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Use these tools to find out how good your PC is at handling DirectX12

A battleground in Ashes of the Singularity.
Image used with permission by copyright holder
DirectX12 has been a long time coming. It was first announced back in 2014, and hinted at the year before. Technically, it is now released. But it doesn’t quite feel like it, because there aren’t many titles that make full use of it. Yet.

Even finding out how capable your system is at running DX12 compatible games is difficult, as none of the traditional FPS overlays, like FRAPS, actually work with DirectX 12 right now. That means you can’t run a supporting game and create your own tests.

Fortunately, there are a few DX12 titles with in-game tests. While not as fully featured as your average 3DMark edition, there are a couple of synthetic benchmarks and the odd in-game one, so there is a way to find out how strong your system is in a DX12 setting.

So that’s what we’re going to be looking at today, the best (and in many cases, only) DirectX12 benchmarks that you can use today to find out how good your PC really is.

Ashes of the Singularity

This one you probably know of already. We’ve covered it multiple times throughout its development and eventual release as it gives a great look at what extra draw-cell support in a game can mean.

Ashes of the Singularity is a sci-fi, real time strategy title developed by Oxide Games, which doesn’t have any other titles to its name just yet. However, its core team of partners have decades of combined experience in game development, and Dan Baker’s is specifically poignant, because he previously helped develop DirectX 9 and 10 while working at Microsoft

Ashes of the Singularity DX12 GTX 980Ti (crazy settings)1440P

His latest game however is beautiful to look at, with lots of effects going on at all times, but beyond that, it also has hundreds, if not thousands of units and munitions on screen at once. This is made possible by DX12, which reduces the overhead associated with rendering large numbers of objects.

To have a play with the Ashes of the Singularity benchmark yourself, you will need to buy the game. It’s available for $40 on Steam, though it’s also being given out for free with select AMD graphics cards.

Related: Nvidia’s GTX 1080 and AMD’s Radeon R9 Fury X tussle in the ultimate DX12 benchmark

Rise of the Tomb Raider

Rise of the Tomb Raider is another of the first games to test the waters with what DirectX12 can deliver. It’s a very different kind of game than Ashes of the Singularity, with not even close to a thousand actors on the screen at once. Most of the game just features Lara, doing her Tomb Raiding thing.

That doesn’t mean it’s not intensive, though. It’s a beautiful game, and developer Crystal Dynamics put a lot of care into its development, letting those with powerful systems really up the aesthetic quality of the game.

Rise of the Tomb Raider – DX11 vs. DX12 @ GTX 980 Ti Benchmark & Performance Comparison

Unfortunately for Tomb Raider, its DirectX12 implementation was something of an afterthought. Added after the game was released, it wasn’t particularly well implemented or optimized, leaving a lot of people’s systems performing worse using DX12 than they did with DX11.

That’s why out of all the DX12 benchmarks available, this one is considered the weakest of the bunch.

Still, it’s good to have another title to test with and if you already own the game, running a quick test to see how your system stacks up against friends and strangers is easy enough. Just don’t get upset if you aren’t hitting the frame rates you might expect from a game that was released back in 2015.

You can pick up Rise of the Tomb Raider for $60 on Steam, or from various key sites at a large discount.

Hitman

Hitman is a great looking game, combining strong visuals with an impressive number of AI controlled NPCs – hundreds of them in some scenes – which is something that can be quite CPU intensive. This is the kind of situation DX12 was designed to enable, which makes Hitman a great way to benchmark your PC’s ability to handle DX12.

You will need to own the game to gain access to the benchmark, but when you do, it has its own utility within the out-of-game settings menu. From there you can play around with various traditional settings, like anti-aliasing, detail levels, texture qualities, and texture filtering. But it’s the drop down “Graphics API” menu that is most important, as it lets you choose between “Direct3D 11” and “Direct3D 12.”

Hitman – DX11 vs. DX12 @ GTX 980 Benchmark & Graphics Comparison

This is useful because it not only means you can test your PC in a DX12 environment, but you can see how it compares to the same benchmark running using DirectX 11. That means you can see how much your system benefits from being able to support DirectX 12 and improvements made to the game itself by enabling its use.

You can pick up the new Hitman game on Steam for as little as $15. Along with the benchmarking utility, that will give you access to the introduction and first episode. Six more episodes are planned for release.

Futuremark API Overhead

Our final available benchmark for this round up is from the classic benchmark making company, Futuremark. This isn’t its traditional 3DMark or PCMark test suites, but it’s own standalone program, known as the API Overhead feature test.

3DMark API Overhead feature test

This one operates by gradually increasing the number of draw cell calls to the CPU, increasing the complexity and draw distance of the scene until the frame rate drops below 30 per second.

What this benchmark does allow is a great representation of how different APIs handle draw-cells. You can tweak the settings in this test to run it using DirectX 11, DirectX 12 and the AMD developed Mantle API if you have a supporting AMD card.

This test is available through 3DMark Advanced and 3DMark Professional editions, hidden away within the main test suites.

Conclusion

The list of games with DX12 support by the end of the year will be far longer than it is now and considering how many graphics cards out there that support it, we could see a lot of people with much more capable systems before too long.

In the mean time, there are at least a few tests you can use to find out how strong your PC is when making use of the DirectX 12 API. They aren’t perfect, but they give us a rough idea, which is good enough for now. When the big games start showing up with native support though, we’re hoping for some more in-depth tests.

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Jon Martindale
Jon Martindale is the Evergreen Coordinator for Computing, overseeing a team of writers addressing all the latest how to…
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