The new 3DMark benchmark lets you test the ray tracing performance of your Android phone

UL Solutions, the developers of the popular 3DMark benchmarking application, have released a new cross-platform ray tracing benchmark. It’s called Solar Bay and it’s available as a free update for owners of 3DMark.

Solar Bay is designed for use with integrated GPUs including those in laptops and mobile phones. It’s built using the Vulkan 1.1 API and features both a benchmark and a stress test. The latter is sure to drain your battery life quickly.

Ray Tracing is quickly becoming an integral part of PC gaming graphics. For some time, 3DMark has included the Port Royal and Speedway benchmarks, but they’re designed for graphics cards with much higher performance and more importantly, higher power budgets. Ray tracing in the mobile space is still in its nascent stages, and a 3DMark ray tracing benchmark that’s aimed at battery-powered devices like phones, tablets, and laptops is very much welcome.

There are three stages to the benchmark, with the second and third stages increasing the ray tracing workload by 100%. The benchmark will deliver a score for comparison purposes. That’s fairly self explanatory, but the stress test will be useful to test for throttling. If you’re looking to tune a laptop for an optimal blend of cooling, noise level, and clock speed, a test like Solar Bay will be very useful.

I ran Solar Bay on a system I am currently using for testing memory. It’s got an RTX 4090, i9 13900K, and 2x16GB of DDR5-5600. The system scored 194,320 with all three sections returning over 700 FPS. The RTX 4090 is a beast, for sure.

For comparison, the best AMD result appears to be 156,489 with a Radeon RX 7900 XTX. That’s not a bad showing for an AMD card, though cards like this and the RTX 4090 are surely CPU-limited.

Windows users can obtain 3DMark and Solar Bay for $34.99 via the usual channels such as Steam, Epic Games, or from UL Solutions directly. Android users can grab it from the Google Play store. 

As for iOS availability, there’s no word yet, but it’s likely to become available in time. The Wild Life and Sling Shot benchmarks are available for iOS, and it does support Vulkan, but would require additional work to port it over to Apple’s Metal API.