Meet The 2012 Graphics Charts: How We're Testing This Year

Selecting A Monitor And Choosing Resolutions

Selecting a Monitor

Based on usage statistics, we standardized on a 16:9 aspect ratio for the charts (don't worry, you'll still see 2560x1600 in our reviews). We also expanded the number of screen resolutions that get benchmarked, testing at 1280x720, 1920x1080, and 2560x1440. At each resolution, we use a suitable combination of quality settings for entry-level, performance, and extreme usage scenarios. Those all get explained on the next page. In order to objectively assess image quality, we switched to a fast H-IPS panel, which achieves a broader color range than common TN-based panels, along with a larger viewing angle and higher brightness.

After careful analysis, we chose Dell's U2711 as the basis for our test platform.

Technical Data
Make / Model
Dell U2711
Pixel Size (mm)0.233
Default Resolution:
2560x1440 (16:9)
Actual Screen Size/ Diagonal (inches)23.5x13.2 / 27.0
FPS (Hz)56-75 (HDMI: 24 / 48 / 50 / 60)
Max. Line Frequency / Video Bandwidth (kHz/MHz)30-89 / 165
Color Spaces Preset/User: 7/1 and 4/1

Due to the noticeably increased performance of current and to-be-released high-end graphics cards, testing at 2560x1440 becomes more important. The ubiquitous 1080p resolution with 1920x1080 pixels, typically offered by LCD monitors in the 22” to 24” range, is the new mid-range charts setting. At the low end, we also test with the relatively smaller 720p resolution with 1280x720 pixels. Obviously, we can't test with all possible resolutions, but feel free to interpolate test results using this handy resolution table:

DesignationWidth in PixelsHeight in PixelsTotal Pixels
Aspect Ratio
SVGA800600480 0004:3
XGA1024768786 4324:3
XGA+1152768884 7363:2
HD7201280720921 60016:9
WXGA1280768983 04016:9
12808001 024 00016:10
13667681 049 08816:9
SXGA128010241 310 7205:4
WSXGA14409601 382 4003:2
SXGA+144010501 512 0004:3
WSXGA+168010501 764 00016:10
UXGA160012001 920 0004:3
HD1080192010802 073 60016:9
WUXGA192012002 304 00016:10
HD1440256014403 686 40016:9
WQXGA256016004 096 00016:10

With our monitor choice established, let's have a look at the three different preset levels that we use to benchmark entry-level, mid-range, and high-end graphics cards.

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  • mi1ez
    Who the hell did that first image on P1? 2002 again is it?
  • tracker45
    what image ?
  • janiashvili
    would be happy to see GPU rending benchmarks(using well known renderers for well known softwares). you always can download trial softwares, so that should not be problem. compare e.g. mental ray vs iray; vray with its GPU version; and stuff like that)
  • mactronix
    So help me out here just to check. You need a 7770 before you have a card capable of playing games at entry level ?
    And a 6950 or a 560 Ti are not enough to play at Performance 1080 p ?

    If I am reading this correctly then I think the charts are setting expectations a little high.