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Gaming At 1920x1080: AMD's Trinity Takes On Intel HD Graphics

Benchmark Results: DiRT Showdown

For us, DiRT Showdown was one of the most informative tests in this round-up. Three of our four processors were able to play this modern graphics-rich racer at quite playable rates, with even the Core i3-3225 turning in a fair showing with barely perceptible drops.

Moreover, unlike WoW, the difference in detail levels isn’t glaringly obvious. Even on Ultra Low, with everything turned off, DiRT Showdown looks impressively gritty.

Showdown Ultra Low

In contrast, we also generated benchmark results and screen shots using two more demanding presets. Yes, the higher settings are more impressive, but we didn’t feel much difference between Medium and High.

Showdown Medium

Showdown High

What sort of impact do these higher settings have on performance? At the Medium preset, both Intel processors become unplayable, and the A8-5600K barely skates by. The A10-5800K still has some headroom left, though its 30 FPS minimum is about as low as we're willing to go.

Although it lies outside the parameters of this article, we will point out that this is the kind of situation where a system memory overclock makes a lot of sense. A quick bump to 1833 MT/s might be all the A8 needs to keep it fully playable. Unlike a hard push to the main processor, a memory overclock can yield an easy 5% to 10% performance boost without an appreciable increase in heat or system noise. If you want evidence, just check out Chris Angelini's early look at Trinity's memory scaling.

Stepping up to High detail settings blows even the A10 out of contention. Worse, Showdown locks up with a black screen on both Intel chips until we kill it with Windows Task Manager. Perhaps we should be impressed that only one of our ten games forced a failure in this processor category, and even then only at our highest settings. Still, it’s hard not to look critically at Intel’s graphics and ask, “Really?”