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.

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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.

MSI Explains Their “Propeller Blade” Technology

On paper they claim that it allows 20% more airflow and wider ventilation angles in contrast to traditional designs, and it can reduce temperatures of up to 21 degrees. This means longer hardware life, more overclocking potential, and of course an overall cooler PC. So one might ask how all this works? For starters, there’s the curved angle and arched edges intended to enlarge the angle of airflow direction. There are also rounded edges that lowers noise. MSI says that grooves in the specially designed propellers increase airflow range, while small arcs generate more airflow. Lastly there’s a gloss coating which serves the purpose of reducing “wind” resistance.

So how do all these tweaks and enhancements stack up? The company said their very own R6870 Hawk with Twin Frozr III ran 21 degrees cooler and 7dB quieter than a reference version. Look for MSI’s Propeller Blade technology on new Twin Frozr III and Cyclone II video cards. Hit up the clip below.

NVIDIA Says Kepler GPUs Delayed Till 2012

Looks like Team Green fans won’t be able to celebrate an early Christmas this year, as its been about a year since NVIDIA said they would launch the new Kepler GPUs based on a 28nm process starting Q3 of this year. It’s the second half of 2011 already, and looks like the company broke out of their own silence and stated that Kepler won’t hit retail shelves until sometime in 2012. Here’s what NVIDIA spokesperson Ken Brown had to say,

Although we will have early silicon this year, Kepler-based products are actually scheduled to go into production in 2012. We wanted to clarify this so people wouldn’t expect product to be available this year

Absolutely no mention of poor yields, but looks like this new line of GPUs are suffering the game fate of it’s predecessor – Fermi. Would this delay the 2013 slated date for the Maxwell GPUs that are next on their roadmap? Only time can tell.

Early Benchmarks for AMD’s “Llano” Platform Surface

Apparently somebody got their hands on the AMD A8-3800 Quad-Core APU along with Gigabyte’s GA-A75-UD4H motherboard and they did exactly the right thing. Ran several benchmarks. Aside from the two feature parts, other parts used were 4GB (2x2GB) of GSKILL DDR3-1600 RAM, a standard 1TB Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 HDD, and note that the graphics is the on-board Radeon HD 6550D that’s on the same die.

What we found fairly darn impressive (for an integrated solution) were the benchmarks in the gaming department with these scores (at 1080p):

  • Street Fighter 4: 50.32 FPS
  • Hawx: 54 FPS (DX9) / 22 FPS (DX10)
  • Hawx 2: 46 FPS (DX9) / 34 FPS (DX11)
  • Resident Evil 5: 29.0 FPS (DX9) / 27.4 FPS (DX10)

MSI Shows Off New Innovations at Computex 2011 (Weekend Bonus)

First off, we’re all aware of MSI’s popular overclocking utility Afterburner right? It usually comes bundled free with every one of their video card purchases and allows the user to easily adjust clock speeds, voltages by simply dragging the slider or keying in the values. What if you aren’t at the computer to even do this? Well there’s an app for that.

Right now they only have it for Android with an iOS version in the works, but the company emphasizes that the app is something that provides access to all of Afterburner’s features without having to be tied up to the computer. So what’s the point? Say you’re in the middle of running an intensive benchmark and you start seeing artifacts, rather than stopping or quitting the run, you can simply start the app and adjust settings there. Much more efficient.

Applications for this neat mobile app are countless including monitoring while away from the PC, and MSI says it works with video cards by other vendors as well. Above all it’s absolutely free!

Next is something we’re quite fond of, and it’s a PC enthusiast’s nightmare. DUST. This is most evident in the graphics card as a lot can get built up in the heatsinks, and even if you were to go all out water cooling you’ll still find yourself using fans in some parts of your setup.

They company is rolling out a new feature dubbed “Dust Removal Tech” for all their new cards and what it is essentially having the video card have its fans spin in reverse for about 30 seconds when you start the computer. This allows dust to be drawn out of the part rather than to be accumulated by continually having the fans blow onto it.

Sadly there are some caveats to this system, as the dust will still be blown back into your PC and most people have the tendency to leave their desktops on 24/7.

Roundup: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 560

It felt like ages since we did our last roundup, but on another note you might have been aware that NVIDIA introduced a new GTX 560 (non Ti) to their lineup earlier this week. Not surprisingly, this new part performs a bit better than the former GTX 460 and falls shy of the GTX 560 Ti – it also fills a small price gap (about the $199 mark) in terms of what they have to offer. This new card does also takes the performance crown when compared to AMD counterparts which are priced at a similar price point.

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.

Gigabyte Inks Deal with LucidLogix

Late last week, Gigabyte – the leading manufacturer of motherboards, video cards and several other hardware solutions announced a long term partnership with LucidLogix (guys behind the Virtu GPU virtualization tech). This is a clear indication of the broad adoption of Virtu on slated Gigabyte 6 series motherboards in the future, here’s what Henry Kao, VP of R&D at Gigabyte has to say:

“We are excited about our new partnership with Lucid because of the huge potential for switchable graphics in the PC DIY market where GIGABYTE motherboards enjoy considerable market share,” said Henry. “We believe that Virtu will add considerable value to GIGABYTE motherboards using Intel’s Sandy Bridge graphics and will provide our customers with the flexibility and choice they want from their system.”

While LucidLogix issued their own statement as well:

“We are proud of our new partnership with GIGABYTE, who shares our vision of virtualization and high-performance computing for all,” said Offir Remez, president and founder of LucidLogix. “We are sure that Intel Sandy Bridge motherboard customers will appreciate the seamless experience provided by Lucid GPU virtualization, enjoying both Intel graphics’ robust media features and powerhouse 3D gaming from whatever brand GPU they choose.”

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.