GPU Test Bench and Benchmarking Refresher

The Gameplay Experience

To test performance we use a myriad of different applications based on the workload and use case scenario.  We default to games, as we want to cater to the enthusiast gamer.  However, we will also use video transcoding, 3D rendering, and GPGPU type of benchmarks as needed as well for the topic we are reviewing.  For standard video card reviews, games are our go-to.

We use a mixture of games that push the hardware in different aspects.  We want to utilize newer games when possible, and forward-looking APIs like DX12 and Vulkan.  We also want to utilize games that utilize forward-looking features like Ray Tracing, DLSS, FidelityFX, TressFX, and other unique features that AMD and NVIDIA may introduce.

All facets of a GPU matter, from rasterization performance to ray tracing performance and AI performance. Game features are growing, and the GPU capacity for accelerating them is expanding. We must be aware of this and make sure these aspects are tested and reported. A game is made up of a sum of features and effects, and we will not limit ourselves to ignoring features from GPUs that transform the gameplay experience. We feel that it is the gameplay experience that matters, which includes fast performance and utilizing features that improve the overall experience of playing games.  We want to see games transformed by GPUs to bring us new experiences and gameplay. 

We will always compare video cards based on an apples-to-apples process at the same settings.  We will test with and without special game features to show how they perform and compare.  We will test video cards against video cards to see which one is faster and thus provides a better gameplay experience.  We will test and compare video cards to see which one is faster with special features enabled which will improve the gameplay experience. 

The Results

Our results are shown in a bar-graph format for easy viewing and we display the average FPS.  We utilize in-game benchmarks where we can to ensure consistent and comparable results.  By doing it this way it also allows you at home to benchmark the games and directly compare your results with ours so you can see what kind of an upgrade a new video card may provide for you.  We feel that at the end of the day it is you that must make your own decision whether a video card is for you or not.  Our job is to provide the data for you so that you can make an informed buying decision.  If you can take our data, and make comparisons to your own system, then the information is all the more useful.

Testing All Aspects

In our reviews we will also test the power draw of the entire system, in Wattage with the video card installed.  With these comparisons you will be able to see which video card is more efficient at overall power draw.  We will show you temperature comparisons of the GPU as well. 

One unique thing we also do is to show you the real-world gaming GPU frequency the GPU will run at while playing an actual game.  To do this we record the GPU frequency every second utilizing GPUz or other tools while playing a game.  Then we take that data and graph it out over time.  In this way, we can see what the average frequency is, the minimums and maximum, as well as the consistency.  Consistency is key, and by mapping out the frequency we can see which video cards maintain their frequency better over time. 

With the above data, we can then make overclocking comparisons.  We will overclock the video cards as high as possible on GPU and memory.  We will be able to compare the overclock with the base GPU frequency and see how high we can get it.  Then we will go through and test performance all over again so that we can compare performance with the default performance.  In this way, we can see the overall performance bump we get from overclocking the video card, plus how it compares to the competition once overclocked.

The Future

We have also built our test system with the future in mind.  We do plan to upgrade the test system to AMD’s Zen 3 Ryzen 4000 series CPU when they are launched.  A Ryzen 7 4700X would make an excellent replacement upgrade for our Ryzen 7 3700X.  That upgrade alone will keep our test system ticking and provide plenty of CPU performance for future GPUs.  We will probably also perform an SSD upgrade at some point to PCI-Express 4.0 x4 and if released, maybe a chipset upgrade to AMD X670 if such a beast comes out.  All of this will ensure a solid upgrade path to feed future GPUs.

Final Points

This is our basic premise behind our reviews, and what you will get here on our website moving forward.  If you’d like to see a run-down of our test system and what the components look like check out it out on the KIT page.  You can expect an honest, and critical review as we provide all the data we can for you to make an informed buying decision. The buying decision is yours, but the least we can do is give you all the information you need to make an informed one. We welcome feedback for improvement, drop a line in the forums, or contact me personally via email for suggestions.


Brent Justice
Former managing editor of GPUs at HardOCP for 18 years, Brent Justice has been reviewing computer components since the late 90s, educated in the art and method of the computer hardware review, he brings experience, knowledge, and hands-on testing with a gamer-oriented and hardware enthusiast perspective. You can follow him on Twitter - @Brent_Justice You can sub to his YouTube channel - Justice Gaming You can check out his computer builds on KIT - @BrentJustice

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