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As one of the first games to take advantage of DirectX 11, we've been using Dirt 2 to benchmark graphics cards since its arrival in late 2009. Although it's been a crucial part of our testbed, Dirt 2 isn't quite as taxing as it was when the first DX11 cards arrived. For instance, today's GTX 580 can average 75fps while running the game at 2560x1600 with max quality settings. Likewise, the GTX 590 and HD 6990 delivered solid 70+ fps in our recent triple-monitor gaming review.
With Crysis 2 disappointingly restricted to DX9 and few other knee-buckling games on the immediate horizon, we've been eagerly awaiting the next iteration of Codemaster's racing series. The company answered our prayers last week, launching Dirt 3 for the PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Developed with the latest (v2.0) EGO game engine, Dirt 3 is a spectacular looking racing game with some surprisingly high, but also incredibly vague recommended system requirements.
Codemasters recommends that you play with an AMD Phenom II or Intel Core i7 processor and an AMD Radeon HD 6000 series graphics card, but fails to mention specific models or anything at all from Nvidia. Meanwhile, the minimum requirements say you can scrape by with a paltry Athlon 64/Pentium D and HD 2000/GeForce 8000 class graphics. While it's nice that gamers with five year-old machines can play Dirt 3, we're more interested in knowing what it takes to experience the game with all its visual splendor.
As usual we've compiled the performance of over 20 graphics cards, all DX11 capable, at several different resolutions.
Although we're not here to judge Dirt 3's gameplay, we can at least note the latest installment packs more cars, locations and tracks than its predecessor or any other game in the series for that matter. Players aim to climb the world rally standings as they race their way through weather-beaten rally stages in Europe, Africa and the US. Dirt 3 also introduces a game mode called "gymkhana," which offers a series of obstacle course challenges made famous by rally driver Ken Block and his various YouTube videos.