One of the first things that is new about 3DMark 11 is of course the use of DX11 (Tessellation, Compute Shaders and Multi-threading) for the testing suite. But there are other less obvious things that are new as well. For the first time 3DMark is shipping in multiple languages. You can install the new test in English, Finish, German and both Simplified and Traditional Chinese.
This opens up the market even more than it did before (especially in China). We also see the return to the Free edition of 3DMark with unlimited testing runs. This item alone will make a number of enthusiasts happy. The Advanced Edition will set you back $19.95 while the Professional Edition will run you a whopping $995!
Languages and money aside, there are other differences that are both cosmetic and functional. The flow of the application has changed (for the better if you ask me). It is a tabbed style (like most web browsers) with each tab containing different functions and providing more depth to the application.
The Basic tab is what you will get if you are only looking at the basic "free" edition of the benchmark. On this tab you have everything you need to run 3DMark 11; you just have very little control over what you are running.
The Advanced tab gets you quite a bit more control over the tests, the resolutions, anisotropic filtering and even a loop mode (which we use) to put the GPU in question under more stress.
The Professional mode adds something that we have been waiting to see for a very long time. This is a built in Image Quality test that allows you to do a direct frame by frame comparison. Unfortunately it does not have a movie mode; instead it captures one frame at a time and even when you set it up for a range of frames.
The good news is that you can take these frames and put them together using Windows Movie maker or any animation program. Of course, the down side to that is Windows Movie maker will reduce the quality of the still images a little as it converts them to video.
One of the last items that is new (or returned to) is the Demo Mode. This is simply a pair of rendered scenes that are fun to watch and can also help to "warm up" your GPU.
As with all versions of 3DMark Since 06, you can setup a personal account to upload, compare and share your scores with other users on Futuremark's website.
One item that I was not happy with was the removal of the detailed scores from the application. To get detailed scores you have to submit your results and then view them online. While I understand the move, I would have liked to see the detailed scores available in the Advanced and Professional editions.