I remember the launch of the most recent GTA (Grand Theft Auto), GTA IV, and it was a game-changer at the time. Not only is Liberty City a huge, sprawling wonder with tiny details to be seen everywhere, it was also the most advanced for its time, featuring NPCs that had their own things to do, traffic routes and jams and a host of other things that made the city feel more realistic. Its one of the best games I’ve ever played, even though I have yet to finish it. But that was released six years ago and today most decent gaming rigs are capable of playing it. Will the same be true for GTA V?

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When GTA IV was launched I read a number of articles that dealt with how the game ran on modern computers. Because it was a delayed port from the console versions, it was based on the Xbox 360 version and as such, required similar hardware to enable the game to function normally. Tom’s Hardware ran a feature that delved into this aspect and the results weren’t too surprising – a triple-core processor enabled the game to run smoothly with all the cores being taxed equally, while a mid-range graphics card enabled some pretty nice visuals.

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Tom’s Hardware testing GTA IV with AMD processors.

The differences are pretty obvious, at least for GTA IV. Adding an extra core boosted performance almost linearly. Moving from two to four cores increased performance by almost 50%, showing that not only was the game CPU limited, it was also multi-threaded, one of the first titles of its kind to behave so.

Rockstar must have spent those seven months porting the game over to PC agonising over how they could approach optimisation. Because the Xbox 360 could address six threads and the PS3 could do up to twelve, scaling the game down would have been a difficult option.

Intel’s processors saw similar jumps in performance, adding 50% performance in the move from a dual to a quad-core.

GTA V uses the same RAGE and Euphoria game engines that drove GTA IV and its launching on the PS3 and Xbox 360. No mention has yet been made for next-generation platforms, so the results that Tom’s Hardware attained in 2009 remain relevant – in order to run the game smoothly, you’ll probably need to pair the game up with a quad-core processor and a decent graphics card.

This means that there’s a lot of hardware choice available. Intel’s Core i3, i5 and i7 families are ideal picks, as are AMD’s quad-core APU family and the entire FX lineup.

Finding a decent discrete graphics card shouldn’t be a challenge either. A Radeon HD7770 or a Geforce GTX650 Ti should be able to power this game along well enough. Some settings will perhaps need to be toned down, but overall I expect playability from such a PC to be in the mid-40 frames per second.

But the question is, really, if the PC port is indeed based on current-gen consoles. What if it’s based on unannounced versions heading to the PS4 and Xbox 360 next year? After all, porting from those platforms to the PC will be a piece, as the hardware and software environments are very similar. That may mean that processors with more physical cores will run the game faster, enabling a more enjoyable gameplay experience.

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