One of the best tools to evaluate the virtues of a graphics engine is the Heaven Benchmark. It’s based on the Unigine engine and uses many of the comprehensive graphics techniques that high level tools like DirectX 11 are supposed to be able to use. Nearly 5 years ago, when DirectX 11 was starting to make waves in the gaming world, an evaluation of what it would take to get DirectX to work as best as possible was looked at.
The result was a $2,500 rig that could only produce 22 frames per second. In comparison, the average top end smartphone can record video at 2160p and 60 frames per second. In using the Heaven Benchmark today with DirectX 12, is it possible to be able to achieve a true HD experience at least when using Microsoft’s DirectX?
The Answer, Quite Sadly, Is No – It Is Not Possible
Although Microsoft’s gaming platform has some 1080p capabilities, many of the games that are played render at 720p. It was hoped that the CPU reductions that DirectX 12 would be able to provide would help to increase the graphics output, but that just isn’t happening. In a recent Intel test, a switch from DirectX 11 to 12 allowed for up to 33 frames per second to be used on top end PC platforms, but there was virtually no change seen on the gaming console.
This means that DirectX 12 could upgrade 11’s abilities to produce better graphics, but it is still far from a good result in using the Heaven Benchmark. The graphics look fairly realistic, of course, but the amount of occlusion just doesn’t blow you out of the water. With 5 years to produce this upgrade and with technology awareness doubling twice within this twice frame, it makes one wonder what Microsoft has been doing with this product.
Did Microsoft Lose Their Way?
It is a legitimate question to ask. Microsoft missed out on the mobile market and basically ceded everything to Apple and Samsung. Their recent partnership with Nokia might pay off in the future, but the reality is that 18,000 jobs were lost in the process as the two companies combined. Although the Xbox has rebounded in the later part of 2014, it was dominated from Day 1 by the PlayStation 4. With DirectX 12, there is a real fear coming from Microsoft that it could be dominated by AMD’s Mantle API.
Microsoft seems to have lost their way. Maybe with the release of their new operating system next year, they’ll be able to find their way back again. If they do not, then will we see new developments coming out of the company? Using the Heaven Benchmark, it is clear that Microsoft is going to need some help with 12 just as they did with DirectX 11. We just don’t know how much help they’ll eventually end up needing yet.