We tested this card on our usual test bench, the details of which are below. We ran five games to test for performance then checked total system power consumption and noise levels both when idling and gaming. As always we ran our tests multiple times to try and ensure consistent figures then record the average.
With the exception of Counter-Strike: Source (CSS) and Crysis, the gaming results are recorded manually using FRAPs while we repeatedly play the same section of the game. For CSS and Crysis we use timedemos and framerate recording is automated. For Crysis, all in-game detail settings are set to High while all the other games are run at their highest possible graphical settings.
Meanwhile, power draw testing is done using a mains inline power meter. The idle figure is taken when the system is simply on the Windows Desktop with no obvious background activity going on. The load test is then taken when running our Crysis timedemo at 1,920 x 1,200 with 2xAA. Likewise, noise levels are tested using the same idle and load scenarios as above. We isolate the test bed in a sound-proof box and record noise levels from about 30cm away.
We find that below about 40dB is indicative of a card that when housed in a conventional case will go unnoticed in a relatively quiet home office environment. For use in a 'silent' PC (for in the bedroom or cinema room) without resorting to sound-proofing your case, you'll want a card that's lower than 35dB at idle. As for under load, above about 50dB is a constantly noticeable level that would disturb you if using speakers or open-back headphones while gaming.
* Intel Core i7 965 Extreme Edition
* Asus P6T motherboard
* 3 x 1GB Qimonda IMSH1GU03A1F1C-10F PC3-8500 DDR3 RAM
* 150GB Western Digital Raptor
* Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium 64-bit
* AMD ATI HD 5970
* AMD ATI HD 5870
* AMD ATI HD 4870 X2
* nVidia GeForce GTX 295
* nVidia GeForce GTX 285
* AMD HD 5970 - Hemlock beta driver 8.663.1
* Other AMD ATI HD 5000 series - 5000 driver
* Other ATI cards - Catalyst 9.9
* nVidia cards - 190.02
* Far Cry 2
* Race Driver: GRID
* Call of Duty 4
* Counter-Strike: Source