Since the dawn of the graphics accelerator, in Voodoo or Rendition Verite form, we've all been dazzled by the quality of images available to us. More and more money has been poured into our hardware, trying to get the ultimate gaming experience. Whenever we buy a new graphics card we instantly want to push it to its limits and see what our new investment has given us.
One company has, from the early days of people riding Dragons, been able to provide the very highest demonstration of raw GPU horsepower, and that's Futuremark. The fact that it also gives you a score at the end of it only adds to its charm. After all, as a species we have been comparing ourselves to the Jones' wherever possible. Whether it's the size of the Mammoth we have for dinner, through to the amount of times we can juggle a halibut whilst unicycling, competition is in our blood.
By combining jaw-dropping visuals with a score than shows a correlation between the quality of our hardware and the smoothness of the experience, 3D Mark rules over the benchmarking world with a fist of iron. We're sure we can't be the only people who have reinstalled older versions to finally see the benchmarks as the maker intended.
So it's absolutely no surprise that another version of 3D Mark has been released. Unlike its predecessors this hasn't got a suffix or identifier at all, being referred to merely as 3D Mark. It's not for us to tell a large company how to conduct their affairs but given that so many versions of 3D Mark exists we're certain that confusion will reign upon forums until a generally used nickname for it appears. It's going to end up being 3D Mark 13 anyway, might as well make it official. But it most certainly isn't official, so 3D Mark it remains.
Cross-platform is the major new feature of 3D Mark. Although unavailable at the moment, iOS, Android and Windows RT versions are due to make an appearance. Of course not all tests will be compatible with all versions, but the scores will be comparable. You can finally see how your Galaxy S3 stacks up against your LGA2011 setup. Of course we will be focussing upon the plain Windows version today.
There are now three main tests, designed for DirectX 9, DirectX 10 and, can you guess, DirectX 11. For the first time in the 3D Mark series it supports the extreme 2560x1440 resolution in a test with a score, so those of you with massive monitors can really put your system through its paces.
Let's move on and take a look at what you can adjust, as well as a few screenshots.
The amount of customisation available for each test is far advanced from the earlier versions of 3D Mark. Ice Storm is so gentle that you could maximise the sliders on a toaster and achieve a smooth experience, whereas only the most foolhardy would try to do so with the Fire Strike benchmark. Each benchmark stresses a certain element. So, for example, Ice Storm test 1 has loads of vertices and few pixel processing overheads, whereas test 2 is the opposite. Cloud Gate, apart from looking eerily familiar to anyone who has spent time in Egosofts X games, tests shaders and geometry. Fire Strike, as you'd expect, adds yet more complications with dynamic lighting and particles.
DirectX 9 seemed so amazing when it was first around, yet now it's akin to watching Toy Story 1 after seeing Brave. Of course the eye candy doesn't come without a price, and Fire Strike will bring almost any system to its knees quite happily. Which we expect from a Futuremark benchmark. We're salivating at the thought of what future hardware will finally render this particular test meaningless in the same way that Proxycon is on current hardware.
These were taken on a GTX590 @ 1920x1080x4AA, so the scores at the bottom should give you some idea how quickly the demands upon your system ramp up.
Ice Storm DX9
Cloud Gate DX10
Fire Strike DX11
You can discuss your thoughts and your own PC's scores in the OC3D Forums.