It turns out the DiRT 2 engine is fairly easy on the graphics hardware when in DirectX 9, despite the beautiful visuals. We therefore selected the highest visual fidelity options when testing. We used the in-game benchmark to keep results consistent.
We tested a solid sample of cards from our "Best Graphics Cards for the Money" recommendations. We tested Radeons from the Radeon HD 4650 to the new Radeon HD 5870 series and most of the cards in between. On the Nvidia side of things, we tested from the GeForce GT 220 to the GTX 260 series. I have heard reports that the GTX cards have been given end-of-life status, and indeed the GeForce GTX 275 has all but disappeared (Ed.: the explanation from Nvidia is that end-of-quarter supply is affecting availability, though cards should still be around early next year). We would have liked to try a GeForce GTX 285 sample for comparison purposes, but availability is unfortunately slim.
When testing multi-card configurations, we were stifled by a lack of support. CrossFire is now available through a hot-fixed Catalyst driver version 9.11_8.673.1 (and now Catalyst 9.12), but SLI support will take longer to arrive. Nvidia has told us to expect a compatible SLI driver in January. But until then, even the GeForce GTX 295 will perform using only a single GPU in this title. This means we will only test Radeons in CrossFire to represent multi-GPU configurations (specifically Radeon HD 4890s and 5850s).
To fully scrutinize the DirectX 11 effects, we tested most of AMD's Radeon HD 5000-series cards, including the 5750, 5770, 5850, and 5870. The only DirectX 11 card missing from our stable was the dual-GPU Radeon HD 5970. Our Radeon HD 5870 sample is PowerColor's liquid-cooled LCS card, which we underclocked to reference speeds. We also set the XFX Radeon HD 5850 Black Edition cards we used in single and CrossFire mode down to reference speeds to keep the tests on an even keel.
XFX was extremely helpful in supplying us with some Radeon HD 5750 and Radeon HD 5770 cards to round out our DirectX 11 offerings. The Radeon HD 5750 is XFX's HD-575X-ZNDC, a solid offering that sports reference clock speeds behind its 720 shader processors and 1GB of GDDR5 memory.
The Radeon HD 5770 sample is another XFX card, the HD-577A-ZNFC. With a higher 850 MHz core clock speed, 80 more shader processors, and 1GB of faster GDDR5 memory than its Radeon HD 5750 cousin, the Radeon HD 5770 should be able to handle higher resolutions and settings.
|Graphic Test System|
Intel Core i7-920 (Nehalem), 2.67 GHz, QPI-4200, 8MB Cache
ASRock X58 Supercomputer
|Networking||Onboard Realtek Gigabit LAN controller|
Sapphire HD4650 512MB DDR2
*all clock rates have been set to reference specifications for the purpose of benchmarking
Western Digital Caviar WD50 00AAJS-00YFA,
Thermaltake Toughpower 1,200W
|Software and Drivers|
|Operating System||Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate 64-bit 6.0.6001, SP1|
|DirectX version||DirectX 10|
AMD Catalyst 9.11, Nvidia GeForce Driver 195.62
- Image Quality: GeForce Versus Radeon
- Image Quality: DirectX 11 Enhancements
- Image Quality: DirectX 11 Enhancements, Cont'd.
- Test System And Settings
- Benchmark Results: DirectX 9
- Benchmark Results: DirectX 9 With 4x AA
- Benchmark Results: DirectX 11 Versus DirectX 9
- Benchmark Results: DirectX 11 Versus DirectX 9 And 4x AA
- CPU Benchmarks