Features (Living Doc) Current Test Bench Hardware & List of MethodologiesNovember 2, 2023Last Updated: 2023-11-19A living document detailing the current and retired test platforms used by GamersNexusThe HighlightsThis document will be updated as we add new benchesOld test benches will be kept on this page, but moved to the bottomRemember that testing regularly requires changes to test platforms to accommodate the DUT Visit our Patreon page to contribute a few dollars toward this website's operation (or consider a direct donation or buying something from our GN Store!) Additionally, when you purchase through links to retailers on our site, we may earn a small affiliate commission.This page is a living document that will be updated as we revolve test platforms through. The page will be organized by type of test bench and year. We regularly cycle benches into retirement as we update for new components. We have had numerous manufacturers inform us that they try to keep tabs on our bench platforms for their own internal research and performance analysis, so we hope that this may help manufacturers with their product development when attempting to isolate performance concerns we present.And to reiterate: This page is NOT COMPLETE. This is under construction. There is a lot of information still missing here.CreditsTest Lead, WritingSteve BurkeWritingPatrick LathanPhotography & VideoVitalii MakhnovetsTim PhetdaraSteve & Stone working side-by-side at the GPU test benches. We have two benches simultaneously deployed for rapid bring-up and testing. They are 100% mirrored and are calibrated against each other for every single review to ensure consistent data between machines, which also serves as an error check by duplicating data in separate environments. In this photo, Stone is handling GPU power transient testing.ObjectivesThis page will primarily serve as a landing page for test benches that we commonly use. This page is still being built and is under construction. The objective is to provide a single stop to answer questions about what hardware we use.Our philosophy is to review each component in a vacuum, eliminating as many variables and bottlenecks imposed by other components as possible. This means that GPU testing for GPU performance will use a relatively high-powered CPU and RAM, thus hopefully limiting bottlenecks (to the extent possible) outside of the GPU; however, for that same GPU review, we would use a different test bench for acoustics. That's because the acoustics testing does not require unbound performance to eliminate variables, but instead requires a total (within reason) elimination of noise from non-GPU components instead. In this example, we would use the GPU test bench for thermals and gaming, but the GPU acoustic bench for noise levels and frequency response. Likewise, we use a different bench entirely for GPU power consumption measurements, as the host platform is irrelevant for these and only the power consumption matters (and it allows us to asynchronously test power consumption while our primary benches remain occupied for testing gaming or thermals, which greatly improves logistics to allow more testing in a shorter time period).A lot of this has to do with a general internal approach of specializing within the team. Typically, the same person will handle GPU power consumption tests for every review, but a different person will handle GPU gaming performance and analysis, and a different person still might handle acoustics. Splitting benches like this not only isolates for variables, but also allows the team's experts in each test method to operate without blocking their teammates, as the benches are not singularly needed for every test in a suite.Caveats & LimitationsWe sometimes have to change-out single components (or revert to older benches) for certain tests. For example, if we are running a suite of CPU tests that requires us to go back to AM4 or Z270 or similar, we obviously won't be using the standardized Intel or AMD platform listed as the current primary, but would instead use one of the prior platforms. We will try to keep the older (retired) platforms listed further down the page for such events, but it will take us some time to comb through the site history and catalog them all in this format.These test benches might not perfectly represent each individual content piece. Some pieces require a singular variable change to these benches as part of the piece. For example, if we're testing something like Intel APO, we will use a different boot drive (to avoid cross-contamination with the primary bench drive) and will use different driver packages and a potentially different BIOS configuration (to enable the dynamic tuning). Likewise, if we're testing PCIe bandwidth scaling and impact on an NVIDIA *90-class card, we will change the PCIe slot's generation for that test. The DUT (Device Under Test) or feature under test will deviate from the fixed bench as part of the test.Sometimes we miss listing a detail since there are so many, but we will do our best to explain these caveats in each individual content piece.Consistency is What MattersConsistency is all that really matters. For comparative reviews, which is how we conduct our reviews, we just need an unchanging and fixed platform that allows us to reliably see scaling and differences between components. In the above example then, having APO toggling or PCIe generation switches being the new variable on an otherwise unchanging platform allows us the most comparative data against our "baseline" for that platform.Likewise, this means that components being "old" or back by a couple generations becomes largely irrelevant. It only starts mattering if it's meaningfully limiting either the performance scaling of the product or the technology that can be used for the product. For instance, for purposes of generating heat for a cooler review, the CPU itself doesn't matter as much as its power consumption (and IHS shape, to be fair).Methodology PiecesThis contains a list of our recently published or current test methodologies. Note that we have not yet gone back to upfit all of the older pieces for this website revision, so some links are to the videos.This section is under construction. We still have to build this section out fully. It is missing a lot of information.Recent Game Test Methodologies & ResearchStarfield: (GPU Research | CPU Research | Graphics Optimization Guide) (Videos)Cities Skylines 2: GPU ResearchBaldur's Gate 3: GPU ResearchHardware Test Methodologies & ResearchCPU Cooler Test Methodology (Article) and accompanying videoGPU Test Methodology (basics - the games have changed, some concepts are the same)Test BenchesMini-ITX Case Variable Test Bench (2023-TBD) PartStandard Component(s)Provided ByCPUIntel i5-13600K @ Fixed clocks & voltages (clocks/voltages determined per case; we may settle on permanent settings once we get past our first few ITX case reviews)Bought by GNGPUNVIDIA RTX 4070 FENVIDIA (review unit)MotherboardASUS ROG Strix Z790-I Gaming WiFiBought by GNPSUCorsair SF1000L 1000W SFX-LPhanteks Revolt SFX 850WBought by GNProvided by PhanteksRAMGSkill Ripjaws S5 2 x 16GBBought by GNSSDSamsung 960 Pro M.2 NVMe SSDBought by GNCoolersVARIABLEStandardized options:240mm CLC: Fractal Design Lumen S24 v2 RGB120mm CLC: Arctic Liquid Freezer II 120"Standard" Tower: Scythe FUMA 3 or Deepcool AK400Short Single Tower: Noctua NH-U9SMini-Tower: Noctua NH-D9LDowndraft Low-Profile: Deepcool AN600 67mmAlt. Downdraft: Noctua NH-C14SFractal Design, Arctic, DeepcoolAdditional Fans (Optional)VARIABLEStandardized options:Arctic P14 Slim PWM PST 140mmArctic P12 Slim PWM PST 120mmArctic P8 Max 80mmNoctua NF-A6x25 PWM 60mmNoctua NF-A9x14 PWM 92mmArcticNoctuaGPU Acoustics Test Bench (2023-TBD)The below test bench details our platform used for GPU acoustics. This is deployed for collecting data such as the below. The GPU Acoustics Bench is not used for performance analysis (other than acoustic performance), and so the core components do not matter. For this bench, the most important aspect is controlling the noise: We use passive cooling, like from the Noctua NH-P1, to ensure no noise interference from other parts of the system. The power supply is used in a 0-RPM mode and validated during testing. The GPU does not perform work, but rather has its fan speed manually adjusted to meet the automatic fan speed we find during load testing (from our GPU FPS & thermal test platform, also on this page). We also adjust the speed in increments of 5% to capture a dBA profile across the RPM range.Unless otherwise stated, video card coolers are tested at an industry-standard distance of 1m from the center fan (aligned on the horizontal and vertical center of the video card cooler). The video card is situated in a horizontal Thermaltake Core P3 platform with the glass removed, so it is basically just a flat "case."PartComponentProvided ByCPUIntel i7-8086K CPUBought by GNMotherboardASUS Maximus X Hero Wi-Fi ACASUSRAMCrucial Ballistix 2x8GB DDR4-3200 16-18-18-36CrucialCoolerNoctua NH-P1 Passive CoolerNoctuaPSUCorsair HX1500i PSU with Passive Fan ModeCorsairOSWindows 11 ProBought by GNCaseThermaltake Core P3 in Horizontal 'Mode'ThermaltakeGPU Test Bench (2022-2023)The below test bench details our two GPU review platforms that are used for performance evaluation and thermals. The GPU test benches are overclocked, which helps significantly limit the bottlenecks potentially imposed by a CPU. The platforms also run tests at 1080p, 1440p, and 4K, with the higher resolutions further distancing us from CPU scaling limitations. Presently, our platform is primarily GPU-bound, but 1080p is starting to become constrained for high-end cards. This platform will be retired from service at the end of 2023 or early 2024. PartComponentProvided ByCPUIntel Core i7-12700KF Overclocked(4.9GHz P-Cores, 3.9GHz E-Cores)Bought by GNMotherboardMSI Z690 UnifyMSIRAMDDR5-6000 G.Skill Trident Z (manually tightened timings)G.SkillCoolerArctic Liquid Freezer II 360 @ 100% Fan SpeedBought by GNPSUEVGA 1600W T2 SupernovaCorsair AX1600iEVGACorsairOSWindows 11Bought by GNAdditional parameters include: Hardware-accelerated GPU scheduling and ReBAR both enabled. Power plan set to High Performance. Note: Acoustic testing uses a bench with 0 fans, so passive PSU + coolers.Test Applications & GamesWe are constantly changing the games that get tested on this platform, and as such, maintaining a list of what we currently show is difficult. Instead, we'll list everything that the platform runs as of November 2, 2023. This list will likely be moved to the GPU methodology piece once we get it into the new website.GameResolution & SettingsResearch & Methods PieceStarfield1080p/Low1080p/Medium1080p/High1440p/High4K/High4K/Ultra* Dynamic resolution, upscaling, and inherently variable options are disabled unless otherwise noted, such as VRS.- Starfield GPU Benchmarks & Research (Video)- Starfield CPU Benchmarks & Research (Video)- Starfield Graphics Optimization Guide (Video)Cities Skylines 21080p/Very Low1080p/Low1080p/Medium1080p/High1440p/Low4K/Medium4K/High* Dynamic resolution, upscaling, and inherently varaible options are disabled unless otherwise noted.- Cities Skylines 2 GPU Benchmarks & Research (Video)Baldur's Gate 31080p/Medium1080p/Ultra1440p/Ultra4K/UltraBaldur's Gate 3 GPU Benchmarks & Research:- Article- VideoTotal War: Warhammer 31080p/High-Custom1440p/High-Custom4K/High-CustomTom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Siege1080p/Ultra1440p/Ultra4K/Ultra(Dx11)Strange Brigade (Vulkan)1080p/Ultra1440p/Ultra4K/UltraStrange Brigade (Dx12)1080p/Ultra1440p/Ultra4K/UltraShadow of the Tomb Raider1080p/High1440p/High4K/HighResident Evil 41080p/Prioritize GFX1440p/Prioritize GFX4K/Prioritize GFXHorizon Zero Dawn1080p/Quality1440p/Quality4K/QualityGTA V4K/Custom (mix of Very High & Ultra)GTA V Testing Mystery- VideoGTA V Graphics Optimization Guide:- Article- VideoFFXIV: Endwalker1080p/Maximum1440p/Maximum4K/MaximumF1 20221080p/Ultra-Custom1440p/Ultra-Custom4K/Ultra-CustomDying Light 21080p/High-Custom1440p/High-Custom4K/High-CustomCyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty(Pending)(Ray Tracing) Shadow of the Tomb Raider1080p/Highest (RTX)1440p/Highest (RTX)4K/Highest (RTX)(Ray Tracing) F1 20221080p/Ultra-Custom + RT1440p/Ultra-Custom + RT4K/Ultra-Custom + RT(Ray Tracing) Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty(Pending)Bolded settings are those which are run regularly. Unbolded settings are those which have been tested or for which we have an internally defined SOP (Standard Operating Procedure), but that we might not run once the initial game research is done. If no bold options are shown, all listed are used. Dynamic resolution, upscaling, and inherently varaible options are disabled unless otherwise noted. Additional tests are run, but are not explicitly listed as they may be more variable (or we just haven't publicly documented them at this time).CPU Cooler Test Bench (2020-2023) PartComponentProvided ByCPUAMD Ryzen 5 3600 - Used for lower ~68W heat loads for small coolers.AMD Ryzen 7 3800X (2 chiplets active) - Used in all cooler benchmarks.AMD Ryzen 9 3950X (3 chiplets active) - Used for higher heat loads to show scaling on big coolers.AMDMotherboardMSI X570 MEG ACEGN PurchaseRAMGSkill Trident Z Royal DDR4-3600 CL16GSkillGPUEVGA NVIDIA GeForce GT 1030 SC (passive cooler, second slot down)GN PurchasePSUEVGA 1600W P2EVGAOSWindows 10GN PurchaseWe have published a full, in-depth Test Methodology piece about our CPU cooler benchmarks and reviews. To learn how this testing is done, check that link!Check back soon: We still need to add our case bench, our new cooler bench, and our CPU benches, among other platforms!