The Power of 3 - Investigating the Trinity

Test Setup

Test Setup

To evaluate NVIDIA's Power of 3 platform, we've put together the best NVIDIA/Intel system and the best all AMD system available now. To further spice things up, we've also included a test bed which swaps the Lynnfield Core i7-870 processor for a less powerful Core i5-750 processor, and also another which swaps the GeForce GTX 295 for the Radeon HD 5870.

Obviously, the NVIDIA/Intel setup running on the i7-870 will be much costlier than our all AMD setup, so we wanted to include the more affordable Core i5-750 in our tests to see how a more competitively priced setup will perform. In fact, AMD's Phenom II X4 965 processor is evenly matched in price with the Core i5-750. Motherboard choices are aplenty but we're certain they can be similarly priced as well, so that takes care of the even playing field in terms of platform choices in this comparison. Also, we are also interested to see if using a much slower clocked Core i5-750 processor will have any discernible effect on performance when pitted against a much higher clocked AMD processor.

Lastly, we are swapping the GeForce GTX 295 on our Intel setup for the Radeon 5870 to see, across the same platform, which is the faster card. Also, please note that we are using newer graphics card drivers in this comparison than in our last graphics card review, and as such, these results are newer than those published earlier and cannot be directly compared.

Here are the complete system specifications:

  • Intel Lynnfield Core i7-870 processor (2.93GHz) / Core i5-750 processor (2.66GHz)
  • ASUS Sabertooth 55i motherboard
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 295 graphics card (ForceWare 191.07)
  • 2 x 2GB DDR3-1333 OCZ memory in dual channel mode
  • Seagate 7200.10 200GB SATA hard drive
  • Windows 7 Ultimate


  • AMD Phenom II X4 965 processor (3.4GHz)
  • MSI AMD 790GX-G65 motherboard
  • ATI Radeon HD 5870 graphics card (Beta 8.66)
  • 2 x 2GB DDR3-1333 Kingston memory in dual channel mode
  • Seagate 7200.10 200GB SATA hard drive
  • Windows 7 Ultimate

Our all AMD setup uses a Phenom II X4 955 processor mated to AMD's 790GX chipset, and is further complemented by the latest Radeon 5870 graphics card.

We'll be running the systems on the latest Windows 7 operating system along with our usual benchmarks, but with one new addition, and that is Unigine's Heaven benchmark. We are introducing this benchmark, because it's an excellent showcase of how tessellation on DirectX 11 works. We'll elaborate later, but first, here is the complete list of benchmarks used:

  • Futuremark 3DMark06
  • Futuremark 3DMark Vantage
  • Crysis Warhead
  • Far Cry 2
  • Warhammer: Dawn of War 2
  • "Heaven" from Unigine
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