3DMark 11 Performance ReviewRHKCommander959 - December 26, 2010
Price: Basic Free, Advanced $19.95, Pro $9.95
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3DMark 11 is the next installment for Futuremark in the 3DMark series, with Vantage as its predecessor. The name implies that this benchmark is for Microsoft DirectX 11, and with an unintended coincidence, the name matches the upcoming date in number (which was the naming scheme to some prior versions of 3DMark nonetheless). 3DMark 11 is designed solely for DirectX 11, so Windows Vista or 7 are required along with a DirectX 11 graphics card in order to run this test. The Basic Edition has unlimited free tests on performance mode, whereas Vantage only allowed for a single test run. The Advanced Edition costs $19.95 and unlocks nearly all the features of the benchmark, while the Professional Edition costs $995.00 and is mainly suited for corporate use. The new benchmark contains six tests, four of which are aimed only at graphical testing, one to test for physics handling, and one to combine graphics and physics testing together. The open source Bullet Physics library is used for physics simulations and, although not as mainstream as Havok or PhysX, it still seems to be a popular choice.
With the new benchmark comes two new demos that can be watched, both based on the tests, but unlike the tests, these contain basic audio. The first demo is titled "Deep Sea" — a few vessels exploring what looks similar to a sunken U-Boat. The second demo is titled "High Temple" and is similar to South American tribal ruins with statues and the occasional vehicle around. The demos are simple in that they have no story — they are really just a demonstration of what the testing will be like. The vehicles have the logos of the sponsors MSI and Antec on their sides, the sponsorships of which helped make the Basic Edition free. The four graphics tests are slight variants of the demos.
The first two tests are based on the "Deep Sea" demo. Each test is fairly short, so not much is shown. The first test has lots of lighting, shadows, and post processing, but no tessellation. The second test reduces the amount of lighting while introducing additional effects, such as tessellation.
The next two tests are based on the "High Temple" demo, with one during the day and one during the night. Vehicles appear in both, as do many of the advanced features of DirectX 11.
The last two tests are based upon physics powered by the open source Bullet Physics library. The look of each test is similar to the prior "High Temple" tests, this time around with wobbling pillars and exploding roofs. The combined test applies physics to a normal graphics test to see how well the system handles the two together. Some flags are added for soft physics generally handled by the graphics card.
Now, knowing what to expect during testing, it is time to examine the benchmark launcher and get to testing some video cards to get a baseline for performance!