Battlefield 3 MP Beta Date and System Reqs

Above title says all. The beta will take place on Sept. 29th (next Thursday) and will be available for all three platforms (360, PS3, and of course the PC). Players will play in the Operation Metro map that’s set in Paris with the mode being Rush. It’s essentially attacking/defending of respective M-COM stations for those of you who haven’t played Bad Company 2. Here’s what EA had to say:

“Gamers who pre-order the digital PC version of the game at Origin (powered by EA) will be granted early access to the beta starting on September 27, 2011,” EA said Tuesday. “In addition, all customers that pre-ordered a Limited Edition of Medal of Honor will also receive early access to the beta starting on September 27, 2011.”

We instantly snapped a screenshot of the specs needed for the game when we saw it, and they should be nearly identical for the final release. Check out the beta landing page here for more details.


Upgrading Your Rig for Battlefield 3 (Feature)

We’ve been getting quite a few questions lately regarding whether your (VS)PCs are “Battlefield 3 ready”, so we decided to write up a feature article to address most of your concerns. First off is how the new Frostbite 2 engine looks from footage EA/DICE has been releasing of gameplay and it’ll surely keep everyone guessing whether they can run it without a hitch especially if you want the full experience (on DirectX 11, Tessellation enabled, etc.). Check out the latest trailer following if you haven’t already, BUT something to keep in mind is that they always mention that the actual gameplay footage is based on ALPHA code. This means that it has yet to be optimized for performance and cleaned up for final retail release.


So far we’re well under two months in before BF3 hits, and any system requirements for the game? No, not really. About a few months back in June, Atomic PC Magazine interviewed Patrick Bach – Executive Producer at DICE. He obviously wasn’t keen on going into the specifics at the time, but he did mention that the demo system used to run everything had “standard high-end components” and a single GeForce GTX 580 graphics card. Again this is being run on early code as mentioned before, so there’s definitely a direct correlation of better hardware being used to showcase the demo. Then he continued mentioning that if your PC is able to match the same “output” of current game consoles (we believe many modern systems out there would) then you should meet the minimum requirements.

GameStop almost had us when they released a set of minimum and recommended PC specs about two months back, but unfortunately they were deemed simply false. It started with DICE’s Senior Gameplay Designer, Alan Kertz just saying, “We have not announced any specs.” through Twitter when being asked about it. While Johan Andersson at DICE declared on the Beyond3D forum, “FAKE. We haven’t announced any system requirements yet.” He did later say, “But highly recommend a quad core, just as with Bad Company 2.”

Now for the question that we all wind up asking at the end of the day: “So, should I upgrade?”

What we know for sure is that the Frostbite 2 engine has no support for DirectX 9 thus Windows XP, so if you are still kicking the hardware/software then it looks like you’re due for quite an upgrade if you want to get in on the latest Battlefield action.

If you have an ATI Radeon HD 4800 series or NVIDIA’s GeForce 9800 family based card or later then you should be able to run the game on DirectX 10 settings, however the previous generation products for both companies also support the tech and are ones where they first introduced support for DirectX 10 – having those parts handling BF3 well is in fact questionable and somewhat out of the picture.

DirectX 11 performance on the other hand gets a little tricky with more variables and settings, a mid to high end graphics card like something from at least the ATI Radeon HD 5800 family or NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 460 series might be able to get you very reasonable frame rates. This also depends on the video settings in-game. Note that we can’t make any guarantees however at this stage yet, as it’s just our thoroughly analyzed forecast in terms of game requirements.

Bottom line is that you should sit tight if you are already running any of the above mentioned (or newer) video cards, and see how everything plays out as we get more info. As always, we’ll be striving to keep you all posted as this matter develops.

UPDATE: Some of you mentioned whether memory (RAM) was something to consider for an upgrade. While the minimum of 2GB and recommended 4GB requirements posted by GS are simply inaccurate, so we can’t base our feedback off of that. Although the amounts do similarly translate to the ideal memory capacities a typical system should have today, 2GB being the bare minimum and 4GB as the “de facto” or more common amount. With RAM prices at an all time low and continuing to drop throughout this year, upgrading shouldn’t be that big of a deal.

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 560 (non-Ti) to Hit Shelves Tomorrow

We yawn, but with jesting put aside the new GeForce GTX 560 by NVIDIA may be the modern counterpart compared to the 9800 GT back when it was released in 2008. This new card is probably going to perform a lot better though right? Based on surfaced detail of this card, we’re looking at a $199 MSRP – it’ll also feature 336 CUDA Cores (same as the GTX 460), 56 texture units, 256-bit memory interface, and 1GB of GDDR5 memory to top things off.

Take a look below if you haven’t seen this sneak peek clip from NVIDIA already.

UPDATE: Looks like Newegg was already listing GTX 560 cards by Palit and MSI, both having custom cooling solutions. When we rushed over there, the items seemed to have been pulled from the site already. Perhaps we’ll see them stocked later today or tomorrow (actual official release date). In terms of pricing, realistically expect to pay $200-225 as that was the range of what the two mentioned manufacturers listed their cards at.

Powercolor touts World’s First Single Slot HD 6850

It seems like a while since we did an article about video cards, and if you’re someone who’s looking in to multi-GPU setups or something for the HTPC then this is for you. Most of the GPUs on the market today usually take up two slots on the motherboard mostly due to the cooler they have. Luckily we have many innovative companies out there that like mashing up designs of their very own, and Powercolor happens to be one of them.

Currently there aren’t that many details on the custom cooler besides bearing three units of 8mm heatpipes with a full cover shroud, but the card itself will be a standard AMD Radeon HD 6850 with stock speeds (775MHz on the core and 1000MHz for the memory on a 256-bit bus) and powered by a single 6-pin PCIe plug.

Roundup: AMD Radeon HD 6790

With their top of the line offering released and out of the way, AMD has expectedly put together an answer to NVIDIA’s GTX 550 Ti mid-range card. The new graphics unit retails for the same ($149), and comes clocked at 840MHz for graphics and shader speeds with 1GB of GDDR5 at 4.2GHz. We got reviewers acknowledge that this may have been a late response to their competitor’s GTX 460, but that’s a card that is slowly leaving the scene to be replaced by the less powerful GTX 550 Ti (awkwardly). If you’d want the latest video card for this particular price point then AMD’s solution does seem like the better option, but the new HD 6790 is suffering the same fate as its counterpart alternative since an HD 6850 can be had for close to the same price with rebates (if you don’t mind them that is). In all it’s a good card, and a tad lower price would have made it superb. All the detailed info and benchmarks below.

NVIDIA’s GTX 590 (Dual-GPU) Flagship Currently Sold Out

Well down in the States at least, but with the price point being high and limited supply/yield – it’s no real surprise especially when there’s only a couple thousand cards available in Europe alone. Popular retailers in the US like Best Buy, Newegg and TigerDirect are all out on this new part, but it can still be purchased overseas however.

There’s rumors that NVIDIA may slash prices in the European market because of the initial marked MSRP at about €603-610, and they may offer rebates for customers in that region to get these cards moving off the shelves.

“The GTX 590 is the best dual GPU product ever built,” said Drew Henry, general manager of GeForce GPU business at NVIDIA. “With leading performance, support for multi-monitor 3D gaming, Quad SLI, and an acoustic envelope that begs to be heard for how quiet it is, the GTX 590 epitomizes what a perfect dual graphics card looks, performs, and sounds like.”

If you happen to be a proud, new owner of a GTX 590 there’s new beta drivers NVIDIA released earlier today that add support for their flagship card as well as the GTX 560 and 550 Ti. They say that there are performance gains over the 266.58 drivers when using any GeForce 400/500 series GPUs and up to a 516% boost in Dragon Age 2 (only for SLI, 2560×1600, 8xAA/16xAF, Very High, SSAO On).

The 270 series (and later) drivers also introduce NVIDIA Update that will keep your PC up-to-date with the latest graphics drivers through notifications when new drivers are available. We got the links below if anyone’s interested.

Roundup: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 590

You’d probably want to know about the specs right off the bat, so it looks like we got 1,024 CUDA cores as speculated, 94 ROPs, and 3GB of GDDR5 RAM for this card. If you’re wondering, the GTX 590 is actually two GTX 580 chips combined but with power constraints – speeds were adjusted for the components on-board to compensate. The core is at a lower 607MHz, while it’s 1.2GHz for the shaders, and the memory is clocked at 3.4GHz.

Not surprisingly, with all the performance that’s jam packed into this card, it costs the same as AMD’s single-card flagship at $699. Hate to spoil it for all you NVIDIA fans out there, but the arrival of this much anticipated card doesn’t exactly blow the HD 6990 out of the water. It actually falls slightly behind the current single-card performance leader in some of benchmarks, however props to the experts behind an astonishingly quiet cooler especially for a card that performs at this level. We got the usual links for you to go through and bonus videos below for the weekend!



Roundup: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 550 Ti

Looking back at our regular weekly roundups shows how AMD was on top of those frequent releases, and they stole most of the spotlight. That’s about to change with this new card aimed at mainstream, budget concious gamers and the much anticipated GTX 590 flagship coming soon.

The GTX 550 Ti is considered an update and replacement for the younger sibling, GTS 450 – fairly attracting too when the cost ticks in at $149 (US). Quick run through specs points only 192 CUDA cores (same as previous gen GTS 450, no surprise given price), but to make up for that NVIDIA aggressively pushes the core to 900MHz and the shader to 1800MHz. They also bundle 1GB of memory for good measure too, running at 4GHz – it may have a performance hit due the 192-bit interface compare to how well the GTX 560 Ti fares (256-bit). As usual with these roundups, we’ll let the reviewers help you decide whether this is the card for you.

Quick note, this may be the last of our roundups that we do on a weekly basis and this is much to do with our availability (sorry!). With major product releases, however, we’ll continue to strive and make an effort to bring the news for everyone. Have a great weekend!

NVIDIA GTX 550 Ti to Launch Next Month

No official word coming from NVIDIA but according this site, the card is to ship next month on March 15th, 2011. They also ballpark that the card will cost about $200, while the GTX 550 Ti is based on the GF116 architecture – NVIDIA may tweak the transistor level for a higher performance-per-watt ratio. In terms of specs, this specific part will ship with a 128-bit memory bus (one of three 64-bit controllers disabled), 1GB of GDDR5 memory. It will also supposedly outperform AMD’s Radeon HD 5770 in DirectX 11 rendering by up to 35%, and up to 20% in DirectX 10 content.

Other reported traits include a 3-phase voltage regulator module for the core and single-phase for memory, twin dual-link DVI ports, mini-HDMI, and a TDP no higher than 110W. We’re having a hard time deciding whether a MSRP of about $200 would be asking too much for video card at this calibre (stacking up to a GTX 460 or a HD 6850). What do you guys think? Sound off in the comments below!

MSI’s New N580GTX HydroGen

For the water cooling fans, MSI dropped the reference air cooling on a stock GTX 580 and replaced it with their proprietary HydroGen, full-copper waterblock. They claim that users can see a temperature drop of up to 24 degrees Celsius, and the block itself spans across a large area of the card covering both the GPU and memory as well. MSI also devised their own “Micro-Channel” technology of having small 0.45mm wide water channels over the GPU area, as this is to increase water flow resulting in better heat transfer. Of course, as with almost every MSI video card, they encourage the use of their Afterburner overclocking suite. At the time of writing, there was no word on pricing or when this will ship. FYI: An EVGA GTX 580 FTW Hydro Copper 2 (similar to this) costs about $700, so hopefully we can see MSI’s offering for the same or maybe less.