As new graphics hardware made the progression to the Microsoft DirectX 8.x/9.x API so the need arose for a new version of 3DMark specially targeted at these new enhanced features. The result of this need is 3Dmark03. 3DMark03 was released in February 2003 and delivered a new, cleaner look to the interface along with a completely new set of tests and hardware setting options. These new features were designed to stress even the most powerful systems, until the hardware outgrows the benchmark of course.

Perhaps wisely Futuremark didn’t focus entirely on DirectX 9.x, in fact only Game Test 4, Nature, actually requires a DirectX 9.x capable graphics card in order to run. The first three tests concentrate more on DirectX 7 and 8, which combined with the DirectX 9 based Game Test 4 is probably a more accurate reflection of the gaming world.

Ultimately what we have is more details in each scene and a deliberate increase in the demands placed on the hardware to simulate the new generation of games rather than purely a DirectX 9.0 focussed suite of tests.

More notable additions to the suite of tests are the CPU and sound tests which, as the names suggest, are designed to examine the performance of your processor and also to examine how adding demanding sound requirements to the equation impacts on performance.

The overall premise remains the same as it was for 3DMark 2001 with four main game tests that count towards the final 3DMark score and a selection of additional tests providing further details to those who know how to make sense of them.

The ability to specify which tests are run is maintained and this of course means that like in 3DMark 2001 you need only select the four Game Tests in order to generate a valid 3DMark score.

The calculation for arriving at the eventual score is slightly more tortuous this time and looks like this:

(Game Test 1 frame-rate x 7.3) + (Game Test 2 frame-rate x 37) + (Game Test 3 frame-rate x 47.1) + (Game Test 4 frame-rate x 38.7)

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