To mark today’s launch of the latest version of the 3DMark benchmarking software, Hardware.info tested 52 current and older graphics cards and highlighted in the process the new features of the first true cross-platform benchmarks in 3DMark.
Today, Futuremark released a new version of its popular 3DMark benchmarking software, which has been part of the standard Hardware.Info tests since the first version appeared in 1999.The successor to 3DMark Vantage and 3DMark11 is called simply “3DMark” and you can download it here.
3DMark has always been a great tool for testing high-end graphics cards, but it has even more to offer now. For the first time 3DMark goes beyond Windows to illustrate the emergence of other platforms. Now it will soon be possible to test Windows RT, Apple iOS and Google Android devices, which will make of 3DMark the first true cross-platform tool for measuring and comparing 3D performance.
The Windows RT, iOS and Android versions of the new 3DMark aren't available yet; only the Windows one is. The new 3DMark has three different tests called Fire Strike, Cloud Gate and Ice Storm. Each has its own focus.
Fire Strike is a DirectX 11 benchmark intended for high-end gaming PCs. It requires a DirectX 11 graphics card and only works with Windows PCs. Fire Strike can be run in normal and Extreme modes, with the latter reserved for multi-GPU systems. None of the current top-of-the-line graphics cards can on their own achieve more than 30 fps in Fire Strike Extreme. It contains complex 3D effects like tessellation, deferred rendering, lens flare, depth-of-field, bloom, anti-aliasing, smoke simulation and so on. You can see in the screen capture below what Fire Strike looks like.
The standard Fire Strike runs at 1920x1080 resolution while Fire Strike Extreme reaches 2560x1440 pixels. The standard test requires 1GB of video RAM, and Extreme needs at least 1.5GB. The benchmark consists of two graphical and one physics tests. In the first graphics test, each frame contains an average of 240 light sources (100 with shadows), about 5.1 million triangles, 1.5 million compute shader calculations and with post-processing added about 80 million pixel computations are executed. The second graphics test is even more demanding, with a total of 170 million pixel computations per frame.
The Cloud Gate benchmark is intended for middle-of-the-road Windows devices. This benchmark employs a DirectX 11 engine, but also supports DirectX 10 graphics cards. The test measures the 3D performance of integrated graphics cards, entry-level cards and mid-range cards. This will therefore be the test we will start using for our laptop and PC system reviews. Cloud Gate takes both 3D performance and physics performance into account for its total score.
Cloud Gate runs in 1280x720 (which incidentally is less than the minimum resolution demanded by Windows 8 to run apps) and requires 256MB of video RAM. This benchmark also consists of two graphics and one physics test. The first graphics test processes about 1.1 million triangles and all together about 18 million pixels per frame. The second test has fewer triangles, but has more complex computations. Post-processing effects such as bloom and depth-of-field are included.
The third and last component of the new 3DMark is called Ice Storm, and is meant for cross-platform comparisons. In Windows and Windows RT, Ice Storm uses a DirectX 11 engine, but runs DirectX 9 features exclusively to maintain compatibility with older and less powerful GPUs. In Android and iOS, the benchmark runs on OpenGL ES 2.0, so the results can be compared across multiple platforms and devices.
The Ice Storm benchmark runs in 1280x720 resolution and needs about 128MB of video memory. Ice Storm contains two graphics tests, with one primarily focusing on the processing speed of vertices (the building blocks of 3D images). The other one measures the processing speed of pixels. The first test contains an average of 530,000 vertices per frame and 4.7 million pixels per frame. The second one has 12.6 million pixels per frame thanks to post-processing, and 'only' 75,000 vertices.
If you decided to download the new 3DMark, you'll have noticed that the benchmark has an interesting new way of displaying the results. You get the total score, the subscores, but also a chart. It shows, over the entire duration of the test, the frame rate, CPU temperature, GPU temperature, CPU clock frequency and CPU energy consumption. This is great for overclockers wanting to see how their system held up during a benchmark test.
Interestingly, AMD graphics cards generally seem to do better than Nvidia's in the new 3DMark. To view all of the benchmark results of the 52 graphics cards, read the full article on Hardware.Info.