What are the minimum system requirements?
The CPU benchmark requires 1024 MB of RAM and a supported processor type (see list), running at a minimum clock speed of 1 GHz.
The OpenGL benchmark requires a graphics card that supports OpenGL 2.1 and has at least 512 MB of graphics memory. CINEBENCH will test the graphics card to ensure it supports the necessary features to display the test scene correctly. If the graphics card does not support the necessary features or is too slow (< 1 fps), a warning will be displayed and the OpenGL benchmark will not be performed.
How does MAXON CINEBENCH R15 test system compatibility?
CINEBENCH will not launch on unsupported processors. On systems lacking sufficient RAM to load the test scene, a warning will be displayed and the CPU benchmark will not be executed.
Before benchmarking the graphics card, CINEBENCH will check if the hardware supports the necessary features. To ensure accurate results, CINEBENCH compares a single test frame rendered by the graphics card with reference images stored inside the application, and returns a Reference Match percentage. A small difference is tolerable (displayed in green pixels), as it results from slightly different shading, etc. depending on the graphics card and driver. If the difference is beyond a preset threshold, CINEBENCH interprets this as an incorrect display. This may indicate that transparencies, shadows or other display properties are not properly supported. In such cases, CINEBENCH will display a warning message and indicate the differences with red pixels in the display. In some cases the test will be executed anyway, but no result will be displayed as it cannot be accurately compared with others. In extreme cases, the OpenGL benchmark will not be performed.
Can graphics cards with low reference match scores still be used with Cinema 4D?
Absolutely. CINEBENCH R15 is designed to test enhanced OpenGL 2.1 features such as transparency. The reference match score indicates the ability of the graphics card to properly display these features. Any card that produces a reference match at all can be used with Cinema 4D, but a low score indicates that the display will be inaccurate and less pleasing.
Keep in mind that driver updates can also affect the reference match score. In most cases, you should always ensure the most recent stable driver version is installed on your system. On Windows systems, you can download drivers from the system or graphics card manufacturer and install them manually. On Mac OS X, make sure any pending software updates have been applied.
How does the benchmark display differ based on graphics card performance?
Significant effort has been directed towards the design of the OpenGL test scene to make the task of benchmarking a bit more exciting. The car chase used in this test is designed for a PAL-standard of 25 fps. To prevent the scene being displayed much too slowly on old graphics cards or much too fast on the latest hardware, CINEBENCH estimates the graphics card performance so the scene will maintain a consistent duration (approximately 30 seconds). Faster graphics cards will display the scene much smoother than slower ones. If a graphics card can display a higher frame count than the original scene speed, subframes will be displayed and properly measured.
How big is the scene file for the OpenGL test?
If you open the scene in Cinema 4D (MAXON's flagship animation software), the reported polygon count is roughly 280,000 polygons. This doesn't fully reflect the polygon count processed by the graphics card, which is between 500,000 and 1 million polygons. The difference results from several factors. Graphics cards are incapable of drawing quadrangles, so these must be converted to triangles. This roughly doubles the polygon count. Furthermore, multiple materials (one on each side of the triangle) or transparencies require the scene to be drawn twice. Other factors, including using multiple materials and transparencies in combination require a triangle to be drawn multiple times. Depending on the camera angle, the graphics card may be displaying several times the number of polygons reflected by the basic scene information.
How big is the influence of the surrounding system when measuring graphics card performance?
Graphics card performance as measured by CINEBENCH reflects the power of the graphics card in combination with the system as a whole. Unfortunately the system contribution cannot be specifically measured. The same graphics card in a faster computer will typically give better results than in a slower system. The overall performance depends on various factors including processor, memory bus and chipset.
The graphics benchmark in CINEBENCH is designed to minimize the influence of other system components. All geometry, shaders and textures are stored on the graphics card prior to measurement, and no code is loaded during the measurement process. This minimizes the system influence, but unfortunately cannot eliminate it entirely.
How do graphics card drivers affect benchmark performance?
Graphics card drivers can greatly affect the benchmarking performance. On Macintosh systems, drivers are usually installed automatically with the OS and cannot be modified. On Windows systems, it's possible to install different drivers, which may offer speed or quality improvements.
Can I measure the performance difference between different driver versions?
Driver performance can be directly compared if and only if no other system factors are changed. If you run the benchmark, upgrade the driver and test again, the results can be compared directly . This does not necessarily mean that the result is reproducible on all other systems. Make sure to always test your graphics card with a proper driver and ensure that all older drivers have been properly uninstalled. In some cases, driver upgrades aren't fully applied because the prior driver is still present.
CINEBENCH reports that a card doesn't support the necessary features, although I'm sure it does. What's wrong?
On Windows systems, you may not have the correct driver installed for the graphics card. If "GDI Generic" is displayed in the GFX-Board field within CINEBENCH, it's like that only Microsoft's basic driver is installed. This driver doesn't support the necessary features for the test. After installing the proper driver for your graphics card, make sure the card name is displayed in the GFX-Board field. In some cases you may need to manually uninstall the existing driver, because simply updating or installing new ones may not work.
What about background tasks? Should I disable them?
Background tasks can significantly influence measurement and create diverse results. It's always a good idea to shut down all running programs and disable any virus checking or disk indexing, but it's impossible to eliminate all background processes. Modern operating systems perform various background tasks that cannot or should not be disabled, even though they could have a minor influence on the results.
I have run the tests multiple times and the results differ slightly. Why?
As explained above, it's impossible to disable every background task of the operating system. These tasks are one factor that may have a slight influence on measurements. Also, modern computers and graphics cards dynamically adjust clock speeds based on environmental conditions like power and temperature. For instance, processors will reduce clock speed when running too hot to allow for cooling and prevent damage. With many modern processors the reverse is also true. They are able to overclock themselves when the temperature is low enough. So a system freshly started in a relatively cool environment will typically run faster than the same system that has been performing benchmarks for several hours in a heated office.
Can CINEBENCH R15 scores be compared with the results of previous versions?
The CPU and OpenGL results provided by CINEBENCH R15 cannot be compared with previous versions. The tests have been modified greatly and optimized to better measure system performance on increasingly powerful hardware. The scale has been significantly altered to ensure that results with different versions are not compared. Previous CINEBENCH versions reported scores in the range of about 1-50, while CINEBENCH R15 reports much higher CPU scores with decimal accuracy.