DirectX Versions

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This is a description of what each version of DirectX is capable of, for reference when creating fallback materials. Under each heading are features not available in previous versions of DirectX.

To test lower-quality DirectX levels on a more advanced graphics card, use the mat_dxlevel CVAR. Set it to 60, 70, 80, 81, 90, 95 or 98 to set the corresponding DirectX version; it is not possible to run at a higher level than the graphics hardware is capable of.

Note.png Note: Modern systems almost always run with DX9 or newer. Players running DX8 or older are extremely rare. Make alternate assets if you want, but almost no one will see them.

DirectX Capabilities

DirectX 6

DirectX 6-class graphics cards include the Nvidia TNT2 and Matrox G400.

DirectX 7

DirectX 7-class graphics cards include the Nvidia GeForce 256, 2, 2MX and 4MX cards and the ATI Radeon 7xxx series.

  • Blob shadows
  • Displacement map texture blending

DirectX 8.0

DirectX 8-class graphics cards include the Nvidia GeForce4 Ti and most of the GeForce FX 5x00 series (while technically DirectX 9 cards, the latter suffer from major performance problems with the DX9 rendering path).

  • Refractions with the use of a du/dv map
  • Dynamic shadows
  • Directional lighting on world brushes using normal maps
  • Cube-mapped specular effects
  • Cube-mapped water
  • Low-quality reflective water (used sparingly)

DirectX 8.1

DirectX 8.1-class graphics cards include the Nvidia GeForce FX 5800 and 5900 and the ATI RADEON 8500/9100 and 9000/9200 cards.

  • Soft edge dynamic shadows

DirectX 9 (Shader Model 2)

DirectX 9-class graphics cards include the Nvidia GeForce 6600 and 6800 series and the ATI RADEON 9500/9600, 9700/9800, X300/X600 and X800 cards.

  • Refractions with the use of a bump-map
  • High-quality reflective water (used frequently)
  • Softer edge dynamic shadows
  • Normal-mapped lighting on models
  • Improved-quality specular effects
  • High dynamic range rendering
  • Phong shading

DX9 Shader Model 3

Referred to as "DirectX 9.0+" and "dxlevel 95".

  • Lightwarp support


Referred to as "dxlevel 98".

Sample screenshots


These screenshots demonstrate displacement map texture blending, directional lightmaps and cubemapped then reflective water.

DirectX 6.0 Canals5 dx6.jpg
DirectX 7.0 Canals5 dx7.jpg
DirectX 8.0 Canals5 dx8.jpg
DirectX 8.1 Canals5 dx81.jpg
DirectX 9.0 Canals5 dx9.jpg


These screenshots show shadow quality at different rendering levels, ranging from none to soft, dynamic shadows.

DirectX 6.0 Canals2 dx6.jpg
DirectX 7.0 Canals2 dx7.jpg
DirectX 8.0 Canals2 dx8.jpg
DirectX 8.1 Canals2 dx81.jpg
DirectX 9.0 Canals2 dx9.jpg

Storm drain

These screenshots show directional lightmaps and cube-mapped specular effects.

DirectX 6.0 Canals3 dx6.jpg
DirectX 7.0 Canals3 dx7.jpg
DirectX 8.0 Canals3 dx8.jpg
DirectX 8.1 Canals3 dx81.jpg
DirectX 9.0 Canals3 dx9.jpg


These screenshots demonstrate the use of normal-mapping on models. The final shot has full, normal-mapped lighting.

DirectX 6.0 Zombie dx6.jpg
DirectX 7.0 Zombie dx7.jpg
DirectX 8.0 Zombie dx8.jpg
DirectX 8.1 Zombie dx81.jpg
DirectX 9.0 Zombie dx9.jpg