A week of benchmarking behind us, we've now tested most major aspects of Rockstar's new GTA V PC release. We've elected to adopt the game into our test methodology for future component reviews, given its wide performance demands and load balancing between the CPU and GPU. This final GTA V benchmark looks at CPU bottlenecking at various resolutions and settings; we pit the 3570K, 4790K, FX-8320E, FX-8370E, FX-9690, G3258, and Athlon 760K against one another.

The selection casts a wide net for core count and price points, hopefully illustrating where CPU bottlenecks may appear in playing GTA V.

GTA V shipped alongside an onslaught of graphics settings – none of which offer tool-tips – that can vastly control the fluidity of gameplay. In our recent and comprehensive GTA V benchmark, we tested multiple video cards for FPS at simple “max” and “high” settings, fluctuating resolution between 1080, 1440, and 4K along the way. That content now behind us, we took the opportunity to objectively benchmark various graphics settings for performance differences, then took a few screenshots for comparison of those settings.

This GTA V optimization guide assists in choosing the best graphics settings for frame-limited video cards, explaining the options along the way.

NVidia's latest addition to the Titan family diverges from its predecessors' market objectives. Previous Titan cards were fully double-precision enabled, ensuring marketability as affordable production and simulation cards that, by nature, also served reasonably as gaming cards. Because double-precision is detrimental to gaming performance, the original Titan and current Titan Z can be set to “single-precision mode” to better game, but aren't targeted as the “best gaming video card” out there. The Titan X is; in fact, that's exactly what nVidia calls it – the best single-GPU on the market. The selection of these words is intentional, ruling-out dual-GPU single cards (like the 295X2 or 690) and multi-card configurations (like what we're testing today).

Because the Titan X is heavily marketed as a gaming solution, something reinforced by offering just 1/32 of SP in DP performance, we decided to perform a value comparison between 2xGTX 980s in SLI. The SLI configuration offers indisputably powerful raw computational output, but has a smaller memory capacity than the Titan X's 12GB single-GPU pool.

Following our GTA V benchmark from yesterday, we decided to embark on a mission to determine the impact of texture qualities on system performance and visual acuity. We took screenshots of identical objects at Very High, High, and Normal texture resolutions at 4K, then compared the textures in combined screenshots. During this process, maximum theoretical VRAM consumption and texture quality impact on FPS and tearing were also analyzed, resulting in a specific settings benchmark for GTA V.

It's finally here.

Grand Theft Auto V took its time to migrate to PC, and from our preliminary overview and testing, it seems like the wait was worthwhile. GTA V's PC port exhibits unique PC features, like a VRAM consumption slider indicative of the maximum VRAM requirement of the current settings. The port also added first-person mode, complete with new 3D models and animations for the characters' arms, phone, guns, and what-have-you. As you'll find out in our benchmark results below, the game is also incredibly well-optimized across most graphics card configurations, something we can't say has been true for most games in recent history.

These things take time, and RockStar certainly took as much of that as it needed.

Using a suite of video cards spanning the Titan X, SLI GTX 980s, R9 290X and 270Xs, GTX 960s, 750 Ti cards, and more, we benchmarked GTA V in an intensive test. This GTA V PC benchmark compares FPS of various graphics cards at maximum settings in 1080p, 1440p, and 4K resolutions.

This article makes no intentions to comment on gameplay value.

The first consumer-priced PCI-e SSDs are finally trickling to market. OCZ's RevoDrive was one of the only consumer-facing PCI-e SSDs, priced out of range for most gamers and facing somewhat widespread endurance and stability issues as the device aged. During a period of SandForce domination, the industry waited for the third-generation refresh of the SF controllers to introduce widespread PCI-e SSDs. The third gen controllers promised what effectively would act as an interface toggle, allowing manufacturers to purchase a single controller supply for all SATA and PCI-e SSDs, then “flip the bit” depending on demand. Such an effort would reduce cost, ultimately passed on to the user. This controller saw unrelenting delays, giving rise to alternatives in the meantime.

Then M.2 became “a thing,” bringing smaller SSDs to notebooks and desktops. The M.2 standard is capable of offering superior throughput to SATA III (6Gbps) by consuming PCI-e lanes. Pushing data through the PCI-e bus, M.2 devices circumnavigate the on-board SATA controller and its abstraction layers, responsible for much of the overhead showcased in peak 550MB/s speeds. The M.2 interface can operate on a four-lane PCI-e 2.0 configuration to afford a maximum throughput of 2GB/s (before overhead), though – as with all interfaces – this speed is only awarded to capable devices. Each PCI-e 2.0 lane pushes 0.5GB/s (GT/s). Some M.2 devices utilize just two PCI-e lanes, restricting themselves to 1GB/s throughput but freeing-up the limited count of PCI-e lanes on Haswell CPUs (16 lanes from the CPU, up to 8 lanes from the chipset).

Following the launch of 2GB cards, major board partners – MSI and EVGA included – have begun shipment of 4GB models of the GTX 960. Most 4GB cards are restocking availability in early April at around $240 MSRP, approximately $30 more expensive than their 2GB counterparts. We've already got a round-up pending publication with more in-depth reviews of each major GTX 960, but today, we're addressing a much more basic concern: Is 4GB of VRAM worth it for a GTX 960?

This article benchmarks an EVGA GTX 960 SuperSC 4GB card vs. our existing ASUS Strix GTX 960 2GB unit, testing each in 1080, 1440p, and 4K gaming scenarios.

Consoles have long touted the phrase “close to the metal” as a means to explain that game developers have fewer software-side obstacles between their application and the hardware. One of the largest obstacles and enablers faced by PC gaming has been DirectX, an API that enables wide-sweeping compatibility (and better backwards compatibility), but also throttles performance with its tremendous overhead. Mantle, an effort of debatable value, first marketed itself as a replacement for Dx11, proclaiming DirectX to be dead. Its primary advantage was along the lines of console development: Removing overhead to allow greater software-hardware performance. Then DirectX 12 showed up.

DirectX is a Microsoft API that has been a dominant programming interface for games for years. Mantle 1.0 is AMD's abandoned API and is being deprecated as developers shift to adopt Dx12. The remnants of Mantle's codebase are being adapted into OpenGL, a graphics API that asserts minimal dominance in the desktop market.

With AMD's Mantle in dire straits and losing ongoing support, the question of timing for its inevitable death has been fresh in our minds. Microsoft's DirectX 12 promises to accomplish many of the same objectives that made Mantle appealing – namely, putting developers “closer to the metal” – while being distributed alongside the prolific Windows OS; this, we think, has already stifled Mantle's viability to developers.

As we ramp into GDC and PAX East, we're using the gap in review time to overhaul our testing methodology and test platforms. Yesterday's post revealed our open air GPU testing station, a direction that'll drastically improve our efficiency when testing multiple graphics configurations. Today, we're looking at the new case review test bench. The site has grown substantially in the past two years; we'll no longer be using the same bench for testing all components, and will now use individual systems for testing each component. This will eliminate chance of test error, improve efficiency, and allow each of our writers to specialize in an area.

GN's Staff Writer & Social Media Manager, Patrick Lathan, will be handling most ATX and micro-ATX case reviews going forward. As such, I dropped off a load of parts for Patrick's new test bench, which will be put to immediate use with NZXT's S340. Following his review of the S340, we'll look at Be Quiet's Silent Base 800.

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