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Review: 3DMark Vantage
Written by ChrisBard   
Thursday, 08 May 2008 00:00
Article Index
Review: 3DMark Vantage
First GPU Test
Second GPU Test
CPU Tests and Final Thoughts
All Pages

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Hello again!

 

Back in 22 June 2007 I wrote:

 

3dMark07


Well seeing new GPU's and CPU's on the shelfs I am wondering when is Futuremark going to release a DX10 bench? What do you guys think? If anyone had jumped from their chair after reading the title I appologise!“

 

Almost a year later and finally 3dMark07 is here, it’s name however is:

3DMark Vantage!

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Who would be better at telling what 3DMark Vantage is than Futuremark, so from the “horse’s mouth”;

What’s New with 3DMark® Vantage

3DMark® Vantage is the new industry standard PC gaming performance benchmark from Futuremark, newly designed for Windows Vista and DirectX10. It includes two new graphics tests, two new CPU tests, several new feature tests, and support for the latest hardware.

DirectX10

3DMark® Vantage is based on a completely new rendering engine, developed specifically to take full advantage of DirectX10, the new graphics API from Microsoft.

Completely New Tests

There are four main tests in 3DMark® Vantage, all completely new. The two graphics tests sport significantly advanced visuals, enabled by the new technology and performance available in the DirectX10 generation of graphics hardware. The two CPU tests have been re-designed from scratch, and now feature a more complete spectrum of Physics and Artificial Intelligence-related computation. CPU Test 2 (the Physics Test) features support for physics acceleration hardware, and a workload to match future generation game physics.

Option Presets for a Wider Range of Official 3DMark® Scores

A key new feature in 3DMark® Vantage is the rendering option Presets. These pre-selected combinations of rendering option settings, like resolution, anti-aliasing and texture quality, represent different, successively more advanced levels of visual quality. When running 3DMark® Vantage with one of the presets selected, the benchmark produces an official score for that preset. Instead of the single default setting of previous 3DMarks, there are four Presets available for Entry, Performance, High and Extreme visual quality. This gives four times the scope for comparing official results, and significantly better scaling for the benchmark."

Installation was done in no time and after inserting the key (which grants access to all the features – PRO version), mouth wide open, I got the message “this key is invalid”, imagine my shock because I have used copy/paste and no error was possible. However I tried again and for my relief it worked.

 

Here is the main menu:

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Now I am sure you are wondering what kind of a PC beast I have on my desk. I have to tell you that is a regular PC for gaming nothing too fancy, nothing extreme. Last week I changed the CPU and got; one Intel E4600 (250x12) @ 3Ghz on air (thermalright 120 cooler) on a Gigabyte P31 DS3L motherboard, 2x1 GB Kingmax 1066, 2x160 Seagate sata on Adaptec 1220SA RAID PCI card, 1x37GB WD Raptor 10,000rpm used for caching, LG dvdwr sata, 8800 GTS 320MB Leadtek GFX card all this on a Delux 600W PSU inside Antec AMG 1080 case. LCD is Samsung 20” 205BW capable of 1680x1050. OS is Vista Ultimate SP1.

Lets see now what Futuremark has to say about requirements:

System Requirements to run 3DMark® Vantage

The minimum hardware and software requirements and recommendations are:

  • Processor
    • Requirement: SSE2 support
    • Recommendation: A dual-core processor with performance equivalent to Intel Core 2 Duo E6600, AMD Athlon X2 6000+, or higher
  • Graphics Card
    • Requirement: Fully DirectX10-compliant graphics hardware
  • Display Device
    • Requirement: Capable of 1280x1024 resolution
    • Recommendation: Capable of 1920x1200 resolution
  • Needed to run all the presets
    • System Memory
      • Requirement: Windows Vista minimum requirement
      • Recommendation: 2 GB or more
    • Hard Disk
      • Requirement: 1 GB of free hard disk space
    • Operating System
      • Requirement: Windows Vista with Service Pack 1

In case you are still on XP and you think of installing Windows Vista, Futuremark will give you a helping hand;

To confirm whether your system is capable of running 3DMark® Vantage, please visit the following page for a quick online system compatibility analysis: http://www.yougamers.com/gameometer/10171

Futuremark also has something to say about the way this benchmark is intended to be run to get accurate measuring of your PC power.

Recommended Testing Procedure

Set-up

In order to prepare a target system for testing, the following steps are recommended:

  1. Install the latest approved drivers for the target hardware. A list of approved drivers can be found on the product website, http://www.futuremark.com/products/3dmarkvantage.
  2. Install and register 3DMark® Vantage
  3. Install all critical system updates to ensure your operating system is up to date.

 

Testing

  1. Restart the computer before running the benchmarks.
  2. Wait for 60 seconds.
  3. Exit all other programs.
  4. Wait for 15 minutes.
  5. Run the benchmark.
  6. Repeat from step 1 at least three times to verify that the results are reproducible.

 Additional Recommendations for Testing

We recommend testing only 'clean systems that have no 3rd party software installed, since 3rd party applications and services may affect the results.

You may think that this is a bit crazy but I assure you it's not. What Futuremark is trying to do with these advisories is to make sure your PC is not working on something at the time of testing.

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The differences between 3DMark Vantage Basic, Advanced and Professional editions are as follows:

  • The 3DMark(R) Vantage Basic Edition ($6.95) (Download Price)
    • Unlimited number of test runs using a single Preset setting
    • Network connection required to view results
    • Licensed for non-commercial and Personal Use only
  • The 3DMark(R) Vantage Advanced Edition ($19.95) (Download Price)
    • Unlimited testing, access to all Presets and custom settings
    • Licensed for non-commercial and Personal Use only
  • 3DMark Vantage Professional (this is the Edition tested here)
    • $495.00/seat (download or CD-ROM)
    • All Advanced version features
    • View results without network connection
    • Benchmark automation with command line scripting
    • Licensed for Full Commercial Use

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The First GPU Test 

But enough with this, lets get on and see what this new bench really is. First GPU test is called Jane Nash

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It’s reminding me of Crysis (water+good lightning) and BF2142 (indoor buildings). However the way they pictured the soldiers in this first GPU test is, the least I can say, weird because they are wearing my grandma’s PJ’s.

The Jane Nash test scene represents a large indoor game scene with complex character rigs, physical GPU simulations, multiple dynamic lights, and complex surface lighting models. It uses several hierarchical rendering steps, including for water reflection and refraction, and physics simulation collision map rendering. The New Calico test scene represents a vast space scene with lots of moving but rigid objects and special content like a huge planet and a dense asteroid belt.

Graphics Test 1: Jane Nash

The following features are specific to this scene:

  • Lots of static objects
  • Lots of complex dynamic skinned objects
  • Cascaded shadow maps using PCF filtering
  • Very few instanced objects
  • No ray-marching (volumetric) effects
  • Cloth simulation
  • Anisotropic materials (math-heavy)
  • Caustics
  • Hierarchical rendering passes to render water reflection and refraction

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The water does look awesome and the waves and ripples are better looking when compared with what you see in Crysis.

When you take a closer look you can see the water displacement and it’s very close to what we know, responsible for the way water acts is complex physics simulation and collision map rendering.

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The pics you can see here are the result of extreme texture quality, extreme shadow shader quality, extreme shadow resolution quality and exteme shader quality mixed with 4 multisample count and 8 max anisotropic texture filtering and the resolution is 1680x1050. Below is an example of how the option menu looks.

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Lets see some more water in action then.

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Depth of field and HDR effects are extremely well used togheter with focus on given objects.

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The end result as you may see is spectacular and I hope we'll see this in the following FPS games.


 

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The Second GPU Test

This test is called New Calico and takes place in space.

The New Calico test scene represents a vast space scene with lots of moving but rigid objects and special content like a huge planet and a dense asteroid belt.

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 The amount of detail is unbelievable and breathtaking; it’s just like watching a movie. Here is what Futuremark tell us about the second test:

Graphics Test 2: New Calico

The following features are specific to this scene:

  • Almost entirely consists of moving objects
  • No skinned objects
  • Variance shadow mapping shadows
  • Lots of instanced objects
  • Local and global ray-tracing effects (Parallax Occlusion Mapping, True Impostors and volumetric fog)

When interpreting the results of a benchmark run, it is useful to refer to this list of features, as they have a direct influence on the test performance.

The above picture was taken using a high preset and now its time to tell you that you have 4 presets that you can use when running the benchmark. On my system the only preset that gives fluid frame rates 30-200 FPS is the entry one.

Preset Scores

Each Preset gives an official 3DMark® score. The scores are different for each Preset and not directly comparable across Presets. For example, running the test suite using the Entry preset yields an Entry 3DMark® Score, denoted by the letter E pre-pended to the score reading. The preset code letters and example scores are given in the following table:

Preset Code Letter Example Score
Entry E E7053
Performance 
P
P5420
High H
H3207
Extreme
X
X2641

Lets see some more breathtaking pics, shall we:

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Mothership orbiting at a convenient distance before blasting the planet with missiles…

 

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Mothership approaching the planet and Space Fighters escort.

 

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Asteroids on orbit and I tell you I wish I had an AGEIA card inside to see the differences.

 

Watch it those rocks are not friendly!

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I wonder if 2x9800X2 in SLI would give more than 10 FPS

Depth of field and motion blur in action, lovely just cinematic!

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To be honest I was expecting to see some lifeforms inside the mothership

 

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Is that guy Darth Vader or Picard, hmmm can’t really tell?

 

Well guys that’s our two GPU tests. We have two more CPU tests and then some extra tests that don’t add on the final score so if you are in a hurry you can forget about those.


The CPU Tests

CPU Test 1: AI

The AI test features a high-intensity workload of co-operative manoeuvring and path-finding artificial intelligence calculations. The test setting is an airplane race course crowded with planes, all attempting to navigate through a series of gates while avoiding collisions with each other and the ground. The test load consists of the movement planning for each airplane. The workload is entirely parallelized, and can utilize multi-core CPUs to the fullest. Faster CPUs will be able to compute more frequent and timely movement plans for the airplanes, resulting in smarter flight routes.

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CPU Test 2: Physics

The Physics Test features a heavy workload of future generation game physics computations. The scene is set at an air race, but with an unfortunately dangerous configuration of gates. Planes trailing smoke collide with various cloth and soft-body obstacles, each other, and the ground. The smoke spreads, and reacts to the planes passing through it.

The physics test takes advantage of the AGEIA PhysX physics accelerator, if found on the system.

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These CPU tests are as boring as ever you can get a cup of coffee and read some news until they are done.

 

The Feature Tests

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There are six feature tests in 3DMark® Vantage. Each isolates a specific set of graphics hardware functionality, and exercises it to the limit. In contrast to the main graphics tests with their large range of effects, techniques and content, the feature tests let you focus your testing on specific capabilities of the target hardware. The feature tests do not contribute to the main 3DMark® score. 

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From all this tests the one I liked to watch was the GPU Particles. I will not go into detail because as I already said these test don’t count in the final score.

“What about scores?” would you ask. Depending on the rig you have you can get up to 4 scores. Remembers the presets? OK lets see what results I got for my computer:

This is the Entry Preset result:

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As you can see I have a general score of E(entry) 11392 and I have to tell you that in this preset the resolution used for GPU tests is 1024x768. Here is how this preset looks like:

This is the Performance Preset result:

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The general score now is P(performance) 4276 and the resolution for the GPU tests is now 1280x1024. Here is what it looks like:

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This is the High Preset result;

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This is the result for H(high) preset H2078 and the resolution used now is 1680x1050. Lovely image huh?

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Final thoughts:(Thank you Futuremark)

This new 3DMark Vantage is not more nor less than what I expected. It is exactly what it’s meant to be, a useful tool to check your system and to compare it to other thousands systems. I had no problems running it on my OC system which was great.

I want to thank Gizmo (Chris Richards) who was my link to Futuremark, I also want to thank Dan (Daniel Edgar), (btw Dan is time to install Vista if you want to “play” with us) and last but not least thank you dear reader for your interest! I can assure you that you’ll have many hours of tweaking your rig and testing with 3DMark Vantage.

Special thanks goes to AOA community and I want to tell you all that there is a a new thread in the benchmark section and I look forward to meet you all there.

 

Cheers,

Chris Bard

 

Copyright notice: Some of the pics in this material and some quotes come from Futuremark!

 

 
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