3DMark 2001SE and 3DMark03 used to be basic benchmarking tools of any hardware tester. Once sharp and trustworthy, these two tools have somewhat lost their edge nowadays. The former version is rather obsolete and suits but little for testing modern graphics cards. The current version, although uses DirectX 9.0 features, produced too much controversy and critical remarks to become a universal and unanimously-adopted truth. Well, no benchmark is. But some aspire to be. The last September Massive Development introduced their new benchmarking suite to the public. It is called AquaMark3.
The new version of the well-known product is based on the krass engine. This engine powers up games like AquaNox and AquaNox 2: Revelation and is going to power up Spellforce, which is still under development. Thus, the first advantage of AquaMark3 is obvious: it uses a real engine real games are based on. Moreover, the scenes involved in the benchmark are in fact gaming scenes from AquaNox 2, but more sophisticated.
The krass engine supports DirectX 9.0, particularly ver.2.0 pixel shaders, and thus suits well for testing the performance of modern gaming graphics cards, most of which support DirectX 9.0, too. The game scenes you see in AquaMark3 are simply beautiful: they are all underwater, with the following effects and features displayed and tested:
- Dynamic Occlusion Culling;
- High Particle Count;
- Masked Environment Mapping;
- Large Scale Vegetation Rendering;
- Large Scale Terrain Rendering;
- Vertex and Pixel Lighting;
- 3D Volumetric Fog;
- Complex Multimaterial Shader;
- Massive overdraw.
Overall, there are 9 scenes that put every aspect of the graphics card under close scrutiny. Each of the scenes, unlike the relatively featureless tests from 3DMark, create a definite type of workload, thus we can examine the efficiency of each given graphics card in more detail. Every graphics card we will test today is going to produce 10 numbers. Nine of them will be specific and one – showing the overall performance of the product.
It is unfortunate the AquaMark03 benchmark developer, unlike Futuremark Corporation, doesn’t reveal the physical properties of the scenes, so it is rather hard to comment much on some selected scenes.