3DMark was never designed and never will be the absolute last word when it comes to 3D benchmarks for modern games. Although 3DMark05 does provide a good indication of how your system (mainly graphics card) will generally stand up in games (especially those coded with DX9 graphics programming techniques) to be released over the next year and a half at a range of different resolutions and graphics settings which are chosen inside the game as usual. If you want to know exactly how your system will perform under a specific game such as Doom 3, the best idea would be to check benchmarks from that actual game for the absolute real-world final word. The beauty of 3DMark is that it is good at estimating 3D gaming performance for you but at the end of the day, 3DMark05 is a synthetic benchmark and that should never be forgotten.
As you can see from the benchmarks we performed, 3DMark05 puts much more stress on the graphics card over 3DMark03 which mostly used older and less intensive DX8 graphics programming techniques. The most extreme result showed us a 160% decrease in the overall 3DMark score from the old version to the new. This is a good sign as 3D graphics over the next 18 months will only become more impressive and as a result, require more power from your GPU to render those graphics.
Just as we expected, CPU and memory subsystems don't play much influence on the overall 3DMark score in 3DMark05. We overclocked our test system processor by a little over 600MHz and we only saw an overall score increase of 5% at the most. This goes a long way to telling us that 3DMark05 (just like 3DMark03) is very much a graphics card dependent benchmark more than an overall system benchmark which would take into account such things as CPU, memory size, HDD, memory speeds and so on. For this reason you'll only occasionally see us here at TweakTown use 3DMark05 in non-GPU related content but always in GPU related content since we consider it as a valuable graphics card benchmark. Even though it is unable to deliver a real-world result, it does a nice job of providing a good generalized representation of 3D gaming performance through its three different game tests which cover a range of different game types.
Heck, even if you don't intend on using 3DMark05 as a benchmark, you'll have pleasure in running the splendid DX9 game tests or the demo for hours on end which includes sound (perfect for retail store owners to demo on their machines) over and over again as you marvel at the graphics which FutureMark Corporation use to help build the popularity of the 3DMark series with each new version. Now let's wait and see if 3DMark05 has any of the driver optimization cheating problems which 3DMark03 saw in the first few months it was released back in 2003.
Have fun benchmarking and getting the better 3DMark score over your friends and the first to 10,000 points!
- As a supplement to our preview of 3DMark05, you can download the 3DMark05 whitepaper and the 3DMark05 reviewer's guide by FutureMark Corporation which describes the best way to benchmark your system. You'll be able to download 3DMark05 from the FutureMark website.