Other Notes

Before jumping into our results, let’s quickly talk about testing.

For our test we are using the latest version of the Windows 10 technical preview – build 10041 – and the latest drivers from AMD, Intel, and NVIDIA. In fact for testing DirectX 12 these latest packages are the minimum versions that the test supports. Meanwhile 3DMark does of course also run on Windows Vista and later, however on Windows Vista/7/8 only the DirectX 11 and Mantle tests are available since those are the only APIs available.

From a test reliability standpoint the API Overhead Feature Test (or as we’ll call it from now, AOFT) is generally reliable under DirectX 12 and Mantle, however we would like to note that we have found it to be somewhat unreliable under DirectX 11. DirectX 11 scores have varied widely at times, and we’ve seen one configuration flip between 1.4 million draw calls per second and 1.9 million draw calls per second based on indeterminable factors.

Our best guess right now is that the variability comes from the much greater overhead of DirectX 11, and consequently all of the work that the API, video drivers, and OS are all undertaking in the background. Consequently the DirectX 11 results are good enough for what the AOFT has set out to do – showcase just how much incredibly faster DX12 and Mantle are – but it has a much higher degree of variability than our standard tests and should be treated accordingly.

Meanwhile Futuremark for their part is looking to make it clear that this is first and foremost a test to showcase API differences, and is not a hardware test designed to showcase how different components perform.

The purpose of the test is to compare API performance on a single system. It should not be used to compare component performance across different systems. Specifically, this test should not be used to compare graphics cards, since the benefit of reducing API overhead is greatest in situations where the CPU is the limiting factor.

We have of course gone and benchmarked a number of configurations to showcase how they benefit from DirectX 12 and/or Mantle, however as per Futuremark’s guidelines we are not looking to directly compare video cards. Especially since we’re often hitting the throughput limits of the command processor, something a real-world task would not suffer from.

The Test

Moving on, we also want to quickly point out the clearly beta state of the current WDDM 2.0 drivers. Of note, the DX11 results with NVIDIA’s 349.90 driver are notably lower than the results with their WDDM 1.3 driver, showing much greater variability. Meanwhile AMD’s drivers have stability issues, with our dGPU testbed locking up a couple of different times. So these drivers are clearly not at production status.

DirectX 12 Support Status
  Current Status Supported At Launch
AMD GCN 1.2 (285) Working Yes
AMD GCN 1.1 (290/260 Series) Working Yes
AMD GCN 1.0 (7000/200 Series) Working Yes
NVIDIA Maxwell 2 (900 Series) Working Yes
NVIDIA Maxwell 1 (750 Series) Working Yes
NVIDIA Kepler (600/700 Series) Working Yes
NVIDIA Fermi (400/500 Series) Not Active Yes
Intel Gen 7.5 (Haswell) Working Yes
Intel Gen 8 (Broadwell) Working Yes

And on that note, it should be noted that the OS and drivers are all still in development. So performance results are subject to change as Windows 10 and the WDDM 2.0 drivers get closer to finalization.

One bit of good news is that DirectX 12 support on AMD GCN 1.0 cards is up and running here, as opposed to the issues we ran into last month with Star Swarm. So other than NVIDIA’s Fermi cards, which aren’t turned on in beta drivers, we have the ability to test all of the major x86-paired GPU architectures that support DirectX 12.

For our actual testing, we’ve broken down our testing for dGPUs and for iGPUs. Given the vast performance difference between the two and the fact that the CPU and GPU are bound together in the latter, this helps to better control for relative performance.

On the dGPU side we are largely reusing our Star Swarm test configuration, meaning we’re testing the full range of working DX12-capable GPU architectures across a range of CPU configurations.

DirectX 12 Preview dGPU Testing CPU Configurations (i7-4960X)
Configuration Emulating
6C/12T @ 4.2GHz Overclocked Core i7
4C/4T @ 3.8GHz Core i5-4670K
2C/4T @ 3.8GHz Core i3-4370

Meanwhile on the iGPU side we have a range of Haswell and Kaveri processors from Intel and AMD respectively.

CPU: Intel Core i7-4960X @ 4.2GHz
Motherboard: ASRock Fatal1ty X79 Professional
Power Supply: Corsair AX1200i
Hard Disk: Samsung SSD 840 EVO (750GB)
Memory: G.Skill RipjawZ DDR3-1866 4 x 8GB (9-10-9-26)
Case: NZXT Phantom 630 Windowed Edition
Monitor: Asus PQ321
Video Cards: AMD Radeon R9 290X
AMD Radeon R9 285
AMD Radeon HD 7970
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 750 Ti
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680
Video Drivers: NVIDIA Release 349.90 Beta
AMD Catalyst 15.200.1012.2 Beta
OS: Windows 10 Technical Preview (Build 10041)


CPU: AMD A10-7850K
AMD A10-7700K
AMD A8-7600
AMD A6-7400L
Intel Core i7-4790K
Intel Core i5-4690
Intel Core i3-4360
Intel Core i3-4130T
Pentium G3258
Motherboard: GIGABYTE F2A88X-UP4 for AMD
ASUS Maximus VII Impact for Intel LGA-1150
Zotac ZBOX EI750 Plus for Intel BGA
Power Supply: Rosewill Silent Night 500W Platinum
Hard Disk: OCZ Vertex 3 256GB OS SSD
Memory: G.Skill 2x4GB DDR3-2133 9-11-10 for AMD
G.Skill 2x4GB DDR3-1866 9-10-9 at 1600 for Intel
Video Cards: AMD APU Integrated
Intel CPU Integrated
Video Drivers: AMD Catalyst 15.200.1012.2 Beta
Intel Driver Version
OS: Windows 10 Technical Preview (Build 10041)
3DMark API Overhead Feature Test Discrete GPU Testing
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  • Barilla - Friday, March 27, 2015 - link

    Yeah, 285 might outperform the 980 but keep in mind this is a very specific test only focusing one one aspect of rendering a frame. I mean, a man can accelerate faster than an F1 car over very short distance of few meters, but that doesn't really mean much in the real world.
    Keeping my fingers crossed though since I've always been AMD fan and I hope they can egain some market share.
  • AndrewJacksonZA - Friday, March 27, 2015 - link

    What @Barilla said.
  • akamateau - Thursday, April 30, 2015 - link

    ALL Radeon will outperfrom nVidia if the Radeon dGPU is fed by AMD siliocn. Intel degrades AMD Radeon silicon.
  • lowlymarine - Friday, March 27, 2015 - link

    The Wii U is based on PowerPC 7xx/G3 and RV770, not ARM or GCN. Unless you're referring the the recently-announced "NX" which for all we know may not even be a traditional home console.
  • eanazag - Friday, March 27, 2015 - link

    I did some math on what available information there is for the 390 versus the Titan and it seems to go toe-to-toe. If it has a lead, it won't be huge. I compared some leaked slides with the numbers Anandtech had for the Titan review. I suspect it will use a lot more electricity though and create more heat.

    We can likely expect it to have much more compute built-in.
  • Refuge - Friday, March 27, 2015 - link

    It doesn't really say anything about the performance of the 285x or the 980, or any of the others for that matter.

    Just because they can make a couple more million draw calls a second doesn't mean you will ever see anything.

    Just means the video card is really good at screaming for more work, not doing it. Hell these draw calls are all way beyond anything realistic anyhow, you will NEVER have one of these GPU's ever make half as many draw calls as being shown in this test in any real world usage scenario.
  • Vayra - Saturday, March 28, 2015 - link

    If anything I would say that the Nvidia cards are more refined and more balanced, based on these draw call results. Nvidia has optimized more to get the most out of Dx11 while AMD shows a lead on actual hardware capacity through the greater gains both relative and absolute on draw call numbers. It is the very same trend you also see in the amount of hardware both companies use in their top tiered cards to achieve similar performance - AMD uses more, Nvidia uses less and wins on efficiency gains.
  • Crunchy005 - Monday, March 30, 2015 - link

    Well AMD does win at double precision even over the Titan X. Nvidia pulled a lot of the double precision hardware to save on power, one of the ways maxwell is more efficient. This isn't a bad thing in the gaming community but ruins the Titan X for a lot of compute scenarios. So Nvidia really did lose out a lot in one area to beat AMD at efficiency.

  • akamateau - Thursday, April 30, 2015 - link

    If Anandtech benched Radeon silicon being fed by AMD FX or A10 then NO INTEL/nVidia siliocn would even come close to AMD GCN enabled Asynchronous Shader hardware. Intel and nVidia are now second rate siliocn in a DX12 world.

    Why do yo think so many folks trashed MANTLE. FUD!!!!
  • xenol - Friday, March 27, 2015 - link

    Even if there were no consoles, games wouldn't be targeted for high end PCs. They will be targeted for lower end PCs to increase the amount of market share they can reach. Maybe once in a blue moon, some developer who doesn't care about that will make the next Crysis.

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