You can now use 3DMark to test your GPU's ray tracing performance

Starting today, UL Benchmarks is bundling its new Port Royal ray tracing test with the Advanced edition of its 3DMark benchmarking suite, or you can tack it on for $2.99 if you already purchased a license.

The new test is the first dedicated real-time ray tracing benchmark for gamers. It works with any graphics card or GPU that supports Microsoft's DirectX Raytracing (DXR) API, so basically anything that supports DX12, though it's going to run much slower on cards without dedicated DXR hardware (ie, GeForce RTX).

"Port Royal will run on any graphics card with drivers that support DirectX Raytracing. As with any new technology, there are limited options for early adopters, but more cards are expected to get DirectX Raytracing support in 2019," UL Benchmarks says. At launch it's just RTX cards that are supported. There are a few results for GTX 1080 Ti and one for RX Vega 64, but those results are using an RTX card as a secondary GPU. Sneaky.

UL Benchmarks designed Port Royal with input from AMD, Intel, Nvidia, and others. The company says it worked especially close with Microsoft to ensure its new test is properly utilizing DXR.

Given that AMD also had input on this test, we have to wonder if UL Benchmarks may have dropped a subtle hint when it said more cards will support DXR this year. AMD has been fairly mum on when it intends to support ray-traced rendering, though AMD CEO Dr. Lisa Su did acknowledge a few months ago that AMD's plan is still to be "competitive in high-end graphics."

"We're making high-performing quality products and building a solid long-term foundation," Su told Barron's in a phone interview.

AMD's participation aside, Port Royal is supposed to offer gamers a "realistic and practical example of what to expect from real-time ray tracing in upcoming games." That means "reasonable framerates" when running at 2560x1440.

3DMark Advanced Edition costs $29.99, though it sometimes goes on sale. If you happen to own the pricey Professional edition ($1,495 and up), Port Royal is a free upgrade. Unfortunately it's not available in the free Basic edition.

Paul Lilly

Paul has been playing PC games and raking his knuckles on computer hardware since the Commodore 64. He does not have any tattoos, but thinks it would be cool to get one that reads LOAD"*",8,1. In his off time, he rides motorcycles and wrestles alligators (only one of those is true).