Futuremark 3DMark Vantage Reviewccokeman -
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When the subject of video card performance comes up, the questions that are asked (here lately) are how does it do in 3DMarkXX or how does it do in Crysis? The reasoning is that the Futuremark series gives repeatable results for a valid comparison across platforms and video card manufacturers' products. In the past seven years, Futuremark has released a benchmark roughly every two years, starting in 2001. Of course, we all have used the older benchmarks and have seen scores blossom to unheard of levels as computing technology has improved and scaled much higher. On the other side of the fence, you have the fact that each successive benchmark initially brought the latest video card technology (and later processor tech) to its knees. Guess what things have not changed? The newest from FutureMark is 3DMark Vantage. This benchmark is specifically designed for use with Windows Vista and DirectX 10. So what's new with this version of 3Dmark, you ask, besides the obvious? Pretty much everything. There are two new game tests, Jane Nash and New Calico. There are two all new CPU tests that have been designed around a new "Physics and Artificial Intelligence-related computation." CPU test two offers support for physics related hardware. Four preset performance levels that can give a wide array of official scores instead of the one official setting used in the past. These are just some of the new items. Follow along as I take a look at the latest from FutureMark.
First off, you have to have the hardware to even run 3DMark Vantage. The minimum requirements are pretty steep if you have last year's technology, but are about on par with what the current crop of gamers and enthusiasts should have.
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
Now that you know a little about the program and have seen the hardware requirements, it's time to look a little closer at the application. First up, the Main Configuration tab. In this section, you can choose the GPU and CPU tests that the game runs, as well as the preset performance option using the drop down menu.
The Options menu is where the detailed configuration of the tests can take place. The Test Options tab is where you you can choose the resolution, performance preset, anistrophic filtering, texture quality and more. Each item with a drop down box is adjustable to configure a custom test or to use the preset option box. Each of the presets are shown below, as well as a custom test configuration.
Additional items under the options tab are the Game Test, CPU Test and Feature Test tabs. Under these sections you can turn on and off the tests under each tab for a custom configuration. Each Game, CPU, and Feature test includes a description of what the test is designed to do or test.
The System Info tab provides a detailed look at the devices and drivers installed in the current system.
Scoring is handled a bit differently in 3DMark Vantage. There is the CPU score and GPU score, as well as several sub-scores. As the performance level of the preset goes up, the graphics score has increased weighting to that score based on the preset. Therefore, each preset can only be compared to similar scores (i.e. Entry scores can only be compared to Entry scores, Performance to Performance and so on). Custom tests are comparable only across a test setup that meets the exact same criteria. Each score is identified by a letter in front of the score. This letter denotes the type of test run, E for Entry, P for Performance, H for High and X for Extreme.
Now that we have an understanding of what kind of setup is involved and how to navigate through the menus, we can look at the tests to see some specifics on how they are being set up.