UPDATED SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS FOR 1.31

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UPDATE: PLAYER QUESTIONS ANSWERED BELOW!
It's time to review our updated system requirements so everyone can prepare for 1.31 play. Our upcoming offline test of 1.31 will help us measure performance and for some of you who haven't upgraded your hardware in a while, now is the time to look over your systems. Also in this article we've included a shopping list for a complete, 1.31-ready rig for $500! 1.31 is on the horizon so be ready.

The upcoming offline Beta will not be a finished product and should be viewed in that light. There is still a lot to do, from performance tuning of the engine and game objects to polishing of features. The purpose of the test is to begin highlighting any hardware issues that might have been missed during our internal testing and to begin generating feedback on performance. We don't plan to release 1.31 until it is ready and we need your help in gauging where we are.

In preparation for this test we need to review the system requirements that we've been posting over the last several months so that all of you will have the opportunity to evaluate your systems. We've also put together a couple of sample computer builds that showcase our minimum and recommended system requirements.

Updated System Specs

The biggest change with 1.31 is a modernizing of our core graphics engine. We've touched everything from shaders to how the terrain is built and processed to what compilers we use to build the client. These changes translate into two primary requirements.

CPU's will now be required to support the SSE2 instruction set. This includes all modern processors from the Athlon 64 and Pentium 4 lines on up. For a complete list of supported processors visit this link.

Video cards now require Shader Model 3.0. This feature can be found on all modern cards from the ATI Radeon X1600 and the nVidia GeForce 6600GT. To see if your video card is supported you can check here.

Both of these are minimum requirements for the game to run and do not necessarily represent "good" performance by themselves. Performance is a more complex combination of your hardware, the resolution of your monitor and the settings in game. Part of our coming tests are to help us evaluate where you are along this spectrum and determine what our priorities are before we publish.

Minimum System Requirements

  • Windows OS: Windows XP/Vista /Windows 7
  • Macintosh OS:  OSX 10.6/OSX 10.5
  • Processor: Pentium 4  3.2 GHz or Athlon 64 3500+ or better with SSE 2.0 support
  • Memory: 2GB
  • Hard Drive: 2 GB Free
  • Sound: on-board or better
  • Graphics Card: NVIDIA GeForce 8600 series or ATI Radeon HD 2600 Pro or better discreet GPU with 256 MB VRAM and Shader Model 3.0*
  • Broadband Internet Connection

 Recommended System Requirements

  • Windows OS: Windows XP/Vista /Windows 7
  • Macintosh OS:  OSX 10.6/OSX 10.5
  • Processor: 3 GHz Dual Core or 2.66 GHz Quad Core
  • Memory: 4 GB
  • Hard Drive: 2 GB Free  
  • Sound: on-board or better
  • Graphics Card: GeForce GTX 250 or Radeon HD 4850 or better*
  • Broadband Internet Connection

*Integrated graphics hardware is not supported

Most of you are already meeting the minimum specification and a majority of you have passed the recommended specification. Those of you in the recommended specification may see reduced frame rates in 1.31 but if you are like me (Core2Duo 3.0 GHz and GeForce 8800GT) you're already seeing upwards of 100 frames a second (I see 180 on a regular basis in 1.30) and you'll continue to be in the playable frame rate zone with 1.31, even before we complete performance testing.

However, many of you will be interested in upgrading your computers. This might be because you are barely playing 1.30 at acceptable performance or because now is a great time to upgrade since prices are so low and the Holidays are just around the corner. In either case our next section is for you.

Upgrading Your Rig

I almost titled this section “Gophur's $500 Challenge”. It started when Rafter asked me to provide a template for a DIY build that would be good for people looking to upgrade for 1.31. “Sure” I said. Then he suggested I do a budget build, say $500. “OK” I said. "I can do that". I build all of the computers here at the office and I'm pretty savvy on the latest technologies and prices. Besides, I'm a bit of a tight wad and I never break the bank on my own builds. “Oh yeah,” says Rafter, “It needs to include the OS.”

 

fuuuu

 

But the truth is it can be done, and it can be done well. You can build a gaming rig for $500 that includes Windows 7 and will get playable performance in 1.31. Sure, there are caveats but that's part of having a budget build. Below I'll go through the build that I made. I'll also offer suggestions to where I'd put a few extra bucks if I had them. At the end I'll provide a shopping list for both this rig and what I would call the “Recommended Rig”, the rig I would build for myself.

Before we get to that however, I'd like to take a moment to talk about building your own rig and upgrading. Building your own gaming machine will save you money. You'll get a better machine for less money than you would spend at retail or online and the trick is it isn't really hard to do. In a future article I'm going to walk you through building our budget box shown below as well as tell you all the little things you need to look for to make sure you parts match. With that information you'll be able to build your own gaming rigs from here on out.

The second great thing about building your own is what I call the upgrade cycle. Once you have all of your own parts you can do continual upgrade on a yearly basis instead of dropping a huge chunk of change every few years. I recommend a two part cycle. On the first cycle you upgrade your CPU, Ram and Motherboard. On the second cycle you upgrade your video card. This makes it much easier to budget and always keeps you near the bleeding edge. I say near because it always makes more sense to buy a slightly older version that to spend all the money on the latest and greatest. Most computer parts run in two or three year cycles and the next generation of parts are almost always significantly faster than the previous version. So buying the difference between today's top of the line and middle of the road is going to be insignificant to next generations middle of the road.

Now on to the build...

NOTE! Prices and availability are subject to change. Keep checking back, we'll try to update the items on a regular basis

 

 

 

Gophur's $500 Budget Friendly Gaming Rig

AMD is the leader in bang for the buck. In this build we'll build a balanced machine with Windows latest operating system. We have cut some corners here and there to stay within budget and I'll explain those each step of the way. We also tried where possible to save money to put towards the video card. WWIIOL is balanced in that it relies fairly equally on video performance and CPU performance. So what can we build for $500? Let's see.
Disclaimer: All these prices are from newegg.com. They have not provided any assistance in making this article (lame!). Prices and availability are subject to change.

CPU – AMD Athlon II X2 245
$63.99

When we're looking for a processor for a low end machine we have quite a few choices actually. Our primary concerns here are dual core and as close to 3.0 GHz as possible. This Athlon II fits the bill nicely. Multi-core processors allow us to run the game's thread on a dedicated core while still being able to run the OS and background applications with minimal interference. The sweet spot for gaming is really three cores but to get there at this price we'd have to sacrifice speed and we don't want that.  Another option would be to go to the Phenom line that has better cache but at this price we're sticking with the speed.

Upgrade: This processor is from AMD's latest socket type AM#. That means there are too many possible upgrades to pick just one. Any of the AM3 CPU's listed here will work nicely depending on your budget. For some recommendations I'll rely on Tom's Hardware's November CPU Guide . The Athlon II X3 425 looks good at $80 but things start adding up fast after that. This is probably the best place to spend money on an upgrade for this rig but you can always upgrade later. This platform is going to be viable for some time to come.

Motherboard – ASRock M3A 770D
$61.99

ASUS is my brand of choice and ASRock is their budget spin off. This board has a lot going for it at this price. By supporting the Socket AM3 that our chip uses we can guarantee that this board will be able to be upgraded with a faster processor. It also supports fast DDR3 1600 memory and carries the AMD 770 chipset. This chipset has no on-board video to bloat the price and is considered AMD's primary gaming platform. All good for us at a cheap price.

Upgrade: I wouldn't put a lot of effort into upgrading this. If I were, any of these AM3 boards would work. I originally had the MSI board in this build but due to some price fluctuations I had to switch it for the ASRock.

RAM – G.Skill 2GB DDR3 1600 (2x1GB)
$54.99

Buy more RAM! Or in this case buy faster RAM. Our motherboard only supports DDR3 1600. This was a change from the other AM3 boards listed above that had a wider set of options from DDR3 800 to DDR 1333. Not really a biggie for us, we can find what we need at a decent price.

Upgrade: More RAM is always good. To double this RAM to 4GB would be $50 more and that would be money well spent. Also look for lower CAS numbers than what we could afford above. CAS are the little 9-9-9 numbers. 7 would be ideal though 8 is probably more reasonable. As with everything on New Egg, looks for products with lots of reviews and at least 4 eggs in general.

Video Card – Radeon 4850

$119.99

The Radeon 4850 is a great piece of hardware. We've scrimped and saved to get as much bang for the buck as we can here. I didn't specify a brand for this item as prices and availability are getting very crazy right now in this space. ATi recently introduced their new generation of cards and that makes these increasingly scarce, and incredible buys. If you can't snag one of these I'd look for an nVidia 250 GT. These cards are good for resolutions up to about 1680 x 1050. Even then, you'll have to play with settings turned down in WWIIOL but it should provide you with playable frames in most situations.

Upgrade: I probably wouldn't make this my first upgrade option. I'd go for a better processor (phenom X3) and more RAM. However if you want to go higher Tom's always has a good resource.

MM: As Gophur noted, prices and availability change. We had to swap out the Radeon 4850 (currently out of stock) with this comparable card.


Case – Rosewill R103A (350W Power Supply Included)
$39.99

The case is the backbone of a good system build and for this build we had to make some tough choices. We need a quality product so we're going to stick with names we know. For me that means Antec or CoolerMaster or Rosewill most of the time. And if we're going budget, that means Rosewill. What we're looking at here is the bare minimum we can use. It has just enough of the right kind of ports to support what we've got inside and little more.

Upgrade: If I'd have had any money to spend I would have spent it here or on the CPU. When you have a nice case you don't have to upgrade it as often, in fact not often at all.

HDD – Western Digital 160 GB SATA
$39.49

What we are looking for here is a SATA hard drive with 7200 RPM. Size is of less importance when it comes to our budget.
Upgrade: For $10 more you can get 320 GB and for $20 more you can get 500 GB. How much storage you need really depends on what else you use your computer for.

DVD Drive – Sony DVD-ROM
$18.99

We saved a few dollars here by going with a plain Jane DVD drive. Our primary concern is getting a SATA drive.

Upgrade: it's probably worth it to spend $10 here and get a DVD writer.

OS – Windows 7 Home 64-bit OEM
$104.99

One of the pluses of building your own computer is that you qualify for the OEM version of the operating system. This cheaper version offers everything that the pricier version do it is just designs for those building their own computer. We want the 64bit version so that we can use more than 2GB of ram in the future.

Upgrade: None. The higher priced versions of Windows 7 don't offer anything you'll need.

Conclusion

So how'd we do? We'll we came in at $504.42, just a little over budget [Close but no cigar Gophur! haha -Rafter]. But what we got in the end was a budget build that can't really be beat unless you start spending closer to $1000. While every piece except the video card might benefit from a few more dollars spent we can rest assured that we have an entry-level gaming machine that didn't break the bank. On the plus side, if you're building your own computer you might already have a hard drive or a DVD or even an operating system that you can use in your new machine. That will either lower your budget or allow you to spend a little extra on a CPU, RAM and a better case.

If you'd like to see this build at newegg.com I've got that saved for you here.

See ya on the Meuse!

Player Questions Answered:

@pickaway:

One of the biggest misconceptions from people is that you need a giant power supply. You might need more than that is you are running multiple drives and multiple video cards but the biggest trend right no is lower and lower power consumption from CPUs and Video Cards.

That power supply has enough juice but JUST enough connectors to do this rig. I would definitely spend more money here. One of the problems that builders face was that the newest high end video cards are really long and don't fit into lots of cases. This isn't a problem with the cards here but a step up from here can cause issues. My pick of a case that should last through multiple upgrades (This Rosewill won't unless you get a new PSU in the future with more connectors) would be the Antec Sonata III . If you need something that'll fit a big video card I would suggest buying desperately. I'd pick something in the Antec Hundred series like the 300  and pair it with a PSU like this one from OCZ.

Antec also has a great tool for telling you how much PSU (Power Supply Unit) you need.

@Du

Good call if you can find them. This is actually a made up card number. It's a 4850 with a gig of ram. Always a good thing!

@MrWinkle

No. Most games don't and certainly not ones based on older engines like ours. Truth is with Intel's upcoming plans for thermal based auto over clocking on a single core for single threaded applications, we may not even want to. But even if we did, there's no way we would ever rewrite this application for true multi threading. Too big a project for too little gain in a physics based game engine.

The bonus from multi core largely comes from not having to share cores with other applications. Back in the old days we'd write custom boot loaders for our 486's so that nothing else would run on the system to interfere with the game. Nowadays we're all running bloated hogs for OS's, a gazillion background tasks we don't know about, have a task bar full of NECESSARY applications running, downloading a torrent and chances are our anti-virus probably wants to update and scan about the same time we're trying to finally kill MOXIN!

That's what multiple cores are for.

@MrWinkie

Dunno about performance gains in SLi or Crossfire. Haven't ever been interested enough to test it out. I imagine that there is some performance improvements but we have no plans to rewrite the game engine to specifically improve on SLi performance. If they want to send someone out to give us some pointers, we're all ears.

@romzburg

You would probably be surprised how many years I've been making that spelling mistake.
[I wouldn't be... - MM]

@Tuckeye

Dude, in 1.30 with a Core2Duo 8400 @ 3.0 GHz, 4GB DDR2 1066, and a 9800GT I get 188 fps when I bench Remagen. I get 95 frames per second when I add 100 vehicles to the scene. I built this computer from the ground up for $600 with no OS. In 1.31, which is still pretty messy performance wise, I get 63 and 42 in those same tests with a lot more happening. I consider 30 fps in that test the playable boundary.

@McJames

You'll probably be OK, not spectacular. If it were me, I'd start on an upgrade path with a yearly budget.

@Kpfzer

Looking forward to seeing you numbers. If I'd have built a $750 rig that would haev been one of the combos that I looked at. Heck, I can probably build that rig for $600 w/o an OS, maybe less.

@Rick

You should be fine with that rig.

@Denw20

Hey old friend. I've said it before and I'll say it again. Unless you are made of money, there is no such thing as a gaming laptop. It will be obsolete in two years, everytime. For the same money you can, OK less money, you can spend $300 a year and have the most god awesome computer you'll ever need.

@Bongol2

Remember that this is what I would consider bare minimum. Something that I can build on a budget. Myself, I want the $750 version and would like the $1000 version but I'm kinda tight. I'll do those builds next week or so so that you guys can plan on your tax returns. =]

@bosta

I'll be posting a build walk through next week. Pictures already taken and this rig is sitting in our conference room right now playing WWIIOL on a 55" LCD.

@coolhnd1

Good point. I was unaware of that. It's a good thing that I buy all the parts and assemble the computer and then sell it to CRS. I'd never suggest to anyone to avoid the licensing rights on something like this. If you guys go this routs I suggest selling the computer to your wife.

@speed68

You're going to be walking a very fine line with that rig my friend. Very fine.

@Anderzoni

It should say GTS250, sorry about that. The GTX260 is my card of choice at the moment though. If you get one, make sure you get a case that will fit it and a PSU with 2 PCIe power connectors.

@Simon Machead

The only difference between a Mac and a PC is the operating system that you run on it. Specs are the same.

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0 #38 Coronado 2010-06-13 12:34
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0 #37 Hog 2010-03-24 19:43
Any chance we can get this sort of information as a box that is regularly updated (say monthly) on the main page just with the recommended components for a budget build? I suspect this article may already be out of date?
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Im currently building a gamer cp with dual vid cards, and i want run 2 monitors, does the game support 2 moniters
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Out of interest, what are the Windows Experience Numbers on this rig?
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