our SSD Optimization Guide. Benchmarks of the products we test are that of brand new products. This means that the product has not been used previously, except possibly for some initial testing performed by the manufacturer. The purpose of this is so that we can verify that the manufacturer’s specifications match the product. Additionally, we also try to include links to the benchmarks used in our report so that you, as the reader, can replicate our tests to confirm that your graphics cards is as awesome as it should be!
This Test Bench build was the result of some great relationships and purchases; our appreciation goes to the below mentioned manufacturers for their support in our project. All of the components we use for testing and evaluation can be easily purchased at a relatively affordable price. The links provided below can assist in pricing, as well as availability for those of you who may find interest in our equipment.
|PC CHASSIS:||Cooler Master CM Strom Stryker Chassis|
|MOTHERBOARD:||ASUS P8Z77-V Premium Motherboard|
|CPU:||Intel i7 3770K CPU|
|CPU COOLER:||Corsair H100 CPU Cooler|
|POWER SUPPLY:||be quiet! Dark power Pro 850W|
|SYSTEM COOLING:||be quiet! Silent Wings 2 Chassis Fan|
|MEMORY:||Crucial Ballistix Dual Channel DDR3 Memory|
When we test various PC hardware, we like to use benchmarks that are really available for you to download and test for yourself. In our analysis today we will be using 3DMark and FurMark, while also measuring the performance of the card while running a variety of games. During the game we run FRAPS, which is a useful tool for measuring and logging the FPS (frames per second). We’ll also do some overclocking using Zotac’s software, and will validate our settings using FurMark for stability and thermal testing. The games will be running include Crysis 3, Tomb Raider (2013), Grand Theft Auto V, Witcher 3, and this time we also threw in Heroes of The Storm.
What about the new drivers? Well you could let Windows go online and find the driver for you and leave it at that. However, it is a better idea to install the driver from the manufactures website. With NVIDIA, you can also download a new tool called NVIDIA GeForce Experience. This easy to use tool manages your graphics card driver and keeps it up to date. You can even set it to update your card to the newest beta drivers, however this is not recommended for new users.
OVERCLOCKING AND COOLING PERFORMANCE
As we previously covered with the ZOTAC GeForce GTX 970 AMP!, Firestorm is Zotac’s custom graphics card overclocking, tuning, and monitoring utility, which makes it easy to fine-tine your graphics card’s performance and get the most out of your hardware.
As a standard though, most overclockers use MSI’s Afterburner. In this case, we used the latter to overclock this GTX 980. Overall, the overclocking process is easy, we slowly increased the Core Clock Rate by 10 MHz. Once we have a stable Core Clock Rate, we adjusted the Memory Clock Rate the same way, until the card runs stable without seeing artifacts and crashing. At the end we reached a Boost Clock increase from the stock 1266MHz to 1436MHz, and a Memory Clock increase from 7010MHz to 7480MHz. This represent about a 7.5% increase in theoretical performance, we’ll see in our tests if this is represented in actual game tests.
Disclaimer: Essentially Tech Media Corp. takes no responsibility for any damage caused to your graphics card by overclocking. This is, by no means, a guide to overclocking a graphics card.
GPU-Z is a very simple, easy to use tool that can provide you with a bunch of information about your graphics card. This utility is very easy to read, and to use as you can easily see the actually GPU, sub vendor, bus interface, driver version, memory size, GPU clock frequency and more. It can even determine whether you are running a single GPU or multiple GPUs in your system. This small utility can tell you more about your gprahics card than you will ever need to know.
To test our GPU’s cooling and validate our overclock we use FurMark’s ‘Burn-In Test’ at 1080p. This is an incredibly strenuous benchmark and will top out our GPU’s thermal limits, allowing us to test its cooler’s capacity. While all tests were done, our Ambient Temperature was approximately 27C, with our Intake Air Temperature floating just above that at around 28C. We let the Burn-In Test run fully for 30 minutes before recording our final temperature results.
Our cooling test shows that the triple-cooling design is fairly efficient. With the overclock, the card reached a maximum temperature of 81C, while this is acceptable, it is a bit higher than we would like to see. Especially considering that it was about 53C higher than the air intake temperature. We doubt that this will impact performance though, let’s take a look through our benchmark tests to see how this card makes out.
FUTUREMARK 3D MARK – FIRE STRIKE
Fire Strike is a graphics-intesive test that pushes your graphics card to the limit. It is highly unrecommended to use this test on anything other than a dedicated graphics card. Watch carefully as the hero fights off a lava guardian-type villain, and witness massive fight scenes that take place over platforms only feet away from lava. Fire Strike is a DirectX 11 benchmark for higher-performance gaming PC’s and overclocked systems. Fire Strike is very demanding, even for the latest graphics cards.
To compare, the ZOTAC GTX 970 AMP! Omega Core Edition scored in at 10146 for it’s stock clock test, and 10787 when overclocked. The ZOTAC GTX 980 AMP! well exceeded this, and rightfully so – it’s the latest of Nvidia’s GPU microarchitectures. Overclocking this card is a definite option, producing over an 11% increase in performance from the stock clock speeds!