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Home > Hardware Reviews > Graphics Cards

Thursday, August 17, 2006

4. Benchmarks - 1

The 3DMark06 raises the bar for DirectX performance analysis with new and improved graphics tests relying on more complex shaders, all new CPU tests with demanding physics and AI that support single or multiple core and multiple processor systems.

3D Mark06 is the worldwide standard in advanced 3D game performance benchmarking. A fundamental tool for every company in the PC industry as well as PC users and gamers, 3DMark06 uses advanced real-time 3D game workloads to measure PC performance using a suite of DirectX 9 3D graphics tests, CPU tests, and 3D feature tests. 3DMark06 tests include all new HDR/SM3.0 graphics tests, SM2.0 graphics tests, AI and physics driven single and multiple cores or processor CPU tests and a collection of comprehensive feature tests to reliably measure next generation gaming performance today.

SM2.0 Graphics Test 1 -Return to Proxycon

Using an updated game engine, this 3rd person shooter emulation makes use of very complex SM2.0 shaders. Large interior spaces accommodate more characters for lots of action. With 26 total lights, 2 are directional with one casting CSM (Cascading Shadow Maps), 12 point lights provide fill, most cast shadows using 1024x1924x6 cube depth maps and hardware shadows, some are masked and animated, and finally 12 small spot lights with non-overlapping shadow-maps produce a richly lit and shadowed game scene. Blinn-Phong reflections using lookups are applied to the ship surfaces.

SM2.0 Graphics Test 2 - Firefly Forest

Again, an updated game engine plays critically in this SM2.0 shader rich fantasy game scene. The large outdoor scene is dense with vegetation and grass is dynamically distributed and altered according to the camera's location. Surrounded by a skybox, multiple glowing, illuminated fireflies flit about among animated trees, branches and leaves. This test dramatically highlights the benefits of Cascading Shadow Maps and high resolution shadow-mapped point lights. The scene is lit with 1 directional light casting CSM to create a moonlight effect. The 2 illuminated fireflies are shadow-mapped point lights with cube-map masks. A procedural light scattering shader is used for the humid night time sky. Materials have Blinn-Phong reflections using lookups for materials. The ground material has diffuse, diffuse detail, normal and normal details maps added. Rock surfaces have an added specular map. Tree branches are similar to the rock materials but with an added diffuse cube map and no specular or bump map.

HDR/SM3.0 Graphics Test 1 - Canyon Flight

The updated game engine supports extremely complex SM3.0 shaders in this test for exquisite HDR (High Dynamic Range) rendering effects, as well, highlighting the benefit of dynamic shadows. This period style adventure game scene makes extensive use of smooth shadows. A massively complex outdoor canyon and seascape is rendered in very realistic HDR using floating point calculations. Sky and atmospheric effects rely on a complex atmospheric light scattering algorithm with cloud blending; adding great depth to distant scene elements. A heterogeneous fog effect creates deep humidity throughout the canyon. Water material is a further developed 3DMark05 water shader. Water effects are recreated using HDR reflections and refractions, plus a depth fog is used below the surface, and the water surface is distorted with 2 scrolling maps and Gerstner wave functions. Smoke and fire particle effects emanate from the airship. Subsurface scattering and a Blinn-Phong shading model with 2 normal maps and 1 color map are used for the sea-monster. Strauss shading is used for the captain, crew and airship. The canyon wall material uses 3 color maps, 3 normal maps and Lambertian diffuse shading. One directional light, casting CSM is used to create the bright sunlight, producing dramatic dynamic shadows, while showcasing the challenging effect of dynamic shadows on large round shapes.

HDR/SM3.0 Graphics Test 2 - Deep Freeze

With HDR rendering and SM3.0 shaders, this test emulates a movie-like horror adventure scene and showcases CSM with dynamic long, soft shadows for a striking daytime to nighttime transition. As the sun sets, shadows dynamically increase in length for a very realistic effect. For the snow storm, heterogeneous fog and particles with an added diffuse cube map are used. A simple atmospheric light scattering algorithm is used for the sky. A Blinn-Phong shader with 2 normal maps, 1 color map and subsurface scattering is used for the snow material. Metallic and other surfaces use the Strauss shading model. 1 directional light casting CSM recreates the sunlight. By blending 2 pairs of cube-maps, (1 diffuse, 1 specular) and ambient effect is created. HDR values requiring floating point rendering hover to approximately 11.000.

The ASUS EN7800 GT produced lower framerates than the other two cards.

Final Score

The ASUS EN7800 GT TOP achieved the lowest final score, while the XFX 7800 GTX posted the highest with the X1900GT following close behind. The difference in scores between the ASUS EN7800 and the other two cards is sizeable.

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