The New Tests
As with every version of 3DMark, each test is designed to cover different aspects of gaming. The four Graphics tests are broken up into render types as we see listed below.
As you can see, the first test has no Tessellation (something that is big with DX11) but the other three have some when it comes to the rendering of items in the scene. Volumetric lighting is big in all of the tests, as well as post processing for lens effects (film grain etc). Depth of field also plays a big role in the test runs along with particle effects.
The Physics testing (not PhysX) is handled by Bullet this time instead of the Ageia/NVIDIA API. This is a welcomed surprise to AMD fans as it removes the seeming advantage that NV had in the past. The first test is all CPU based with the CPU handling rigid body testing physics at a fixed frame rate. The second test throws the GPU to handle volumetric lighting, and Direct Compute Physics.
To cover the details of the tests, test one puts you in an underwater scene. You see deep sea submersibles moving through the dark waters; their lights the only source of illumination.
In each scene they have included rusted surfaces that are barnacle encrusted to add additional shadows (and tessellation in the second test). These scenes are reminiscent of the movie "The Abyss". In fact, in the longer demo one of the undersea wrecks they find looks a lot like the deep sea drilling lab from that movie.
In test three and four we move to a jungle where we happen upon a deserted campsite. There is lots of vegetation moving in the wind as well as rounded surfaces (for that, Tessellation). The sun shining through the jungle offers a great opportunity for volumetric lighting while we can see some limited particle effects in the light.
The CPU Physics testing is a much like we saw in 3DMark Vantage. It is the same image group rendered multiple times and performing the same action (although each does react differently). The image groups are made up of a series of columns covered by stone slabs. A large stone ball is dropped onto them and they fall apart. This puts the CPU under the strain of calculating each impact and the trajectory of the falling items.
The combined test is something of a close-up with more detail. 3DMark has added in some vegetation, lighting and filtering while the CPU still has to contend with the falling balls of stone and what to do when they hit the columns.
Each of these tests is much shorter in length than in any of the previous versions of 3DMark. We have been told this is to get the results to you faster; this should make more than a few enthusiasts happy along with a few members of the press that use this test.