Ever since puberty, guys have been comparing their stuff to other’s guys stuff to see how they measure up. I’m not just talking man-junk here. I mean cars, houses, wives, money, everything. And gaming rigs are no exception.
If your neighbor gets an 8800GTX, you get a GX2. If he puts in a case window, you get cold-cathode lights and a custom paint jobber from Smooth Creations. If he gets a dual-core proc, you have to get a quad-core and casually mention that you’re running Folding@Home in the background as you perforate him with bullets in Team Fortress 2. It’s a sure-fire path to fulfillment and a vindication of your life in general.
But nothing could be more embarrassing, more soul-crushing, than thinking you’re all that, only to find out that your neighbor is getting better framerates with lesser hardware. It means something’s not working. Something’s gone awry. It has F-A-I-L written all over it and you don’t want that. So you need to benchmark your rig and make sure that the performance is in line with those who have roughly equivalent hardware.
I’ve been usingFuturemark’s3DMark06benchmarking software for years and even though it’s a technically “synthetic” benchmark - in that it isn’t intended to reproduce and benchmark the performance of an actual game, but instead scrutinizes and tests the capabilities of your hardware - it’s a really reliable point of reference for assessing the gaming power of any computer. And, of course, it’s an easy way to find out if you’ve got serious bottleneck holding your framerates back; if your score is dramatically lower than, you know, the other guy’s, you need to start doing some serious diagnostic work on your rig before showing your face in public again.
Vantageis a new set of benchmarks - even physics - designed for Windows Vista and DirectX 10, and includes new tests and more options settings than 3DMark06. You’ll see it cropping up soon in PC Gamer’s benchmark suite.
You can run it once forfree, but the Basic edition that allows you to run the test until the cows come home is only $6.95, and the Advanced version that gives you access to more options is less than $20.
It’s a relatively small price to pay in order to prove, once and for all, that yours is superior.
May 9, 2008