The Game, Graphics Engine & Settings
Codemasters recently released the 12th title in its Colin McRae Rally series, called DiRT 4. The game is based on the in-house EGO 4.0 engine, which was also used in F1 2015, F1 2016, and F1 2017. As we've seen from this franchise before, DiRT 4 serves up classic rallycross courses; the landrush mode with stages in California, Nevada, and Mexico; and joyride mode for multiple players.
While this is a multi-platform game (available on Windows, but also for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One), DiRT 4 remains limited to DirectX 11 support.
Minimum & Recommended System Requirements
The Steam page for DiRT 4 lists minimum and recommended system configurations suggested by the game publisher for acceptable performance. At a glance, it doesn't look like you'll need particularly modern hardware for an enjoyable experience. PCs from several years ago should prove adequate if you're willing to make some compromises on quality settings.
|Processor||Intel Core i3 or AMD FX||Intel Core i5-4690 or AMD FX-8320|
|Graphics Card||GeForce GT 440 or Radeon HD 5570||GeForce GTX 780 or Radeon R9 390|
|Operating System||Windows 7, 8.1, 10 (64-bit only)||Windows 7, 8.1, 10 (64-bit only)|
There are many graphics options to choose from (almost too many, in fact). Thankfully, five overarching presets help simplify the list in case you don't want to go option by option. Instead, you're able to choose from Ultra, High, Medium, Low, and Very Low. Additionally, you're able to pick different anti-aliasing techniques (CMAA, MSAA, or even EQAA for Radeons) and anisotropic filtering levels.
High / Ultra
Of course, the Ultra quality is best. But the High preset doesn't sacrifice much detail in comparison. At most, there are certain reflections and transparencies that are less detailed, while distant shadows are simplified as you step down.
Medium / High
Textures suffer the most as you drop to Medium quality, particularly with respect to roads. Distant shadows and lighting are equally impacted; this is especially noticeable in the rendering of trees.
Low / Medium
When quality is dialed down to Low, shadows and reflections are affected the most. Despite those compromises, though, the game's overall visual fidelity remains enjoyable and is not that different from Medium.
Very Low / Low
Conversely, the difference between Low and Very Low is night and day. Everything is simplified to the max: the gardener mowed the lawn, trees lose some of their branches, and the spectators are apparently at home. The loss of detail is too high at this point, so you'll only find yourself picking Very Low if you're using one of those graphics cards on the Minimum Hardware Requirements list.
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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).