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Test Hardware: Graphics Cards And Platform

Diablo III Performance, Benchmarked
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As always, we strive to represent game performance across a wide range of graphics hardware. We include cards ranging from the low-end Radeon HD 6450 and GeForce GT 210 to the powerful Radeon HD 7870 and GeForce GTX 580, plus GeForce GTX 460s in SLI and Radeon HD 6850s in CrossFire.

We had a couple of holes in our hardware lineup, though, and Zotac was kind enough to send over the GeForce cards we needed to fill them. Here are the models we used:

Zotac Synergy GeForce 210 DDR3

This entry-level card is strictly for budget users. However, armed with DDR3 (instead of DDR2) memory, the GeForce 210 can often produce playable game performance at low resolutions. Boasting a 520 MHz core and 1066 MT/s DDR3 memory, Zotac's Synergy model is passively cooled and completely silent.

Zotac GeForce GT 440 GDDR5

Most GeForce GT 440s come equipped with DDR3 memory. But a select few manufacturers offer the card with double-bandwidth GDDR5 memory, and Zotac is one of them. With an 810 MHz core and 3200 MT/s GDDR5 memory, this card is good competition for the DDR3-equipped Radeon HD 6670. Plus, it doesn't need a PCIe power connector.

Zotac AMP! GeForce GTX 550 Ti

As with all of the AMP! edition cards, Zotac's GeForce 550 Ti sports an exceptionally high factory overclock. In this case, the board employs a 1000 MHz core and 4400 MT/s GDDR5 memory. According to our research, this is highest factory-overclocked GeForce GTX 550 Ti available (along with Palit's Sonic Edition, which offers the same frequencies).

Zotac Synergy GeForce GTX 460

Zotac's Synergy edition consists of a GeForce GTX 460 matched up to a 192-bit memory bus. Its core clock matches Nvidia's reference at 675 MHz, as does its 3600 MT/s GDDR5 memory.

Note that we're using this product to demonstrate single-card performance, since the supply of 256-bit GeForce GTX 460s is drying up. Because we only have one of these boards, SLI performance is represented by two 256-bit GeForce GTX 460 cards.

Zotac AMP²! GeForce GTX 580

Factory overclocked to an 815 MHz core and 4100 MT/s GDDR5 memory, Zotac's AMP²! represents one of the fastest GeForce GTX 580s you can buy. Not only that, it sports twice the standard amount of memory (3 GB) and comes equipped with a Zalman VF-3000 cooler to keep noise and temperatures down.

Testing Notes

Keep in mind that we set all overclocked cards to reference specifications in order to represent the majority of products on the market.

With no in-game benchmark tool available, we had to devise one of our own. The best way to get reliable and repeatable performance was to run around the edge of Old Tristram, from the portal and back again, and record the frame rate with Fraps.

Test System
CPU
Intel Core i7-3960X (Sandy Bridge-E), 3.3 GHz @ 4.25 GHz , Six Cores, LGA 2011, 15 MB Shared L3 Cache, Hyper-Threading enabled.
Motherboard
ASRock X79 Extreme9 (LGA 2011) Chipset: Intel X79 Express
Networking
On-Board Gigabit LAN controller
Memory
Corsair Vengeance LP PC3-16000, 4 x 4 GB, 1600 MT/s, CL 8-8-8-24-2T
Graphics
GeForce 210 1 GB DDR3
GeForce GT 440 512 MB GDDR5
GeForce GTX 550 Ti 1 GB GDDR5
GeForce GTX 460 192-bit 768 MB GDDR5
GeForce GTX 580 3 GB GDDR5
2 x GeForce GTX 460 256-bit 1 GB GDDR5 in SLI

Radeon HD 6450 512 MB GDDR5
Radeon HD 6670 512 MB DDR3
Radeon HD 6770 1 GB GDDR5
Radeon HD 6850 1 GB GDDR5
Radeon HD 7870 2 GB GDDR5
2 x Radeon HD 6850 1 GB GDDR5 in CrossFire
Hard Drive
Samsung 470-series 256 GB (SSD)
Power
ePower EP-1200E10-T2 1200 W
ATX12V, EPS12V
Software and Drivers
Operating System
Microsoft Windows 7 x64, Service Pack 1
DirectX
DirectX 11
Graphics Drivers
Catalyst 12.4 WHQL, Nvidia 296.10 WHQL
Benchmarks
Diablo III Beta
Old Tristram area, 40 second FRAPS run
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  • 2 Hide
    mi1ez , 7 May 2012 13:35
    I can see happy lappy gaming here...
  • 0 Hide
    grahm , 8 May 2012 00:44
    What I would like to know is whether it runs on i5-3570K (with Intel's HD 4000) without discrete graphics. I don't mind 1024x768 and low everything.
  • 0 Hide
    jrtolson , 9 May 2012 01:01
    will it run on my 386?

    Diablo 3 is what dungeon seige 3 should have been, this game will sell by the bucket load, why? because Blizzard understand that a great game like diablo brand should be respected, not a dumbed down console game with silly control's, crap loot, boring plot, cut features (aka DS3)
  • 0 Hide
    jrtolson , 9 May 2012 01:13
    one thing to note tho, is that for game testing there should be a legacy system for a basis comparison,

    what i mean by this is, my rig is an amd fx60 duel core, 4gig ram, amd 4870 agp card and i duel boot both win xp (32bit) and win7 (64bit) for dx10 only games, i tend to stick to xp for just about everything..

    however even tho it will play and run all latest dx10 titles pretty well under win7 it does suffer from driver issues (tdr's etc) under xp it works flawlessly...

    this article does not say wot version of direct x it uses if it is 9, then i would have no problem with this game it is 10 then i may or may not have issues...

    however it would be nice to see a legacy AGP rig included in all benchmarks... :-)
  • 1 Hide
    Steveymoo , 9 May 2012 19:17
    Interesting to see that the gtx 460 SLI set up, is actually more than twice as fast as a single gtx 460. Blizzard have clearly found a way to bend space and time.