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Frame Rating: GeForce GTX 660 Ti and Radeon HD 7950

Summary and Conclusions

Because of the complexity and sheer amount of data we have gathered using our Frame Rating performance methodology, we are breaking it up into several articles that each feature different GPU comparisons.  Here is the schedule:

 

Now that we are a few articles into this series called Frame Rating, it is important to go back and start to evaluate these results, compare them to previous ones and look for trends, patterns and anything that stands out.  We are hoping to find some answer as to WHY AMD's CrossFire and Eyefinity are having so many problems in hopes that they can address it sooner rather than later.

 

Performance

In a very similar result to the HD 7970 and GTX 680 results we launched Frame Rating with, the AMD card here has done well when compared to the GTX 660 Ti in terms of single GPU performance.  Both NVIDIA and AMD are doing great with single GPU frame rates, frame times and frame variances, especially in our 1920x1080 and 2560x1440 testing.  Since the release of the GTX 680, and after it the Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition, AMD has been careful to position its products, based on pricing, so that they offer better performance per dollar than NVIDIA.  That was the case when we tested with FRAPS exclusively and that continues to be the case with our new capture-based method, called Frame Rating. 

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The Radeon HD 7950 3GB (with Boost) is faster than the GeForce GTX 660 Ti in basically all six of our games tested today.  Battlefield 3, Crysis 3, DiRT 3, Sleeping Dogs, Skyrim and Far Cry 3 all showed benefits in frame rates and frame times when run on the HD 7950 at single monitor resolutions.  In many cases though the GTX 660 Ti was close; very close.  At multi-monitor testing (5760x1080) the 3GB frame buffer of the HD 7950 seemed to stretch out the lead that AMD had in single card results, particularly in games like Skyrim and Battlefield 3.  Having 50% more memory at that kind of resolution is definitely an advantage that AMD is holding on to.

The issue of multi-GPU gaming on AMD crept up again with CrossFire - AMD's HD 7950s in a pair were consistently resulting in runt frames and dropped frames that caused lower observed frame rates than found with the GTX 660 Ti in SLI.  In fact, it occurred more often here with the HD 7950s than it did with the HD 7970s - both DiRT 3 and Skyrim had problems in our review today when they did not appear to have any issues with the initial launch article.  This tells me that as performance of the GPU is starting to go down (as we step down the product stack) the bottleneck of the GPU is going to cause more of these problems, not less. 

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This doesn't paint a very good picture for the Radeon HD 7870 and HD 7850 with multiple graphics cards if the pattern holds. 

(Just a reminder as to why the GeForce GTX 670 was left out of this article.  The GeForce GTX 660 Ti 2GB ($289) and the Radeon HD 7950 3GB ($299) are much closer in price!  The GeForce GTX 670 ($359) will be included in a future Frame Rating article.)

 

Final Thoughts

There isn't much left to say here but to reiterate what I have written on the last two articles: AMD presently has the better hardware (just in terms of raw performance) when looking at single GPU options. (Though that is debatable with the inclusion of the GeForce GTX Titan at the high end.) But gamers that are or are thinking of using multiple-GPUs will without a doubt find the issues discussed here with Radeon GPUs in CrossFire mode troublesome. 

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AMD is aware of the issues, and has been since before the release of our first full article on Frame Rating, and is trying to figure out the answer for gamers.  The current line of thinking is that they will release a driver some time in the summer that will give the user the option of enabling frame metering or not, rather than forcing it on as NVIDIA is doing today.  Whether or not that will work out as well for AMD as currently does for NVIDIA will have to be seen.

I welcome your thoughts and comments below!!

April 2, 2013 | 03:24 PM - Posted by technogiant (not verified)

Absolutely god awe-full again for AMD....a couple of 7950's in crossfire was meant to be about the best bang for buck high performance system you could build....oh how deluded or even worse misled we have been.

April 3, 2013 | 11:59 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Deluded, misled, fanboyed out, raging radeon rightist, screaming psychotic frame rate fanboy, totally full of it, amd marketing borg bot, COMPLETELY FOOLISH IDIOT WHO CANNOT SEE THE GAME ON THEIR OWN ULTRA HIGH REZZ BRAGGADOCIO DISPLAYS WITH MEGA BUCK AMD CARDS....

I cannot even fathom the utter SHAME the CF amd fanboys must be feeling now.

A thousand times on every website we were told lies, by the reviewers, by the fanboys raping away in the comments section.

Now we know they were all deluded idiots, period.

AMD has claimed utter ignorance, and I certainly do not believe that since it's worse than being just incompetent in writing drivers and making hardware, and extends the incompetence out ever further, into "not knowing what is going on at all" instead of covering it up because monetary concerns rule the day.

It's one giant can of fail, and AMD has gulped the entire 55 gallon drum in one fail swill.

I wonder, will they pay the full price refund for one of the amd cards for every crossfire user, because indeed they certainly owe them. Hopefully a giant lawsuit will make the amd fanboys pocketbooks right, and I could see the penny pinching fanboy scrooges getting behind that 100%.

The next thing I want to know is how many of the LYING BUFFOON IDIOT articles from the hundred review sites that show amd fraps! in crossfire winning will be CHANGED, UPDATED, and in big red letters at the top:

NEW INFORMATION HAS SHOWN WE WERE WRONG. AMD FRAME RATES IN CROSSFIRE ARE HALF OF WHAT WE CLAIMED THEY WERE FOR MANY YEARS. WE HAVE MARKED "FAIL!" IN BIG RED LETTERS ACROSS EVERY SINGLE CHART AND IN EVERY REVIEW THEY WE HAVE EVER POSTED.
WE ARE SORRY OUR EYEBALLS DID NOT LIE TO US AS WE WATCHED THE BENCHMARKS STUTTER LIKE A RETARD ON AMD HARDWARE, BUT OUR FANBOY AMD BRAINS TOOK OVER AND WE SCREAMED VICTORY FOR AMD IN THE HIGHEST OF EMOTIONAL STATES AND RECOMMENDATIONS !

(ROFL - Oh man, they ALL need to resign)

That should only take them a few months to fix on all their websites since the amd underdog fanboyism is so freaking strong it could destroy all the rainforests of the world and induce global warming and nuclear winter concurrently.

O M G - thanks for the years and years of total lies

April 3, 2013 | 02:58 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Dude...are you okay?

You have issues.

April 3, 2013 | 07:51 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

poor bitter guy.. go f*ck yourself and try getting a life. these guys at pcper are doing their job right unlike you causing misery to others making them feel bad..

kudos pcper for a well done review..

kudos to amd and nvidia

in the end. consumer wins the deal!! ^_^

April 4, 2013 | 05:05 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

poor bitter guy is spot on.

they all deserve to feel bad for spreading their ignorance like a virus.

kudos to amd ? get outta here.

April 5, 2013 | 02:53 AM - Posted by thinkbiggar (not verified)

Assuming data collection method has validity which on the surface seems to make sense, then the best we can say here is AMD and Nvidia are neck and neck in single card performance and AMD has some real crossfire performance issues. However I play some games that generate a fair amount of lag with with single card performance and I add a card in crossfire and see a huge improvement. Secondly, in crossfire you see time in ms is all over the place, not as tight, and us guys know tighter is better right? Well how is your data going to as low as 0 ms on the crossfire setup. This is a clear indication that something in your formulation is wrong. For all we know this variance is actually improving gaming visual effects and reality.

April 9, 2013 | 11:05 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

If you are not satisfied... get two GeForce GTX 660 Ti and SLI it. AMD cards are not designed to handle two cards (CrossFireX).

April 2, 2013 | 03:32 PM - Posted by Shambles (not verified)

Aha, starting to get into cards in the price range I'm looking for. I'll be greedily going through this article and waiting for the next one with the GTX 660 and 7870 before buying my next card.

April 3, 2013 | 02:41 AM - Posted by alwayssts (not verified)

Unless something is shown to be massively off the rails, the results will repeat the pattern.

That said, I own a 7870 and while I could argue all the clear merits, metrics, and reasoning vs. 660, the jist of the matter is it too, while slightly better, is at most (overclocked) sitting right at to slightly under where you want high quality 1080p performance now-a-days (and moving forward considering the ps4 spec). I would recommend you look closer at this article; buy a Tahiti LE if these are out of your budget and overclock it to 7950B speeds...or wait for the inevitable Hainan SKU if length/size is a factor (which should also drive down the price of 660ti to around ~250, in theory).

If you think that performance level is overpriced now, like I did, just wait. It's going to be a very important market soon because of the analogous to new consoles (1080p 30/60hz) so the competition will be incredibly fierce, if not then stagnant for quite a while.

April 2, 2013 | 03:45 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Thanks for yet another great article, I can only imagine the amount of work that has gone in to testing all these cards and games at different resolutions. I do hope AMD will fix their broken CrossFire system to balance out the competition, even though I'm not a fan of their cards myself.

That said, it would be nice to see how two Titans would perform in SLI. I swore to stick with a single card, but two of them are starting to tempt me as SLI appears to perform with smooth frame times.

April 2, 2013 | 03:54 PM - Posted by seravia

Is AMD implementing the summer solution for the previous HD6000 series too?

April 2, 2013 | 11:21 PM - Posted by arbiter

Its gonna be a software fix less they re-release their chipset which i doubt will happen. Nvidia apperently seen this issue few years ago and do it via hardware on their boards. Would expect AMD to address it properly with their next generation chip.

April 2, 2013 | 04:07 PM - Posted by Bob Jones (not verified)

Wht's up with the FRAPS FPS for Far Cry 3 at 1440p in Crossfire. It's showing 4x the performance of a single card - why do no other review sites see that kind of error?

April 2, 2013 | 05:25 PM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

The numbers you see on that metric are based on re-adding the runt frames as well as the frames completely dropped by the game/GPU driver.  Because all of those dropped frames are put back into the compilation the of average frame rate per second, the original or FRAPS result can sometimes be much higher than is really shown.

We saw the same result at 5760x1080 in many of our tests in this article as well as in the HD 7970 vs GTX 680 piece.

April 2, 2013 | 06:11 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

It's because pcper and nvidia have together invented a reason to throw out frame numbers using their subjective and bias opinion to then create an illusion metric they call 'perceived fps'

pcper cannot be taken at face value due to their heavy nvidia involvement.

the bright side is that more credible hardware review websites will soon be giving their results using similar methods without the nvidia influence that pcper suffers from.

April 2, 2013 | 06:38 PM - Posted by bystander (not verified)

What about Toms Hardware, TechReport and AnandTech? Are they all creating a conspiracy? Use your own head, see the data, and tell me it doesn't matter.

April 2, 2013 | 07:18 PM - Posted by truthobfuscated (not verified)

Have been following much of this new method closely. Take your own advice. Tom's has already called into question that the smaller frames may have value and their worth or not is subjective and requires further study. pcper has hopped on board with nvidia and is towing their line on them having no value.

techreport too is saying the data from fcat is insufficient and more information from the api must be exposed for draw calls. you hear none of that here at pcper/nvidia (which is it, hard to tell any more)

anandtech has reserved any results at all until they can do a full and proper investigation with the fcat tools and will then release their findings.

pcper has attempted to get attention by cowtowing to nvidia in order to release data and riding the gravy train of amd bashing to garner a few page clicks from nvidia fanboys who swallow anything so long as it comes in nvidia positive or amd negative flavor.

much more investigation to be done, by reviewers unlike this obvious nvidia biased and sponsored one

April 2, 2013 | 07:30 PM - Posted by bystander (not verified)

While most are not giving final verdicts, they all see it as a problem. How severe of a problem is what they are holding back on.

There are a few things that they aren't even considering in all this either. Having evenly spaced frames, also means evenly spaced input. This gives a smoother feel as well.

How much latency really is added to the metering technology, if all it does is make one frame that is faster than the previous, wait a little. Once they are at the correct offsets, they should remain fairly close in line, with only occasional adjustments needed.

You also must have to consider that while the crossfire setup still gives a decent playing experience, is it giving as good of a playing experience? Reviews are meant to help us pick what is the better experience for the end user, not to just to find what is acceptable.

And if you've followed a lot of review sites articles, you probably have noticed many notes about different games giving stuttery results in Crossfire, and much fewer cases where SLI has been mentioned. They never made a big stink about it in their articles, because they are trying to give unbiased articles, and using quantifiable tests to gauge what is better. Now we finally have quantifiable evidence of crossfires problems, so it can given more attention.

I found I always had to run with v-sync with my 6950's. I was ok with it, until I learned that the added latency was the cause of my nausea.

April 2, 2013 | 07:51 PM - Posted by Shambles (not verified)

The trolling is strong in this one.

April 2, 2013 | 07:36 PM - Posted by bystander (not verified)

I will agree with one thing though. Pcper is definitely not holding back on their opinion, and would probably be more well received if they delivered the results without as much judgement.

While they may be right, a lot of people see it as an attack, and seem to be very defensive about it.

April 2, 2013 | 09:47 PM - Posted by ThorAxe

I realise the need to justify your purchasing decision but accusing PC Per of bias is one helluva stretch.

I have used 6870s in Crossfire and noticed these problems and yet I don't have the same issues with SLI.

The numbers don't lie however much people dislike the results.

Bravo Ryan for calling it as you see it.

April 2, 2013 | 10:40 PM - Posted by bystander (not verified)

I was agreeing with Pcper. The guy I originally responded to was the one who was trying to discredit it.

April 2, 2013 | 11:13 PM - Posted by ThorAxe

Sorry about responding to you bystander, it was intended for the guy you mentioned. :)

April 3, 2013 | 11:35 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

ROFL !!!!

"Smaller frames may have value" HAHAHHAHAHHAHAAAAAAAAAAAA

Please, you and the amd fanboys at Tom's play with runts and ghosts, that's valuable. A value that could not be understated.
Here let me show you what you game will look like:

-------------------------------------------------
_______________________________________ ___________
------------------------- -------------------------
____________ ___________________________________
- -----------------------------------------------

AWESOME ! RUNTS DO HAVE VALUE ! LET'S GIVE THEM A GOLDEN SHORTBUS AND FRONT OF THE STORE PARKING !

April 2, 2013 | 11:24 PM - Posted by arbiter

Maybe you didn't notice a lot of AMD sponsor ad's on the site? As for cannot taken at face value, if a site is biased in their reviews, no one will trust them. Yes the tools were developed originally by Nvidia but PcPer is working on coding their own tools to get away from those.

July 6, 2013 | 03:53 AM - Posted by Rod (not verified)

Hmm iѕ anyоne elѕe encountering ρrоblems with the imаges on this blоg
lοаding? І'm trying to find out if its a problem on my end or if it's the blog.

Any suggеstіonѕ woulԁ be greаtly aρpreсiated.

my webρage :: Southold eye eхam (Rod)

April 2, 2013 | 11:33 PM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

Try not to be such a troll.

How about this theory?  Because I have been using these tools, regardless of who developed them, for MUCH LONGER than Tech Report, Anandtech or Tom's Harware, I have more experience and am much more confident in the results they are showing me.  

Accusing me of NVIDIA bias while AMD ads run continuously on our site is also pretty stupid.

April 3, 2013 | 03:15 AM - Posted by andrei (not verified)

Well done Ryan !

You have destroyed all AMD's credibility as planed, without any real proof just with the help of Nvidia and I mean FCAT ( and who knows what else... )

" I have more experience and am much more confident in the results they are showing me" - You know just what Nvidia wants you to know... AND by the way You are a liar! First time when you mentioned about this "new frame metric" You told that it is developed by you and your team but on the first day of your benchmark you say the converter is made by Nvidia and I have to find from other sites that this whole benchmark is actually an Nvidia's product???

Now you can go and count your green money, upss I mean tell your readers Nvidia's propaganda, upss I mean the real objective stuff, you do care about your readers don't you??? as it can be seen you DON'T!

From a site with AMD in his name you became Nvidia's marketing guy (puppet ) but that is understandable because AMD does not give bribe to sycophants as Nvidia does ( How about this theory? ). Reading your articles it gives me the impression that they are written by Tom Petersen.

PS:go have fun with project shield, this is the future of gaming!- Nvidia marketing.
By the way you should rename this site to www.nvidia-pcper.com

"Accusing me of NVIDIA bias while AMD ads run continuously on our site is also pretty stupid." - you are not doing this freely! you receive good money for that, now who is pretty stupid?

April 3, 2013 | 06:38 PM - Posted by Josh Walrath

Yeah, well... except that AMD has publically admitted that they are having issues with CF and will have a fix in place by this summer (in Beta form).  Damn guys must be biased against themselves!

April 3, 2013 | 09:59 PM - Posted by ThorAxe

It's no use Josh, these zealots won't listen to reason.

I have a 4870x2 and 2 6870s still running in my kids' PCs but I am not blind enough to call Ryan a liar for exposing Crossfires deficiencies. Instead I greatly appreciate all the hard work that has gone into these tremendous articles.

It turns out that my eyes were not lying to me.

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