3DMark06 is the latest addition to the 3DMark franchise. This version differs from 3Dmark05 in a number of ways, and now includes not only Shader Model 2.0 tests, but Shader Model 3.0 and HDR tests as well. Some of the assets from 3DMark05 have been re-used, but the scenes are now rendered with much more geometric detail and the shader complexity is vastly increased as well. Max shader length in 3DMark05 was 96 instructions, while 3DMark06 ups the number of instructions to 512. 3DMark06 also employs much more lighting, and there is extensive use of soft shadows. With 3DMark06, Futuremark has also updated how the final score is tabulated. In this latest version of the benchmark, SM 2.0 and HDR / SM3.0 tests are weighted and the CPU score is factored into the final tally as well.
We've got a lot of numbers to digest from this point forward. We've included benchmark scores from stock and pre-overclocked GeForce 8600 GTS and GT cards, in addition to similarly priced last-gen products, and current higher-end parts. We've also got some multi-GPU SLI and CrossFire numbers to consider.
As you can see, the new GeForces perfomed well in the 3DMark06 benchmark. The GTS cards outpaced all of the last-gen products with the GT finishing up just behind them. The more expensive X1950 XTX and 8800 GTS cards took the top spots thanks to their higher fullrates, large frame buffers, and incrased memory bandwidth.
If we tunnel a bit deeper and look at the individual shader model 2.0 and HDR / shader model 3.0 benchmarks, we see a similar breakdown. The new GeForce 8600 GTS in both single and dual-card SLI configurations are able to outpace the similarly priced last-gen 7950 GT and Radeon X1950 Pro.