Many of the software's tests fall into the graphical category. The five graphics tests throw everything from volumetric lighting to lens effects and the tessellation on various models.
The first two tests take place underwater as a collection of mini-subs cast their spotlights in the murky depths on rock walls and a bit coral-encrusted ship wreckage.
The last two graphics intensive tests go to a jungle and features a fly-around near some ruins. In one case, it is daytime and 3DMark 11 tests your machine's capabilities on the sun casting light on the foliage and rocks. The other scene is at night with the moonlight being a major source of light, but also several vehicles with their headlights turned on.
There are two other tests 3DMark 11 can run, a physics test and a combined test. The physics one presents a field of stacked blocks arranged like old Greek columns. Hovering above them are giant stone boulders. When the test starts, the boulders fall and destroy the temple. This particular test isn't all that pretty, but it isn't designed to be; it's all about the CPU's ability to do rigid body physics.
The combined test, on the other hand, is everything. Those columns of stone are placed in the jungle and there are flags all over the place. This test not only covers all of the graphical options, but it also tests how well the CPU can handle the rigid body physics (the stone pillars) and the GPU's (graphics processing unit) ability to do the soft body physics (the flags).