The other night AMD unveiled their new Radeon RX 480 to the world during a livestream from Computex 2016. Showing off the appearance of the card and revealing its new feature set, such as 14nm FinFet technology, a lower power draw and being able to pump out over 5 TFLOPS of compute performance. Along with this feature set they also showed off a pair of the RX 480s running against the higher priced NVIDIA GTX 1080 with the benchmark for Ashes of the Singularity in DX12. And that’s when the questions started… It was immediately apparent to those watching the livestream that something was different about the two streams, and it wasn’t the framerate. It was the fact that both looked a bit different, something that wasn’t as easy for the attendants to see, thanks to picture shared with me from custompcreview.com staff that was at the event because they were watching on a projector while those of us at home were watching a direct feed.
Video from AMD showing the benchmark run
The initial claims that were floating about on Twitter and Reddit were claiming that the RX 480 looked as though they were using lower settings and that’s how the pair of RX 480s was able to exceed the performance of the GTX 1080 in DX12 with this game. While we noticed the discrepancy we weren’t jumping to any conclusions about what we were seeing. It wasn’t long before Robert Hallock of AMD went to /r/amd on Reddit to make his statement including the settings and test system that was used for both cards.
- CPU: i7 5930K
- RAM: 32GB DDR4-2400Mhz
- Motherboard: Asrock X99M Killer
- GPU config 1: 2x Radeon RX 480 @ PCIE 3.0 x16 for each GPU
- GPU config 2: Founders Edition GTX 1080
- OS: Win 10 64bit
- AMD Driver: 16.30-160525n-230356E
- NV Driver: 368.19
In Game Settings for both configurations: Crazy Settings | 1080P | 8x MSAA | VSYNC OFF
Ashes Game Version: v1.12.19928
2x Radeon RX 480 – 62.5 fps | Single Batch GPU Util: 51% | Med Batch GPU Util: 71.9 | Heavy Batch GPU Util: 92.3% GTX 1080 – 58.7 fps | Single Batch GPU Util: 98.7%| Med Batch GPU Util: 97.9% | Heavy Batch GPU Util: 98.7%
That’s what Robert had to say, so it did at least give us the understanding that there were no changes to the settings and further digging through the Ashes of the Singularity benchmark site revealed other runs that were made with the GTX 1080 and what we can presume is the RX 480 in a mGPU configuration; these are all assumed to be run by AMD and posted to the site.
This is a user’s GTX 1080 1920×1080 Crazy benchmark results.
Okay, so they claim that the GX 1080 wasn’t properly rendering in their runs, what does that mean for NVIDIA in this matter? Well, according to Dan Baker on Twitter, it appeared to be an issue with the shader rendering but one that shouldn’t have any impact on actual performance; however, without a GTX 1080 on hand he was unable to verify.
I don't think it's a huge issue for perf measuring, just a shader compiler glitch that needs fixing
— Dan Baker (@dankbaker) June 2, 2016
Well, that’s good. Unfortunately, we do not have a GTX 1080 to try out for ourselves to attempt to recreate this anomaly on our own. We do however have a GTX 980Ti and were not able to find any run, regardless of settings, to reflect what we saw on screen.
Looking a little deeper at the specification list that Robert laid out on Reddit we notice that the GTX 1080 was running on the same driver sent out to reviewers for the initial GTX 1080 reviews, but we haven’t seen any comment from any reviewer who has access to the GTX 1080 and Ashes of the Singularity as to whether they experienced this visual anomaly. But a quick search on YouTube landed us on several videos where people were using ShadowPlay to record their GTX 1080 running AotS in DX12 with the Crazy Preset and they did not seem to exhibit this behavior. Admittedly, the only video that was recorded with the driver information showed they were using a newer driver than the reviewer driver, so if there was an issue in that driver it seems to have been resolved by now.
YouTuber “t3chn0m0” GTX 1080 AotS 4k Crazy
So was there fudging? No. Was there foul play? No.
We have no reason, other than obvious skepticism of vendor claims, to believe that either party was misrepresented in this matter. No, the on-screen visuals of the GTX 1080 do not appear to be representative of what you’ll see today if you bought, or are thinking of buying, a GTX 1080 but with all of the questions that surrounded this we wanted to help bring some insight to the situation. It seems that this is merely the result of a dynamic industry where something as simple as a driver revision can make all the difference in the world.