A few days ago I’ve written that my second GeForce GTX 580 video card has died, but now thanks to support from Nvidia I got the issue resolved and a replacement card, so I’m back with a working SLI setup and thus I was able to finish testing with the new Sandy Bridge platform. In the previous article Intel Sandy Bridge Plus SLI for Stereo 3D Gaming with 3D Vision I’ve compared the older Asus Sabertooth P55 motherboard with an Intel Core i5 750 processor overclocked at 4GHz along with the two GTX 580s in SLI to the newer Asus Sabertooth P67 (Sandy Bridge) motherboard with Intel Core i5 2500K running at 5 GHz. In the previous tests however the focus was the CPU and motherboard and what benefits are there in terms of performance increase for gaming in 2D (plain 3D) as well as in stereo 3D mode. But I’ve went further by overclocking the two GTX 580 video cards and repeated the tests to measure the additional performance increase you can get besides just overclocking the processor and changing the platform…
The two GeForce GTX 580 video cards in SLI were with GPUs overclocked from 772 MHz to 950 MHz or that is 170 MHz increase of the default frequencies for both. And the working frequency of the memory was overclocked from the default 4008 MHz to 4850 MHz which is a bit pushing it, but is easily achievable when using water cooling, because operating temperatures remain quite low even under high load for long time. Of course the system is already with an overclocked Intel Core i5 2500K processor running at 5GHz and in the tables below you can see a comparison between the results achieved with the processor at default and at 5 GHz with the video cards not overclocked and with 5GHz with the VGAs also overclocked.
Starting with popular synthetic benchmark 3DMark 2006, the performance increase here is quite small after overclocking the GPUs, but that is to be expected as this test is more CPU dependent than GPU limited. The newer 3DMark 11 that is heavily relying on the video card is showing much better performance increase as expected…
After overclocking the video cards in the game tests in 2D mode (plain 3D) the increase is not that significant, but here we already have high enough average framerate with about 100 fps for the more demanding games and even more with not so heavy titles.
Moving to the game benchmark in stereo 3D mode, after overclocking the two video cards and with the processor at 5GHz almost all games are hitting average framerate of 60 fps per eye, except for Just Cause 2 and Metro 2033. These two titles that are a bit more demanding when played with high detail settings do show much higher performance increase after overclocking the GPUs as compared to overclocking the CPU only. But still with them you may need to sacrifice a bit of extra details or effects to get an average fps of about 60 frames per eye in stereo 3D mode, not that with an average of 40 fps per eye these games are unplayable, on the contrary, but yo would expect a bit more with such a high-end system that is also decently overclocked to get the maximum performance out of it for stereoscopic 3D gaming in Full HD resolution with maxed out detail levels and even some AA enabled in games to smooth out the edges…
Still I can say that I’m pretty happy form the additional performance increase after the upgrade to the new Sandy Bridge platform, and now the new B3 revision of the Sandy Bridge chipsets are becoming available, so you can safely do the upgrade as well. The new K-series i5 and i7 processors offer better overclockability than the previous generation, but still when talking about gaming, you may be able to get better performance increase with a higher-end video card, or by adding a second video card in SLI, than by just pushing the CPU frequency or increasing the number of cores. Because the truth is that still most of the latest games still cannot yet take advantage of more than one CPU core, but they can fully utilize the additional video performance that a more powerful video card can offer. So if you are just gaming in stereo 3D mode, then it may be more worth to upgrade your GPU than to go for a Sandy Bridge upgrade, but if you already have a high-end GPU or even more than one, then upgrading the processor and the motherboard can still be a good choice. And although most games can’t fully utilize the total performance that a new multi-core processor can offer, there are a lot of applications that can do that and you are probably using quite a few of these as well, for example software for video editing and conversion.
Tags:3d vision·Asus Sabertooth P67·B3 revision·GeForce GTX 580·P67·Sandy Bridge·Sandy Bridge 3D·Sandy Bridge overclock·Sandy Bridge SLI·stereo 3d gaming
As I’ve already mentioned a few days ago I started testing the new Intel Sandy Bridge platform for gaming in 2D and stereo 3D mode with the idea to see if the added CPU performance will benefit you with better framerates in games. I’ve used my current 3D test PC based on an Asus P55 Sabertooth motherboard with an Intel Core i5 750 and two GeForce GTX 580 video cards running in SLI to compare it to the newer Asus P67 Sabertooth motherboard together with an Intel Core i5 2500K processor. I’ve ran the same benchmarks on the standard frequencies and then at overclocked frequencies for both processors on the tho platforms.
On the Asus P55 Sabertooth motherboard I’ve ran all the benchmarks with the Intel Core i5 750 processor at both the default frequency of 2.66 GHz and then with about 50% overclock with the quad-core processor running at 4 GHz. The two GTX 580 video cards were running in SLI with their default frequencies, so it was only up to the processor to provide better performance.
The newer Asus P67 Sabertooth motherboard builds on the P55 model that I currently have, still offering very nice set of features and a great overclocking potential for the Sandy Bridge platform. I’ve had the motherboard installed in the test system together with an Intel Core i5 2500K processor with water cooling.
The Intel Core i5 2500K processor is also a quad-core model, running at 3.3 GHz by default (the 3.4 GHz on the screenshot above is due to the Turbo mode) and the goal with that processor was also to get it overclocked with about 50% and that means 5 GHz. I’ve had no trouble getting to 5 GHz, thanks to the good motherboard and the water cooling, although the required voltage is a bit high, the CPU I have is not among the top overclockers, but is still quite good (batch L051).
But now let us see how good is to have a faster processor with some benchmarks, I’m starting with 3DMark 2006 and 3DMark 2011 (11), both are synthetic tests and do not reflect real world usage. But it is still interesting to see how a faster CPU can increase the performance. In 3DMark 2006 the result in points scales quite nice, but this is due to the fact that the test is running at a lower resolution and is more CPU dependent than the newer version 11. In 3DMark 2011 I’ve used the extreme mode that stresses the video car much more and the end result is not that CPU dependent, so the increase in performance is not that big.
Moving to games, the table above shows the results in six different popular games, more demanding titles that also work well in stereo 3D mode. They were run in 1920×1080 resolution, with maximum level of details, 4xAA was enabled in COD: Black Ops, Fallout New Vegas and Left 4 Dead 2, the AAA mode was active in Metro 2033 and 2xAA in Mafia 2 with Just Cause 2 being the only one without AA. As you can see there is nice improvement with a faster CPU, with the new Sandy Bridge platform running at default frequency getting results that are very close to the ones achieved with the overclocked older platform. There is a nice improvement, although not that big when comparing the result with the default frequency of the processors and after that when they are overclocked with 50% higher frequency.
And repeating the same thing as above, but now the games are ran with stereo 3D mode enabled through 3D Vision. Have in mind that the framerate numbers you see in the table above for the stereo 3D mode represent the average number of frames measured per eye, so the actual number of frames rendered are twice as much. Another thing to note is that due to the way the technology works (vsync is enabled) the maximum framerate is 60 fps per eye, so games that get very close to 60 fps will have no noticeable performance increase. So the two games that you should point your attention to in this table of results are the more heavier Call of Duty: Black Ops, Metro 2033 and Just Cause 2 that are rendering much less than 60 fps per eye. Call of Duty: Black Ops and Just Cause 2 do show good improvement with a faster processor speed, however in Metro 2033 the improvement is less apparent. The reason that Metro 2033 is not scaling that well with a faster CPU speed is that the game is relying too much on the video cards using technologies like PhysX and heavier tessellation in DX11 mode.
So what are the conclusions after all of this, simple, the faster the processor – the better, however overclocking your video card(s) can often bring better performance increase than overclocking the processor when talking about gaming. One of the reasons for that is due to the fact that most games still cannot take full advantage of all the cores available in a multi-core processor. So the new Intel Sandy Bridge platform is a good choice for a high-end gaming PC with a powerful video card, or better make them two in SLI, but aside from overclocking the processor you should overclock the video cards as well. Playing games in stereo 3D can benefit from a faster processor and the Sandy Bridge CPUs do handle nice and offer good overclocking potential. The Asus Sabertooth series of motherboards, both for the older and for the newer platform, is also a good choice and my personal favorite… not only because of the way they look, but also because they offer a nice set of features and offer a great overclocking potential and experience. And in a few weeks we should also start seeing the new revised B3 chipset for the Sandy Bridge platform back in motherboards on the market. So it is upgrade time… ;)
Tags:3d gaming·3d vision·Asus P55 Sabertooth·Asus P67 Sabertooth·GTX 580·Intel Core i5 2500K·Intel Core i5 750·Intel Sandy Bridge·Sandy Bridge 3D·Sandy Bridge SLI·SLI