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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  • chizow - Friday, March 27, 2015 - link

    Yeah buddy! Bring on DX12, aka Low Level API Done Right.

    Also fun to note all the rumors and speculation of AMD's poor DX11 MT driver support look to be real (virtually no DX11 ST to MT scaling and both lower than Nvidia DX11), but it is also obvious their efforts with Mantle have given them a nice base for their DX12 driver, at least in synthetic max draw call tests.

    Main benefits for DX12 will be for CPU limited games on fast hardware, especially RTS and MMO type games where the CPU tends to be the bottleneck. It will also be interesting to see what impact it has on higher-end set-ups like high-end multi-GPU. Mantle was supposed to show us the benefits in scaling, but due to piecemeal support and the fact multi-GPU needed much more attention with Mantle, CF was often left in a broken state.
  • Barilla - Friday, March 27, 2015 - link

    I really hope dx12 and it's increase in draw call throughput will bring us greater scene complexity, i mean more "real" objects that could be interacted with rather than tricks like textures that make us think there is depth to them while in reality it's just clever artwork. Also objects like leaves, stones, grass etc. I think this would bring much better immersion in the games than just trying to constantly up the polygon count on characters and find new ways to animate hair. Maybe I'm the odd one, but i often focus much more on the game world rather than the characters.
  • MobiusPizza - Friday, March 27, 2015 - link

    I can see how FutureMark can help make the next gen MineCraft title :P
  • tipoo - Friday, March 27, 2015 - link

    Can Intel do any more on the driver side to see more DX12 gains, or is it all GPU front end limited at this point?
  • mczak - Friday, March 27, 2015 - link

    I suspect for the chips listed it's about as good as it will get. Note that these are all Haswell GT2 chips - GT3 doubles up on some fixed function blocks in the frontend, though I don't know if it would help (the command streamer is supposedly the same so if it's limited there it wouldn't help).
    The results could be better with Broadwell, though (be it GT2 or GT3).
  • tipoo - Friday, March 27, 2015 - link

    The older article on DX12 showed GT3/3e don't see much more gain past GT2, because while many things are doubled, the front end isn't. Command input limited.

    I haven't heard that Broadwell is different there.
  • eanazag - Friday, March 27, 2015 - link

    DX12 is exciting for PC laptop and tablet gaming.

    My desktop can heat the room when gaming and I believe that DX12 and FPS limits could allow me to play cooler next summer. I'd like to see some FPS limiting options if it can reduce heat. During the winter I don't care. I pretty much stop gaming during the summer; at least with the desktop.
  • martixy - Friday, March 27, 2015 - link

    I like this. Very much. The industry needs a clean reset and this is a perfect opportunity...
    Now if only the business side was as easy to overhaul as the technical side. :)
  • KaarlisK - Friday, March 27, 2015 - link

    I can see the 4770R (GT3e) in the system specifications, but I do not see it in any of the charts. What happened?
  • tipoo - Friday, March 27, 2015 - link

    That one I'd definitely be interested in, would the higher bandwidth it has allow any more DX12 gains?

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