Product: 3DMark06
Company: Futuremark
Authour: Ryan "MrB" Ku
Editor: Eric "Ichneumon" Amidon
Date: January 18th, 2006
What's New

When you first run 3DMark06 you might do a double check and wonder if you actually ran 3DMark05! 3DMark06 re-uses quite a bit of content from 3DMark05, improving upon three tests and only adding one complete new one. You would notice a distinct difference in image quality though if you ran the two side by side. Much work has gone into improving the artwork by adding more detail.

Most of the effort involved in 3DMark06 has been upgrading the 3D engine to support the two key features 3DMark05 lacked, Shader Model (SM) 3.0 and High Dynamic Range (HDR) rendering.

3DMark06 uses these features in ShaderModel 3.0:

  • vPos Register
  • Derivative Instructions
  • Dynamic Flow Control
  • Large number of interpolators
  • Large number of constants
  • Large number of instruction slots
  • Texture instructions with explicit LODVertex
  • Vertex Texture Fetch (Required in the Shader Particles feature test)

Much emphasis was placed on dynamic shadows in 3DMark05 and this has continued with 3DMark06. Futuremark has introduced a new type of depth shadow map called Cascaded Shadow Maps (CSM). The implementation is a new approach to achieve angle independent quality on dynamic shadows for all objects on screen. The exact specification of its implementation is pretty technical but like 3DMark05 not all hardware fully supports this method in hardware. For ATI cards the only card capable of hardware rendering it is the X1800 and X1600 series which supports depth textures via a DF24 depth map format.

Feature 3DMark05 3DMark06
Shader model 2.0 2.0 and 3.0
HDR Rendering No Yes
Dynamic Shadows 2 LiSPSM Shadow Maps 5 Uniform Shadow Maps
Smooth Shadows Yes (4 sample) Yes (16 sample and 4 sample)
Graphics Test 3 (All SM2.0) 4 (Two SM2.0 and Two HDR/SM3.0)
CPU Tests 2 (Software vertex shaders) 2 (Complex AI and physics)
SM3.0 Feature Tests No Yes
Number of tests 16 19
Level of Detail High Very high
Texture Size High Very High
Materials Simple Complex
Shader Complexity High (Max 96 instructions) Very High (Max 512 Instructions)
Amount of lights High Very High
Sub Scores 1 (CPU Score) 3 (SM2.0, HDR/SM3.0, and CPU Score)
VRAM Usage ~128MB ~256MB
Playable Game No Yes
Target GPU 2nd Generation SM2.0 or better 2nd Generation SM3.0 or better
Targer CPU Single Core Dual/Multi Core and Single Core
Source: Futuremark - Differences between 3DMark05 & 3DMark06


The scoring method in 3DMark has also changed and now takes into consideration CPU results. Futuremark’s rationale for this is:

This was done due to the fact that there are more and more games using complex AI algorithms and complex physics calculations. The graphics tests have been optimized to be as GPU bound as possible, hence they aren’t affected much at all by the CPU. In order to create a very game-like scenario, all graphics tests and the CPU tests are used for the final 3DMark score, and thus correlate very well to what performance users will see in future games.

3DMark06 has significantly grown in file size, more than twice the size of 3DMark05. The major contributors to this increase are:

  • More high-detail texture
  • Much larger textures (1024x1024 or 2048x2048)
  • More tests (2 new CPU tests, 2 new feature tests and 1 new graphics test)
  • More music (6 track compared to 4) at higher quality
  • Sound effects for the game


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