We’d been expecting it sooner (3DMark06 is more than two years old now and DirectX 10 and Vista have been out for over a year), but only now is Futuremark lifting the veil from its latest 3DMark - sporting the name "Vantage" instead of the expected "3DMark08." As with each edition, we’ll do a quick presentation, since the philosophy of this benchmarking program hasn’t really changed (any more than its inherent problems), and we don’t see any more need to use it than we did for previous versions. As we’ll see, drivers optimized specifically for 3DMark are already available (Nvidia is making its ForceWare 175.12 beta available today for the occasion), and the test scenes use a rendering engine that isn’t used by any game (even if that is the direction in which the company wants to move with its Futuremark Games Studio).
3DMark’s goal has always been to simulate the demands future games will make before the fact and to determine the resulting hierarchy of graphics cards. However, it has failed in that goal, as the results of 3DMark06 show - it favors AMD cards over Nvidia’s and does not offer reliable benchmarks for most current games. Not to mention 3DMark’s rendering, which hasn’t evolved and is still "cartoonish." But despite all that, it remains the tool both manufacturers and overclockers use. So let’s see what this new version is made of and what scores the current crop of cards can attain.