How We Tested DiRT 4
|Motherboard (LGA 1151)||Asus Z170-Deluxe|
|RAM||Klevv DDR4-2133 8GB|
|Controller||Intel PCH Z170 SATA 6 Gb/s|
|Power Supply||Cooler Master G450M|
|Case||Haf XB EVO|
|Operating System||Windows 10 x64 Pro 1703 (15063.413)|
|Graphics Drivers||Nvidia GeForce Game Ready 382.53AMD Radeon Crimson Edition 17.6.2|
We're using a fairly mid-range gaming PC that we hope represents what a lot of our readers are running. If you're lucky enough to own faster hardware, you'll naturally enjoy higher frame rates. Steam's survey of hardware and software configurations offers us a view of the most prevalent components and settings (the data comes from May 2017):
- Windows 10 64-bit represents a little less than half of the market (49.05%, to be precise).
- 8GB RAM, present in 36.6% of surveyed gaming PCs (our system has 16GB).
- Full HD (1920x1080) is used by 47.61% of gamers, while 22% are still at 1366x768. QHD (2560x1440 pixels) is used by less than 2% of gamers, and 4K is still anecdotal. As a result, we're testing at 1920x1080.
- Quad-core CPUs are installed in close to half of the surveyed systems (48.79%). Logically, our configuration is loaded with a mid-range quad-core Intel CPU.
Graphics Card Selection
We picked eight graphics cards to test. They're mostly mid-range, and they represent popular choices from current- and previous-generation architectures. Here are the competing cards:
The Radeon RX 480 “Core” from XFX is at a disadvantage, given its stock clock rate, compared to the Asus Strix OC and its GPU frequency of 1645 MHz. We're overclocking it +4% to the level of a factory-tuned model, yielding a 1340 MHz GPU and 2 GHz memory.
These two cards represent where the mid-range segment starts. The Radeon RX 470 should have an advantage with its additional gigabyte of memory.
Nvidia's GeForce GTX 970 and AMD's Radeon R9 390 are previous-gen cards, but they'll no doubt remain popular in mid-range gaming PCs for months to come. We picked them more for their popularity in existing gaming machines, rather than their retail prevalence, which is quite variable.
And finally, we add two lower-end cards to gauge whether entry-level hardware is good enough for playable frame rates with the most recent titles.
All performance data is collected using the PresentMon tool and our own custom front-end.
In order to represent graphics card performance accurately, each test subject is warmed up to a stable temperature before measurements are collected. Most GPUs employ mechanisms to optimize clock rates based on variables like power and temperature. So, tests run during the warm-up period would convey better performance than you'd see in the real world.
We therefore run the benchmark sequence twice to warm up each card, then gather the data for our charts. As far as detail settings go, we test the game at Full HD with the Ultra preset, 8x MSAA, and 16x AF. Then, we dial in the High preset with 4x MSAA and 8x AF.
MORE: Prey Performance Review
MORE: Mass Effect Andromeda Performance Review
Another thing: Why are the shadows so much sharper at High than at Ultra?
Edit: seeing as how the Asus 6GB 1060 bests the 3GB Gigabyte version, in spite of having less aggressive clocks, I guess I have my answer. Glad I sprung for the 4GB model.
Softer shadows are more natural looking. It is always like this when raising the settings. You get more softer shadows.
Yeah this is a disappointment compared to DiRT Rally which I was an early access adopter of. It is extremely easy on the GPU and at 1440p maxed out everything and 4xMSAA, the built-in bench with my SLI 970s overclocked to 980 reference performance showed ~120fps average. VRAM allocation according to Afterburner was around 2.2GB max. About the same for Grid Autosport as well. Single 970 results in the tests were in the 70s on average and never dipping below 60FPS in minimum.
Compare ^that^ to the 970 results at only 1080p of this game. Codemasters got sloppy with DiRT 4 it appears. Great gameplay, but from my viewpoint, the increased consumption of GPU resources is disappointing for the results. And what's up with CM ditching the built-in game benchmark they've had in Autosport, Rally, and earlier F1 versions? I'll relinquish this one to PS4 duty. Slack console port attempt. Disappointing, CM.
The shadows are also softer at lower settings though. And they seem to be lower res, such that features are lost (beyond what a bit of softness would warrant).