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3DMark's Time Spy successor, Steel Nomad, makes Nvidia's RTX 4090 work hard, without ray tracing

This new benchmark brings all of Nvidia and AMD's modern GPUs to their knees.

(Image credit: 3DMark)

**Steel Nomad: 3DMark's Latest GPU Benchmark Challenges Even the Best**

Steel Nomad, the latest GPU benchmark from 3DMark, is the official successor to the popular Time Spy tool, which was introduced eight years ago. According to a review by PCGamesHardware, Steel Nomad lives up to its predecessor's reputation, posing a challenge even for Nvidia's top-tier RTX 4090.

Specifically designed to push the boundaries of the newest GPU hardware, Steel Nomad addresses the limitations of Time Spy. With the latest Nvidia and AMD GPUs pushing the performance envelope, Time Spy could no longer keep up. Steel Nomad resolves this by significantly increasing the workload on the GPU.

The new benchmark is available in two versions: the standard Steel Nomad and Steel Nomad Light, the latter designed for lightweight devices with integrated graphics and smartphones. A key feature of Steel Nomad is its focus on rasterized graphics, distinguishing it from 3DMark's other ray-traced benchmarks like Speed Way. This makes Steel Nomad ideal for comparing rasterized GPU performance, a relevant metric as many modern games, including Sony's Horizon: Forbidden West PC port, still rely on rasterized graphics.

(Image credit: 3DMark)

The full version of Steel Nomad boasts a demanding 4K render resolution, volumetric lighting, volumetric cloud calculations, and Intel's XeGTAO ambient occlusion. The expansive world depicted in Steel Nomad adds further strain on the GPU, ensuring a thorough test of its capabilities.

While Steel Nomad lacks ray-tracing capabilities, this is by design. Its purpose is to benchmark rasterized GPU performance, the same role that Time Spy served. For those seeking to test ray-tracing performance, 3DMark offers other specific benchmarks.

In terms of performance, Steel Nomad does not disappoint. PCGamesHardware recorded a maximum frame rate of just 112 on an overclocked Nvidia RTX 4090. Lower-end GPUs perform notably worse: the Radeon RX 7900 XTX reaches 73 FPS, the Nvidia RTX 4080 Super achieves 72 FPS, while both the Nvidia RTX 4070 and AMD RX 7800 XT manage only 41 FPS. Entry-level current-generation GPUs, such as the RTX 4060 and RX 7600, fall below 25 FPS in this rigorous benchmark.

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