UL Benchmarks Adds Variable-Rate Shading with 3DMark

👤by Michael Pabia Comments 📅26.08.2019 22:32:33
Press Release

Today, UL Benchmarks will be adding a new feature to 3DMark that will help users compare the differences in performance and image quality using Variable-Rate Shading. The Variable-Rate Shading feature is now available as a free update for 3DMark Advanced Edition users and for 3DMark Professional Edition users that has a valid annual license. For Professional Edition license holders, the VRS feature will be added with a purchase of an annual license to unlock the new test. Watch the Variable-Rate Shading feature test video below.

What is Variable-Rate Shading?

Variable-Rate Shading (VRS) is a new feature in DirectX 12 that allows developers to improve performance by selectively reducing the level of detail in parts of the frame where there will be a little noticeable effect on image quality.

Shading rate refers to the number of pixel shader operations called for each pixel. Higher shading rates improve accuracy but are more demanding for the GPU. Lower shading rates improve performance at the cost of visual fidelity.

With Variable-Rate Shading, developers can vary the shading rate within a single frame. By using Variable-Rate Shading to lower the shading rate for parts of the frame that are in deep shadow, far from the camera, or peripheral to the player's focus, for example, a game can run at a higher frame rate with little perceptible loss in visual quality.

3DMark VRS Feature Test

3DMark feature tests are special tests designed to highlight specific techniques, functions or capabilities. The 3DMark VRS feature test is designed to help you compare differences in performance and image quality when using Tier 1 Variable-Rate Shading.

The test runs in two passes. Variable-Rate Shading is disabled on the first pass of the test to provide a baseline for comparison. Variable-Rate Shading is enabled for the second pass. The test then reports the average frame rate for each pass and calculates the performance gained with Variable-Rate Shading.

See 3DMark VRS feature test screenshots below:
VRS On (2.95MB)
VRS Off (4.32MB)

Explore VRS performance in Real-Time

The Variable-Rate Shading Feature test also offers an interactive mode that lets you change variable-rate shading settings on the fly to see how they affect the frame rate and image quality. The handy visualizer option—used to create the screenshot above—shows you where each shading rate is used. You can find more details in our 3DMark technical guide.

To run the Variable-Rate Shading test, you will need Windows 10 version 1903 or later and a DirectX 12 GPU that supports Tier 1 VRS and the AdditionalShadingRatesSupported capability, such as an NVIDIA Turing-based GPU or an Intel Ice Lake CPU.

3DMark Advanced Edition is currently 75% off, available in Steam and the UL Benchmarks website.