DiRT PC performance -- abysmal

I was really hoping the final version of DiRT (aka Colin McRae 2008) would have improved performance over the demo in races with 8+ opponent cars. Sadly, that’s not the case.

I upgraded my racing rig, specifically to play DiRT, using a bunch of salvage parts I had laying around:

  • Athlon X2 4200 (overclocked to 4800+)
  • 4 GB DDR 400
  • ATI X1900XTX 512mb

Performance is decent at 1024x768, high settings, except… when you’re racing an event with 8+ other vehicles on screen. Then performance dips into the teens and often into single digits. It’s really bad-- unplayably bad!

Many of the events are single-car or dual-car; so those are fine. But the very first event in the career, if you do it in linear order, is a truck race with 8 opponents.

If I do a “practice” on that course, the framerate is fine. But the minute I “race”, I have opponents, and it’s back to-- literally-- unplayable framerates. Even if I set the graphics settings to “low” and 800x600 resolution. It seems 100% related to number of opponent cars on the track, as I said earlier.

On my desktop, which is even more powerful (8800 GTX, overclocked Core 2 Duo), it is playable. But I can’t imagine why they’d release the game with such an obvious performance oversight.

What am I missing here?

And it’s Starforced to boot! Joy! When will Codemasters get its head out of its a** on that score, anyway? I think they’re the last folks to use SF (in North America, at least).

NEVER buy a console game for PC outside of modding purposes.

Nowadays no graphic engines is made to run well.

Did you download the patch?

Thanks for the tip, Syllogism. I’ll try the patch…

The graphics engine in DiRT is amazing, and the physics, while not up to RBR standards, are by far the best yet in a McRae game.

I’d sure like to be able to play the game on my racing rig without sub-10fps performance at “low” detail :(

Mystery partially solved. On my XP-based racing rig, turning the sound to “software” (from Direct3D) definitely made a noticeable difference in framerates.

Under Vista, it’s set to OpenAL.

I guess that’s why the 1.1 patch makes all these references to sound improvements, and setting the sound library to “software” by default.

Try that first!

Never say never. KOTOR, jade empire, and halo2 run fine, just to name a few. I’d certainly read reviews before purchasing a console port, but that applies to pretty much every game.

I presume HRose is talking about X360 / PS3 ports. Those are all Xbox games.

That said, other cross-platform X360 / PC titles like Condemned, Quake 4, and Call of Duty 2 run fine on both platforms, AFAICT. So he’s still talkin’ outta his ass.

Since I am completely unsatisfied with the performance of my X1900XTX in DiRT, I’m selling it. I believe this game is extremely video card limited, more so than any game I can think of in recent memory. I picked up a $320 GeForce 8800GTS 640mb and we’ll see how that does:


Oh well, it’s cheaper than an Xbox 360. :P

I heard that “shadows” is eating a lot of performance, too and setting them to “low” doesn’t change the graphics a lot.
I skipped the game after the demo ran like a dog on my rig though I can’t test it myself.

Because those are engines ported TO consoles. Not from consoles to PC.

Quake 4, certainly, was a PC port to consoles, as was FEAR. I don’t know about CoD2 or DiRT, though, as they were released simultaneously on both PCs and consoles, while the X360 version of Condemned came out a few months before the PC version. Plus you have things like Unreal Engine 3 which was simultaneously developed for PCs and consoles, which presumably simplify cross-platform games (e.g., Rainbow Six Vegas). So how do you argue where the engine originated from in the first place?

Anyway, my point is that there’s so much cross-pollination between PCs and consoles these days, you should be more careful with blanket statements like “Nowadays no graphic engines is made to run well.” Sometimes they’re fine, sometimes they’re ass.

Anyone seen this out in stores yet? EB says 6/19.

Hm. I remember turning down shadows in the demo in the buggy race and having huge semi-translucent pixels flying across my vision and hood, probably because of the open top and roll cage not blocking shadows as would a car roof.

Anyway, I visited their forums and read about how some people on PC were experiencing control lag (.5 second lag after joystick or wheel input). I’m not sure if they’re on retail or demo, but I don’t need that kind of frustration on top of stuttery performance, so sadly I have to pass. I really wanted to play the rough terrain rally courses though (I can get multi car races of better quality in GTL and GTR2 so I don’t even care to play the buggies).

Jade Empire is pretty damn awful, but KOTOR and KOTOR2 are fine (although they were targeted toward the PC simultaneously). Overall I think JE is a bit embarassing; the graphics are very dated, the controls are clunky at best, and the game does a terrible job of explaining how to do anything past simple attacks.

KOTOR and jade were both released for the xbox over a year before the PC. Only KOTOR2 was a simultaneous release. Jade PC may have had control issues, but it ran smoothly enough.

KOTOR 1 came out July 2003 on Xbox and Nov 2003 on PC; KOTOR 2 came out Dec 2004 on Xbox and Feb 2005 on PC; Jade Empire came out April 2005 on Xbox and Feb 2007 on PC. IIRC, both KOTORs were simultaneously developed for Xbox and PC; while JE was definitely a console port.

Kuni: we were just talking about engine performance, not whether these games were fun.

I believe this game is extremely video card limited, more so than any game I can think of in recent memory. I picked up a $320 GeForce 8800GTS 640mb and we’ll see how that does:

I use the very first career event as my benchmark, the 10 truck race in CA. Ironically it’s one of the worst performing events, and it’s easy to select since it’s first in the list.

With the 640mb 8800gts, this event is playable on High settings @ 1024x768, finally. However, it still drops down to 15fps in a few places on the track, enough to affect my driving. Reducing shadows and reflections only to “medium” pushes that up to 20fps, which is a completely acceptable tradeoff. Turning everything to “low” works with this card; I then get consistent 30fps on this event. This strategy didn’t work worth a damn with the X1900XTX, which dogged it hard even with every single graphical option at the minimum.

I also overclocked the 8800 GTS a bit using ATITool (yes, it works on NVIDIA cards). I did a conservative bump to 600 Mhz core, 900 Mhz memory (up from 500/800).

Like I was saying, DiRT has an insatiable appetite for video card power. :P But at least now I can play the multi-car events with a reasonable framerate.

I got a chance to try it briefly this morning, and it runs pretty well on my system, albeit knowing all of this going in (patch applied, shadows turned down, sound set to software, etc.). It crashed a couple times as I was trying to apply new graphics settings, so it took a few restarts before I could adjust them all appropriately.

Although they claim that the physics engine is completely new and no longer pivot-point-based, it still feels a bit off. In the early 4WD race it felt like I could whip the car from side to side a lot faster than you should be able to, and the truck in a rally raid race kept bouncing in the air on every minor hump. Perhaps I’m just overly sensitive to it after playing so much Forza 2 recently, though.

I also dusted off my Logitech wheel for the occasion, and about thirty seconds into the first race I aborted and switched back to the gamepad. I think I need a gentler reintroduction to the wheel than trying to control a rally car down narrow, twisty dirt roads at high speed…

DiRT HDR tweaker:

This little tweak program allows you to turn off the mandatory HDR in DiRT. It increased frame rates about 25% on my 8800 GTX. Beware, the game will look very different. It still looks good, mind you, but HDR and effects do add quite a bit.

I put the .exe in the same folder as DiRT itself. Not sure if that’s required or not, but it definitely works as advertised.

DiRT is still, IMO, the best looking racing game ever released, on any platform. It is truly next-gen.