Futuremark’s 3DMark is the latest in a long line of industry-standard gaming benchmark suites. 3DMark offers a range of tests that can evaluate the performance of everything from a low-power tablet to a $15,000 quad-SLI gaming PC, and it looks at a CPU’s ability to handle gaming-related physics calculations in addition to pure GPU performance.
3DMark offers multiple tests of increasing complexity that support DirectX 9, DirectX 10, and DirectX 11. However, as mentioned earlier, Fusion 8 supports only up to DirectX 10, while Fusion 7 is limited to DirectX 9. Therefore, results for Fusion 7 won’t be included in the Direct X 10 test, which will pit Fusion 8 alone against Boot Camp.
Ice Storm is the lowest-end 3DMark test and is compatible with DirectX 9, which allowed us to test all Windows configurations. This first test immediately reveals the payoff of VMware’s efforts to increase graphics performance, with Fusion 8 offering huge improvements over Fusion 7, by as much as 44 percent.
The Ice Storm Extreme test is another DirectX 9 benchmark that runs the same basic script as the standard Ice Storm test, but increases the resolution to 1080p and utilizes higher quality textures and lighting effects, making it harder overall on the GPU.
The result is that Fusion 8 still comes in ahead of Fusion 7, but by a much smaller margin, suggesting that VMware’s DirectX implementation isn’t as efficient when faced with more strenuous rendering situations. You’ll still end up with about a 5 percent improvement over Fusion 7, which is encouraging compared to Parallels 11’s disappointing results in this category.
The Cloud Gate test is a DirectX 10 benchmark, and the most advanced 3DMark benchmark that’s compatible with our virtualization software. As mentioned, only Fusion 8 offers DirectX 10 support, so it’s compared alone to native Boot Camp performance in the chart above.
Here we can see the limits of VMware’s nascent DirectX 10 implementation. The VM’s DirectX 10 capabilities are indeed recognized by the testing software, and the benchmark executes successfully, but performance is abysmal compared to native support for this aging graphics API. This of course means that while some DirectX 10 games may be playable in a Fusion 8 VM, you shouldn’t expect anywhere close to native performance compared to even a relatively low-end GPU like that found in the MacBook Pro.
The one somewhat encouraging sign from the Cloud Gate test is Fusion 8’s performance in the Physics category, which is largely CPU-bound. Fusion 8 trails native performance by only about 20 percent here, which is reasonably impressive considering the complexity of the benchmark.