DiRT 3 Gameplay Performance Review

DiRT 3 is out, and we aim to find out how this DX11 sequel to DiRT 2 performs across current generation AMD and NVIDIA video cards. We will cover highest playable experiences, App2App, performance and IQ comparisons. DiRT 3 proves that a well balanced DX11 game can perform great and look good doing it.


DiRT3 was released in North America by Codemasters on May 24, 2011. It is the latest iteration in the long running and acclaimed racing series originally titled Colin McRae's Rally after the popular Scottish rally driver. Beginning with DiRT2, Codemasters dropped Colin McRae's name from the franchise due to his death in 2007. DiRT3 is a DirectX 11 enabled game, supporting hardware tessellation and boasting Shader Model 5.0 shader programs.


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DiRT3 is an arcade rally racing game featuring off-road racing action of many different varieties. The game features stadium truck lap races, point-to-point classic rally races, and even a new gymkhana mode, inspired by Ken Blocks amazing gymkhana YouTube videos. The game features a single player campaign, quick single player races, and multiplayer races and party games. An interesting new feature in DiRT3 is the ability to upload replay clips directly to YouTube from within the game.


DiRT3 uses CodeMasters' EGO engine version 2.0. EGO was first used in Colin McRae: Dirt in 2007, and has been used in eight games since, including DiRT2, Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising, and now DiRT3. EGO 2.0 supports DirectX 11 and utilizes Sony Computer Entertainment's PhyreEngine graphics engine. Relatively little is known about EGO 2.0, but we do know that it supports hardware tessellation to improve water effects, crowd detail, and cloth simulation. It also utilizes Shader Model 5.0 (SM5) programs for its High-Definition Ambient Occlusion (HDAO) lighting algorithm. HDAO is used to increase visual depth of the rendered frame by simulating the casting of shadows from ambient light sources. You can read some of the highlights of the DX11 technology used in DiRT 3 here.


For this gameplay evaluation, we are using six video cards. From NVIDIA, we have chosen the GeForce GTX 580, the GTX 570, and the GTX 560 Ti. From AMD, we are using the Radeon HD 6970, the HD 6950, and the HD 6870.