AquaMark3 in Detail
The suite offers two curious modes: AquaMark3 OVIST (Overdraw Visualization Technique) and AquaMark3 SVIST (Shader Visualization Technique). The first of them allows you to estimate visually the workload on the graphics card and the complexity of the scene.
This visualization looks funny enough, resembling the thermal vision of the Predator from the namesake movie: parts of the image with a high overdraw coefficient are rendered in “warmer” colors. The brightest object in the AquaMark3 OVIST mode is the refuse trickling out of the drain pipe in the High Particle Count scene.
AquaMark3 SVIST has the same purpose and the “S” stands for “shader”. Version 2.0 shaders are rendered in red, while ver.1.1 and 1.4 shaders in yellow. Ordinary, “shaderless” scenes are rendered in blue.
Besides that, AquaMark3 can automatically take screenshots in user-defined time intervals, for example once every 10, 20, 100 or 1000 frames.
The AquaMark3 PIXPM mode (Pixel Performance Measurement) is for an in-depth examination of the pixel shader performance. It may come in handy for a detailed study of a specific VPU.
By the way, the developer of the benchmark declares the availability of about 30 pixel and 200 vertex shaders, each different. It is a good workload for any modern graphics card. AquaMark3 is designed for DirectX 9-compatible hardware, but can run less complex shaders on previous generation graphics cards, too. It means this benchmarking package can hardly serve to compare different graphics card families.
AquaMark3 carefully piles the results up in the My Documents/AquaMark3 folder, with a separate subfolder for each test cycle. You can also find the settings and initialization files there as well as the EULA file, which is clear evidence that the developer tried to take into account every trifle. You don’t realize how useful and time-saving those trifles are until you have to benchmark a dozen of different graphics cards. Unfortunately, there is a minor defect in AquaMark3. If you check the “Use all” checkbox in the Resolutions panel, the program starts a test cycle from 640x480 and 800x600 modes. These resolutions are used very rarely nowadays and the two extra passes don’t save your time at all. I think it would be better if the user could decide for himself which resolutions to use. This goes for other settings like full-screen anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering, too. I could point out 3DMark 2001 as a well-organized benchmarking set.
Some users may also grumble about the graphics-heavy menu system of AquaMark3. All those animated buttons and other “bells and whistles” may be annoying, but after all it is a matter of taste. :)