Ice Storm Unlimited Sixth New 3DMark Preset - Is Futuremark Diluting The Message?

A picture posted on Facebook, and a quick Google Search. That is what it took for me to be confused. Well, not really confused of course. But seeing yet-another version of 3DMark appear certainly had me raise my eyebrows. In the latest 3DMark for Android update, version 1.1.0.1179, Futuremark has added the Ice Storm Unlimited benchmark. Next to the regular Ice Storm and Ice Storm Extreme, this is the third variant that you can test your hardware with. Unlike the previous two versions, the Unlimited benchmark is not available on iOS or Windows platforms.

But what is the unlimited version exactly? According to Futuremark:

We've added a new test to 3DMark for making chip-to-chip comparisons across mobile devices and operating systems. 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited is included in the iOS edition and can be added to the Android edition by updating to the latest version, available now from Google Play.

3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited provides an accurate way to measure component performance without vertical sync, display resolution scaling and other operating system factors affecting the result. In Unlimited mode the rendering engine uses a fixed time step between frames and renders exactly the same frames in every run on every device. The frames are rendered in 720p resolution "offscreen" while the display is updated with small frame thumbnails every 100 frames to show progress.

How to choose the right benchmark for your device?

Forced vertical sync on iOS and Android devices limits apps to displaying a maximum of 60 frames per second. Your score will be shown as "Maxed out" if your device hits the vertical sync limit during a test. This indicates that the test is too lightweight for your device. 3DMark will recommend the best test for your device to avoid vertical sync limits. Use 3DMark Ice Storm to make device-to-device comparisons of mainstream smartphones and tablets. Ice Storm includes two Graphics tests designed to stress the graphical (GPU) performance of your device and a Physics test to stress its processing (CPU) performance. Devices that are too fast for Ice Storm will be prompted to run Ice Storm Extreme instead.

3DMark Ice Storm Extreme raises the Graphics tests' rendering resolution to 1080p and uses higher quality textures and post-processing effects to create a more demanding load for the latest mobile devices. Devices that are too fast for Ice Storm Extreme will be prompted to run Ice Storm Unlimited.

Use 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited to make chip-to-chip comparisons of different chipsets, CPUs and GPUs without vertical sync, display resolution scaling and other operating system factors affecting the result.

The 3DMark we are not allowed to call 3DMark 2013 was released on February 4 2013, with the Android version available on April 2 2013. The original version feature four tests, now we have six. Plus 3x 3DMark11, plus 4x 3DMark Vantage, and plus a couple of older benchmarks. That is a lot.

Perhaps I am slightly too negative when I say Futuremark is diluting their own message. What is your 3DMark score? Wait, what preset are you running? Ice Storm, what version? Extreme, that's better than Unlimited right? No. Ehr. Well, I have 5000 anyway.

What do you think?

Perhaps an interesting (and relevant?) TED Talk, "Barry Schwartz on The Paradox of Choice"


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