Unigine Heaven 4.0 Benchmark Tool Walk ThroughGuest_Jim_* - March 12, 2013
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Introduction & Simple Results
The Unigine Heaven Benchmark has been out since 2009, but over the past three and a half years, it has been updated to reach its current version; 4.0. At the time it was released it was the first benchmarking tool to utilize DirectX 11 and still does prove itself to be a good demonstration of some of the API-libraries features, such as tessellation. The benchmark also serves well as a stress-test for GPUs, as it pushes the polygon count quite high.
The setting of Heaven is a "magical steampunk world" with brass, wood, gears, and a zeppelin decorating a city environment. Also at the center of the city is a statue of a dragon that looks ready to leap to life and defend the town if needed. Unlike some other benchmarking tools, Heaven allows the user to freely roam the world, instead of staying to a set path. This is not surprising though, because Unigine is also using the benchmark to demonstrate the power of its graphics engine. The benchmark consists of a fly-through of the city in a total of 26 scenes, that also show time changing from night to day. When free-roaming, you have the ability to control the time of day.
The benchmark comes in three different paid editions, similar to the 3DMark benchmark, with each successive edition boasting the features of the previous:
- Presets for easy testing and comparison
- Custom settings
- GPU monitoring (version 4.0 added temperature and clock monitoring)
- Interactive mode
- Personal use allowed under the license
- Benchmark looping
- Command line automation
- CSV formatted reporting support
- Software rendering mode
- Per-frame deep analysis
- Commercial use allowed under the license
- Technical support
If there is one critique I can make about the Heaven benchmark, it is the heavy use of tessellation. By heavy, I really mean excessive, because the difference between elements with the tessellation on and off can be staggering. The most extreme examples of this are the dragon statue and the stairs. Without tessellation, the stairs are actually simple ramps without any step-geometry. With tessellation enabled, they become actual stairs. The dragon on the other hand shifts from something that you could also see as being a pet, with its relatively smooth body, into a viciously spiked nightmare.
To keep this article from being too short, the next page is going to contain graphs of the frames-per-second the benchmark recorded in its tests. Also, my system specs are listed there.