System Setup

ATI Cypress Gaming Performance Test System

  Hardware Component 
Graphics Hardware  ATI Radeon HD 5870
ATI Radeon HD 4890 
Processor  Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9650; LGA775
3.00GHz; Core uArch; 12MiB L2 dual-core 
Mainboard  DFI DK X48-T2RS 
Memory  PC2-6400 DDR2; 4 x 2GiB
Hard Disk  Seagate 250GB SATA2 
Displays  Dell E248WFP, 24 inch, 1920x1200 

There's nothing extraordinary or terribly outlandish in terms of the system configuration. You'll note that we left the CPU at its default 3.0 GHz frequency - ultimately we found little benefits from higher frequencies in our tests/for our care, so we allowed it to chug along the way Intel intended it to.

What isn't apparent just by peeking at the above is that we've moved to using Windows 7 Professional 64-bit. As for the drivers, a Catalyst 10.3 beta (version 8.710.3) makes the card tick, so some of the things in them will only be officially out next month. Thanks to ATI in general and Andrew Dodd in particular for that support. 

Moving on to what we actually used as tests, peek at this nice table (that used to be quite huge, and was repeatedly shrunk - hey, it's not the size that matters, right?):

ATI Cypress Game-Tests

  Version  API  Test 
Battleforge*  9th of February  DX10.1/DX11  In-built 
Crysis:Warhead  1.1  DX10  Framebuffer's Warhead Benchmarking Tool-Ambush 
DIRT 2  1.0  DX9/DX11  In-built 
FarCry 2  1.2  DX10.1  In-Built Ranch Long 
Riddick:Assault on Dark Athena  OpenGL  FRAPS run-Arrival at Butcher Bay 
Stalker:Call of Pripyat  1.6.02  DX10.1/DX11  In-built-SunShafts 
Unigine Heaven  1.00  DX10/DX11  In-built 

*Minor SSAO rendering bugs when AA is enabled and DX11 is used

Our criteria for selecting a game were pretty simple: graphically demanding, and using at least DX10, but preferably also DX11.  We're pretty confident that what we ended up with is more than adequate for our performance evaluating goals (and this certainty comes from having tested many many things during these recent long months). All tests were run at 1920x1200 with varying amounts of AA and/or AF, whenever the application allowed enabling such features in a non-intrusive fashion. In terms of in-game graphical features, we dialled every control to its maximum setting, since our assumption is that you won't  get a Cypress board to play with anything but the highest quality possible. Having seen the ingredients, we can now safely explore the outcome.