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New Standardization Authority: 3DMark11

The Vantage name has come and gone but the good tradition of developing new benchmarks from scratch remains. 3DMark11 runs on Futuremark’s in-house DirectX 11 rendering engine which makes use of multithreading, tessellation, lightning and post processing.

The color scheme has changed significantly since 3DMark Vantage, just as the overall interface. The most remarkable achievement definitely worth mentioning is the size of the distribution. In our times it is very hard to impress someone with a 10GB video game, but this cutting-edge benchmarking tool asks for only 300 megabytes of disk storage.

There are a total of six tests in 3DMark11 that vary in their requirements:

Graphics Test 1 – No tessellation. Instead, this test benchmarks the GPU’s capability of processing advanced lighting with several light sources each of which casts shadows.

Graphics Test 2 – Medium tessellation for geometry and a medium-difficulty lighting model (a few light sources with shadows).

Graphics Test 3 – There is medium tessellation again for rendering the pillars, statues and some of the vegetation, the sun being the single shadow-casting light source.

Graphics Test 4 – Heavy tessellation is used to add complexity and details to the scene. Additional light sources make this scene extra hard to render.

Physics test – This test benchmarks the CPU performance by simulating rigid body physics with a large number of objects.

Combined Test – This test combines the physics test and graphics test 4 in a single scene. While the CPU is busy handling the rigid-body calculations, the graphics subsystem has to deal with volumetric lighting, tessellation, post-processing and soft-body physics simulation using DirectCompute.

Since PhysX is currently considered to be an Nvidia-only physics API, the programmers at Futuremark decided to stick to unrestricted technologies and employed Bullet Physics for physics simulation in the 3DMark11 tests. This is a professional open-source library for collision detection, rigid body and soft body dynamics.

The new benchmark’s main feature, besides the Results menu, is the demo mode which was more than missed by the community in the previous 3DMark incarnation. The demo mode combines the scenes from the Deep Sea and High Temple tests with a soundtrack by Pedro Macedo Camacho.

The minimum hardware requirements published by the developer are surprisingly low. A compatible DirectX 11 graphics card accompanied by a 1.8GHz dual-core CPU and only 1 gigabyte of system memory aren’t really the baseline one would expect from a high-stress benchmark.

Entry preset (E)

The Entry preset is designed to test entry-level hardware with a very low load on the graphics card. As you can see, most of the options are just turned off. The benchmark runs at 1024x600 and is clearly aimed at nongaming notebooks and netbooks.

Performance preset (P)


If you are a proud owner of a mainstream system, the Performance preset is designed to stress your hardware. With high-definition content spreading across the globe, it comes as no surprise that the resolution is set at 1280x720 or 720p, which is a popular television format.

Extreme preset (X)

Even if your hardware scored 10,000+ in 3DMark Vantage, the new version’s Extreme preset is designed to kill it on the spot. The Full HD resolution of 1920x1080 (1080p) is accompanied by every major eye-candy feature available in the DirectX 11 environment.

Don’t be fooled by the minimum system requirements because the Entry preset has almost none of the DirectX 11 eye-candy features. As soon as you enable the Performance or Extreme preset, things tend to become slideshow-like.

So, there are a lot of settings to be played with and a lot of hardware for us to test!

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