If Fire Strike Extreme wasn’t enough to make your system sweat, 3DMark has released the first fully supported 3840×2160 UHD synthetic benchmark or as stated Fire Strike Ultra. With more people jumping on the 4K gaming bandwagon and native support from game developers , it would be a shame not to be able to test your rigs performance and push a few overclocks with an extreme synthetic benchmark at least for bragging rights.

The good thing though is that you don’t need to shell out for a 4K monitor as Fire Strike Ultra can be run on a lower resolution monitor, the benchmark will render at 4K and output downscaling to your native resolution, giving you the chance to test your system before you go out and grab that monstrous 4K monitor. Your going to need to purchase the Advanced Version to run 4K UHD and have some beefy hardware with 3GB as a minimum Vram requirement to get a worthwhile score.

Benchmarking is like sports , its competitive and very addictive. I’ve always liked pushing my overclocks and having a reference point of how my system stacks up against similar or better setups. Todays benchmark focuses on putting Maxwell and Hawaii architectures head to head with the R9-290 and GTX970 in SLI and CrossfireX.


Benchmark Components

Fire Strike 4K Benchmark System

CPU i7 3930K 4.3Ghz
Motherboard Asus P9X79 Deluxe
RAM Kingston Hyper-X 16GB 1600mhz
HDD/SSD Crucial M550 256GB
GPU 2X Galax GTX970 EXOC 4GB , 2X MSI R9-290 Gaming 4S
Monitor Asus PB287Q 28″ 4K 60Hz 1MS
PSU Corsair AX1200W
OS Windows 8.1
Drivers Nvidia: 344.16 WHQL, AMD: Catalyst 14.9


We decided to go with a fresh install of Windows 8 as it performed better in some instances than what Windows 8.1 did. We used a 256GB SSD with the bare necessities (MSI afterburner, drivers and 3Dmark).

Our cpu can easily overclock to 4.8Ghz on air, but we decided to just mildly overclock to 4.3Ghz, as not everyone is that lucky in the silicon lottery.

Something worth noticing is the clock rates we are running for the R9-290s. Our aftermarket cooled Msi Gaming 4G cards have custom clocks of 947 (silent), 977 (gaming) and a 1007mhz (OC mode) . We were able to get a stable overclock of 1047/1375 but anything above 977mhz on the core throttled our top card at 94c (temperature limit) even with fans locked at 100%, giving us a worse score than our stable 977mhz clockrates. Watercooling would yield better overclocks on the R9-290 and no throttling.

The Galax GTX970 EXOCs are factory overclocked  and have a core clock of 1126mhz (1266mhz boost) with effective memory of 7012mhz. On our own OC we raised the core by 250mhz to 1277mhz ( 1405mhz boost) and the memory clock by 100mhz to 7412mhz. The temperatures peaked at 68c on the top card.


Fire Strike Ultra Graphics Test 1

Fire Strike Ultra Graphics Test 1

Firestrike Ultra Graphics Test 1 Benchmark Sli GTX970 Vs CFX R9-290

Fire Strike Ultra Screenshot Graphics Test 1


Graphics Test 2

Fire Strike Ultra Graphics Test 2

Firestrike Ultra Graphics Test 2 Benchmark Sli GTX970 Vs CFX R9-290

Fire Strike Ultra Screenshot Graphics Test 2


Fire Strike Ultra Graphics Score

Firestrike Ultra Graphics Score Benchmark Sli GTX970 Vs CFX R9-290


Combined Test

Fire Strike Ultra Combined Test

Firestrike Ultra Combined Test Benchmark Sli GTX970 Vs CFX R9-290

Fire Strike Ultra Screenshot Combined Test


Fire Strike Ultra Combined Score

Firestrike Ultra Combined Score Benchmark Sli GTX970 Vs CFX R9-290

3DMark Score

Fire Strike Ultra 4K 3DMark Score

Maxwell Vs Hawaii Conclusion

We see the SLI GTX970 gpus dominating throughout the bench runs, in only one instance on the 2nd graphics test does the overclocked CFX R9-290 system lead by a small margin over our Galax SLI GTX970 EXOCs , our own overclock on the already overclocked GTX970s though has a clear advantage.

Nvidia’s color compression and memory effiency on the Maxwell architecture does seem to help performance. Its been about a year since Hawaiis release but with a higher TDP, larger bit bus and more cores we would expect different results at higher resolutions . Viewing the Firestrike Ultra Hall of Fame we see Nvidia’s GTX980 at the top of all single and multi gpu setups with a mix of the older GTX780Ti, R9-290X, GTX970, Titan  and R9-290 following.
See 4K Monitor Pricing On Amazon
Whats you choice for 4K and why?

If you have any questions about the benchmark please ask in the comment section below and I will be glad to answer.

About The Author

"Overclock and benchmark freak"