What It’s Like Playing Diablo III With A Crappy Graphics Card

What It’s Like Playing Diablo III With A Crappy Graphics Card

You will die. Frequently. You will stare at your screen as it slows to a crawl, wondering when the whole machine will just black out and die.

You will roll your eyes and groan as if somebody just cut you in line at the supermarket and you want to get their attention in an obnoxious, passive-aggressive way.

You will eventually turn off Diablo III and find something less stressful to do, like operating a push-powered forklift or jumping up a cliff.

See, running Blizzard’s latest action-RPG on an awful graphics card is like playing blackjack at a casino; it might be exciting and even euphoric for a while, but sooner or later you know you’re going to lose everything.

A few years ago, I bought a Samsung Q430 laptop. It’s a wonderful machine: not too heavy, fast enough and sleek in all the right places. But it’s saddled with a NVIDIA 310M graphics card, the type of entry-level hardware that can barely run Minesweeper, let alone Diablo III. (This is an exaggeration. My computer can run Minesweeper at phenomenal frame rates.)

This setup was OK for a while, mostly because I could browse the internet and play StarCraft II. But then Diablo III came along. And with it came those old familiar cravings.

I wanted to hunt for glorious loot. I wanted to beat up Mephisto. I wanted to see what happened to Deckard Cain. I wanted to discover new bosses and dungeons and towns and all the other cool shit that Blizzard packs into its games, which are almost always awesome.

So I ignored the little voice in my head that said “your computer can’t run this, dumbass” and started installing Diablo III. Roughly 10 thousand hours later, I loaded up the game, ignoring the little message on my computer screen that said “I can’t run this, dumbass.”

I ignored the little voice in my head that said “your computer can’t run this, dumbass” and started installing Diablo III.

And! It worked! The game loaded up smoothly. I entered my Battle.net information. I connected to the Internet. I created a Barbarian. I immediately skipped the opening cinematic for fear of angering the Graphics Gods. I entered the game and started moving around my character, tempted to brag on Twitter about how awesome I was. I had did it! I beat my own graphics card! It worked! I’m a champion!

Then the game froze.

See, the problem with running Diablo III on a crappy graphics card isn’t that it won’t work. It’ll work. The problem is that whenever too many enemies appear on the screen, or some sort of dungeon animation requires a lot of processing power, your computer will suddenly start skipping like an awful dubstep producer.

Every minute or two, everything will go through a time warp. You will watch enemies surround your helpless character, who apparently lacks any sort of life-preservation instincts whatsoever. You will frantically click away from enemies. It won’t work. You will frantically slam Q on your keyboard, trying to chug down a potion. It won’t work. Your roommate will ask why you are clicking so much. You will ask why he hasn’t done the dishes in three weeks. You’re in a bad mood. You’ll apologise later.

Still, you’ll make it through a good chunk of the game thanks to some careful timing (and the fact that death doesn’t penalise you until you reach level 10). Until you get to the game’s first boss, Leoric the Skeleton King. He will immediately drive your laptop into conniptions. You will die. You will die again. You will give up, shut down the game, and watch basketball for a little while.

And you will order a new computer.


  • There’s a lot of lag and jumping enemies on the normal version too, because of server lag. My dodge roll often triggers twice, rolling me back into enemies I ran away from. So it might not just be your graphics card, it might be the lag, because I had these issues occur on my desktop.

    • That’s so frustrating! I hate when you’re hit by something with knock back and your whole screen jumps suddenly, with that laggy delay.

  • You tried playing a game on a laptop for one, and a laptop with the lowest end available for the generation of video cards… I have no sympathy for you.

      • I like to think I’m always a tool, unless the journalist writes something like “ut it’s saddled with a NVIDIA 310M graphics card, the type of entry-level hardware that can barely run Minesweeper, let alone Diablo III.” and then builds a larger article around it.

        He’s complaining his video card is entry level and writes that the game is barely playable, hence no sympathy.

        • My beef was with your “You tried playing a game on a laptop for one”. I know desktops are usually a more stable and powerful set up, but it’s a perfectly acceptable gaming platform depending on your specs.

          • Yeah, my laptop outstrips plenty of desktops and with a 17 inch HD display, I’m not missing out on screen space. I’m about to go play D3 now on it (error 37 willing).

            But I totally see the point here, D3 is designed to have pretty reasonable specs, if your computer can’t run it, that’s just modern consumer electronics for you.

    • Your comment makes no sense Glenn. I’ve seen a lot of laptops that are incredible for gaming. Infact, many are specifically built FOR gaming and give the added bonus of portability for people to carry them around rather than hauling a bigass desktop around.

      Noobish comment is noobish.

      • I bought a small gaming laptop because I can’t set up a proper computer room at the moment and the convenience of being able to play at any desk, in any house, has been fantastic. It’s a couple of years old now and is now starting to struggle with newer games, but it is still running them on low at around 30fps which is actually not bad on a small screen.

  • I can’t remember what my exact specs are on my pc, it is about 5 years old and could play Oblivion on medium settings without any issues. Do you think I would be able to play D3?

      • I will do this. I had pretty much given up on PC gaming as I didn’t want to enter the spec race, but made an exception for Minecraft.

        Would be cool if I could get a chance at this game without having to do a spec update.

  • My PC is out of commission for the near future while the motherboard gets replaced. I’ve been gaming on a MacBook Air.

    It can handle SC2 on medium settings (I play on low while laddering and have no issues). For Diablo 3, I have to lower the resolution and drop all of the settings as low as they go. It still chugs along quite a bit.

    Playing a Witch Doctor and covering the screen with spiders does little to help this.

    Still playable though. Just not optimal.

  • I’m playing on an i3 1.2ghz with a GT335M. I get a fairly solid 30fps. It’s server lag that is having more of an impact than my specs.

    • I should add that in the open beta, I was getting huge slowdown every time a dungeon event happened, like a wall collapsing, but in the full release, it’s been smooth.

  • hey im playin perfectly fine on my hp dv6 6024tx 16gb ram 6770m and i7 2630qm it does 1080p to an external monitor no probs everything maxxed i just get the server lag

  • Don’t see how this needs a write up, it’s common logic, look up the specs and enjoy the game when you can run it.

  • my PC is three years old and runs the game perfectly. try to run it on a calculator and of course it fails. is this really article worthy?

    • I wish I could have the time back that it took me to read that statement. As for the time it took me to write this comment? Nah, I’m happy with how I spent that time.

      • Sorry McG, i’m with Bakyarou here, usually I enjoy Schreir’s pieces (understanding they’re comic relief rather than journalism), but I don’t think this deserves a place here. This type of thing could have been done with any game… at all, and tagging it with ‘PC Gaming Lives’ is just downright stupid.

        Moreover, it’s clear that Jason does not play PC games, in fact, I think all of his previous articles (from memory) are to do with JRPG’s and/or handheld games. Why is he writing an article on this?

        ‘Outdated hardware will not play games properly’ is hardly a newsworthy concept, nor is it specific to the PC.

        • I enjoyed it. For me, it was like the article on Eurogamer where they plugged out their internet connection midgame to see what would happen. You might say “well duh they’ll be disconnected” but it turns out it was a useful experiment. Who knows, maybe this game would’ve worked on an older card. It was worth trying!

  • I tried running the open beta on the laptop I was borrowing from a friend while I was able to get the cash together for my new PC.. And well yeah, it lagged me to hell, if I had to guess probably 5-10fps max.

    Still yet to purchase it for my new PC, but I am 100% certain i’ll be fine.

    As for those saying “you deserve it” or implying it, grow up guys. Not everyone is able to put a decent amount into their budget towards their PC for gaming, or able to have a dedicated desktop for gaming whilst having a laptop for portability.

  • I got lucky – my computer blew up due to faulty wiring when I moved at christmas. So running everything up nice and high – but like everyone else I’m stuck with server lag. Blizzard will want to fix this or they’ll find their AU player base dissappearing within a few weeks as people finish the campaign with their favourite characters and then move on.

  • Server Lag? Spell Casts cause server lag? Are you that daft? Upgrade ya GPUs ya nubs. You’re getting lag when casting due to the spell effects and all the mobs striking/casting effects = dip in frame rate? You don’t have the adequate hardware to run this game?

    This article just reaffirms numbskulls will try to play higher end games on inadequate hardware and blame the game for their lack of ability to comprehend they need to upgrade.

    For those using the lack of money excuse, that’s fine, don’t expect to play the game, and then piss and moan and fill the tech support forums with your dribble.

    Dead set – http://us.battle.net/support/en/article/diablo-iii-system-requirements

    Running it on 1920×1080, all high settings, GTX560Ti, 8GB of RAM, i7-2600 – Guess what? NO LAG!

    • That’s interesting because I’m running it on GTX 570 SLI at 125 fps and i still have 400ms lag. And I have NBN wit an unlimited speed plan. My downloads are around 3-10 megabytes per second. Its definitely server lag mate…

      • Australia to U.S. WoW Servers average a 200 to 400ms response time. I have been playing on the D3 U.S. region with an average of 300-400ms. This isn’t a new thing with blizzard when playing from oz.

        NBN = Australia 100Mbps. Getting those kind of speeds down from o/s would be extremely rare. Not to mention, “Broadband” as it’s classed (256k+) should and would not really have any impact on your response times, it’s distance.

        The issues they’re describing above particularly the casting one seriously sound like frame rate dips.

        As for the “coolness” it was more of a rant of being sick to death of people over estimating their systems capabilities and blaming the publisher.

  • i don’t get it, i’m running it on an old core 2 duo with an 8800gt on max settings and it runs fine on that 5 year old mid range hardware

  • using a 210m/1.3hgz core 2 /8gb ram on my laptop with all settings medium and runs fine.

    Do you really NEED to see objects reflecting and shadowing with more than 8 dynamic lights?

  • It doesn’t take much to run D3. I thought I was going to have to upgrade my PC to play but even with my old graphics card the game runs comfortably at 1080 with all the settings maxed.

  • You’re lucky you can run it. Apparently my graphics card is so old that even pressing Esc on the warning message doesn’t help. A few hours (just enough to complete act I) at my friends house was all I saw of the game, now I sit playing WoW, waiting for my new graphics card, watching 70% of my b.net friends with their D icons.

  • Dude this is the funniest fucking thing i’ve read on the net you should be a comedian I just got done with trying to fix a slow motion diablo 3 for about a day now and just went threw 5 suicide attempts jking lol still litterally a day of trying to fix the game and not one damn thing worked for me I actually was kinda getting around by putting diablo 3 in windowed mode and clicking on and off the window to make the window inactive and then clicking back on to make it reactive again this worked for a little till I’d start lagging off when I was clicking and was just starting to get worse at doing so hour by hour of distorted play still man very funny story and I hope you get your new comp and I cant wait till I can play a normal running diablo3 who cares about the graphics people who complain about whats wrong with the game be lucky you can even play it I mean shoot there is a few things wrong Idont blame you but when your complaining about download speed or something that can be fixed by searching on the internet that just goes to show that your a spoiled individual shoot and I gotta fix my 100 dollar charge back I got on paypal before I can even think of getting a graphics card lol.

  • I like the part where you skip a pre-rendered cinematic as you think it requires graphic processing power.
    Bravo casual gamer!

  • I’m using a macbook pro 2010 and it has a NVIDIA 320m and it works fine on mine. I’m not running it on high high. but still.. .

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