Futuremark's 3DMark06 is an outdated benchmark at this point, although it remains one of the world's most popular and often downloaded. Supporting DirectX 9.0c and advanced Shader Model 2.0 and 3.0 tests, 3DMark06 runs at a default 1280x1024 resolution, so even video cards and monitors that are several years old can use it. However when using this benchmark to compare modern hardware it is important to remember that scores will be affected to a greater extent by CPU processing power. Here we see that the shader model scores are down 15% to almost 20% over our previous GTS 250 test, resulting in around a 10% loss in overall ranking.
Futuremark's latest 3DMark benchmark Vantage is more heavily dependent on raw graphical processing power. Requiring DirectX 10, and thus Windows Vista in order to run, Vantage utilizes advanced Shader Model 4.0 in its GPU tests. While still running at a low 1280x1024 resolution at the Performance level default, Vantage uses new texture filtering and physics processing capabilities in modern graphics cards. Here again we see up to nearly a 20% drop in performance compared to our reference GTS 250.
Furmark is another good benchmark to keep on hand. For one it's free, and its fully customizable settings allow you to change resolution and level of anti-aliasing, something other benchmark programs charge you for. Normally I use the native 16:10 resolutions of my monitor for measuring benchmarks, such as 1680x1050 and 1920x1200. However since this card is targeted for home theater use, and most high definition televisions today offer a 16:9 aspect ratio, I've chosen 1280x720 and 1920x1080 to test with.
Next let's see how the Sparkle GTS 250 LP does in some recent games, starting with Crysis Warhead.