Benchmarking is testing. It is simply a program to test your computer's abilities. Many people just use games to test thier computers. Thats fine sometimes, and there is even a game or two out there that doubles as a benchmarking program...intentionally. But in general, games arent the best way to test your computer's overall ability to run 3D and graphics intensive games. They are just a little bit too subjective. A good benchmark like 3DMark takes many of the variables out of testing the effects of various tweaks and comparing results to other people. It allows us to all test exactly the same thing repeatedly, under controlled, specific conditions.

Benchmarking serves two distinct, but related, purposes. One, it allows us to see if our computer is running on par with similar systems. In order for this to be effective, the benchmark we use must have an easily accessable database of user test results, and it must have a large user base, the larger the better for comparison purposes. 3DMark is very popular with gamers, very easy to use, has a large database of users, and even access to some of the best and brightest users through thier message boards. This fact alone puts it far ahead of most other gaming benchmarks.

The second purpose benchmarking serves is to compare your results before and after making changes to your computer. For a benchmark to do this well, it must run precise, controlled tests because some tweaks make very small improvements (or unimprovements) to your computer that you simply wont notice if you tweak and go play WW2OL. A good benchmark will deliver consistent, precise scores time after time, allowing you to judge the effects of the smallest changes accurately. This is important, because many times improvements come in small increments. In fact, they almost always come in small increments. Just because you gained 1000 3DMark points with that new driver doesnt mean you are have probably just started. And the thing that is gonna gain you the next 500 points is small tweaks done carefully and with the success of each tweak being carefully measured by your benchmarking program.

Get 3DMark Here

If you've never used 3DMark before, read below!

To use 3DMark: Download, install, and run the default settings. When the program finishes, it will display your score in a window. Underneath the score is a button that says something like "Publish Results Online". Make sure you are connected to the internet, then click that button. The program will send a bit of info to Mad Onion and a browser will open at Mad Onion. At that site, look to the right and you will see a box titled User Info. Click the Project Manager link in that box. After the site loads, scroll down and you will see your benchmark. To the left of the benchmark are 3 boxes to check. CUR, PUB, DEL. Checking the CUR box and clicking the Update button at the top of the list sets that benchmark as the one you will use to compare to others. Clicking the PUB button and clicking Update Publishes the results for all to see. DEL deletes the project from the Mad Onion site, whether published or not.