Biostar TForce 570 SLI
2x1Gb OCZ 6400 Platinum
2x74Gb WD Raptors RAID0
The first round of tests will use Futuremark's 3DMark series of benchmarks. 3DMark03, 05 and 06 rely primarily on the video card although some performance of the processor and overall system is calculated into the scores.
Using these popular synthetic benchmarks we find that the card scales very well, netting around a 10% increase across the board when overclocked from "stock" speeds. The newer Forceware 163.71 driver manages to edge out the older 162.18 version that ships with the card. This is typical of newer driver releases as manufacturers will continually optimize their software to perform better and gain higher scores.
Next up I will look at two older benchmarks that are much more dependent on the performance of the CPU and overall system as well as the graphics card: 3DMark2001SE and Aquamark3D.
Here we find that the gains from overclocking the card do not have nearly as big an impact on the final score. Rather than the 10% increase we saw from the newer Futuremark benchmarks, now we're getting only a 1-2% boost in performance. It is also interesting to note that the MSI provided driver outscores the newer WHQL release in both tests.
For the final round of tests I'm going to run some actual game demos. These should give a more "real-world" demonstration of the card's potential when doing what it was designed to do, play games. I'll be using Doom3, Far Cry and Half-Life 2... arguably three older games, but ones that almost everyone should be familiar with. Resolution was set to match my LCD at 1280x1024 and the Maximum settings option was used, Ultra settings in Doom3's case. For Far Cry and HL2 I'll be using HOC's Steam and Anticitizen benchmarks and for Doom3 I'll use the built-in timedemo demo1.
All runs yield very respectable frame rates in the 80-90s range, plenty of speed to play these games at max settings. In fact we could probably afford to sacrifice a few FPS and crank up the AA/AF a bit. Overclocking the card improved game speed overall by 3-7% and while Far Cry and Doom3 show relatively no difference between driver versions, HL2 gets a substantial boost from the newer release.
On to final conclusion.