I’m a big fan of Blizzard titles. StarCraft was far too much fun, Warcraft was a great time and I played Diablo II for an afternoon at my uncle’s house once. I have a huge amount of respect for how they treat their games and their customers, coming close to Valve and Bioware in many player’s top ten game developers.
Tom’s Hardware recently benchmarked the game and as expected, the engine scales well for users of cheaper and older graphics cards. If you’ve got an ageing HD 3870, you’re still in the green for hours and hours of pure questing bliss. They started by testing the game at minimum details. Its recommended you start off with at least 1GB of RAM, although 512MB is also acceptable if you lower your settings. Performance scales incredibly well with increased resolution, and the Geforce GTX 550 Ti should be the baseline for gamers looking for acceptable performance in Diablo III.
Moving onto maximum details, once again the GTX 550 Ti is the default baseline for gamers looking for a great experience, even with AA enabled. It looks like the game’s engine scales up according to the number of shaders present on a graphics card’s architecture. It favours neither NVIDIA nor AMD, but rather presents the kind of performance you’d expect at the price point you bought the card at. Quite simple, and I applaud Blizzard for this approach.
Now here’s where things get interesting. It seems the game is heavily GPU-biased, as there’s no discernable benefit playing it on a octocore FX-series processor as opposed to a 3.1Ghz Core i3 setup. The game requires a dual-core processor as minimum, and doesn’t even scale according to clockspeed. This is great news for those guys running an APU setup, since you’re guaranteed to get playable frame rates even on 1080p screens with high settings. AMD’s FX processors also perform well, but are all beaten by a low-end Pentium dual-core based on the Sandy Bridge architecture.
For those of you using an older Radeon graphics card from the HD 2000 or HD 3000 series, you’ll have to play the game with Catalyst 12.3 installed, lest you want to tear your hair out with multiple glitches and graphical hiccups. That the game runs at all on these old cards is a big enough feat. This game is definitely a day 1 buy, guys. Don’t miss out!