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Blueprint : The Better Way To Benchmark

VoxelArcade Blueprint #009

Ever since the dawn of PC gaming, we’ve had to set our specs; but as good as it is to have options, it’s getting worse. From EGA or CGA back in the early 90’s through to modern day resolutions, texture quality, shadow quality, anti-aliasing, tessellation, SSAO, Physx, etc etc. Setting a game to run well on your PC hardware has gradually turned into a never ending Rubik’s Cube of settings.

Along the way, developers started creating the benchmark, a piece of code that runs through some in-game scenarios and tells you the average frame rate performance. This helps by saving you from having to take the late 90′s pain in the backside approach of changing settings, loading the game, testing the game, changing setting, loading the game, testing the game, and so on and so on ad infinitum. But with so many settings it can still take an age to perfectly optimise your setup for each game, it comes down to detailed knowledge of your hardware and careful observation to understand which visual effects really cause your game to slow down.

Many games do offer you suggested settings, but in my experience they never provide either an optimal frame rate or visual detail for my machine. (For example: When I first installed Crysis it gave me suggested settings that ran at 10fps)

Surely there is a better way: The Ultimate Benchmark, a simple variant of the regular benchmark that precisely informs the graphics options.

Just two hours of fiddling with settings, and Sleeping Dogs is ready to go!

Just two hours of fiddling with settings, and Sleeping Dogs is ready to go!

When you have an hour free you activate it. It then runs benchmarks of hundreds of different graphics settings in order to provide an exact idea of how much impact they have on your game. Next time you go to the graphics menu, it details specifically in average frames per second what changing each option would mean to the current benchmarked rate, allowing you to easily set the perfect combination of detail and frame rate.

Instead of: Shadow Detail: Low / Medium / High

You get: Shadow Detail: Low (+10) / Medium / High (- 8)

Because the Ultimate Benchmark has run the exact engine on your exact specification, it can give you an accurate idea of what each combination of settings is likely to do to the performance. In addition, having carried out this benchmark means the suggested settings are likely to be far more accurate. The benchmark could be a simple software addition to the game setup, or could even work as a third party steam or game plug-in.

Either way: Simple software, useful benefit.

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Rob is an advertising strategist and author of 'The Ad Pit' blog. Rob has been playing games for 25 years - which makes him feel very old. He used to have a victory ratio of 40:1 in Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo, but that was a long time ago! #dogyears

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3 Comments

  1. This would be awesome. The day I started working in IT was the day I started to fall out of love with PC gaming. Suddenly the hours of tinkering and re-building that I used to enjoy seemed like a massively unwelcome chore.

  2. See, I really want to like PC gaming, but I just don’t see that much difference in the graphics over console. I read Eurogamer’s comparison articles, and everyone is raving about how one screenshot looks better than the other, but I struggle to tell the difference, although framerates are obviously going to be better.

    • Simon Burns I think there’s the argument that the popularity of consoles is holding PC gaming back (lowest common denominator) but, well, that’s not going to change really, is it, unless droves of console gamer go all PC. 
      I get the arguments for PC gaming, I really do (I was a PC gamer myself for many-a-year) but consoles have supported the tremendous growth of the medium much more than PCs have, and for that reason alone, they’ll always get my vote.

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