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Benchmark Results: DiRT 3 And The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

System Builder Marathon, March 2012: $650 Gaming PC

DiRT 3

Unfortunately, we encountered a few kinks as we started testing with our new suite, resulting in data on this page getting excluded from our final performance tally. First, last quarter's machine shipped to its winner before I realized something was wrong with one set of results. Apparently, something changed with Patch 1.2 that threw consistency issues into the benchmark we were using for testing.

Clearly, DiRT 3 is well-threaded, as the Core i5 delivers a lead at every resolution, even at the High quality graphics preset. Very little scaling is seen on this quarter's PC because the Radeon HD 6950 is held back by our Core i3 processor.

It’s unfortunate we do not have comparison data because this story takes a massive change of direction at Ultra details with 8x AA. Based on other tests we've run, we’d expect the older machine to be limited by its Radeon HD 6870, averaging in the 40 FPS range at its stock settings.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Patch 1.4 of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, released in between last quarter and this one, delivered interesting performance gains. We’re going to include data for both rigs, but keep in mind that we can't compare the machines themselves, but rather just the improvements introduced by the update.

Prior to patch 1.4, Skyrim was quite CPU-limited. Our 25-second run though the town of Riverwood is demanding. However, exploring the Dwemer City of Markarth dropped frame rates even lower. So, it’s amazing that a Core i5-2400 was limiting our average performance to just over 40 FPS at Ultra settings.

After patch 1.4, this quarter's PC demonstrates host processor limitations at High detail settings. However, GPU limitations emerge at the Ultra preset with 8x MSAA. We included both sets of Skyrim data specifically to show how much the game’s performance profile has changed.

Game testing was planned for just these four new titles. But because we built this machine to improve the gaming experience, we couldn't draw suitable conclusions based on the two titles that gave us good data. Next, we’ll see how well the current PC matches up in our previous suite.

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