DiRT Three GPU & CPU Efficiency Check

As one of the first games to use DirectX 11, we have been using Dirt 2 for benchmarking graphics cards since its introduction in late 2009. While it's a crucial part of our testing ground, Dirt 2 isn't quite as stressful as it was when the first DX11 cards arrived. For example, today's GTX 580 can average 75 fps while running the game at 2560 x 1600 with maximum quality settings. The GTX 590 and HD 6990 also delivered a solid 70 fps in our latest gaming test with three monitors.

With Crysis 2 disappointingly limited to DX9 and a few other knee buckling games on the immediate horizon, we've been eagerly awaiting the next iteration of the Codemaster racing series. The company answered our prayers last week and launched Dirt 3 for PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Developed with the latest (v2.0) EGO game engine, Dirt 3 is a spectacular looking racing game with some surprisingly high, but also incredibly good vague recommended system requirements.

Codemasters recommends that you play with an AMD Phenom II or Intel Core i7 processor and an AMD Radeon HD 6000 series graphics card, but doesn't mention any specific models or anything from Nvidia. The minimum requirements say that you can come by with poor graphics from the Athlon 64 / Pentium D and HD 2000 / GeForce 8000 classes. While it's nice that players can play Dirt 3 on five-year-old machines, we're more interested in knowing what it takes to experience the game in all of its visual glory.

As usual, we have put together the performance of over 20 graphics cards, all of which are DX11-capable, with different resolutions.

While we're not here to judge Dirt 3's gameplay, we can at least state that the latest installment features more cars, locations, and tracks than its predecessor or any other game in the series. Players aim to climb the world rally rankings as they battle their way through weather-beaten rally stages in Europe, Africa and the US. Dirt 3 also introduces a game mode called "gymkhana" which features a series of obstacle course challenges made famous by rally driver Ken Block and his various YouTube videos.

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