3DMark for Windows Launches; We Test It with Various Laptopsby Jarred Walton on February 5, 2013 5:00 AM EST
Initial Thoughts on 3DMark “2013”
First, let me say that while I understand the reasoning behind eliminating the year/version from the name, I’m going to generally refer to this release as 3DMark 2013, as there will inevitably be another 3DMark in a year or two. With that out of the way, how does this latest release stand up to previous iterations, and is it a useful addition to the benchmark repertoire?
No benchmark is ever perfect, and even “real world gaming benchmarks” can only tell part of the story. As long as we keep that thought forefront when looking at the latest 3DMark, the results are completely reasonable. With the overall scores using both the Graphics and Physics tests, it will always be beneficial to have a fast CPU and GPU working together for 3DMark rather than pairing a fast GPU with a mediocre CPU, but I can’t say that such an approach is wrong—no matter what some companies might try to say, there are always potential uses for more CPU power in games (physics and AI immediately come to mind), though not every game will need a ton of CPU performance.
In terms of advancing the state of the benchmarking industry, it’s good to see the demo modes (cool graphics with sound are more enticing to the average person than a pure graphics benchmark). I also like the addition of graphs that show performance, power, temperatures, etc., though I wish they worked on all of the hardware rather than only some of the platforms. There’s at least the potential to now use 3DMark on its own to do stress testing without running additional utilities (HWiNFO or similar) in the background.
What I want to see now is how the various tablet and smartphone offerings stack up in comparison to the laptops that I’ve tested. Some people have mused that ARM and the latest SoCs are going to kill off the low end laptop market, but we’re still a ways from that happening, at least from a performance perspective. As slow as HD 3000 can be in comparison to other discrete GPUs, it’s probably still faster than any of the currently shipping SoC GPUs, and HD 4000 is another 50-100% faster than HD 3000. They both also use far more power, but when an iPad 4 includes a battery that holds as much power as many budget laptops, we’re not exactly talking about an insurmountable gulf.
What I really wish we had was more than one of the three tests to run on SoCs. Fire Strike is obviously too much for even notebook GPUs right now, but Cloud Gate ought to be able to run on the better SoCs. Ice Storm on the other hand is running at frame rates over 1000 on a high-end desktop GPU, so if that’s the only point of comparison with the SoCs we’re missing quite a bit of detail. Regardless, it will be nice to have another cross-platform benchmark where we can gauge relative performance, and that looks to be exactly what 3DMark provides.