Nvidia sent a G-Sync panel — Acer's superb, 3840x2160-resolution XB280HK gaming monitor — along with the Titan X for us to test, and it's easy to see why. When enabled in a compatible monitor, Nvidia's G-Sync technology forces the graphics card and the display to synchronize their refresh rates, which makes stuttering and screen tearing practically disappear. (Monitor makers are expected release displays with AMD's competing FreeSync soon.)
Merely reading the words on a screen doesn't do the technology justice. It rocks. G-Sync makes games buttery smooth. When it's paired with the Titan X at 4K resolution, you won't even care that the games aren't technically hitting 60fps.
That said, I disabled G-Sync and MFAA during our benchmark tests to level the playing field for Radeon cards. For comparison benchmarks, we included AMD and Nvidia's top-end mainstream consumer cards — the R9 290X and GTX 980, respectively — as well as two 980s running in SLI and AMD's Radeon R9 295x2, a single-card solution that packs a pair of the same GPUs found in the 290X. And, of course, the original Titan.
Since most people don't commit GPU specs the memory the same way they do obscure baseball statistics from 64 years ago, here's a quick refresher chart to help. The Radeon R9 295x2 isn't on the chart but it's essentially two 290X GPUs crammed into one card.
An interesting side-note: The R9 290X refused to play nice on the G-Sync monitor, flickering constantly. A 4K Dell UltraSharp was called in as cavalry. All tests were done in our DIY test bench consisting of the following components. (You can find full details in our build guide for the system.)
- Intel's Core i7-5960X with a Corsair Hydro Series H100i closed-loop water cooler
- An Asus X99 Deluxe motherboard
- Corsair's Vengeance LPX DDR4 memory,Obsidian 750D full tower case, and 1200-watt AX1200i power supply
- A 480GB Intel 730 series SSD (I'm a sucker for that skull logo!)
- Windows 8.1 Pro
First up we have Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor. While our reviewer wasn't blown away by the game itself, Shadow of Mordor garnered numerous industry awards in 2014 for its remarkable Nemesis system — and with the optional Ultra HD Texture pack installed, it can give modern graphics cards a beating. The add-on isn't even recommended for cards with less than 6GB of onboard RAM, though it'll still run on more memory-deprived cards. (Click to enlarge any graph or image in this article.)
The game was tested by using the Medium and High quality presets, then by using the Ultra HD texture back and manually cranking every graphics option to its highest setting (which Shadow of Mordor's Ultra setting doesn't actually do). You won't find numbers for the dual-GPU Radeon R9 295x2 here, because every time I tried change the game's resolution or graphics settings when using AMD's flagship, it promptly crashed the system, over and over and over again. Attempts to fix the problem proved fruitless.
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