Futuremark Unveils 3DMark Vantage

Introduction and Overview

Futuremark has just officially unveiled the latest version of their 3DMark benchmark suite, 3DMark Vantage.  Like PCMark Vantage which was released a few months ago, this latest version of 3DMark was designed for testing Windows Vista-based systems.  This latest version of the 3DMark, however, is specifically bound to Windows Vista because it uses some advanced visual technologies that are only available with DirectX 10, which you may know isn't available on previous versions of Windows.

3DMark Vantage isn't simply a port of 3DMark06 to DirectX 10 though.  With this latest version of the benchmark, Futuremark has incorporated two new graphics tests, two new CPU tests, several new feature tests, in addition to support for the latest PC hardware.  As you'll see below, the two graphics tests have much more realistic visuals and lighting than previous versions of 3DMark,and the two CPU tests have been redesigned and feature a more complete spectrum of Physics and Artificial Intelligence-related computations.  CPU Test 2, the physics portion of the benchmark, also features support for physics acceleration hardware, and a workload that Futuremark claims is indicative of future generation game physics.

System Requirements for this latest version of 3DMark include:


  • SSE2
  • Recommended: dual-core with performance equivalent Core 2 Duo E6600, Athlon X2 6000+ or higher

Graphics Card

  • DX10 compliant graphics card

Display Device

  • Requires 1280x1024 resolution
  • Recommends 1920x1200 to run all presets

System Memory

  • Recommends 2GB or more

Hard Disk

  • Requires 1GB of disk space

Operating System

  • Windows Vista with Service Pack 1

3DMark Vantage's application menus let you choose from a number of different options.  Like 3DMark06, there are options available for configuring things like the test resolution and anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering levels.  But new to this version are presets designed to allow users to compare performance from different types of systems.  For example, there is a "Performance" preset for comparing high performance rigs, an "Entry" level option for mainstream systems, and an "Extreme" preset for enthusiast systems loaded up with the latest hardware.

3DMark Vantage Main Menu

Visually, the menus are much more modern looking than 3DMark06, and as you can see, the options are labeled with information and imagery pertaining to the particular test.  Navigating throughout the options is quick and easy, especially for those already familiar with PCMark Vantage, which is laid out in a similar manner.

Game Test 1: Jane Nash

Game Test 2: New Calico

As we've already mentioned, all of the individual game tests that comprise the 3DMark Vantage suite are new.  Game test one is dubbed, "Jane Nash".  This test features a myriad if static objects and complex dynamically skinned objects. It also uses cascaded shadow maps that use PCF filtering, cloth simulation, and caustics, and Futuremark says that very few objects are instanced.  They also note that there are no ray-marching (volumetric) effects used in the scene.

Game test two is called, "New Calico".  Unlike game test one, this one consists almost entirely of moving objects and no objects are skinned.  The test uses variance shadow mapping shadows, many instanced objects, and even some local and global ray-tracing effects like Parallax Occlusion Mapping, True Impostors, and Volumetric Fog.


CPU Test 1: AI

CPU Test 2: Physics

3DMark Vantage's CPU tests are also new.  CPU test one gauges AI performance and features a high-intensity workload of co-operative manoeuvring and path-finding artificial intelligence calculations according to Futuremark. The scene features an airplane race course loaded with planes that are all attempting to navigate through a series of gates, while simultaneously trying to avoiding collisions with each other and the ground.

CPU test two measures physics performance.  This test features a heavy workload of next-gen game physics computations. CPU test two also feature and air race of sorts, but with a more complex configuration of gates. The aircraft in the test trail smoke and collide with various cloth and soft-body obstacles, each other, and the ground. The smoke spreads, and reacts to the planes as they pass through it.

In addition to the CPU and Game tests, 3DMark Vantage also has a suite of specialized feature tests, like 3DMark06.  The feature tests include, texture fill, color fill, Parallax Occlusion Mapping, GPU Cloth, GPU Particle, and Perlon Noise.


3DMark Vantage Results Screen

Running 3DMark Vantage is very simple.  Just choose the desired options and system present, and click on the run benchmark button.  After running through a series of tests, a final score is generated and all of the individual test results are displayed.  Like previous versions of 3DMark, the final score is calculated using the individual results and weighting them accordingly.  You should know, however, that the final 3DMark score

is calculated differently for each preset. The higher presets give a higher weight to the GPU Score. This means that the overall 3DMark scores are not comparable across different presets.  If you're curious, the score above was achieved on a Skulltrail-based system equipped with a GeForce 9800 GX2 graphics card.

Futuremark is offering 3DMark Vantage in a few different versions.  There is a trial edition available as a free download that can only be run once on a particular system.  But there are paid versions available as well.  3DMark Vantage Basic Edition is available for $6.95 (Download Price), and includes an unlimited number of test runs using a single preset setting. 
3DMark Vantage Advanced Edition is available for $19.95 (Download Price), and includes unlimited testing, and access to all presets and custom settings.  Finally, there is a Pro edition available that unlocks every feature within the program, but that one costs close to $500 and isn't geared toward home users.

We plan to incorporate 3DMark Vantage into future articles here at HotHardware, much as we have with PCMark Vantage and the various earlier versions of 3DMark in the past.  Stay tuned for those articles in the weeks ahead.

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