In the debate between real-world and synthetic benchmarks, there is little doubt that real-world benchmarks offer the better method for comparing graphics cards. That said, real-world tests have their own limitations. When you buy a new graphics card, your goal is not only to have a card that will work with today’s games but a card that will work with tomorrow’s games as well. This is where synthetic tests come into play. In the early stages of 3D graphics, there were several synthetic 3D benchmarks available from several manufacturers. Today, in 2006, only one company continues to produce reliable and effective synthetic benchmarks: FutureMark.
With the exception of 3DMark 2003, which generated some heated debate between journalists, manufacturers, and FutureMark due to the manner in which the shaders were written, FutureMark has otherwise had a proven track record of developing benchmarks that are unanimously considered to be fair, objective, and useful ever since Final Reality
3DMark 05 was a superb benchmark, bringing sophisticated but realistic
shaders and tools to help end-users and journalists evaluate the performance of various graphics cards or system tweaks. With 3DMark 06, FutureMark has brought high dynamic range lighting (HDR).
We’ve had a chance to play with a pre-release version of 3DMark 06 and take a look at the benchmark design of 3DMark 06. Spoilers for the game demo are present.