3DMark Steel Nomad DirectX 12 / Vulkan Benchmark Review

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Benchmark test: UL 3DMark Steel Nomad with 25 cards tested

3DMark from UL these days, is a widely utilized benchmarking suite designed to measure the gaming performance of various computing devices, including desktop computers, laptops, tablets, and smartphones. It is compatible with multiple operating systems such as Windows, Windows on Arm, MacOS, iOS, and Android. Furthermore, a complete version for Linux is currently in development, with an early-access command-line version already available for reviewers. This includes specific benchmarks like 3DMark Steel Nomad, Wild Life Extreme, and Wild Life. Gurus can benchmark the latest GPUs to compare gaming performance with both ray tracing enabled and disabled using tests such as 3DMark Speed Way and Steel Nomad. For mobile devices, 3DMark offers tools to assess peak and sustained performance of Android smartphones and iPhones through its benchmarking and stress tests. The tool is equally effective in reviewing emerging device categories like gaming handhelds with benchmarks such as Steel Nomad Light and Solar Bay. Furthermore, it allows users to compare the performance of a PC to a smartphone using Steel Nomad Light.


3DMark’s Stress Tests are particularly useful for evaluating device stability, cooling efficiency, and thermal throttling. Additionally, the software includes a Storage Benchmark specifically designed to analyze the real-world gaming performance of the latest solid-state drives (SSDs).

Steel Nomad

Steel Nomad utilizes advanced graphics technology similar to what's found in the latest video games. It builds on the widely used 3DMark Time Spy benchmark and operates at 4K resolution, incorporating new features like volumetric skies and procedural grass. Additional graphic enhancements, including volume illumination, ambient occlusion, and depth-of-field, enhance its sun-scorched, desert setting, especially when viewed with HDR.


To your right side, Steel Nomad, and to the right the output render of Steel Nomad Light. For systems with less power, Steel Nomad Light offers an alternative. Set during a moonlit night by a vast lake, this version scales down to 1440p resolution and simplifies or omits the most intensive graphics technologies for better performance on portable devices.

system requirements for 3DMark Steel Nomad Light in bullet points:

  • Operating System: Windows 11 or Windows 10, 64-bit (Version 21H2)
  • Processor: 1.8 GHz dual-core with SSSE3 support
  • System Memory: 8 GB RAM
  • Graphics:
    • DirectX 12 feature level 12.0 capable GPU
    • Shader model 6.0
  • Graphics Memory:
    • 6 GB VRAM
    • Note: For systems with integrated GPUs, at least 16 GB of system RAM is required as the GPU shares this memory.
  • Storage: 1.5 GB of free space (shared with Steel Nomad Light)

For systems utilizing integrated GPUs:

  • Additional System Memory Requirement: At least 8 GB of system RAM due to sharing with the GPU.
Sub Tests

The Steel Nomad Stress Test is designed to assess the gaming performance stability of PCs over extended periods. Conducted over a 20-minute duration, this test is structured to allow the device's temperature to stabilize, mirroring a typical gaming session. This approach helps in identifying any performance fluctuations attributable to thermal conditions. Users are advised to avoid running any prior benchmarks or games immediately before initiating the stress test to prevent residual heat from influencing the results. Upon completing the stress test, the software provides a comparative analysis between the lowest and highest performance scores recorded during the session. Additionally, it supplies data on how the performance adjusts over time, highlighting any necessary performance throttling to maintain safe operational temperatures.

Explorer Mode, formerly known as Interactive Mode, offers users the ability to navigate through the benchmark scene freely. This mode allows for adjustments in rendering settings and post-processing modifications, facilitating users in optimizing visuals or capturing high-quality screenshots. It also includes elements that commemorate the various benchmarks developed over the past 25 years.


VS. Mode provides a competitive benchmarking platform where users can compare their Steel Nomad results with those from friends, entries from the 3DMark Hall of Fame, or systems equipped with the latest gaming hardware. This feature is particularly useful for tracking the performance changes of a gaming PC over time, offering a dynamic way to measure and understand hardware efficiency in a comparative context.

Let me reiterate that the benchmark is not raytracing compatible, so this is pure rasterized rendering based on DirectX 12 and Vulkan. On the next page, we'll test 25 cards and you can check out the results.

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