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Frame Rating: High End GPUs Benchmarked at 4K Resolutions

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Manufacturer: Various

Our 4K Testing Methods

You may have recently seen a story and video on PC Perspective about a new TV that made its way into the office.  Of particular interest is the fact that the SEIKI SE50UY04 50-in TV is a 4K television; it has a native resolution of 3840x2160.  For those that are unfamiliar with the new upcoming TV and display standards, 3840x2160 is exactly four times the resolution of current 1080p TVs and displays.  Oh, and this TV only cost us $1300.

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In that short preview we validated that both NVIDIA and AMD current generation graphics cards support output to this TV at 3840x2160 using an HDMI cable.  You might be surprised to find that HDMI 1.4 can support 4K resolutions, but it can do so only at 30 Hz (60 Hz 4K TVs won't be available until 2014 most likely), half the refresh rate of most TVs and monitors at 60 Hz.  That doesn't mean we are limited to 30 FPS of performance though, far from it.  As you'll see in our testing on the coming pages we were able to push out much higher frame rates using some very high end graphics solutions.

I should point out that I am not a TV reviewer and I don't claim to be one, so I'll leave the technical merits of the monitor itself to others.  Instead I will only report on my experiences with it while using Windows and playing games - it's pretty freaking awesome.  The only downside I have found in my time with the TV as a gaming monitor thus far is with the 30 Hz refresh rate and Vsync disabled situations.  Because you are seeing fewer screen refreshes over the same amount of time than you would with a 60 Hz panel, all else being equal, you are getting twice as many "frames" of the game being pushed to the monitor each refresh cycle.  This means that the horizontal tearing associated with Vsync will likely be more apparent than it would otherwise. 

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Image from Digital Trends

I would likely recommend enabling Vsync for a tear-free experience on this TV once you are happy with performance levels, but obviously for our testing we wanted to keep it off to gauge performance of these graphics cards.

Continue reading our results from testing 4K 3840x2160 gaming on high end graphics cards!!

 

Throughout the story I'll have videos of our 4K footage on YouTube and to download natively.  The videos include our Frame Rating overlay on them but otherwise are simple H.264 nearly 100 mbps 3840x2160 videos.

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If you just want some screenshots, I have put together a ZIP file of them that you can download right here. 

Download 4K Game Screenshots

 

Also worth noting is our continued use of our Frame Rating capture-based performance testing.  As far as I know, no other outlet or company (including AMD or NVIDIA) has figured out how to capture video reliably at 3840x2160 @ 30 Hz.  The current maximum that was supported by the FCAT-ready reviewers was 2560x1440 @ 60 Hz.  Here is a comparison:

  • 1920x1080 @ 60 Hz - 124.4 Mpix/s
  • 2560x1440 @ 60 Hz - 221.1 Mpix/s
  • 2560x1600 @ 60 Hz - 245.7 Mpix/s
  • 3840x2160 @ 30 Hz - 248.8 Mpix/s

So for the time being at least, we think we are the only ones providing you with accurate, capture-based performance testing results for high end graphics cards at 4K resolutions.  I hope you find the results informative!

Test System Setup
CPU Intel Core i7-3960X Sandy Bridge-E
Motherboard ASUS P9X79 Deluxe
Memory Corsair Dominator DDR3-1600 16GB
Hard Drive OCZ Agility 4 256GB SSD
Sound Card On-board
Graphics Card AMD Radeon HD 7990 6GB
AMD Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition 3GB
NVIDIA GeForce GTX TITAN 6GB
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 690 4GB
EVGA GeForce GTX 680 4GB
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680 2GB
Graphics Drivers AMD: 13.5 beta
AMD: Frame Pacing Prototype 2 (HD 7990)
NVIDIA: 320.00
Power Supply Corsair AX1200i
Operating System Windows 8 Pro x64

What you should be watching for

  1. HD 7970 vs GTX 680 vs GTX Titan - We have combined the top end single GPU solutions in a single graph to see how they stack up and included the Titan even though it is twice the price of the HD 7970 and GTX 680.
  2. GTX 680 2GB vs GTX 680 4GB - Our friends at EVGA were kind enough to send us some 4GB versions of the GTX 680 so we could test how much the additional frame buffer affects performance and potentially stutter in SLI configurations.
  3. HD 7970 CrossFire vs GTX 680 SLI vs GTX Titan SLI - In reality, we should only be comparing the HD 7970 in CF and GTX 680s in SLI but we tossed in the Titan as well just to mix things up.
  4. HD 7990 vs GTX 690 vs GTX Titan - For this test we are calling the "$999 Level" I wanted to see how all the currently available thousand dollar graphics cards held up against one another, regardless of their single or dual-GPU status.
  5. HD 7990 13.5 beta vs HD 7990 Prototype 2 - Even though we know the frame pacing problems with the HD 7990 will continue at 4K resolutions, I have included results using the very early prototype driver from AMD with the HD 7990 as well as the currently available 13.5 beta driver.

 

May 1, 2013 | 12:47 AM - Posted by Tom-Seiki (not verified)

Without using the pixel clock patcher, I made a custom resolution for 3840x2160 @ 31Hz and it worked. When I tried 32 Hz, TV either showed a blue screen with message "Not support" or it would skip every other column when drawing pixels, causing the resulting image to be blurry.

May 1, 2013 | 02:02 AM - Posted by Chris Green (not verified)

I'd love to see a photo of this experiment:

Set the desktop to the native 3840x2160 resolution of that TV.

Go into photoshop and draw a checkerboard pattern, and display it zoomed to the "actual pixels" setting.

Get as close to the screen as your digital camera will focus and take a full-res picture of the checkerboard pattern.

That image should both verify that you're getting the full native resolution without scaling, and provide an evaluation of how sharp it would be for normal desktop use.

May 1, 2013 | 03:07 AM - Posted by 63jax

i see no point of such a high res if the PPI i actually low, give me 27-30 inch panel with this res and i'll be happy, it's all about PPI, not the size.

May 1, 2013 | 05:37 AM - Posted by DeadOfKnight

My thoughts exactly. It seems that 1440p would be a better experience.

May 1, 2013 | 11:26 AM - Posted by Randomoneh

Huh?

May 1, 2013 | 11:13 AM - Posted by Randomoneh

It's all about the angle between pixel centers. Further you go, angle is lower (which is good).

If you want such a high [angular] resolution, you can always sit further away, can't you? But if you have a small display with the same resolution, you'd have to sit closer, and you can't keep coming closer forever.

May 1, 2013 | 03:54 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Why did they leave out GTX 690 in SLI?

May 1, 2013 | 07:33 AM - Posted by Mac (not verified)

Does the prototype driver work on Xfire 7970s or is it just for the 7990? Anyone?

May 1, 2013 | 11:41 AM - Posted by Sulu (not verified)

Skyrim at 4k. Mmm. Ryan you are such a tease. What with me not being able to afford it for another few years.
Nice article. Can't wait for you to run it again with the new crop of amd cards coming down the pike this fall.

May 1, 2013 | 12:33 PM - Posted by SirHammerlock (not verified)

Well I tried to download the MP4 but I get a ridiculous message from MEGA.co.nz saying that "your browser is not modern enough to download a file this large" and I can't download it.
Really?!? I can't download a file <700MB in the latest version of Safari for Snow Leopard? How much is Google paying them for that lame (and completely false) advertisement? FYI, Chrome is using the same underpinnings as my browser, WebKit.
I guess all those 1.5GB Combo Updaters and Service Packs etc that I downloaded never really happened, since I can't download files as large as 684MB according to Mega.
I don't trust anybody that withholds information and lies about why they are holding it back from you.

May 1, 2013 | 12:40 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

"3840x2160 is exactly four times the resolution of current 1080p" ??

Please do your maths first...

May 1, 2013 | 12:41 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

"3840x2160 is exactly four times the resolution of current 1080p" ??

Please do your maths first...

May 1, 2013 | 12:46 PM - Posted by Mac (not verified)

Well you can fit 4 1080p screens in a 3840x2160 space

May 1, 2013 | 04:08 PM - Posted by Randomoneh

When we're dealing with human perspective, resolution is not a pure number of pixels. Pure number of pixels is called "pixel count".

Now, we tend to perceive things this way: 4x4 image is twice as clear / sharp as the same 2x2 image. Therefore, you need to quadruple the pixel count to double "The Resolution". Just like "Retina" iPad looks [up to] twice as sharp as the old one.

May 7, 2013 | 12:54 AM - Posted by w_km (not verified)

Well...

1920 x 1080 x 4 = 8294400

3840 x 2160 = 8294400

Hmm...I guess they're pretty close.

May 7, 2013 | 12:55 AM - Posted by w_km (not verified)

Well...

1920 x 1080 x 4 = 8294400

3840 x 2160 = 8294400

Hmm...I guess they're pretty close.

May 1, 2013 | 01:35 PM - Posted by Fence Man (not verified)

How does the GTX 690 with 2gb ram win the day? When I play sleeping dogs maxed out with high red textures I use over 3gb at 2560x1600, how can 2gb be enough for 4K?

Are you banning people for disagreeing with you??

May 1, 2013 | 01:37 PM - Posted by Mark Rejhon (not verified)

This HDTV supports 120Hz at 1920x1080.

It's been confirmed -- see this post:
http://www.blurbusters.com/4k-tv-for-only-1500-supports-1080p-120hz-and-...

May 1, 2013 | 05:13 PM - Posted by nickbaldwin86 (not verified)

Can I play @ 2560x1600 @ 120hz if I bought this monitor and say a 690 or a Titan or two :P

I just wondering if this monitor/TV is able to run that res and refresh rate?

May 1, 2013 | 05:23 PM - Posted by Mark Rejhon (not verified)

Some tester said this HDTV managed to overclock -- it was able to accept 192Hz at 1280x720 (but that frameskipped). There is no answer about how 2560x1600 120Hz would behave -- someone will need to test that out.

May 1, 2013 | 06:13 PM - Posted by nickbaldwin86 (not verified)

Please do... that would be great! thanks

May 2, 2013 | 02:21 AM - Posted by Mark Rejhon (not verified)

I read a report of 32Hz operation at 4K. I wonder if it can overclock to 48Hz during 4K.

May 1, 2013 | 08:40 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

>>> HDMI 1.4 can support 4K resolutions, but it can do so only at 30 Hz That doesn't mean we are limited to 30 FPS of performance though, far from it.

Uhh of course it does. just becuase your card is rendering 100 frames a second doesnt mean you will actually get to see any more than 30 per second if thats all your screen supports.

May 2, 2013 | 02:22 AM - Posted by Mark Rejhon (not verified)

It does reduce input lag, if we can render 100fps, and send only the most freshly-generated frames to the display.

May 2, 2013 | 02:22 AM - Posted by Mark Rejhon (not verified)

It does reduce input lag, if we can render 100fps, and send only the most freshly-generated frames to the display.

May 1, 2013 | 11:26 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I have a GTX 690 with two dual DVI and one DisplayPort connectors. Will a 4k signal transmit with a DVI to HDMI adapter?

PS Great review. I almost pulled the trigger on a Sony 55" 4k and then a Sharp PN-K321 just this past weekend. Now I may get the Seiki just to settle my 4k lust until the market catches up.

May 5, 2013 | 05:30 PM - Posted by Skye (not verified)

I have the same card X2 running in Quad SLI ..
Ordered 2 of the Tvs ...
Can't get it to run any Higher than 1080p and it looks like Crap ... 8(
Using the factory Adapters DVI < HDMI that came with the cards from ASUS.
No Joy ...
Even tried a Mini DP to Hdmi cable that I had on my other Rig ... No joy .. dosnt work.

Can anyone shed some light on how they did this Review ?

May 3, 2013 | 02:57 PM - Posted by P.Jack Kringle (not verified)

Why do some of your screenshots only show 1920 x 1200 resolution, yet you claim 2160p resolution across all tests?

May 3, 2013 | 03:59 PM - Posted by aparsh335i (not verified)

Sooooooo....If you got 3 of these TVs could you do 11520x2160 Eyefinity or Surround?

May 4, 2013 | 02:20 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Any possibility of uploading one of the captured video files? Maybe not one of these 4K ones, but some of the ones from the other reviews? I'd like to see the video with the color bars on it, and maybe mess around with running the data extraction myself.

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