The 3DMark 2003 benchmark is a great way to present DirectX 9 gaming performance, assuming the video card is kept consistent between platforms. And not only does it offer a view of potential DirectX 9 gaming performance, but FutureMark has also included a specific CPU Test that was lacking in previous versions. As in all of our game tests, this benchmark was performed at the standard 1024x768x32 resolution and color depth.
The overall 3DMark 2003 benchmarking is a very tight race, with the Athlon 64 3400+ coming in at a dead heat with the Pentium 4 contingent. The Athlon XP 3200+ is the only processor that sits back from the crowd, while the Athlon 64 FX-51 squeaked out a very narrow victory. The overall 3DMark 2003 score is still video-limited to some degree, and the CPU performance levels should give us added insight into the various processors.
The CPU portion of 3DMark 2003 is one of the better gaming processor benchmarks, and it really spreads the wealth between CPU, system and memory performance. In this test, the Athlon 64 3400+ outdistances the Pentium 4 competition and comes out victorious in its class, but the Athlon 64 FX-51 steals the show with a definite high-end score. As 3DMark 2003 really stresses the overall subsystem, the integrated dual-channel DDR controller of the FX-51 gives it a real advantage.
AquaMark is a relatively new DirectX 9 benchmark, and although it does not correspond to an actual game, it does use the same Krass engine as found in products such as Aquanox 2 and Spellforce. AquaMark 3 also supports new features such as Hyper-Threading, Pixel Shader and Vertex Shader 2.0, and uses a wide range of DirectX 9 effects and features. For this review, we've tested the Overall performance benchmark in standard 1024x768 32-bit mode.
AquaMark 3 is a very demanding DirectX 9 benchmark that uses all facets of a gaming system. The overall results are quite close, but it's the Pentium 4 side that moves out in front, albeit by a very slim margin. This is another benchmark that the Athlon 64 3400+ outpaces the Athlon 64 FX-51, though by a similarly small margin.
GunMetal is another DirectX 9 benchmark test, and uses the basic game engine (think Manga-based armor) to really stress a gaming PC. This is another very rough test that uses 2X AA as default, so don't be surprised at the relatively low framerate scores.
The GunMetal scores are quite video card-limited, and really don't show us a lot of performance gap between the various processors. This may not be a great method of comparison, but GunMetal does illustrate that not all games will show increased performance with a faster CPU, and the video component is equally important.