Which Hardware Works Best With Diablo III?

After 11 years in the making and more setbacks than we care to count, Blizzard has finally unleashed a third instalment to its cult classic dungeon crawler. Having waited over a decade, the arrival of Diablo III was a bittersweet moment for eager fans. In what must've felt like a cruel joke, missteps in Blizzard's execution prevented many users from accessing content throughout last Tuesday.

Diablo III requires a constant connection to Battle.net and its servers were simply overwhelmed. That isn't entirely shocking when you consider the fact that over two million copies were pre-ordered. Launch day hiccups are almost inevitable when you have that many gamers storming your gates. Fortunately, Blizzard implemented various tweaks and its servers are running smoothly as of late Wednesday.

Nonetheless, the blunder has intensified debates about always-online schemes. Many users have expressed their disapproval with scathing reviews across the web (3.7/10 on Metacritic). Regardless of whether that's fair, we imagine (or at least hope) the controversy will encourage developers to be more careful about mandatory connections -- a discussion that is well beyond the scope of this article.

While we disagree with making single player components online-only, there isn't much mere mortals like us can do about it. What we can do, however, is beat the hell out of Diablo III with today's finest hardware. Blizzard has somewhat of a reputation for making highly scalable titles that run on virtually any gaming rigs, so that's largely what we expect from the developer's latest offering...

Testing Methodology

We tested 26 graphics card configurations from AMD and NVIDIA, which are installed alongside an Intel Core i7-3960X to remove any CPU bottlenecks. The latest official drivers were used for every card.

Test System Specs:

  • AMD Radeon HD 7970 (3072MB)
  • Gigabyte Radeon HD 7950 (3072MB)
  • AMD Radeon HD 7870 (2048MB)
  • AMD Radeon HD 7850 (2048MB)
  • HIS Radeon HD 7770 (1024MB)
  • HIS Radeon HD 7750 (1024MB)
  • HIS Radeon HD 6970 (2048MB)
  • HIS Radeon HD 6950 (2048MB)
  • HIS Radeon HD 6870 (1024MB)
  • HIS Radeon HD 6850 (1024MB)
  • HIS Radeon HD 6790 (1024MB)
  • HIS Radeon HD 6770 (1024MB)
  • HIS Radeon HD 6750 (1024MB)
  • HIS Radeon HD 6670 (1024MB)
  • AMD Radeon HD 5870 (2048MB)
  • AMD Radeon HD 5830 (1024MB)
  • HIS Radeon HD 5670 (1024MB)
  • Gainward GeForce GTX 680 (2048MB)
  • Gainward GeForce GTX 670 (2048MB)
  • Gigabyte GeForce GTX 580 (1536MB)
  • Gigabyte GeForce GTX 570 (1280MB)
  • Gigabyte GeForce GTX 560 Ti (1024MB)
  • Gigabyte GeForce GTX 560 (1024MB)
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 480 (1536MB)
  • Gigabyte GeForce GTX 460 (1024MB)
  • Gigabyte GeForce GTX 550 Ti (1024MB)
  • Intel Core i7-3960X Extreme Edition (3.30GHz)
  • x4 4GB G.Skill DDR3-1600 (CAS 8-8-8-20)
  • Gigabyte G1.Assassin2 (Intel X79)
  • OCZ ZX Series 1250w
  • Crucial m4 512GB (SATA 6Gb/s)
  • Microsoft Windows 7 SP1 64-bit
  • NVIDIA Forceware 301.34
  • AMD Catalyst 12.4

We used Fraps to measure frame rates during a minute of gameplay from Diablo III's first act. We tested the game on maximum quality at three common desktop resolutions: 1680x1050, 1920x1200 and 2560x1600.

1680x1050 -- Gaming Performance

Integrated graphics delivered undesirable results at 1680x1050, with the Core i7-3770K's HD 4000 graphics engine rendering just 13fps and the A8-3850's Radeon HD 6550D averaging 37fps -- serviceable, but less than ideal. The Radeon HD 6670 at 45fps is about as slow as we'd want to go in Diablo III. Beyond that, the GTX 550 Ti, HD 7750, 7770, 6750, 6770 and 6790 all delivered a solid 54 to 61fps.

1920x1200 -- Gaming Performance

At 1920x1200, the GTX 550 Ti, HD 7750, 7770, 6750, 6770 and 6790 still delivered playable frame rates. To hit 60fps+, you'll only need an affordable card such as the GTX 460 or HD 5830. Anything better should deliver perfect gameplay with plenty of headroom, as high-end cards exceeded 90fps.

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2560x1600 -- Gaming Performance CPU Performance Final Thoughts

Steven Walton is a writer at TechSpot. TechSpot is a computer technology publication serving PC enthusiasts, gamers and IT pros since 1998.


    Running Diablo 3 on an AMD 2 X4 840 Phenom 3.2ghz, Radeon 6850 OC 2GB, 4 GB DDR3-1333 RAM, and have had no issues at all with performance at any resolution. It's a well made game, scales well (even with my weaker laptop). Typical blizzard quality when it comes to game engines and design.... now to fix those pesky server issues...

      yeah runs smooth @ 1920x1080 maxed on my Phenom II X4 965 @ 3.6ghz , 2x ATI 6850`s and 8 gig ram

    I'm getting a steady 100FPS from my GTX570 at 1920x1080, but a ping of 300 at best makes things get a little choppy.

    Runs at a smooth 60fps (vsync on) on my GTX560, i5 2500, 8GB ram build.

    D3 runs on anything. the problem is the online side for single player. its unplayable at 300+ms of lag.

      i've gotten over 1k ms lag, that's not fun with a squishy demon hunter

      I dunno, I run fine with a ping of 300+ when it gets to red then there's lag issues which is about 600ms..

    Of course the game scales well, for a high priced PC title the graphics are poor. The game runs shit regardless of specs due to ping issues (400ms + for me), Somehow still manages to be fun tho.

      As games like Minecraft have shown, Graphics don't make a game.

      Once the lag issues get resolved this will probably one of the funnest games out there... Until Torchlight 2 comes out maybe, but I'll still get sucked back in by Blizzard CGI movies!

        "if" the servers get fixed. Always online is one thing, but having the games performance affected while i play solo frustrating.

    hay guys cant find my system specs ive got a GT 320 1gb, i5 650 system ram is 6gb ram (aspire z3750)

    I am running it on a Phenom quad core 3.20ghz with 2x 4890HD crossfired and the game auto detect put everything on high, the game had a bit of screen tearing but i put v sync on and it runs super smooth.

    hey will a Palit GF GTX 560 OC PCI-E 2.0 1024MB DDR5 256-bit, 810/4020MHz , DVI, VGA, HDMI be ok to run D3 and here is the link for you guys to have a look at it http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/Palit-GF-GTX-560-OC-PCI-E-2-0-1024MB-DDR5-256-bit-810-4020MHz-DVI-VGA-HDMI-/310390231424#ht_2048wt_934

    I heard stories of people making brand new 'bests' for this game. Its so easy to run, worrying about the hardware is kind of pointless. Its like saying I need to make a new one for CS:GO. It would run on a nvidia 8xxx series no problem.

    running this fine on a gtx 285 . 1920 resolution and no slow down.

    I'm getting 30fps on a laptop GT335m. It's a small screen so the framerate is absolutely fine. In fact 30fps is fine for many games. Don't know why this article states that 45fps is the lowest.

    Runs well on SLI GTX 690s at 1024 X 768.....

    I'm finding that today's Gaming Video cards are about 2 generation higher then whats required. I've got a dual core AMD Fx2 CPU with 6 gig of ram and a 8800 GTS and its played everything from total war 2, Civ5, Mass Effect 1/2/3.

    it even plays battlefield 3 at levels far greater then my ps3. the only problem is the audio processed via the CPU kills the game. If i could limit the audio to say 4-5 sounds then the game would play awesomely.

      or get a dedicated audio card... ie. X-Fi

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