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Frame Rating Dissected: Full Details on Capture-based Graphics Performance Testing

Visualizing Runts and Lower Frame Rates – Video Examples

I know that with the publication of this article finalizing our testing methods for Frame Rating, we are going to get lots of comments from gamers about how they have these configurations and that they don’t see the issues that we are discussing and penalizing AMD for.  Whether or not they are telling the truth or there is a bit self-preservation / fan-boyism at work, we wanted to do our best and try to provide example of these phenomenon and we made a handful of videos to share with our readers.

Keep in mind that these videos are using content captures through our Frame Rating system from Radeon HD 7950s in CrossFire and GeForce GTX 660 Ti cards in SLI – but the effect on visuals is identical to what we see with the HD 7970s and GTX 680s.  We used records from our 1920x1080 testing.  Also, because we are doing manual run throughs of all of these games now, no two runs are exactly alike; there will be differences in the overall gameplay sequences but we have done our best to make sure they are as close as possible.

If you would prefer to download this video file, you can do so here.

This is the longest our example videos that shows 50% speed and 30% speed.  Keep an eye on the smoothness of the animations on the screen including while walking straight ahead as well as while turn and rotating.  Because we have Vsync disabled on these systems you will see some horizontal tear on the screen on BOTH configurations and that is fully expected.  In order to show the examples as exactly as possible we had to leave that feature turned off but you should try to ignore those large “tears” and focus on the “micro” stutter on the grass on the ground, etc.

Did you see it?  We debating making this video a blind A/B test but instead decided it was better to just be up front with the results. 

If you would prefer to download this video file, you can do so here.

This video captured from Sleeping Dogs shows the same kind of animation smoothness advantage that NVIDIA SLI has over the Radeon HD 7950s in CrossFire.  This animation difference is not due strictly to stutter but that the fact that AMD configuration is seeing every other frame a runt, thereby cutting the number of frames in each time period in half compared to the 660 Tis in SLI. 

If you would prefer to download this video file, you can do so here.

Our next video is of Far Cry 3 and while I admit that neither experience is a smooth as we would like, the HD 7950s in CrossFire are showing a lot more stuttering than the 660 Ti cards.

If you would prefer to download this video file, you can do so here.

The visual animation issues are bit harder to see in our Battlefield 3 video due to some darker than normal scenes, but if you keep an eye on the sprint section down the alley way closely you will clearly see the slower animation fresh rate of the AMD CrossFire system.

If you would prefer to download this video file, you can do so here.

Our capture of Crysis 3 is another case where neither configuration is running as smooth as we should expect but it is very apparent that the AMD HD 7950s are running at a much lower observed frame rate than the 660 Ti SLI solution. 

If you would prefer to download this video file, you can do so here.

DiRT 3 is a bit different - this compares single card performance and smoothness on SINGLE cards, showing you that without taking multi-GPU issues into account, both vendors can provide high quality real-world experiences.  Both sides of the video look equally smooth and look to be providing a solid game play experience, which more or less backs up the results we found in our 1920x1080 data in today’s article.   

 

Even though we are showing videos slowed down to 50% and even 30% of their full frame rate, these animation differences are very apparent to me in real time, while playing the games.  Without a doubt there will be some variability in what kind of annoyance thresholds for each gamer but even if you can’t see the difference when looking at ONLY your video, you should be able to see the differences when looking at the two options side by side. 

One of the advantages of our capture system is that we keep literally every video we record, though obviously in a compressed format.  (Keeping 25GB, 60 second benchmark runs would hilarious.)  This allows us to verify our data analysis results through the extractor and Perl scripts with the original recorded video to see if the animation stutters, variances, runts, etc are all there. 

I realize we need some more videos and demonstrations of these animation issues and we are working on producing some more that run at various percent speeds including 100%.  If you have any more ideas for how to use standard video edit tools to create comparison that would help our readers understand the experience we are having with our hardware, please email me or let us know in the comments below!

April 9, 2013 | 11:18 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Thanks Dan,

As you mentioned, there is certainly something to this stuttering. It is worthwhile to continue to optimize the test criteria so that it completely removes any Nvidia bias.

Ryan, can you comment about the possibility of raising the size of the scan lines for runts?

Thanks!

April 9, 2013 | 05:52 AM - Posted by Danieldp

Sorry, double post. XD

April 11, 2013 | 06:46 AM - Posted by Cookie (not verified)

Dan,

Just because Toms hardware is longer around does not mean that they do a better job. My vote goes to Pcper, I prefer to read something proper, no offence to Toms hardware.

April 11, 2013 | 11:53 PM - Posted by Danieldp

Hi,

Not really the point I was making, obviously both sites have sufficient expertise. The thing I was pointing at is the vastly different results...

Dan

April 11, 2013 | 08:22 PM - Posted by Dominic (not verified)

Can you do a test with an APU like the A10-5800K in crossfire with like an HD 6670 to see if this frame rate discrepancy occurs in this circumstance as well?

I would assume it would based on your results but nonetheless I'm curious on its results.

April 13, 2013 | 03:34 AM - Posted by JCCIII

Dear Mr. Stroud and friends,

Thank you for a tremendous amount of work, diligence, and integrity...

I thoroughly enjoyed the video with you and Tom Petersem. Although, I have to mention; I have been very disappointed in Nvidia since my purchase of a group of GTX 480s, believing, from day one, I had thrown away more than $1500 for three unmanageable 1500 Watt hairdryers marketed as graphics cards, which were subsequently relabeled GTX 580s, once the bugs were worked out, kind of like Microsoft's Vista to XP, kind of like scamming on people--no, definitely scamming.

I have always been an enthusiast of the Nvidia since the days of 3dfx and had likewise always enjoyed anticipating and buying Nvidia's new products, and the GTX Titan is awesome.

With memories of ATI, Matrox, and Nvidia (I still have my RIVA 128), a home has been found within my memories, and that is why I am excited about what you and the rest of PC Perspective have done and are going to do. With collaboration you-all are moving a beloved industry onward toward a better future for us and for the companies we want to succeed.

Sincerely,
Joseph C. Carbone III; 13 April 2013

April 18, 2013 | 04:57 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

All you have to do is use RadeonPro and it will fix all these issues...

April 18, 2013 | 11:29 PM - Posted by CoderX71 (not verified)

This

April 22, 2013 | 09:07 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I dont see this huge problem i guess i am blind or only run 1 screen but i have played all titles listed and got better FPS in all of them using my GTX680's and My 7970's.

I still prefer my AMD cards for now for these reason:

1)In benchmarks my AMD cards kill my 680's in crossfire overclocked.

2)Graphics just look allot nicer on the AMD cards.

3)Biggest problem is Nvidia cards Cant Mine!!! (That's the big killer there for me)as id rather make $500.00 off my cards a week if i feel like it and be able to game as well.

I am not an Nvidia or AMD Fanboy as i have 680's in one of my builds and 7970's in a couple others plus have bought many of both cards in between.

I think maybe there is a problem for those running triple screens that hopefully AMD fixes as you have to admit they did a hell of allot on drivers recently that gave huge performance boosts.But 1920 x 1080 60 hertz i have no issues and def a big difference when i add a 2nd 7970 as i have swapped a card to other builds and put it back in do to loss of performance. The other thing i use my cards for is overclocking and Benchmarking and they def show huge performance there.I had my 680's over 1300mhz and they couldn't come close to 2 7970's at only 1225mhz.

So id have to say for working computers i will run my 7970's until there is no more money to be made and i will game on the 680's.

Pretty much not many games need more then 1 card anyway unless running multiple screens and high resolutions, Hell an APU can Max most console port games on the Market but the very few true PC games we actually have.

Yes i agree AMD fix the damn problem. But i also don't think Nvidia fan boys should be rooting for this because if they do the 7970 will be a nasty card all around that's capable of allot more then playing just games.

Just my opinion and experience on the to many cards i have owned to count in my life from both brands.

Take Care

May 5, 2013 | 12:13 AM - Posted by Evo (not verified)

If only we had a tool such as radeon pro to tweak the crossfire to make it operate properly. If only it existed...

The crysis 3 results are a bit questionable as in game vsync was causing havoc for nvidia (input lag) and amd (stuttering). Also crossfire was not engaging properly unless you alt-tabbed (this still occurs half the time). Not to mention the weird fix of opening an instance of google chrome to fix some of the problems with frame rate people were having with AMD setups.

My 7970 cf with radeon pro and other fixes works perfectly for me with Crysis 3, but there are some people still having issues. Also depends when the testing was done as when patch 1.3 was first released it caused massive problems for AMD cards that were later fixed.

May 20, 2013 | 02:17 AM - Posted by tigerclaws12894

Might have a typo or grammar error in the paragraph before the last in the Vsync topic. Anywho, have you ever considered triple buffering on AMD solutions as well as that config on 60Hz vs 120Hz as well? Input latency sure will be an issue but it'd be nice to know if it's better with 120Hz monitors.

May 20, 2013 | 07:11 PM - Posted by ServerStation668 (not verified)

This Dell T5600 has good video benchmarks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3uK1J3o1fks

August 13, 2013 | 09:04 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I have read this article four or five times and I find it intriguing. I must admit to not understanding most of it though. However, I must say being the owner of THREE 7970's, MSI Lightning BE, MSI Ghz OC Edition & Club3D RoyalAce at a cost of around £1300.00 GBP, just shy of $2000.00 USD I feel somewhat cheated. I hope AMD's forthcoming "Fixes" will redress these issues. Brilliant article and I am looking forward to all the follow ups.

September 1, 2013 | 02:35 AM - Posted by BryanFRitt (not verified)

What would a game look like if

it got a smooth 120+ fps,
was on a 60Hz display,
and in addition to the regular 'vsync' spot, it would 'vsync' at the '1/2' way spot?
aka update the display at the top and middle, updating at these same two spots every time, and only updating at these two spots.

Would the middle 'vsync' spot be annoying? helpful? noticed? informative? etc...? (This sounds like a good way to see how important fps is)

What's a good name for this?
1/2 x vsync, 2 x vsync, vsync 1/2 x, vsync 2 x, or something else?
What's the logic behind your pick(s)?

September 2, 2013 | 04:39 PM - Posted by lyo (not verified)

(forward note: i have bad english.)
1) is there a diff in observer fps between cards with more ram?
i.e. sli of 2x gtx770 2g vs sli of 2x gtx770 4g?

2) can you publish a min/max/var of partial frame per frame?
insted of runt i wanna know how many different "color" are per frame, and if they are evenly spread.

January 30, 2014 | 12:03 PM - Posted by BBMan (not verified)

Nice review. I'm interested as to how this tech is evolving.
But now I'm curious- I've read some of your test methods- but I may have missed something. I've seen mostly games that are more single player/first-person. Is that part of your methodology? I'm thinking of more intensive object rendering titles like Rome Total War II that has to render myriads of objects and stress memory more. Have you considered something like that?

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