Blizzard games are known for their cartoonish, high-color art style. By focusing on character and level design the company can make new 3D titles that are attractive but also relatively easy to run.
Gamers sometimes assume their hardware can run a new Blizzard game, like Diablo 3, no matter what. That’s not the case – if you’d like proof, check out complaints about how the game runs in the official tech support forums.
So can your computer really run Diablo 3? Or does this new action-RPG release a whirlwind of fury on your hardware?
Analyzing The Official Requirements
Let’s start by looking at what Blizzard recommends. These are the official recommended system requirements (not the minimum). This is what you’re officially expected to have if you’d like to play the game beyond the log-in screen.
These requirements are steeper than many gamers were expecting. The CPU requirement is not bad – most computers built within the last few years will meet it. The GPU requirement, on the other hand, is intense. The GeForce 260 and Radeon 4870 were powerful mainstream video cards just a few years ago.
If you own a modern video card you might be confused about how these requirements apply to more modern cards. An exact translation is difficult, but after researching reviews I’ve concluded that the GeForce 260 is about equal to a GTX 560Ti and a Radeon HD 4870 is about equal to a Radeon HD 6770. Either of these modern cards can handle Diablo 3 at 1080p and low detail or at 1650×1080 and high detail.
Diablo 3 is even playable on this hardware at 1080p and high detail, but for the smoothest experience you’ll want to have a GeForce GTX 560 or Radeon HD 6850.
Translating To Mobile
One major issue with the system requirements usually listed by companies is the lack of consideration for mobile hardware. The table published by Blizzard really does not tell you anything about how a laptop will handle the game.
You should not run into a problem if you have a system with an Intel Core processor or an AMD A-series APU. Something like an AMD A4 might be cutting it close, however.
Most laptops have much less powerful graphics hardware than desktops, but this is made up for somewhat by a lower average display resolution. At 1366×768 – the most common resolution by far – it’s possible to play Diablo 3 at high detail with an Nvidia GT 630M. That’s cutting it close, however, so you’ll really want at least a Nvidia GT 640M or Radeon HD 6630M.
Gaming laptops often have a 1080p display. To play Diablo 3 at this resolution a much more powerful GPU, like a GTX 560M or Radeon HD 7770M, is going to be a good choice. In other words, to play Diablo 3 at 1080p and high detail you will need a dedicated gaming laptop. You can get away with less if you play at low detail, of course.
The Internet Angle
You have both a CPU and a GPU that can handle Diablo 3 easily. That means you’ll have a great experience, right?
Perhaps. One additional problem to worry about is your Internet connection. The game requires a constant online connection even when you are playing in single player. Large portions of the game rely on communication with Blizzard’s servers to work properly. No connection, no log-in, no game.
Like most games, Diablo 3 isn’t a terrible consumer of bandwidth. Smooth gameplay has less to do with the volume of data your connection can handle and more to do with the quality of the connection. You’ll want to make sure that packets are not being dropped and that your ping times are low.
If you connect to your home network with an Ethernet cord you probably won’t have issues. If you do, have a look at your firewall settings and also do a speed test on your Internet connection. A slow connection could be due to old network hardware or a problem with your service provider.
Wireless is a different story. To provide the best connection you’ll want to be using the latest 802.11n standard. You will need to have both a router and network adapter that supports it. You should also make sure that there’s a relatively clear line of site between your wireless router and laptop or desktop. Radio can easily go through drywall but might have problems going through metal pipes and thick concrete.
I hope this information helps you run Diablo 3. The game is definitely more demanding than I expected it to be. Both Diablo and Diablo 2 were known for being easy to run, but they were also 2D games.
I can’t really blame Blizzard. Since I expected low requirements, I also expected Diablo 3 to look pretty bad. I was wrong. It looks great, particularly at 1080p+ on a nice video card with all the details turned on. Even if you can run the game now, upgrading your video card might be worthwhile just so you can enjoy the game with everything up to max.