We got the official recommended specs for forthcoming DX10 shooter Crysis last week, now the Inquirer has some basic recommendations for two major forthcoming Unreal Engine 3-based games, from the graphics engine's head developer Tim Sweeney. You can always see for yourself via the downloadable Unreal Tournament beta demo that launched last week. If your rig chokes, here's a suggested upgrade path, straight from the source:
"In Unreal Tournament 3 and Gears of War for PC, there is a significant gain in having 512MB of video memory rather than 256MB. So, first and foremost, get at least a 512MB card if you can afford it. If you haven't maxed out your budget, then go for the maximum single-card performance that doesn't require extreme cooling, e.g. buy an entry-level GeForce 8800 over a GeForce 8600."
"If you're buying a CPU primarily for gaming, the sweet spot of the market seems to be dual-core. There, you can get a higher clock rate than is available (at least economically) in quad-core. All UE3 games, for example, scale really well to two cores, and you get significantly more performance than single-core much of the time. Though UE3 and many other engines scale somewhat to four cores, the benefits aren't huge."
These suggestions more or less jibe with what we've heard about Crysis. Our only addendums are don't get swayed by those $100 or so budget graphics cards that sometimes come with 512MB of RAM crammed on. Figure to spend at least $250 or so for a 512MB card with an appropriately speedy 3D chip. And we'd also keep an open mind about quad core CPUs, as Intel and AMD both have a new round of quad core chips due out soon, and the clock speed vs. cores equation could very well change.