Choosing a Gaming CPU at 1440p: Adding in Haswellby Ian Cutress on June 4, 2013 10:00 AM EST
DiRT 3 is a rallying video game and the third in the Dirt series of the Colin McRae Rally series, developed and published by Codemasters. DiRT 3 also falls under the list of ‘games with a handy benchmark mode’. In previous testing, DiRT 3 has always seemed to love cores, memory, GPUs, PCIe lane bandwidth, everything. The small issue with DiRT 3 is that depending on the benchmark mode tested, the benchmark launcher is not indicative of game play per se, citing numbers higher than actually observed. Despite this, the benchmark mode also includes an element of uncertainty, by actually driving a race, rather than a predetermined sequence of events such as Metro 2033. This in essence should make the benchmark more variable, but we take repeated runs in order to smooth this out. Using the benchmark mode, DiRT 3 is run at 1440p with Ultra graphical settings. Results are reported as the average frame rate across four runs.
While the testing shows a pretty dynamic split between Intel and AMD at around the 82 FPS mark, all processors are roughly +/- 1 or 2 around this mark, meaning that even an A8-5600K will feel like the i7-3770K. The 4770K has a small but ultimately unnoticable advantage in gameplay.
When reaching two GPUs, the Intel/AMD split is getting larger. The FX-8350 puts up a good fight against the i5-2500K and i7-2600K, but the top i7-3770K offers almost 20 FPS more and 40 more than either the X6-1100T or FX-8150.
Moving up to three GPUs and DiRT 3 is jumping on the PCIe bandwagon, enjoying bandwidth and cores as much as possible. Despite this, the gap to the best AMD processor is growing – almost 70 FPS between the FX-8350 and the i7-3770K. The 4770K is slightly ahead of the 3770K at x8/x4/x4, suggesting a small IPC difference,
At four GPUs, bandwidth wins out, and the PLX effect on the UP7 seems to cause a small dip compared to the native lane allocation on the RIVE (there could also be some influence due to 6 cores over 4).
Similar to the one 7970 setup, using one GTX 580 has a split between AMD and Intel that is quite noticeable. Despite the split, all the CPUs perform within 1.3 FPS, meaning no big difference.
Moving to dual GTX 580s, and while the split gets bigger, processors like the i3-3225 are starting to lag behind. The difference between the best AMD and best Intel processor is only 2 FPS though, nothing to write home about.
DiRT 3 conclusion
Much like Metro 2033, DiRT 3 has a GPU barrier and until you hit that mark, the choice of CPU makes no real difference at all. In this case, at two-way 7970s, choosing a quad core Intel processor does the business over the FX-8350 by a noticeable gap that continues to grow as more GPUs are added, (assuming you want more than 120 FPS).