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We used FRAPS to record the minimum and average FPS for three runs, based on a recording time of 60 seconds from the start of the beta to just after the big zombie ambush.
As you can see, our entry level machine, which is fairly close to Blizzard’s minimum suggested specs struggled to play the game. Frame rates started low, and then plummeted during the climactic zombie battle. No wonder Blizzard suggested a slightly more powerful minimum graphics card on the PC, but we seriously doubt even that would make the grade for high resolution gaming.
Our mid-range quad-core machine handled the game fine, running relatively smoothly, although it did suffer slightly during battle. We reckon that the GeForce GTX 260 was the main reason it managed these decent scores. Even so, we expected better yet. Perhaps the final build of the game could muster better performance? We'll keep you posted and when we have more trials.
The high-end machine had no problems dealing with anything the game threw at it, never dropping below 70 FPS. It's a good thing that the dual Radeon HD 6970 graphics cards had the firepower to maintain such high frame rates. Again, we were probably expecting more, but perhaps we might be a little greedy too.
Seeing that the results from the entry level and mid-range class machines weren't that great on high quality setting, we decided to tone down a few settings on both of these machines to see if we could get the frame rates up to 60 FPS. Here are the new settings:
Here's how the game looks at medium settings compared to maximum settings shown on the right.
The most obvious difference between medium and maximum settings is the shadow quality. In other areas, more foliage and debris littered the ground on maximum settings. Texture quality did not suffer much and, as Diablo III utilizes an isometric viewpoint, highly textured character models aren't as important as in other games anyway. Notice how our Monk character looks almost the same in both Medium and Maximum settings.
Turning down the settings on the entry level machine did little to boost performance. Average FPS remained below an acceptable levels and the game stuttered and slowed down frequently. Very likely, both the processor and the graphics cards are unable to handle the demands of Diable III. So it looks like you would need to run at a modest resolution (1024x768) to run Diablo III on such a system, but it's not going to look pretty at all. The mid-range system on the other hand saw noticeable performance gains, and tweaking the settings even more should allow for a perfect balance between performance and visual quality.
The Diablo III Beta should be playable on any quad-core system with a decent mid-range GPU. Anything above 40 FPS was more than acceptable for a comfortable game play with only slight perceptible gains seen between the 46.8 average FPS from our mid-range system and the 97.7 average FPS from our high-end system - despite the latter machine scoring twice as much.
Dual-core systems with low-end GPUs are not recommended - unless perhaps you can stomach running at a low resolution. Our entry level machine with a somewhat middle class GPU was unable to achieve acceptable frame rates at high resolutions, even with settings turned down. So if you're still using a system from four years ago, it's quite likely you might need a complete overhaul to enjoy playing Diablo III in all its glory
Of course, this is just the Beta and the currently sparse graphics quality options suggest that Blizzard still has some optimization and tweaking to do. We also noticed a few graphical glitches during our time exploring the game world, so it remains to be seen how the retail version will perform. Meanwhile, for those who managed to get in to try Diablo III Beta, enjoy!
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