Other Notes

Before jumping into our results, let’s quickly talk about testing.

For our test we are using the latest version of the Windows 10 technical preview – build 10041 – and the latest drivers from AMD, Intel, and NVIDIA. In fact for testing DirectX 12 these latest packages are the minimum versions that the test supports. Meanwhile 3DMark does of course also run on Windows Vista and later, however on Windows Vista/7/8 only the DirectX 11 and Mantle tests are available since those are the only APIs available.

From a test reliability standpoint the API Overhead Feature Test (or as we’ll call it from now, AOFT) is generally reliable under DirectX 12 and Mantle, however we would like to note that we have found it to be somewhat unreliable under DirectX 11. DirectX 11 scores have varied widely at times, and we’ve seen one configuration flip between 1.4 million draw calls per second and 1.9 million draw calls per second based on indeterminable factors.

Our best guess right now is that the variability comes from the much greater overhead of DirectX 11, and consequently all of the work that the API, video drivers, and OS are all undertaking in the background. Consequently the DirectX 11 results are good enough for what the AOFT has set out to do – showcase just how much incredibly faster DX12 and Mantle are – but it has a much higher degree of variability than our standard tests and should be treated accordingly.

Meanwhile Futuremark for their part is looking to make it clear that this is first and foremost a test to showcase API differences, and is not a hardware test designed to showcase how different components perform.

The purpose of the test is to compare API performance on a single system. It should not be used to compare component performance across different systems. Specifically, this test should not be used to compare graphics cards, since the benefit of reducing API overhead is greatest in situations where the CPU is the limiting factor.

We have of course gone and benchmarked a number of configurations to showcase how they benefit from DirectX 12 and/or Mantle, however as per Futuremark’s guidelines we are not looking to directly compare video cards. Especially since we’re often hitting the throughput limits of the command processor, something a real-world task would not suffer from.

The Test

Moving on, we also want to quickly point out the clearly beta state of the current WDDM 2.0 drivers. Of note, the DX11 results with NVIDIA’s 349.90 driver are notably lower than the results with their WDDM 1.3 driver, showing much greater variability. Meanwhile AMD’s drivers have stability issues, with our dGPU testbed locking up a couple of different times. So these drivers are clearly not at production status.

DirectX 12 Support Status
  Current Status Supported At Launch
AMD GCN 1.2 (285) Working Yes
AMD GCN 1.1 (290/260 Series) Working Yes
AMD GCN 1.0 (7000/200 Series) Working Yes
NVIDIA Maxwell 2 (900 Series) Working Yes
NVIDIA Maxwell 1 (750 Series) Working Yes
NVIDIA Kepler (600/700 Series) Working Yes
NVIDIA Fermi (400/500 Series) Not Active Yes
Intel Gen 7.5 (Haswell) Working Yes
Intel Gen 8 (Broadwell) Working Yes

And on that note, it should be noted that the OS and drivers are all still in development. So performance results are subject to change as Windows 10 and the WDDM 2.0 drivers get closer to finalization.

One bit of good news is that DirectX 12 support on AMD GCN 1.0 cards is up and running here, as opposed to the issues we ran into last month with Star Swarm. So other than NVIDIA’s Fermi cards, which aren’t turned on in beta drivers, we have the ability to test all of the major x86-paired GPU architectures that support DirectX 12.

For our actual testing, we’ve broken down our testing for dGPUs and for iGPUs. Given the vast performance difference between the two and the fact that the CPU and GPU are bound together in the latter, this helps to better control for relative performance.

On the dGPU side we are largely reusing our Star Swarm test configuration, meaning we’re testing the full range of working DX12-capable GPU architectures across a range of CPU configurations.

DirectX 12 Preview dGPU Testing CPU Configurations (i7-4960X)
Configuration Emulating
6C/12T @ 4.2GHz Overclocked Core i7
4C/4T @ 3.8GHz Core i5-4670K
2C/4T @ 3.8GHz Core i3-4370

Meanwhile on the iGPU side we have a range of Haswell and Kaveri processors from Intel and AMD respectively.

CPU: Intel Core i7-4960X @ 4.2GHz
Motherboard: ASRock Fatal1ty X79 Professional
Power Supply: Corsair AX1200i
Hard Disk: Samsung SSD 840 EVO (750GB)
Memory: G.Skill RipjawZ DDR3-1866 4 x 8GB (9-10-9-26)
Case: NZXT Phantom 630 Windowed Edition
Monitor: Asus PQ321
Video Cards: AMD Radeon R9 290X
AMD Radeon R9 285
AMD Radeon HD 7970
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 750 Ti
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680
Video Drivers: NVIDIA Release 349.90 Beta
AMD Catalyst 15.200.1012.2 Beta
OS: Windows 10 Technical Preview (Build 10041)


CPU: AMD A10-7850K
AMD A10-7700K
AMD A8-7600
AMD A6-7400L
Intel Core i7-4790K
Intel Core i5-4690
Intel Core i3-4360
Intel Core i3-4130T
Pentium G3258
Motherboard: GIGABYTE F2A88X-UP4 for AMD
ASUS Maximus VII Impact for Intel LGA-1150
Zotac ZBOX EI750 Plus for Intel BGA
Power Supply: Rosewill Silent Night 500W Platinum
Hard Disk: OCZ Vertex 3 256GB OS SSD
Memory: G.Skill 2x4GB DDR3-2133 9-11-10 for AMD
G.Skill 2x4GB DDR3-1866 9-10-9 at 1600 for Intel
Video Cards: AMD APU Integrated
Intel CPU Integrated
Video Drivers: AMD Catalyst 15.200.1012.2 Beta
Intel Driver Version
OS: Windows 10 Technical Preview (Build 10041)
3DMark API Overhead Feature Test Discrete GPU Testing
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  • Vayra - Saturday, March 28, 2015 - link

    Oh hi Star Citizen, how are you today.
  • Michael Bay - Sunday, March 29, 2015 - link

    Wait until they hit optimizations stage.
  • Refuge - Friday, March 27, 2015 - link

    As mentioned below this will make the ports much more scalable to PC's. So when taking a game meant ton run on 6 year old hardware meets brand new hardware it isn't like taking a Porsche 911 from your city streets to a mud pit like it is now. It will be more like going from the city to the Autobahn.

    Ports will actually run better on better computers, not worse. Also, it will speed up the time of release for ports, in fact in a few years I wouldn't be surprised if multiform games were released on consoles and PC's at the same time as standard policy.
  • Belgarathian - Friday, March 27, 2015 - link

    I'm more interested in being able to display more dynamic enviroments with more artifacts, more units on screen etc.

    Can someone please remaster Supreme Commander Forged Alliance for DX12, and fix the bad AI. SC:FA is by far the best RTS, it's a shame that it was released before the technology was there to support it.
  • DarkXale - Sunday, March 29, 2015 - link

    The performance issues with SupCom Forged Alliance Forever (or you're just doing it wrong), are from the sheer quantity of units the game needs to manage. Not the number of issued drawcalls.

    The 'gameplay' simply requires the CPU to do too much - all of which must be done in a single thread - for any machine to reasonably manage in large games. DX12 can't help much with that.
  • FlushedBubblyJock - Tuesday, March 31, 2015 - link

    Q: " How much can they do with it really? "
    A: "How much did mantle do ?"
  • akamateau - Thursday, April 30, 2015 - link

    Hmmmm... yes you are right. Partially. Console games will be developed to the limit of the console and Microsoft just announced that DX12 was going into XBOX.

    AMD 8 core Jaguar will scale much higher tan 4.4 million draw calls on XBOX.

    But you also have to realise the GAMES are about the storey and eye candy. Games studios are also highly competitive. It is the nature of business that all things evolve to the lowest limiting factor. Until now DX11 was THE factor that limited the size and complexity of games. DX12 removes those limits.

    Expect games to be photorealistic at 4k easily!

    So the decision the consumer must make si simple. Great gaming with exensive Intel silicon or better gaming with inexpensive AMD silicon!!!
  • akamateau - Thursday, April 30, 2015 - link


    AMD A6-7400 K CRUSHES INTEL i7 IGP by better than 100%!!!

    But Anand is also guilty of a WHOPPER of a LIE!

    Anand uses Intel i7-4960X. NOBODY uses RADEON with an Intel i7 cpu. But rather than use either an AMD FX CPU or an AMD A10 CPU they decided to degrade AMD's scores substanbtially by using an Intel product which is not optimsed to work with Radeon. Intel i7 also is not GCN or HSA compatible nor can it take advantage Asynchronous Shader Pipelines either. Only an IDIOT would feed Radeon GPU with Intel CPU.

    In short Anand's journalistic integrity is called into question here.

    Basically RADEON WOULD HAVE DESTROYED ALL nVIDIA AND INTEL COMBINATIONS if Anand benchmarked Radeon dGPU with AMD silicon. By Itself A6 is staggeringly superior to Intel i3, i5, AND i7.

    Ryan Smith & Ian Cutress have lied.

    As it stands A10-7700k produces 4.4 MILLION drawcalls per second. At 6 cores the GTX 980 in DX11 only produces 2.2 MILLION draw calls.

    DX12 enables a $150 AMD APU to CRUSH a $1500.00 Intel/nVidia gaming setup that runs DX11.

    Here is the second lie.

    AMD Asynchronous Shader Pipelines allow for 100% multithreaded proceesing in the CPU feeding the GPU whether it is an integrated APU or an 8 core FX feeding a GPU. What Anand sould also show is 8 core scaling using an AMD FX processor.

    Anand will say that they are too poor to use an AMD CPU or APU set up. Somehow I think that they are being disingenuous.

    NO INTEL/nVidia combination can compete with AMD using DX12.
  • RandomUser15 - Friday, March 27, 2015 - link

    First and foremost this is the first comment, also great article, very well done!
  • RandomUser15 - Friday, March 27, 2015 - link

    Damn, nooooooooo.

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