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 cache)
Overclocked to 3.30GHz (1467FSB)
Motherboard Gigabyte GA-X38-DQ6
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.)

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  • Juddog - Friday, May 9, 2008 - link

    All that happened was a page came up saying page not found? WTF kind of benchmark has to connect to the web and display their page first?

    I tried to make it run about 15 different ways, none worked. First time I have uninstalled an Onion benchmark. 3dmark01, 03, 05, 06 all run flawlessly on my system (vista x64), only Vantage has this issue.

    What a waste of a download, I am highly disappointed.
  • LoneWolf15 - Tuesday, May 6, 2008 - link

    I used 3DMark mainly as a basic test of system stability (looping for several hours) and because the graphics were pretty. After 3DMark01, the newer versions have almost nothing that reflects real-world game performance; the most you can say is that you can test whether a graphics card supports certain features of DirectX properly.

    Charging for pretty much every feature is silly. I can understand charging review sites, but gamers aren't going to pay this kind of money for essentially what is an e-manhood measuremeant (Mine's better than yours! Nyah! Nyah!), and if gamers stop using FutureMark tools, then review sites will stop using them to show results. Which, IMO is probably a good thing, as the results are meaningless in terms of whether you're capable of playing Game X, Y, or Z at good frame rates with your existing graphics card.

    I think Futuremark's move has finally put a bullet through their foot, but time will tell.
  • Clauzii - Monday, May 5, 2008 - link

    Thanks to Anandtech for the review - with a LOT of pics. (Should I stitch them togeth..... nahhh ;) So also thank You for the clip :) (Doesn't matter it is a bit choppy - it would have been on my machine anyway, if run in realtime!!)


    Goodbye 3DMark. Thank You for the nice Years (since 1999 on the RivaTNT). Even though You got nice colors and epic landscapes; so does nature. But now You want money from me to look at You? Even more, if You shall be usefull to me? And a LOT more if I'd wanted all of You? No thanks.
  • brian_riendeau - Wednesday, April 30, 2008 - link

    [quote]It will be interesting to see how this plays out, because Futuremark may have relegated 3DMark Vantage into irrelevance by this decision. Now, you can't test and retest your system to see how any tweaks may or may not affect your score[/quote]

    This sums up all of my thoughts on this. I have always had Futuremark software on my PC, and it gets run at various times to check new drivers, see if tweaks affected the system, and sometimes just out of boredom. At some point in time, I paid $20 for 3DMark05 as well since it was "only $20" and I was using it all the time. Now Futuremark puts out a new benchmark which is basically "pay to benchmark". Well why the heck am I going to pay for it, when most people won't? I can't just compare scores with anyone now, so I will keep my money, less people will buy it, and in a few months time, 3DMark might be just a memory.

    Also it certainly does not help that the first GPU benchmark looks like total crap, and the whole scene for the CPU benchmark looks like crap as well. Is this 2001 and we are supposed to be dazzled by water effest from in GPU #1 test? Does anyone realize that, umm, hardly any games take place on the surface of the water?!?! Why does almost all of GPU #1 test look worse than Half Life 2?

    I gotta say I was a Mad Onion/Futuremark fanboy right up until today. It was not perfect, but it was readily available and a pretty decent tool for comparing that I have defended on various forums. Anytime I buily a system for someone, I would install 3DMark and leave the icon right on their desktop and show them how to run it for the eye candy. This whole thing just leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
  • Locutus465 - Tuesday, April 29, 2008 - link

    For $20 I figure what the hell, honestly I really enjoy looking at the pretty pictures in 3DMark's benchmarks. I'm also really curios to see how my new system stacks up compared to the others I'm sure are out there already.
  • Locutus465 - Tuesday, April 29, 2008 - link

    So I installed this and ran it durring lunch today.... First of all, holy system killer, this really brought my system to it's keens which was interesting to see.

    As far as the app it's self, first and formost it's fairly buggy still. I like the web integration idea they have going on but it breaks all over the place. The benchmarks them selves are fairly interesting to watch, what I really found interesting is they managed to murder your GPU and CPU resources very effectivly all the while not generating all that compelling of graphics. Doom3 / quake 4 look better than the first benchmark, and they run faster too. The second benchmark, the space one which actually ran faster than the first did manage to look fairly nice.

    And, all in all... My current all AMD system is dwarfed by their fastest system lol. I'm not sure what all hardware they had in that system but wow... Still, not very dissapointed with my results. I'm running 100% stock speeds (thought just last night I finally installed a better cpu hsf) and I still lack any sort of cross fire.
  • ViRGE - Tuesday, April 29, 2008 - link

    I know I'm not the only one here who has never given a damn about 3DMark for benchmarking purposes, I've always used it for the graphics. The previous versions have been a couple years ahead of mainstream games and had offered a good look in to where games were going. In other words, it was really damn pretty.

    Vantage has largely missed the boat on that. GPU test 1 is really unimpressive, it seems to spend too much resources on overexaggerated water and cloth simulations, and not much on anything else. GPU test 2 is better with a whole test devoted to a space scene, but then again nothing interesting happens, it's mostly camera panning and a bunch of damn asteroids.

    Worst of all, Demo mode is gone, which is a real disappointment. Futuremark hails from the greatest demoscene group of all time, The Future Crew; past benchmarks (3dMark '05 in particular) included some rather impressive demo modes. The lack of a demo mode just highlights the fact that they missed a chance to do something jawdropping, GPU Test 2 in particular is just begging for a real space battle (boy do I miss space sims).*

    While I realize it's a benchmarking product and sold as such, I really do think the greater utility of the product was offering a good look at what modern hardware could do and what future games would look like. Futuremark shot themselves in the foot here making something so visually unimpressive and artistically uninspired.

    * Please may the Futuremark game be this
  • acejj26 - Tuesday, April 29, 2008 - link

    why does the first thumbnail of Jane Nash look like someone is peeing? am i the only one who sees that?
  • Matt Campbell - Tuesday, April 29, 2008 - link

    Plus her jetski looks like the model from 1977 in The Spy Who Loved Me.


  • piroroadkill - Tuesday, April 29, 2008 - link

    Ugh, multiple benchmark types? Surely the attraction of 3DMark is there was one, single comparable score, run at defaults that everyone could run.. Vista only requirement? I'm still running XP so I won't be touching this.

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