Ultra Quality Performance
At 1680x1050 the GeForce GTX 580 was the fastest single-GPU graphics card tested with an average frame rate of 64fps and a minimum of 51fps. In comparison the Radeon HD 6970 was nowhere to be seen, as it was much slower than even the old GTX 480. Surprisingly the Radeon HD 6970 averaged 50fps with a minimum of 35fps, which is extremely disappointing 1680x1050 performance for AMD users.
The Radeon HD 6990 and Radeon HD 6970 Crossfire configurations were substantially faster, but not on par of the GeForce GTX 590 and GTX 580 SLI setups that cracked the 100fps barrier.
At 1920x1200 the Radeon HD 6970 was only able to average 41fps, which is much slower than the 53fps managed by the GeForce GTX 580. The minimum frame rate on the Radeon dropped to 31fps which was still playable but far from ideal. This leaves AMD users in an awkward position. They either need the Radeon HD 6990 or a Crossfire configuration that delivers comparable horsepower. The killer setting for AMD is not the Ultra settings in general but rather 4xMSAA.
Typically at 2560x1600 we find that AMD graphics cards have an advantage, but this is not the case when testing Battlefield 3 with 4xMSAA enabled. The Radeon HD 6970 averaged just 26fps opposed to the 34fps of the GeForce GTX 580.
Even with 34fps the GeForce GTX 580 was unable to deliver consistently smooth frame rates. At 2560x1600 with the ultra-settings enabled you'll to take advantage of multi-GPU setups that are at least equal to the Radeon HD 6990 in terms of performance. The same will be true for those running multiple monitor setups for extreme resolutions.
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