Another year, another version of Futuremark's 3DMark benchmarking software – except they skipped last year and dropped the year from the name. Whatever. The important thing is, fans of 3D graphics benchmarks everywhere now some new software that can bring your computer to its knees... and then some. 3DMark Vantage officially launched today, and we thought we would do a quick update on what has changed and some general commentary on the newest release.
In terms of changes, the most notable areas are the hardware and software requirements. Like PCMark Vantage, Windows Vista is required in order to run 3DMark Vantage. That's hardly a surprise, but simply installing Vista won't be sufficient; you also need to have a DirectX 10 capable graphics card. If you happen to run a system that's no longer on the cutting edge of hardware and software, you can simply forget about running 3DMark Vantage. We installed it on a system with a Radeon X1950 XTX, just to see what would happen. There were no warning messages during installation, which was surprising, but as soon as we loaded up 3DMark Vantage we were greeted by a software crash. It would probably be more effective if Futuremark alerted users to the fact that their hardware is inadequate rather than simply crashing; most likely they will address this with a future patch.
Besides having appropriate hardware and software, you will probably also want to update your graphics drivers. On the test system, the first time we executed the program, we encountered several error messages and some display corruption. We were running the Catalyst 8.3 drivers, and upgrading to 8.4 at least eliminated the display corruption on the loading screens. (The errors have been reported by others and may simply be a "first run" problem.) While we're on the subject, we might as well get the test hardware out of the way:
|3DMark Vantage Initial Test System|
|Processor||Core 2 Quad Q6600 (2.40GHz 2x4MB
Overclocked to 3.30GHz (1467FSB)
|Memory||2x2048MB OCZ DDR2-800
Running at DDR2-734 4-4-4-12
|Graphics||2 x AMD Radeon HD 3870 (CrossFire)|
|Hard Drive||Samsung F1 750GB (7200RPM 32MB)|
|Operating System||Windows Vista Ultimate 64-bit|
While this is by no means the fastest gaming system on the planet, it just so happens to be my own personal gaming setup and it's more than sufficient for running any current game – though of course Crysis requires a few tweaks in order to run while. This is also not intended as a full benchmarking article, so we'll dispense with things like CPU clock speed scaling, CrossFire performance scaling, etc. This system runs 24/7 fully stable, and has been doing so for several months. (The system will be examined more closely in an upcoming article looking at various midrange gaming systems.)