After 11 years in the making and more setbacks than we care to count, Blizzard has finally unleashed a third installment 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 out of 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...
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:
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.