Unigine Valley 1.0 Benchmark Tool Walk Through

Guest_Jim_* - 2013-02-28 10:51:20 in Software
Category: Software
Reviewed by: Guest_Jim_*   
Reviewed on: March 20, 2013

Introduction & Simple Results

Unigine, the company behind the Heaven DirectX 11 benchmark, has released another benchmark. but instead of setting us above the clouds on floating islands, this new testing tool is a 64 square kilometer Valley. Like Heaven though, Valley uses the Unigine Engine to power the graphics. The engine allows for a number of effects including dynamic wind, rain, sunlight, and even cloud cover, which can all be changed when not running the benchmark-proper. Switching the camera to 'Free' or 'Walking' will allow you to explore the landscape and change any of those settings at will.

Distinguishing between the different graphics settings is a little more difficult in Valley than in the other benchmark, largely because tessellation is not used nearly as much in this benchmark. However, the differences are still there, as the low quality setting effectively removes shadows and other effects more tied to immersion than straight-up graphical quality. Indeed, looking too closely at some elements will show off rather poor graphics, such as the broken bases of branches that are just rectangular prisms without an end piece. This means that if you are at an angle such that you can see partially within the prism, you will see through the surfaces on the other side. The textures and meshes of rocks can also be somewhat crude, but to be fair, the world is meant to be enjoyed as an environment, a landscape, and not something looked at under a microscope. The benchmark flies you through this environment in 18 scenes, varying the environmental settings mentioned earlier.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Valley comes in three different paid editions, similar to other benchmarks, with each successive edition including the features of the previous:

Basic (Free):

Advanced ($14.95):

Pro ($495):

I really have no complaint about Valley, but I will spin-up an observation to make this paragraph a little longer. While the environment is meant to be enjoyed as a grand, beautiful environment, the detail of the extreme background can appear quite low, compared to the nearer background, middle-ground, and foreground. Basically, it looks like the detail drops off too quickly and for a grand vista, I'd rather sacrifice some more frames to have that detail back. Overall though, it is a good looking benchmark, though what makes it good is more subtle than what you see in Heaven and 3DMark.

 

 

As a benchmark, this is very solid with the variance in my scores varying only slightly across all three presets of the benchmarking tests. Where Heaven only had two presets of the benchmark, Basic and Extreme, Valley has three with the added Extreme HD which has identical quality settings as Extreme, but runs at 1920x1080 instead of 1600x900.

Basic preset:

Extreme preset:

Extreme HD preset:

As you can see, the tests are very consistent within the same preset. The average distance from the average score is just 0.49% for the Basic preset, 0.66% for the Extreme, and 0.05% for the Extreme HD. It does not take careful statistical analysis to recognize that this is significant consistency, which is quite important for the use of this benchmark.

To keep this article from being too short, the next page is going to contain the frames-per-second information recorded by the benchmark, along with my system specs.

Detailed Results & Conclusion

The tests were run in succession and using the latest GeForce 314.07 drivers.

Testing Setup:

The order of the tests is the same as on the previous page.

Curiously the minimum and maximum FPS values actually a fair amount. The average distances from the average are 4.31% and 2.44% respectively for those values. Fortunately the average FPS, which is what most people exclusively look at, is quite consistent with a deviation of just 0.46%.

As they are basically the same test, here are the Extreme HD graphs too:

With the singular exception of the minimum FPS for the first Extreme test, all of these tests are very consistent, within their preset, with the Extreme HD preset the most consistent.

Conclusion:

Though it may not win any award as the most graphically stunning benchmark, the Unigine Valley benchmark is a very solid testing tool with consistent scores across its presets. The grass and tree-filled environment has an almost relaxing quality to it, but your GPU will not be relaxing while this is running. If you want another set of scores to put up against a friend's or stranger's system, this will do a good job of providing them to you.