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DOS C Compiler Benchmark (dccb)

Provides a small but non-trivial real-world 16-bit DOS codebase for recreational performance testing of older C compilers.

The code is that of a simple VGA mode 13h software 3d rasterizer, which operates mostly but not exclusively on integers. It renders a spinning ball on screen for a dozen or so seconds, then exits with an FPS count that you can compare between compilers.


Batch files are provided under the build/ directory for building dccb with various C compilers:

  • Microsoft C 5
  • Microsoft QuickC 1
  • Mix Power C 2.2
  • Borland Turbo C 2
  • HI-TECH Pacific C 7

Build scripts for several C/C++ compilers are also included:

  • Digital Mars C/C++ 8
  • Open Watcom C/C++
  • Microsoft C/C++ 8
  • Borland C++ 2


Once you have it, put the executable in the bin/ directory, and run it – preferably in DOS, DOSBox, or the like. The program will render a spinning ball for a dozen or so seconds, then exit with an FPS count.

Note that the directory in which you run the executable should also contain the files mesh, palette, and texture, as provided in this repo. The first file contains the 3d mesh to be rendered (in a custom format, of which no specification is available at this time), the second file defines the VGA mode 13h palette (three bytes – RGB – per color for 256 colors, each byte expressing a value between 0 and 63), and the last one is the texture with which the ball will be rendered (each byte in the file an index to the palette).

Sample results

The following table provides results for various compilers. The table is sorted from best to worst by the performance (number of frames rendered per second) of the compiled executable running in DOSBox (cycles = 67000).

Result (FPS) Compiler Compiler version
57 Microsoft C/C++ 8
41 Digital Mars C/C++ 8
37 Open Watcom ?
33 Borland Turbo C 2
32 Borland C++ 2
32 Microsoft C 5
31 Microsoft QuickC 1
30 HI-TECH Pacific C 7
14 Mix Power C 2.2


A perf test for 16-bit C compilers.