At a Glance
- Performs tests of many graphic functions
- Virtually no options; some oddities
This free benchmarking program checks to see if your PC can handle the latest games.
You know the only reason you lost that deathmatch was
because your hardware just isn’t up to snuff any more, but how do
you prove it? You download and run 3DMark Basic, a free
benchmarking program from Futuremark, makers of the PCMark family of products. 3DMark
Basic performs a series of high-performance tests on your computer
and provides a number which you can then go online to compare to
other people’s numbers. (For optimal psychological benefit, run it
just before and just after sinking a few hundred dollars into a new
graphics card, so you can see just how much better your system
3DMark Basic offers very few options. Screen resolution is
fixed; so is the suite of tests. You can choose between running the
benchmark test, or running the benchmark tests and a series of
nice, but not incredibly spectacular, 3-D rendered scenes. Really,
you need only to run the tests.
The tests consist of various work-outs of your graphics card and
CPU, including rendering, multiple light source, physics
simulation, and various combinations of all of these. More detailed
tests, including “Extreme” performance testing, require an upgrade
to the $40 3DMark Advanced.
I had an interesting experience, It took about five minutes for
3DMark Basic to produce a number which rated my system (Windows 7
64-bit, using an ATI Radeon
5670 graphics card), and then it linked me to a website to
compare values. My score was low compared to other systems with my
hardware, and the website suggested updating drivers, which I did.
A re-run of the tests showed a marked improvement… but because
the new driver I’d installed wasn’t “approved,” I couldn’t compare
my system to other benchmarks. In other words, 3DMark Basic knew my
driver wasn’t up to date, but the correct, current, driver it
pointed to me hasn’t yet been added to the driver list recognized
by the benchmark archive site.
As a free tool which can gauge the worthiness of your graphics
card, 3DMark Basic does the job and takes little time or effort to
run–and it might point out, as it did for me, an
easily-correctable oversight that was hindering performance.