AquaMark 3 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 basic performance benchmark in standard 1024x768 32-bit mode, and offer up both Overall and CPU scores.
AquaMark 3 is a very demanding DirectX 9 benchmark that uses all facets of a gaming system, and the integrated video scores are most telling. Once again it's the AMD Sempron 2800+ taking it to the Celeron 335 and its Intel Extreme Graphics 2, but we again see the results even up when a dedicated AGP card is added. The Sempron 3100+ ties for the top spot with the Pentium 4-2.8E GHz, and again demonstrates that it provides a ton of gaming performance for the price.
The AquaMark 3 CPU performance results are a tale of two platforms, with the Sempron 2800+ beating the Celeron 335 using integrated video, while falling back with dedicated AGP graphics. The overall score of the Sempron 3100+ is pretty impressive given the CPU-centric nature of the benchmark, and it's no surprise that the CPU has to take second spot behind the Pentium 4-2.8E GHz.
The X2 - The Threat Demo is a tough gaming benchmark that takes the form of a rolling demo. It may be technically DirectX 8 in design, but its high-end 3D support and features make this a serious test for current 3D games, and not far removed from our DirectX 9 benchmarking. Once started, the X2 demo displays various game scenes, and incorporates the space-sim aspects of the game into a test run that can really separate the high-end hardware from the pack.
The X2 Demo benchmark has the Sempron 2800+ firmly ahead of the Celeron 335 in both graphics scenarios, while the Sempron 3100+ rises to the top spot and slips past the Athlon XP and Pentium 4 competition.
Final Fantasy XI is an online version of the popular role-playing series, and Square released a benchmark program to determine estimated performance on a given PC. Although it was intended to confirm requirements for system gameplay, the Final Fantasy IX benchmark functions quite well as an evaluation tool, and really puts the pressure on all facets of a gaming system. In this test, we use the low detail option to allow the CPU to take command and insure no video card limitations.
The Final Fantasy XI benchmark is another one that requires hardware T&L, and gives the integrated graphics victory to the Sempron 2800+ by default. The Sempron makes it a clean sweep by outpacing the Celeron 335 in Radeon 9600 Pro testing. Amazingly, the Sempron 3100+ ties the Pentium 4-2.8E GHz for the overall lead, and closes off a very impressive game benchmarking section.