AMD Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition vs. Nvidia GeForce GTX 660: frametimes review

They cost about the same, but which one is the fastest?

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Introduction

We recently started testing graphic cards in a new way, with frametime tests. By looking at the amount of time it takes to produce a single frame, you gain a more accurate impression of the performance of a video card than when you only compare the average framerate. We've already learned that a higher framerate doesn't always mean the card is better in a certain game.

We already used the new test to compare the AMD Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition and the Nvidia GeForce GTX 680, and also the AMD Radeon HD 7950 Boost and the Nvidia GeForce GTX 660 Ti. Today the AMD Radeon HD 7870 Ghz Edition and the Nvidia GeForce GTX 660 take center stage to duke it out.


This third frametime test is interesting for two reasons. The Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition and the GeForce GTX 660 are in the same price segment, and both cards are based on GPUs different than what we have tested so far with the frametimes test. The Radeon HD 7870 Ghz Edition is built around the Pitcairn GPU.

We won't be discussing the features of each graphics card here since we already covered that in our previous in-depth reviews, you can read the review of the AMD Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition review here and our GeForce GTX 660 review here.

Benchmarks

Our graphics card test platform consists of an Intel Core i7 3960X, an ASUS P7X79 Pro motherboard, 16 GB DDR3-1600 memory, a Samsung Spinpoint F1 1TB hard disk, a Cooler Master Silent Pro Gold 1200W power supply, and Windows 7 x64.

For the frametime test we focused on the most popular resolution, and that's still Full HD for most people. The five games we tested are: Assassin's Creed III, Battlefield 3, Far Cry 3, Hitman: Absolution and Max Payne 3. We tested each one with Normal/Medium settings and also with the highest settings. With the highest settings we also enable 4X AA when possible.

On the following pages we first display the chart with the average frames per second, and then the chart with the 99th percentile of the frametimes. The third chart has the render times of the first 1,500 frames of each of the benchmarks. We don't chart the entire benchmark, because there would be too much clutter.

The AMD Radeon HD 7950 Boost was tested with Catalyst driver version 13.2 beta, and for the Nvidia card we used GeForce driver version 310.90.


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