Updated Evolve Graphics Card Benchmark - R9 290X vs. GTX 780, 960, 270X, & More

By Published February 10, 2015 at 6:00 pm

We're revisiting our Evolve benchmark, now that the game has fully launched and (some) drivers have been updated. Our previous Evolve bench tested the game's beta, but disclaimed heavily that the beta meant a lack of driver support and software-side optimization. The return benchmark uses much of the same methodology and represents the same game as previously, so this article will be a bit shorter in length.

Test Methodology

When benchmarking the fully-released version of Evolve, we changed our test methodology to instead test the game using the “dam” map on the “hunt” game mode. A predefined course was navigated for 60 seconds, at which point the benchmark was concluded, logged, and then repeated for parity. The results for this benchmark are not comparable to our Evolve beta benchmark due to the variable changes in testing, primarily that we're using more graphics-intensive (real-world) maps rather than the tutorial level.

The latest nVidia 347.52 driver was deployed for GeForce GPUs. AMD testing used the latest 14.12 Catalyst Omega drivers, which have not been updated since Evolve's launch. As AMD rolls-out updates, we can anticipate slight performance gains for Evolve.

The above is a video overview of our original, deprecated benchmarking course. This was the course used for the beta benchmark. Our new course instead used "Dam" for the map, significantly different in its demands from the above beta tutorial.

We tested Evolve on “Very High” and “Medium,” both at 1080p.

NVidia 347.52 drivers and AMD Catalyst Omega drivers (latest update) were utilized for all testing. FRAPS was used to capture gameplay benchmark data. FRAFS was used to analyze and interpret this data, which was then placed into a spreadsheet.

GN Test Bench 2013 Name Courtesy Of Cost
Video Card

(This is what we're testing).

XFX Ghost 7850 
GTX 750 Ti 2GB SuperClocked
GTX 770 2GB (we used reference).
GTX 780 Ti 3GB
AMD R9 290X 4GB (from CyberPower)
ASUS R7 250X 1GB
MSI R9 270X 2GB (we used reference).
GTX 980 4GB
XFX R9 285 2GB

CPU Intel i5-3570k CPU
Intel i7-4770K CPU (alternative bench).
Memory 16GB Kingston HyperX Genesis 10th Anniv. @ 2400MHz Kingston Tech. ~$117
Motherboard MSI Z77A-GD65 OC Board GamersNexus ~$160
Power Supply NZXT HALE90 V2 NZXT Pending
SSD Kingston 240GB HyperX 3K SSD Kingston Tech. ~$205
Optical Drive ASUS Optical Drive GamersNexus ~$20
Case Phantom 820 NZXT ~$130
CPU Cooler Thermaltake Frio Advanced Thermaltake ~$65

The system was kept in a constant thermal environment (21C - 22C at all times) while under test. 2x4GB memory modules were kept overclocked at 2133MHz. All case fans were set to 100% speed and automated fan control settings were disabled for purposes of test consistency and thermal stability.

A 120Hz display was connected for purposes of ensuring frame throttles were a non-issue. The native resolution of the display is 1920x1080. V-Sync was completely disabled for this test.

A few additional tests were performed as one-offs to test various graphics settings for impact.

The video cards tested include:

Evolve Benchmark – GTX 980 Issues

As posted about earlier today, we were unable to play Evolve with a GTX 980 due to driver crash errors (“DXGI_ERROR”). NVidia informs us that their test platform doesn't exhibit these issues, so we've chalked it up to some sort of driver-host bug that's throwing the error. For this reason, the GTX 980 does not appear on the below benchmark.

Evolve Benchmark – 290X vs. GTX 770, 285, 780, etc.

evolve-bench-launch-1 evolve-bench-launch-2

On “very high” settings, the R9 290X ($340) rules over its nearby alternatives (GTX 980 could not be tested, as above, and we do not have a permanent 970 for test). The discontinued GTX 780 ($270) performs at roughly 80FPS, about 4FPS lower than the 290X. At $210, the R9 285 rounds-out the current-gen AMD options that exceed 60FPS. The GTX 960 and 270X remain highly playable at “very high,” just barely falling short of 60FPS. To this end, these cards would offer the greatest value at 1080p resolutions.

Dropping down to “medium” settings with FXAA, we see massive performance gains across the board for somewhat minimal visual impact. Gamers who need to drop down to “high” or “medium” don't lose out on a significant portion of the greater gaming experience, especially if the drop improves FPS to more fluid delivery. The 290X, 780, 285, and 770 (along with the 970 and 980) can all run Evolve at “very high” with no issues. The 270X, 960, and even the somewhat dated 7850 can all push medium settings with playable fluidity.

Conclusion: The 270X & GTX 960 Offer the Best Value for Evolve

Evolve isn't nearly as demanding as other AAA titles presently on the market, allowing for 1080p gaming with near-max settings on sub-$200 cards. If you're playing on a 1080 setup and have more of a budget, we'd recommend the R9 270X ($150) from AMD or GTX 960 ($210) from nVidia.

We didn't observe any noticeable stuttering or frame drops with the fully-released Evolve and new drivers, but if you've had a different experience, let us know below.

- Steve “Lelldorianx” Burke.

Steve Burke

Steve started GamersNexus back when it was just a cool name, and now it's grown into an expansive website with an overwhelming amount of features. He recalls his first difficult decision with GN's direction: "I didn't know whether or not I wanted 'Gamers' to have a possessive apostrophe -- I mean, grammatically it should, but I didn't like it in the name. It was ugly. I also had people who were typing apostrophes into the address bar - sigh. It made sense to just leave it as 'Gamers.'"

First world problems, Steve. First world problems.

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