Today we’re happy to announce a new Futuremark benchmark for everyone to torture their hardware with!
If you’ve been waiting for this benchmark for a while, you’re not alone. There were a lot of previews sent out. We published the first one that said this was coming in 2012 (missed that one, didn’t they?). Then another trailer came out in early December. That was followed by a couple more, but there was never a definite release date. Folks ended up becoming just a little frustrated, especially on HWBot.
Now the wait is OVER! Like the post title says, the new 3DMark is a cross-platform benchmark. It comes with three tests – Ice Storm, Cloud Gate & Fire Strike. There will be three tiers of 3DMark much like past benchmarks – Basic Edition (free on all platforms), Advanced Edition (a paid version, there are more options for enthusiasts) and a Professional Edition (for business users and costs a pretty penny).
The system requirements are actually reasonably light for such a new benchmark. Of course, the frames may be crawling by on your screen, choppy as they can be, but it’ll run!
Being the first cross-platform bench, they also have minimum requirements for mobile devices. This includes phones and tablets.
There’s also a handy dandy quick reference for test compatibility.
Now, on to the benchmarks!
This is the first (and least intense) test in 3DMark, meant for mobile devices:
Ice Storm is a cross-platform benchmark for mobile devices. Use it to test the performance of your smartphone, tablet, ultra-portable notebook or entry-level PC. Ice Storm includes two graphics tests focusing on GPU performance and a physics test targeting CPU performance. On Windows, Ice Storm uses a DirectX 11 engine limited to Direct3D feature level 9, making it the ideal modern benchmark for all DirectX 9 compatible devices. On Android and iOS, Ice Storm uses OpenGL ES 2.0. The test content, settings and rendering resolution are the same on all platforms and scores can be compared across Windows, Windows RT, Android and iOS.
- Cross-platform benchmark for mobile devices.
- Includes two graphics tests and a physics test.
- Compare scores across Windows, Windows RT, Android and iOS.
The next test is for older hardware, notebooks and “typical home PCs”:
Cloud Gate is a new test designed for Windows notebooks and typical home PCs. Cloud Gate includes two graphics tests and a physics test. The benchmark uses a DirectX 11 engine limited to Direct3D feature level 10 making it suitable for testing DirectX 10 compatible hardware. Cloud Gate will be available only in the Windows editions of 3DMark initially.
- Designed for typical home PCs and notebooks.
- DirectX 11 engine supporting DirectX 10 hardware.
- Includes two graphics tests and a physics test.
This is where most overclockers will be focusing. Designed to torture the highest of high-end computers (and then some, if you run the Extreme preset), it is the most intense of the three tests:
Fire Strike is our new showcase DirectX 11 benchmark for high-performance gaming PCs. It is our most ambitious and technical benchmark ever, featuring real-time graphics rendered with detail and complexity far beyond what is found in other benchmarks and games today.
Using a multi-threaded DirectX 11 engine, Fire Strike includes two graphics tests, a physics test and a combined test designed to stress the CPU and GPU at the same time. 3DMark Advanced and Professional Editions include an additional Extreme preset for high-end systems with multiple GPUs. Fire Strike will be available only in the Windows editions of 3DMark initially.
- Designed for high-performance gaming PCs.
- Extreme preset for multi-GPU systems.
- Stunning DirectX 11 showcase graphics.
Interesting side note – you can see how they used motion capture to make that tech demo here.
Fire Strike is where our team spent their time since receiving the benchmark last week. We were able to throw together a quick comparison for you with a few high-end GPUs. One thing we were struck by was the fact that threads don’t really matter to this benchmark. There is a large difference in Physics score, but relatively little in overall score. Here is a comparison between a 3770K @ 4.0 GHz and a 3960X @ 4.0 GHz, both with HD 7970s clocked at 1100 / 1500.
If you want to delve more deeply on what you’ll need to increase your 3DMark score, you can check out page 26 of the 3Dmark Technical Guide, which outlines how the scores are calculated.
Our comparison graph all ran on our standard GPU benchmarking platform with a 3770K at 4.0 GHz and RAM at DDR3-1866, 9-9-9-24. The only change was to the GPU.
So far, it looks like AMD is going to be the way to go in 3DMark for now. Either the bench favors AMD overall or AMD’s recent drivers just rock for rendering this bench. I did run Fire Strike with the 3960X at 3.9 GHz (ASUS “stock”) and the HD 7970 at its original stock clocks (925/1325), which scored 6626. Accounting for the 3960x-to-3770K difference, (call it 100 points), that’s still over 700 marks better than the GTX 680 with the HD 7970 at stock.
CrossfireX and SLI scaling aren’t doing so well with 3DMark yet. After speaking with Futuremark about it, this appears to be a driver problem only. The software is fine, but Fire Strike is a very complex scene and multi-GPU setups are currently struggling. MattNo5ss tried a GTX 680 & GTX 670 in hybrid SLI, but the score was no better than with a single GTX 670. As you can see, CrossfireX scales pretty well with two GPUs (though there are flickering issues inside the scenes, which Futuremark says is all driver). However, once you put a third HD 7970, the score drops right back down to where it was with only one HD 7970. So far, it looks like CrossfireX with two GPUs works, but that’s it. Tri-fire and Hybrid SLI both failed to do anything.
This wouldn’t be overclockers if we didn’t throw down the gauntlet of course, so here’s a challenge – beat the best score I came up with: 14313. This is with a 3770K @ 4.8 GHz, RAM at DDR3-2600 / 10-12-12-31 and 2 x HD 7970s at 1270 / 1750.
Now, go download the bench and let’s see what your systems are made of!