Radeon HD 7950 versus GeForce GTX 760
Earlier this week NVIDIA released the GeForce GTX 760 2GB video card at the $249.99 price point. The day the GTX 760 was released you could find board partners cards online for $249.99 Shipped, so it was a hard launch with product immediately available. That is priced very close to the AMD Radeon HD 7950 3GB video card that can now be found for $264.99 shipped (After a $20 Rebate) and it comes with four game titles (Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, Crysis 3, Bioshock Infinite and Tomb Raider). So, there is just a $15 price difference between the cards and one comes with no game bundle and the other comes with four game titles worth ~$170 if you paid full retail price for them. It looks like you have a pretty tough choice to make at the $250-$270 price point, so we figured we'd do a real quick performance shootout between these two desktop graphics cards. We won't be covering the software/driver features of the cards, but rather a real quick comparison of the AMD and NVIDIA reference cards and then we are jumping right to the performance numbers.
When it comes to overall length the AMD Radeon HD 7950 3GB video card measures in at 11-inches in length and the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760 2GB is just 9.5-inches in length. Sometimes in life size matters, but when it comes to computer cases, most prefer a smaller card since it usually fits better and offers improved airflow.
When it comes to power supply connectors, both cards use a pair of 6-pin PCIe power connectors. NVIDIA recommends a 500W Watt or greater power supply and AMD suggests the same.
When it comes to video outputs the AMD Radeon HD 7950 has a pair of mini-DisplayPort 1.2 connectors, a full size HDMI 1.4a output and a dual-link DVI-I. The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760 has dual-link DVI-I, dual-link DVI-D, HDMI and DisplayPort outputs. Depending on your monitor arrangement one of this configurations might be better than the other, but it really depends on your individal preferences as both cards offer great monitor support right out of the box.
The AMD Radeon HD 7950 3GB reference card that we are looking at today features the 'Tahiti' GPU with boost and comes clocked at 925MHz core and 1250MHz (5000MHz effective) on the 3GB GDDR5 memory. All new AMD Radeon HD 7950 video cards come with this product specification and the GPU Clock has been increased 75MHz from what it was originally released at.
The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760 2GB reference card uses the GK104 'Kepler' GPU and comes clocked at 980MHz on the 1152 CUDA cores and the 2GB of GDDR5 memory runs at 1502MHz (6008MHz effective). This GeForce GTX 700 series card supports GPU Boost 2.0, so it has a boost clock speed of 1033MHz.
|GeForce GTX 760||Radeon HD 7950 w/ Boost|
| Shader Units (ALUs)
|GPU||GK104 - Kepler||XT2 - Tahiti|
|Memory Size||2048 MB||3072 MB|
|GPU Base Clock||980 MHz (1033 MHz Boost)||925 MHz|
| Peak Pixel Fill Rate
||33 Gpixels/s||30 Gpixels/s|
|Memory Clock||1502 MHz||1250 MHz|
| Memory Bus
|Memory Bandwidth||192 GB/s||240 GB/s|
| Peak Power Draw
Now that we have the bare essentials covered we'll jump straight into testing!
Before we look at the numbers, let's take a brief look at the test system that was used. All testing was done using a fresh install of Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit and benchmarks were completed on the desktop with no other software programs running.
Video Cards & Drivers used for testing:
- NVIDIA GeForce 320.39
- AMD Catalyst 13.6 Beta 2
Intel X79/LGA2011 Platform
The Intel X79 platform that we used to test the all of the video cards was running the ASUS P9X79 Deluxe motherboard with BIOS 0305 that came out on 12/25/2012. The Corsair Vengeance 16GB 1866MHz quad channel memory kit was set to 1866MHz with 1.5v and 9-10-9-27 1T memory timings. The OCZ Vertex 3 240GB SSD was run with firmware version 2.25.
|The Intel X79 Test Platform|
Intel Core i7-3960X
ASUS P9X79 Deluxe
16GB Corsair 1866MHz
OCZ Vertex 3 240GB
Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit
AMD Radeon HD 7950 3GB Video Card GPU-Z Information:
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760 2GB Video Card GPU-Z Information:
Battlefield 3 (BF3) is a first-person shooter video game developed by EA Digital Illusions CE and published by Electronic Arts. The game was released in North America on October 25, 2011 and in Europe on October 28, 2011. It does not support versions of Windows prior to Windows Vista as the game only supports DirectX 10 and 11. It is a direct sequel to 2005's Battlefield 2, and the eleventh installment in the Battlefield franchise. The game sold 5 million copies in its first week of release and the PC download is exclusive to EA's Origin platform, through which PC users also authenticate when connecting to the game.
Battlefield 3 debuts the new Frostbite 2 engine. This updated Frostbite engine can realistically portray the destruction of buildings and scenery to a greater extent than previous versions. Unlike previous iterations, the new version can also support dense urban areas. Battlefield 3 uses a new type of character animation technology called ANT. ANT technology is used in EA Sports games, such as FIFA, but for Battlefield 3 is adapted to create a more realistic soldier, with the ability to transition into cover and turn the head before the body.
Benchmark Results: The AMD Radeon HD 7950 3GB and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760 2GB video cards are pretty close in Battlefield 3, but the GeForce GTX 760 2GB card was found to have a higher overall average frame rate! At 1920x1080 the GeForce GTX 760 was nearly 5% faster and at 5760x1080 it was 6.7% faster.
BioShock Infinite is a first-person shooter video game developed by Irrational Games, and published by 2K Games. BioShock Infinite is the third installment in the BioShock series, and though it is not part of the storyline of previous BioShock games, it does feature similar gameplay concepts and themes. BioShock Infinite uses a Modified Unreal Engine 3 game engine and was released worldwide on March 26, 2013.
We tested BioShock Infinite with the Ultra game settings.
Benchmark Results: The AMD Radeon HD 7950 3GB was able to redeem itself after loosing across the board in BF3 by winning across the board in Bioshock Infinite. The performance different was never larger than 1FPS though, so many would consider this a draw. There is not a significant performance difference between these cards in this game title.
Far Cry 3
Far Cry 3 is an open world first-person shooter video game developed by Ubisoft Montreal and published by Ubisoft for Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. It is the sequel to 2008's Far Cry 2. The game was released on December 4th, 2012 for North America. Far Cry 3 is set on a tropical island found somewhere at the intersection of the Indian and Pacific Oceans. After a vacation goes awry, player character Jason Brody has to save his kidnapped friends and escape from the islands and their unhinged inhabitants.
Far Cry 3 uses the Dunia Engine 2 game engine with Havok physics. The graphics are excellent and the game really pushes the limits of what one can expect from mainstream graphics cards. We set game title to 8x MSAA Anti-Aliasing and ultra quality settings.
Benchmark Results: The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760 2GB reference card performed 5.1% faster than the AMD Radeon HD 7950 3GB card at 1920x1080 and was 18% faster at 2560x1600. Sadly, it didn't have the frame buffer and power to win at 5760x1080, so the AMD Radeon HD 7950 was the winner at that resolution.
Hitman: Absolution is an action-adventure stealth DirecX 11 video game developed by IO Interactive and published by Square Enix. It is the fifth entry in the Hitman game series, and runs on IO Interactive's proprietary Glacier 2 game engine. This game title uses the Glacier 2 game engine and was released on November 20th, 2012.
We benchmarked Hitman: Absolution with Ultra Settings.
Benchmark Results: The AMD Radeon HD 7950 3GB was able to win across the board in Hitman Absolution. At 5760x1080 the Radeon HD 7950 was clearly dominant and had basically twice the performance. At 1920x1080 the Radeon HD 7950 3GB was found to be 8.2% faster than the GeForce GTX 760 2GB reference card.
Metro Last Light
Metro: Last Light is a first-person shooter video game developed by Ukrainian studio 4A Games and published by Deep Silver. The game is set in a post-apocalyptic world and features action-oriented gameplay with a combination of survival horror elements. It uses the 4A Game engine and was released in May 2013.
Metro Last Light was benchmarked with the games built-in benchmark with Very High quality settings, 16x AF, normal motion blur and DX11 tessellation set to normal. Advanced PhysX was disabled.
Benchmark Results: In Metro Last Light we found that both the AMD Radeon HD 7950 3GB and the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760 2GB cards performed the same at 5760x1080 and 2560x1600. Only at 1920x1080 did we see a difference in performance and that went to the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760 2GB with a 1FPS advantage.
On March 5th, 2013 Square Enix released Tomb Raider, billed as a reboot of the franchise. In Tomb Raider, the player is confronted with a much younger Lara Croft who is shipwrecked and finds herself stranded on a mysterious island rife with danger, both natural and human. In contrast to the earlier games Croft is portrayed as vulnerable, acting out of necessity, desperation and sheer survival rather than for a greater cause or personal gain.
The game has been built on Crystal Dynamics's game engine called the "Crystal Engine" and the graphics look fantastic. AMD and Crystal Dyanmic's worked on a new technology called TressFX Hair, which AMD describes as “the world’s first in-game implementation of a real-time, per-strand hair physics system” for this game title. We set the image quality to ultimate for benchmarking, but we disabled TressFX Hair under the advanced tab to be fair to NVIDIA graphics cards that don't support the feature.
Benchmark Results: The AMD Radeon HD 7950 2GB video card performed well on Tomb Raider and was able to win all three resolutions with ease. The Radeon HD 7950 2GB card was 8.6% faster than the GeForce GTX 760 2GB at a resolution of 1920x1080.
3Dmark Fire Strike Benchmark Results - For high performance gaming PCs
Use Fire Strike to test the performance of dedicated gaming PCs, or use the Fire Strike Extreme preset for high-end systems with multiple GPUs. Fire Strike uses a multi-threaded DirectX 11 engine to test DirectX 11 hardware.
Fire Strike Benchmark Results:
Benchmark Results: Futuremark 3DMark Fire Strike shows the AMD Radeon HD 7950 taking the victory with a 3DMark score of 6049 versus 5556 on the GTX 760. This works out to being a 8.9 percent performance difference.
Fire Strike Extreme:
Benchmark Results: When moving up to the 3DMark Fire Strike Extreme benchmark the results are similar, with the AMD Radeon HD 7950 being 5.9% faster than the GeForce GTX 760.
Catzilla is a relatively new benchmark that is made the Polish demoscene group Plasticis. something we are using for that reasonis being produced in collaboration with Polish post production company, Plastige. Plastige is the company that worked on Witcher 2 Enhanced Edition and some of the developers there were behind the PlayStation Network game Datura. The benchmark uses a parallel graphics engine that takes advantage of multi-core CPUs. This isn't a benchmark being made in some kids basement and it doesn't appear to be bought off by any companies yet, so it should be a good benchmark to use.
While this benchmark is in beta phases, we still have found that Catzilla is a good cross-API benchmark. You also can't go wrong with a benchmark that has a giant animated cat nuke cities with its laser eyes as you do. You can watch a video of the benchmark in action below.
We purchased Catzilla Advanced and ran the full Catzilla benchmark at 2560x1440. This 1440p benchmark is designed for high-end computers, which is perfect as that is where these video cards are going to end up!
Benchmark Results: Catzilla showed the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760 scoring better overall by a decent amount at a screen resolution of 2560x1440. Catzilla showed the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760 being 26% faster than the Radeon HD 7950, which is a good bit.
Noise and Temps
Temperature & Noise Testing
Temperatures are important to enthusiasts and gamers, so we took a bit of time and did some temperature testing on the MSI GeForce GTX 760 Gaming OC 2GB video card
AMD Radeon HD 7950 3GB Idle Temperature:
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760 2GB Idle Temperature:
In a room that was 20C (70F) we found a very significant difference in idle temperatures. The AMD Radeon HD 7970 was at 37C and the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760 was at 29C!
AMD Radeon HD 7950 3GB Gaming Temperature:
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760 2GB Gaming Temperature:
When playing Far Cry 3 and Battlefield 3 for about 30 minutes each, we hit 82C on the GeForce GTX 760 and 72C on the Radeon HD 7950 2GB. So, we again have a toss up. The AMD Radeon HD 7950 runs cooler when gaming, but the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760 runs cooler at idle.
Here you can see the results in comparison with some of the other cards we have been looking at over the past month.
We recently upgraded our sound meter to an Extech sound level meter with ±1.5dB accuracy that meets Type 2 standards. This meter ranges from 35dB to 90dB on the low measurement range, which is perfect for us as our test room usually averages around 36dB. We measure the sound level two inches above the corner of the motherboard with 'A' frequency weighting. The microphone wind cover is used to make sure no wind is blowing across the microphone, which would seriously throw off the data.
When it comes to noise levels the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760 2GB card is 2.4dB quieter when gaming, but is about the same noise level as the AMD Radeon HD 7950 when in an idle state. Another split decision here!
For testing power consumption, we took our test system and plugged it into a Kill-A-Watt power meter. For idle numbers, we allowed the system to idle on the desktop for 15 minutes and took the reading. For load numbers we ran three games at 1920x1080 and averaged the peak results seen on the power meter.
Power Consumption Results: Both the AMD Radeon HD 7950 3GB and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760 2GB use within 5 Watts of power between them at both idle and when gaming. That is very close and again not a significant difference by any means.
Final Thoughts and Conclusion
At the end of the day, the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760 2GB and the AMD Radeon HD 7950 3GB video cards perform very closely together. For right around $250 either of these cards are more than capable of powering a single monitor gaming system without a problem. We were also impressed by what they could do on a 5760x1080 triple monitor setup thanks to NVIDIA Surround and AMD Eyefinity.
The AMD Radeon HD 7950 has 3GB of GDDR5 memory that runs on a 384-bit bus and we expected it to excel at higher resolutions. The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760's 2GB of memory on the 256-bit bus performed well except in Far Cry 3 and Hitman when our 8xAA setting filled the frame buffer. It was impressive to see the GeForce GTX 760 winning at times in the higher resolutions despite having less memory, a smaller pipe and less memory bandwidth.
When it comes to pricing you can find the EVGA GeForce GTX 760 2GB w/ ACX Cooler for $249.99 Shipped and the PowerColor Radeon HD 7950 3GB w/ Boost for $264.99 Shipped After Rebate. The GeForce GTX 760 2GB and the Radeon HD 7950 3GB w/ Boost are both excellent cards. The performance between the cards is very close as is the price point, power consumption, noise and so on. The AMD Radeon HD 7950 comes with a nice game bundle, but are they game titles that you still need or want? The choice here is really yours and it will come down to brand preference, driver preference and the software features available to both cards. We didn't want to get caught up in that for this performance review, so we stuck to just the numbers and hope that we have helped you in your search for the right graphics card!
Legit Bottom Line: The AMD Radeon HD 7950 and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760 perform at the same level and are also in the same price segment. It all comes down to brand preference and software features!