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 at 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 benchmark race is extremely tight, due to the reliance on the 3D video component. Still, there are basic trends to report, such as the Pentium 4-3.4 GHz EE offering the highest 3DMark 2003 score, and the Pentium 4 3.2E moving slightly ahead of the 3.2 GHz Northwood. The overall 3DMark 2003 score is still video card-limited to some degree, and the next section covering CPU performance levels should give us added insight into the various processors.
The CPU portion of 3DMark 2003 is one of the better DirectX 9/gaming processor benchmarks, and it really hammers down not only on the CPU, but also system and memory performance. The Pentium 4-3.4 GHz EE stands tall in this test, outpacing both the Athlon 64 FX-51 and 3400+. Once again the Pentium 4 3.2E takes the victory over the older Pentium 4-3.2 GHz, and shows a noticeable margin of victory.
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 one very demanding DirectX 9 benchmark that uses all facets of a gaming system, and although the scores are close, relative ranking is most important. Once again we have the Pentium 4-3.4 GHz EE in the lead, followed closely by the 3.2 GHz EE and the Athlon 64 3400+. It gets more interesting when we turn to the Pentium 4 3.2E, and notice its score is behind that of the Pentium 4-3.2 GHz Northwood. Apparently, AquaMark 3 is yet another performance metric that doesn't agree with the new Prescott architecture.
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. Even though the FPS differences are nominal, the cream does rise to the crop, and the 3.2 GHz Prescott-Northwood tilt ends in a draw.