Here at Anandtech, performance testing is an important aspect in how we review our hardware. When we are looking at graphics cards, game benchmarks give us a good idea of a card's performance capabilities. We are always interested in new ways to test graphics hardware, and while we often use game benchmarks, there are other tools out there that can be useful for testing computer hardware. One of these programs is 3DMark, a popular benchmarking tool developed by Futuremark, and today marks the release of their latest version of this program, 3DMark06.

There is a kind of interconnectivity between hardware and software wherein each tends to affect and be affected by the other, specifically regarding gaming technology advancements. There are times where certain games or software come about, which test the limits or surpass the capabilities of the graphics hardware at that time. Currently though, we are seeing the opposite situation, where incredibly powerful graphics cards and gaming setups (i.e. SLI, Crossfire) surpass the system requirements of even the most demanding games with the highest settings enabled.

While perhaps frustrating for some people, scenarios like these are are generally good news for the end user, as it creates opportunities for major advancements to occur in the technology of games or game hardware. Right now, the hardware that is available is prompting advancements in game development, and we can't easily predict what types of games we might see in the near or semi-near future. Tools like 3DMark are useful because they give us the ability to test hardware in very different and precise ways that current games cannot.

That being said, 3DMark is essentially a benchmarking tool, and there are limits to its usefulness. We'll talk more about this and run some benchmarks across several graphics boards to give us an idea of how this program stresses our cards. We'll also be talking about some new features in this edition of 3DMark, which look impressive, particularly the High Dynamic Range and Shader Model 3.0 additions.

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  • neogodless - Thursday, January 19, 2006 - link

    The future is here...

    I think the generation of games reflected by the 3DMark predictions should be benchmarked side-by-side the various flavors of 3DMark to see how much validity their predictions held.

    i.e. Benchmark 3DMark05 or 3DMark03 against current games, 3DMark2001SE against games from 2? years ago... that sort of thing.

    Or has this been done by someone?
  • Wellsoul2 - Thursday, January 19, 2006 - link

    The CPU part seems to be a total joke.

    I saw very little difference between my XP2800 and Opteron 148.
    Pretty much negligible, where in games I saw 10FPS.

  • MrSmurf - Wednesday, January 18, 2006 - link

    What a horribly, boring benchmark. I paid for 2k5 but not this one. The last two CPU tests should be measured in seconds per frame instead of frames per second.

    I nearly fell asleep when it was running on my X800PRO... I'm not even going to bother with my SM3.0 machines... boring + more tests = no thanks.
  • stephenbrooks - Thursday, January 19, 2006 - link

    I got a nice 1418 score which means "everything was really, really slow!" on an X800XL.

    Never mind though, I suppose at the rate the cards are coming along this might work decently in a couple of years time. They have to raise the bar somehow and I think this is probably quite a good benchmark but the hardware it's intended for barely exists yet.
  • alcalde - Wednesday, January 18, 2006 - link

    It took hours to download via bittorrent, and when I finally ran it, my impression was "Same as last year's, but slower".

    My (non-aggressively) overclocked AMD 3800+ X2 and 800 GTO2 got 2204 3DMarks, without performing the HDR/SM3.0 tests. I must say it was quite disturbing to have plunked down money I've been saving for years in Nov. to build a new machine to replace my antique PC, only to see a benchmark running like a slideshow once again by January. :-) And I'd just run the F.E.A.R. demo on it last night, too....
  • nv40 - Thursday, January 19, 2006 - link

    There are several outcome from PCDVD @ TWN">
    Dual core CPU score almost double in comparison to single core
    Opteron 2.9G dual core score 2200, Opteron 2.9G single score 1110, a 1.99x increase
    Furthermore, Intel score abnormally high to AMD, may due to hyperthreading
    P4 3.0G HT (prescott) score 900 while as Athlon 64 2.5G also result in 900(san diego)
    Additionally, old K7 also score desociated with real gaming,
    K7 2.2G score 725 which is higher than K8 1.8G at 660, but we know it never happen in real world..
    So, 3D mark 05 make everything out of reality, but 3D mark 06 still have "unreal" CPU score.
  • shabby - Wednesday, January 18, 2006 - link

    Ya the cpu test was pretty pointless, i think i got like 5 frames per minute!
    Btw i scored 900 with a gf6800nu.
  • Souka - Thursday, January 19, 2006 - link

    Took 12min to download via my T3

    Tossed onto my laptop..T42 Pentium M 1.7ghz and Radeon 9800 w/64mb 0-1fps...stopped it after 5 min

    tossed onto my desktop.. Pentium 4HT @2.8 and GF4 AGP 6800 w/128....0-1fps...stopped it after 5 min

    Wow...what a piece. Yeah, its the demo, but still.
  • e4te - Thursday, January 19, 2006 - link

    The cup test is capped at 2 fps I'm pretty sure.
  • e4te - Thursday, January 19, 2006 - link

    hehe cpu

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