Our graphics card test bench has been long overdue for an upgrade. We really can’t even call the old system a test bench as it was housed in a PC case. Taking into account that graphics card reviews are some of our most popular articles and the fact we really wanted to provide the best, in-depth, and thorough articles possible it was time for an upgrade. Our new test bench houses some of the latest hardware available, is a true test bench, and we have some extra accessories for testing power consumption and sound levels as well.
The Test Bench
We wanted a true test bench, not a case for this, and something that would make it easy to swap out graphics cards. After looking around we decided on the Lian Li PC-T80. Its design is solid and allows us to easily swap out graphics cars. On top of that it has liquid cooling support not only for our CPU, but for graphics cards that have liquid cooling solutions.
We recently reviewed the Gigabyte X99-UD4 and it seemed like the perfect fit for our test bench. It comes in as an entry-level X99 motherboard and we feel this is what most users would be using. It also has perfectly spaced 4-way graphics card support so we can test different SLI and CrossFire setups.
Intel has supplied us with the i7-5960X and this gives us the maximum CPU performance of the X99 platform and also gives us the maximum number of PCI-Express lanes for our motherboard.
We are using pretty basic memory here, Crucial’s 32GB DDR4 JEDEC kit. This is actually the first DDR4 memory kit we have reviewed and has turned out to be one of the most solid.
The Power Supply
We have gone with Corsair’s HX1200i power supply. This power supply is 80PLUS Platinum certified and connects with Corsair’s Link software so we can monitor everything. Being 1200W it gives us flexibility if we are testing multi-GPU setups. The unit is also 100% modular so we only use the cables we need, which makes for less cable mess.
The Hard Drive
No mechanical hard drive here! We went with the Crucial BX100 512GB solid state drive. 512GB should be ample space for all of our benchmarking software and games to fit.
Cooling off our CPU is the Corsiar H80i GT Liquid CPU Cooler. This provides great cooling and is not that loud which is good for our sound level testing. It also is quite easy to remove in the case we need to swap out our motherboard.
Our old test bench was limited to 1080p graphics testing. While 1080p is standard now, 1440p and 4K resolutions are becoming more popular so we went out and bought a new 4K display. We opted for the Dell P2415Q 24-Inch display. This will allow us to provide benchmark results for 1080p, 1440p and 4K resolutions.
Power Consumption Testing
We will be using a Kill-A-Watt meter to test overall power consumption of our system and graphics cards. With the Corsair HX1200i we can also record power levels.
To test sound generated by graphics cards we will be using the Galaxy Audio CM130 Sound Pressure Level Meter. Measurements will be taken from different points around the test bench.
Our testing procedures were definitely in need of an upgrade as well! New games included in our test suite include Batman Arkham Origins, Bioshock Ultimate, GTA V, FarCry 4, GRID Autosport, Max Payne 3, and Metro Last Light Redux. These games push the limits of what graphics cards can do, especially at 4K resolution.
So stay tuned as we will have some great graphics card reviews coming your way!