The short answer is – Yes, you can download and use 3DMark for free! But there are some caveats. Let me explain in detail.
3DMark has a free demo version available on Steam that gives you unlimited access to two benchmark tests for free. However, the paid versions unlock additional tests, features and customization options.
In this detailed guide, I‘ll cover everything you need to know about getting 3DMark for free, the differences between the free and paid versions, and how to use the free demo for benchmarking your PC.
What is 3DMark and Why Does it Matter?
For PC gamers and hardware enthusiasts, 3DMark is an essential benchmarking tool. Think of it as a standardised test that measures the gaming performance of your PC‘s graphics card or GPU.
Higher 3DMark scores translate to better real-world game performance. It‘s that simple.
As a hardcore PC gamer myself, I run 3DMark routinely whenever I upgrade my graphics card, processor, memory or even swap out a new power supply.
It helps me understand precisely how much each component affects gaming performance. I can quickly tell if an upgrade is worthwhile or not by comparing before and after 3DMark scores.
3DMark scores are also widely used for comparing different GPUs and PCs. Every major GPU and laptop launch is accompanied by a barrage of 3DMark test results.
Review sites like Tom‘s Hardware and PCWorld rely on 3DMark for objective performance measurements across different PCs. It offers a standardised way to compare apples to apples.
According to UL Benchmarks, 3DMark is used by over 85% of hardware review websites. It‘s the industry standard for graphics benchmarking.
3DMark usage amongst leading tech review sites. Image credit: UL Benchmarks
With its wide popularity, comparing your own 3DMark scores with results online gives you an accurate idea of how your PC stacks up against others.
As a streaming and gaming expert, I consider 3DMark an essential free tool for every PC gamer. Read on to find out how you can download and use 3DMark demo for benchmarking your system.
Getting 3DMark Demo for Free
There are paid versions of 3DMark available on ULBenchmark.com and Steam that offer the full suite of tests and features. Prices range from $29.99 to $39.99 depending on the edition.
However, if you just want to run some basic benchmarks for free, 3DMark has a demo that you can use without paying anything.
Downloading 3DMark Demo on Steam
The easiest way to get the free 3DMark demo is through Steam. Just follow these simple steps:
Open the 3DMark page on Steam.
Click on the "Download Demo" button on the right sidebar.
The demo is around 1.3 GB in size and may take a while to download depending on your internet speed.
Once downloaded, you can access and launch the 3DMark demo from your Steam library anytime.
And that‘s it! The demo will now be available in your games list within the Steam app.
3DMark Demo listed in my Steam library
The best part about downloading via Steam is auto-updates. As new versions of 3DMark are released, the demo will automatically update on Steam keeping its tests up-to-date.
What‘s Included in the Free Demo?
The 3DMark Demo gives you unlimited access to two benchmark tests:
- Time Spy (DirectX 12)
- Night Raid (Vulkan)
Time Spy is designed for gaming PCs and runs at 2560 x 1440 resolution using detailed graphics. It makes full use of your graphics card‘s capabilities and is very representative of modern 3D workloads.
Night Raid is designed for notebooks and mid-range PCs. It runs at 1920 x 1080 resolution and uses a simpler graphical setting.
Both tests generate an overall score (3DMark Score) and graphics specific score (Graphics Score) as results.
These two tests cover the latest low-overhead DirectX 12 and Vulkan graphics APIs which are used in most modern games. So you get a pretty solid idea of your system‘s gaming performance from the free demo itself.
Benchmarking your PC with the Free Demo
Once you have downloaded 3DMark via Steam, benchmarking your PC is straightforward:
Launch 3DMark Demo from your Steam library.
By default, it will be ready to run the Time Spy test. Simply click on the "Run" button at the bottom right.
The complete Time Spy test takes about 5-10 minutes to run depending on your hardware.
Once done, you can view your scores and comparison results online within the 3DMark app itself.
To run Night Raid, select the "Night Raid" tab on top and click on "Run".
And that‘s pretty much it! You can now run these free benchmarks as many times as you want.
3DMark Time Spy benchmark in progress
The free demo also lets you compare results online and share scores through social media easily.
With every major hardware upgrade or tuning, I‘d recommend re-running these benchmarks to check performance improvements. They serve as excellent free tools for quick gaming PC analysis.
Benchmarks in Paid Versions
While the demo is good enough for casual testing, 3DMark‘s paid versions add more comprehensive benchmarks and features.
Here‘s an overview of what you get in paid editions but not in the free demo:
More Benchmark Tests
- Fire Strike and Sky Diver (DirectX 11 tests)
- API Overhead test (DX11 vs DX12)
- VR benchmarks for VRMark
- Specialised benchmarks like Port Royal ray tracing test
- Tweak settings like anti-aliasing, resolution, textures
- Specialised tests for CPU, Memory, Storage
- Support for 4K benchmarks
- Hardware monitoring during tests
- Thermal imaging and thermal throttling checks
- Automated benchmark runs
- Detailed graphics analysis
- Online result browsers
- Command line and automation support
- Custom loop options
- Stability test to check for crashes or thermal issues
- Basic stress testing
- VR score for VR readiness
- Motion-to-photon latency measurement
- Benchmark automation for VR
So while the free demo offers a taste of 3DMark‘s capabilities, the paid versions add a ton more benchmarks and features specially useful for advanced users, overclockers and hardware reviewers.
I‘ve summarised the key differences between 3DMark Free and Paid in the table below:
|Features||3DMark Free||3DMark Paid|
|Benchmark Tests||Time Spy, Night Raid||15+ comprehensive benchmarks covering different APIs and usage scenarios|
|Customization Options||Minimal||Full control over settings like resolution, graphics quality etc.|
|Hardware Monitoring||None||Detailed monitoring of temperatures, clock speeds etc.|
|Automated Testing||Not supported||Supports looping benchmarks and command line automation|
|Detailed Analytics||Limited||In-depth GPU profiling and analysis|
|VR Testing||None||VR-specific benchmarks and measurements|
|Stability Testing||None||Looping stress tests to check stability|
Should You Upgrade to Paid?
For casual home use, the free demo is usually enough to get an idea of your gaming PC‘s performance. The Time Spy and Night Raid tests cover the latest DX12 and Vulkan graphics APIs used in most modern games. I‘d only recommend upgrading if you need the extra DX11 tests as well.
For power users and overclockers, the paid versions are highly recommended for the additional stress testing, stability checking and hardware monitoring features. You can catch subtle performance regressions and thermals issues easily with the advanced tools.
For hardcore gamers, upgrading to paid allows you to fine-tune graphics settings in games to match the quality levels used in benchmarks. You can then correlate in-game fps better with 3DMark scores.
For hardware reviewers, the paid pro editions are pretty much mandatory for all the detailed analytics and automation they offer. Things like thermal throttling detection and automated looping runs are vital for comprehensive reviews.
For professional use, they also offer custom editions and enterprise benchmarking services.
I hope this detailed guide gives you clarity on what exactly you get with the 3DMark free demo on Steam and helps you decide if paying to upgrade is worthwhile for your usage.
While the pro editions have more bells and whistles, the free demo provides ample benchmarking capabilities for the average gamer or hobbyist overclocker.
I suggest downloading the free Steam demo as the first step. Run your benchmark scores through Time Spy and Night Raid.
See if your graphics card performance lines up with expectations. Keep repeating the tests as you upgrade or tune your system.
And only consider upgrading to paid versions if you really require those additional professional features.
Let me know if you have any other questions! I‘ll be happy to offer my advice as a gaming and streaming expert.