Diablo III’s coming – Is Your PC Ready?

UPDATED 9/23 - Looks like we spoke too soon. Diablo III is now getting delayed a -little- longer. Official word is it that the Beta will be extended and the game now launches sometime in early 2012. Well, technically, it's still close...

 

One helluva good PC game is coming. Soon(ish). But is your PC ready for Diablo III?

 

  • CONTEXT ALERT: “Diablo,” you ask? For anyone who doesn’t know, this series popularized the frantic mouse-clicking action-rpg genre in the late 90s and its legacy carries on through MANY games today.  I’d like to think that Diablo and Diablo II launched the habits of countless future PC gamers. And now, the time draws near for a new generation. (I wrote a story on how to keep sane during the hellish wait a couple months back).


This week, those lucky enough to be beta testers are getting first crack at playing Diablo III before it comes out later this fall (See above). I’m not gonna sit here and rub that in your face. Much.  But I did want to take advantage of this this time to walk you through a couple different HP PCs the game will work on and what settings you should expect to have it at in order to get the best possible performance.

 

d3 pcs.jpg

Let’s start with what Blizzard says you should be using…. (bear in mind that while the game will get optimized by the time it’s released, expect to need the level of hardware listed right here).

 

MINIMUM SYSTEM SPECIFICATIONS

OS: Windows XP/Windows Vista/Windows 7 (Latest Service Packs) with DirectX 9.0c
Processor: Intel Pentium D 2.8 GHz or AMD AthlonTM 64 X2 4400+
Video: NVIDIA GeForce 7800 GT or ATI Radeon X1950 Pro or better
HD Space: 12 GB available HD space
Memory: 1 GB RAM (1.5 GB required for Windows Vista/ Windows 7)
Drive: DVD-ROM drive
Internet: Broadband Internet
Display: 1024x768 minimum display resolution

(Note:  Be advised that some wireless connections do not meet the minimums required to be a true Broadband Internet connection.  Wireless results may vary.)

 

RECOMMENDED SYSTEM SPECIFICATIONS

OS: Windows Vista/Windows 7 (Latest Service Packs)
Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo 2.4 GHz or AMD AthlonTM 64 X2 5600+ 2.8 GHz
Video: NVIDIA GeForce 260 or ATI Radeon HD 4870 or better
Memory: 2 GB RAM

I only had four PCs within arm’s reach today – yeah, I know, only four?!? – but I wanted to give you this breakdown of what kind of results you might get. At least from what I’ve seen so far. (Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to grab machines with Nvidia cards for this round of testing – but I plan to rectify and update the story at a later point). So….let’s hit it.


A Reasonable Desktop (TouchSmart 520)
What we’re looking at right here is an All-in-One PC that has more than enough guts under the hood to run this game. I took a quick look at it recently, but I now have a reviewable TouchSmart 520 that I’m putting through the paces. Spec-wise, here’s the quick rundown of my test machine.

 Processor: Intel Core i7 – 2600S @ 2.8GHz

Video: AMD Radeon HD 6550A
Memory: 8GB
Native Resolution: 1920 by 1080

 

Shock of shocks (not really), the game works – and looks – good. But here’s the thing: Just because the native resolution of the computer is high, don’t think it can handle games at that high a resolution with all the settings cranked to “awesome.” Still, it looks pretty good on this particular all-in-one PC.

 

Quick Test Results: I’d recommend playing the game at 1440 x 900 resolution; Texture Quality set to high; Shadow Quality set to medium; Physics Quality is low; and FSAA is off (for all the units I tested this with, the FSAA option doesn’t currently turn on. Honestly, the graphics are still pretty sharp without it). Also you can toggle Triple Buffering, Color Correction as well as setting the Clutter Density and Distance to “50.” (and don't forget that the TouchSmart 610 is also around and kicks a bunch of computational ass).

 

 

A value-based slim desktop (Pavilion Slimline s5z)
This is a modest little PC. Would I use it to watch video? Sure. Check email? Yep….it can handle just about most everyday tasks. Even some games. All that said, if you REALLY wanted to see some kick-ass game performance out of a desktop, you should consider looking into something like the HPE h8. That guy is built to be upgraded and has room to squeeze in a powerful graphics card.

Processor: AMD Phenom II X4 840T Processor @ 2.9GHz
Video:
ATI Radeon HD 5450
Memory: 6GB RAM
Resolution: 1920 by 1080

 

Quick Test Results: I’d recommend playing the game at 1280 x 768 resolution (maybe even drop it a notch if you notice hiccups); Texture Quality set to high; Shadow Quality set to low; Physics Quality is low; and FSAA is off (Like I just said above). Also you can toggle Triple Buffering, Color Correction as well as setting the Clutter Density and Distance to “50.”

 

The Tiny Laptop: A budget-friendly portable (The New Pavilion dm1)
I’ve already dug deep into the newest Pavilion dm1 – even freaked people out by using this machine to play Deus Ex: Human Revolution on this tiny little laptop. What I can say is that it’s full of surprises.

Processor: AMD E-450 Fusion APU @ 1.65GHz
Video:
ATI Radeon HD 6320
Memory: 4GB RAM
Resolution: 1366 by 768

Quick Test Results: I’d recommend playing the game at 1024x768 resolution (You can try toggling Letterbox to see if you like that better); Texture Quality set to high; Shadow Quality set to medium; Physics Quality is low; and FSAA is still off. You can also toggle on Triple Buffering and Color Correction, but set the Clutter Density and Distance sliders to “0.”

 

The Game-Worthy Laptop: Portability + Power (ENVY 14 Beats Edition)
The ENVY laptops are known for delivering great power in a sweet-looking portable. Rather than give you some big song-and-dance about it, I’ll just give you a story from @GAMER magazine.

 

Processor: Intel Core i7 Q720 @ 1.6GHz
Video: ATI Radeon HD 5650 (New machines have 6630)
Memory: 8GB RAM
Resolution: 1366 by 768

 

Quick Test Results: I’d recommend playing the game at 1366 x 768 resolution (maybe even drop it a notch if you notice hiccups); Texture Quality set to high; Shadow Quality set to high; Physics Quality is low; and FSAA is off (Like I just said above). Also you can toggle Triple Buffering, Color Correction as well as setting the Clutter Density and Distance to “50.”

 

NOTE: When I was running into my comparison tests, I kept running into a reoccurring crash error (#14 on this list if you want to get specific). Hey, it’s a Beta – these things happen. BUT, what I can recommend if you are in the beta and running into trouble, Blizzard is actively addressing beta test issues as they arise.

 

So look around you – if you spot buddies with wrist cramps in the coming weeks, you’ll know who’s holding out on you. Have any other questions before the devil gets his due?



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