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Direct X 8.0 Benchmarks
quick look
Dr. John
Introduction:  Microsoft has just released DirectX 8.0, and everybody wants to know how much it will speed up Direct 3-D games. Well we decided to do a few quick tests just to see if there was any improvement in performance at all.

For an overview of the new features in version 8 go here.  Most of the new features in DirectX 8 are improvements to the applications programming interface or API. That helps programmers add special effects to the games they are writing. Other architectural changes include the integration of DirectDraw and Direct 3-D. But to the end-user this will be invisible. Microsoft indicates that DirectX 8 has support for the T-buffer cinematic effects available on Voodoo 5 cards, but currently no games have these capabilities built-in.

For the first round of testing I decided to use a Voodoo 5 5500 card running on a Pentium III at 633 MHz. Performance-wise this is a midrange system, so the results should pertain to a large number of gamer's systems. The system has an Abit BF6 motherboard with 256 MB of SDRAM, and the AGP aperture was set to 64 MB. The Voodoo 5 card was overclocked from 166MHz to 180MHz.  For testing Direct 3-D performance I used 3-D Mark 2000 version 1.1.

I started out with the last version of the official Voodoo 5 drivers, version 1.03.00 running under DirectX 7.0a. Then I switched to DirectX 8.0 using the same drivers. Finally, I upgraded to the just released DirectX 8-compatible Voodoo 5 drivers, version 1.04.00. The graph below shows the performance of the Voodoo 5 card under those three conditions.

As you can see, the numbers are so close that it is almost not worth showing them. The variation was well within the statistical margin of error for each run. So there you have it. With a Voodoo 5 card you can expect to see absolutely no change in performance. But remember, Microsoft was not trying to tweak DirectX, they were trying to add new capabilities and improve the programming interface.

Summary:  I'll give Microsoft the benefit of the doubt here. The list of improvements and changes is impressive, but the changes will only become noticeable to gamers when new games come out with support for the new features.  If you have a Voodoo 5 card, DX 8 gives you support for the T-buffer. So when new games come out soon that can use the T-buffer, you will be ready to go.


Pros: 
  • New programming features will make upcoming games look and run better
  • T-buffer support
  • support for larger 3-D environments

Cons: 
  • Doesn't boost performance in existing D3D games

Rating, :  4.3 out of 5 smiley faces
:) :) :) :)+

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Copyright November 13th, 2000