Unreal Tournament 3 Hardware Performance Guide

Fast-action first-person shooters like Unreal Tournament 3 require brute speed. Find out what you need to do to run Unreal at a blazing pace.

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Unreal Tournament 3, based on Epic's Unreal Engine 3, has been in development for years. BioShock, Gears of War, and Mass Effect also use Unreal Engine 3 yet preceded Unreal Tournament 3's arrival by a few months, and almost a year in the case of Gears of War. The games may all use the same engine, but they have very different hardware requirements. Whereas BioShock requires powerful hardware to run, Unreal Tournament 3 doesn't leave anyone out of the fun. Mid-range CPUs and video cards from two years ago can run the game just fine, and with marvelous image quality. Of course, if you want more performance, higher resolutions, and antialiasing, more power is the way to go.

We tested Unreal Tournament 3 using the UT3Bench utility. The utility uses multiple demos, but we stuck with the Suspense flyby demo for all of our performance tests. The flyby takes a 60-second aerial tour of one of the larger vehicle-based multiplayer maps. All results are the average of three test runs.

Game Settings
Unreal Tournament 3 doesn't have too many settings, but what you do select makes a big difference on how the game performs and looks.

Graphics
The minimum specs for Unreal Tournament 3 call for a GeForce 6800, and it runs surprisingly well with one. We tested the game with more than 20 video cards, and checked to see how performance varied across three different operating systems: Windows XP, Windows Vista 32-bit, and Windows Vista 64-bit.

CPU
If you've got a CPU made in the past three years, you probably won't have too much trouble running Unreal Tournament 3. We tested out some of the more recent processors on the market to show you what an upgrade might do for you.

Memory
Unreal Tournament 3 requires 512MB of RAM, but you're definitely going to need more than that if you want to run the game at higher image-quality settings. We tested Unreal Tournament 3 with varying amounts of memory across Windows XP, Window Vista 32-bit, and Windows Vista 64-bit.

Systems

We built a few sample systems to show how the game performs using real-world computers put together with parts from past hardware generations. Our slowest machine, a 3.0GHz Pentium 4 paired with a GeForce 6800, didn't churn out a playable frame rate at 1600x1200 with maximum quality, but we got it humming along just fine after reducing the resolution and tweaking the quality settings. We also had to tone down the settings on our single-core AMD Athlon 64 4000+ and Radeon X1650 XTsystem to get it running smoothly. The dual-core Athlon 64 FX-60 and Radeon X1900 XT 256MB system ran the game with high-quality settings just fine. Our Intel Core 2 Duo setups also ran Unreal Tournament 3 at exceedingly high frame rates.

System Setup: Intel Core 2 X6800, Intel Core 2 E6600, Intel 975XBX2, 2GB Corsair XMS Memory (1GBx2), 160GB Seagate 7200.7 SATA Hard Disk Drive, Windows Vista 32-bit. Graphics Card: GeForce 8800 GTX 768MB, XFX GeForce 8800 GTS 320MB XXX Edition, beta Nvidia ForceWare 169.12.

Athlon 64 FX-60, Athlon 64 4000+, Asus A8R32 MVP Deluxe, 2GB Corsair XMS Memory (1GBx2), 160GB Seagate 7200.7 SATA Hard Disk Drive, Windows XP Professional SP2. Graphics Card: Radeon X1900 XT 256MB, Radeon X1650 XT 256MB, ATI Catalyst 7.11.

Intel Pentium 4 3.0GHz, Asus P4C800, 1GB Corsair XMS Memory (512MBx2), 160GB Seagate 7200.7 SATA Hard Disk Drive, Windows XP Professional SP2. Graphics Card: GeForce 6800 128MB, beta Nvidia ForceWare 169.09.

Game Settings

Unreal Tournament 3 probably has the fewest image quality options we've ever seen. Aside from resolution, there are only two settings you can adjust to increase performance: texture and world detail. Both function on a five-point scale; the higher the number, the better the image quality. Of the two, adjusting world detail yields the most performance. If you want to see large performance gains, you're going to have to drop world detail settings down to 2, although it does take its toll on image quality.

System Setup: Intel Core 2 X6800, Intel 975XBX2 2GB Corsair XMS Memory (1GBx2), 160GB Seagate 7200.7 SATA Hard Disk Drive, Windows XP Professional SP2. Graphics Card: GeForce 7900 GS, Nvidia ForceWare 169.09.

Image Comparison

As we discovered on the previous page, settings 3, 4, and 5 share similar performance profiles. The comparison images also indicate that they look quite similar.

Mouse over each caption to change images.

World Detail and Texture Settings

1 2 3 4 5

World Detail Settings

1 2 3 4 5

Texture Settings

1 2 3 4 5

Video Cards

You likely won't need to run out and buy a better video card to play Unreal Tournament 3. The game runs on just about anything if you're willing to compromise on resolution.

Windows XP performs better than Windows Vista if you have an Nvidia based video card. The difference between the operating systems was marginal when we switched over to the Radeon HD 2900 XT.

System Setup: Intel Core 2 X6800, Intel 975XBX2, eVGA 680i SLI, 2GB Corsair XMS Memory (1GBx2), 160GB Seagate 7200.7 SATA Hard Disk Drive, Windows XP Professional SP2. Graphics Cards: GeForce 8800 GTX 768MB, GeForce 8800 GT 512MB, GeForce 8800 GTS 640MB, XFX GeForce 8800 GTS 320MB XXX Edition, GeForce 8600 GTS 256MB, GeForce 8600 GT 256MB, GeForce 7900 GS 256MB, GeForce 7600 GT 256MB, GeForce 6800 128MB, Radeon HD 3870 512MB, Radeon HD 3850 256MB, Radeon HD 2900 XT 512MB, Radeon HD 2600 XT 256MB, Radeon HD 2400 XT 256MB, Radeon X1900 XT 256MB, Radeon X1650 XT 256MB, Radeon X1300 XT 256MB, Radeon X800 256MB. Graphics Drivers: beta Nvidia ForceWare 169.09, beta Nvidia Forceware 169.12, ATI Catalyst 7.11

CPU

We tested Unreal Tournament 3 across a broad range of CPUs. We also tweaked the CPU frequencies to see how clock speeds affected performance. The game scaled accordingly at lower resolutions, where the game is more likely to be CPU-bound. Faster clock speeds produced better performance; however, more cores didn't yield large performance gains. All but the slowest of our CPUs became video card-bound at high resolutions. Unless you have an older CPU, your best bet is to upgrade your video card if you’re looking for better performance.

System Setup: Intel Core 2 X6800, Intel Core 2 QX6600 Intel Core 2 Duo E6600, Intel Core 2 Duo E6300, Intel 975XBX2, AMD Phenom 9900, Asus M3A32 MVP Deluxe, AMD Athlon 64 FX-60, AMD Athlon 64 4000+, ASUS A8R32-MVP Deluxe, 2GB Corsair XMS Memory (1GBx2), 160GB Seagate 7200.7 SATA Hard Disk Drive, Windows XP. Graphics Card: GeForce 8800 GTX, beta Nvidia ForceWare 169.09.

Memory

The Unreal Tournament 3 system requirements list recommends 512MB of RAM in Windows XP and 1GB of RAM in Windows Vista. The 512MB minimum barely ran the game at maximum-quality settings. Overall, we didn't see any measurable performance gain once we went past 1GB in Windows XP. We highly recommend going with 2GB of RAM on Windows Vista, given that the load times with 1GB of RAM weren't exactly stellar.

System Setup: Intel Core 2 X6800, Intel 975XBX2, 3GB Corsair XMS Memory (1GBx2 + 512MBx2), 2GB Corsair XMS Memory (1GBx2), Corsair XMS Memory 1GB, 1GB Corsair XMS Memory (512MBx2), 160GB Seagate 7200.7 SATA Hard Disk Drive, Windows XP Professional SP2, Windows Vista 32-bit, Windows Vista 64-bit. Graphics Card: GeForce 8800 GTX 768MB, Nvidia ForceWare 169.09 and 169.12.

Discussion

288 comments
aidynphoenix
aidynphoenix

my computer decient and i still have problems running it.. im runing windows7 64bit so i have gadgets and i can see useage of everything. AMD X2 5000+ processor, 4gb DDR2-800 ram Nvidia 9600GT-512mb. and im getting about 40-50fps. and i know what your saying,, ah thats playable.. "No" its not. im getting a decient framerate because my graphics card can handle it.. however both cores of my processor are constantly maxed. so i cant play to my full potential, it doesent feel smooth when i aim or move. you do need a powerful computer to play this game well.

XMMxmmXM
XMMxmmXM

Here are my specs: ATI Radeon HD 3450 w/ 512 MB of memory 4 GB DDR 3 RAM Core 2 Quad 3.0 GHz processor It runs perfectly at mid-high settings (1024*768, Postproc at Intense, Shadows at Low, everything else on High) With a constant FPS of around 45 FPS, 30 when caught in a Redeemer explosion. Hope this helps some people. And yes, I know this is a late post, never got around to making a comment.

johnnyd735
johnnyd735

Sam_Fisher_932 Posted Aug 7, 2008 11:30 pm ET ninty57: It wouldn't run at all even on medium settings. A lot of people think that the 8400/8500 cards are strong because they are a part of the Geforce 8000 series, but noooooooooooooooooooooooooo thay have like 30 diffrent 8400 cards!!!!!!! MY PNY GEFORCE 8400 GS- 512 mb. video ram . runs it good with p.4 pentium both overclocked and, its only pci slot no pci express slot on my old comp.

bboyart
bboyart

Maybe not the right thread but have u thought to make a PhysX games comparison with/without dedicated nVidia hardware (secondary or third card maybe)?

hash94
hash94

I have Core 2 duo 2.0Ghz ,Nvidia Geforce 8500GT (512MB),1Gb ram will it work?

matmat07
matmat07

Mine is core 2 duo 2.0Ghz, nvidia 9500M GS(I heard it's the same as a 8600 GT), 4 Ghz ram with vista. What should be the best setting that still keep at least 35 fps?

Sam_Fisher_932
Sam_Fisher_932

ninty57: It wouldn't run at all even on medium settings. A lot of people think that the 8400/8500 cards are strong because they are a part of the Geforce 8000 series, but they really aren't. They're the low budget cards of that generation. Consider an upgrade or you won't be playing this game.

ninty57
ninty57

im P4 3.4 ghz, 2gb ram, and nvidia 8500GT, windows xp. How would it run on medium/ high settings? please reply

battlestar_555
battlestar_555

@ savanta your CPU is brilliant but you might have to upgrade your video card as your video card isn't a good card as my old pc used to have that... upgrade it to another cheaper better card and you'll have better performance... hope this helps

tinkiwinki1
tinkiwinki1

WOW!! I got: IntelCore duo 2.66Ghz Nvidia geforce8500GT 256mbit 2GIGABIT RAM Vista 32 home premium My framerate is very bad on high settings altough i have way pased the "recommended system requirements" I have all new drivers up to June 2008 and overclocked my computer. My framerate is stil bad!!!!! Can anybody hellp ME PLEASE???????!!!!!!??????!!!!!!

pinkyfull
pinkyfull

i do hope gamespot start to put the nvidia 9000 series and radeon 3000 series in these tests i'm getting quite annoyed trying to figure our were my 9800gtx is fitting (and yes i am aware most of the tests were made before they came out but would like to see it in the future)

savanta
savanta

what about my cpu: intel celerion 3.0ghz ati radeon x300 256 mb memory 800mb

kuwakcai
kuwakcai

Just get a core 2 duo , 8800Gt gfx and 4gb ram. evrything will look fine.

waxtodonte15
waxtodonte15

Hey subz3ro what type of cpu u got there cuz i got a PENTIUM DUAL-CORE e2180 1.8GHZ which is overclocked to 3.1GHZ Crazy!!!! 680i board 2GB ram 80GB and a lame 7300LE >:( and i manage too play it at 800x600 At med stings and no lag. yay

GamerErman2001
GamerErman2001

This game runs great on recent computers. Unreal Engine 3 is well made for good computers, which is what it is aimed towards.

JazzVoid
JazzVoid

Intel Core 2 Duo E6400 + 2x1GB Kingston DDR2 PC6400 + Forsa GeForce 8600GT (256 Mb) Windows XP + UT3 1024x768 High Quality ~100 fps I love optimization of Unreal Engine. Don't tell my that Crysis has better graphics - if UE had such terrible system requirements, we could see much better graphics that Crysis. Also, don't forget about crossplatform feature of UE. It was used even on PSP.

ReConstructor
ReConstructor

("how will dual 8500 gt's with 1 gb each handle it though? ") beast, sorry bud, but there's no such videocard. a GT suffix card doesn't have a gig of ram. 2 together doesn't even have a gig! a GT has 256 mb. i'm currently running duel 8600 GT's in SLI mode on an ASUS mobo. if you have 2 GTX's then you have a gig of video ram combined. but, no, sorry. GT's don't. hehehe

dvros
dvros

"Man Unreal's game engine never seizes to amaze me..........They optimized it so even a normal computer can play this game fast with really good settings...All the other games you need beefy requirements to get good graphics and good performance.... Companies should really take after unreal.........." I highly agree with you on that d-DanGerous, even with my modest setup and a self over-clocked AMD X2 3800+ and XFX 7600GT I currently am able to play UT2004 at max visuals. This is because also I built my rig from the ground up and didn't wimp out and buy a "ready-out-the-box" system. This game was also meant for the PC as all the previous Unreal titles were made for... you will only rob clarity if you play it on any console.

subz3ro999
subz3ro999

Shees, i got a 7600GT and UT3 keeps on freezing!!! cheap dual cre 1.86ghz :evil:

d-DanGerous
d-DanGerous

Man Unreal's game engine never seizes to amaze me..........They optimized it so even a normal computer can play this game fast with really good settings...All the other games you need beefy requirements to get good graphics and good performance.... Companies should really take after unreal..........

beast____
beast____

how will dual 8500 gt's with 1 gb each handle it though?

theR34p3R
theR34p3R

AMD X2 6000+ , 2048mb DDR800 , XFX GeForce 8800GTX , Win XP SP2 All details on highest with resolution on 1280x1024 runs VERY smoothly.

beast____
beast____

I just ordered a new computer from ibuypower.com ande i'm wondering how well it will run this game. i've got an amd 642x 6000+ 3.0 ghz processor and 2 gb RAM with two GeForce 8500+ 1GB video cards. i doubt i can play on high settings but can i do ok with medium?

User651
User651

u.t.3. requires a fast and great video card.

Rhipz
Rhipz

Jocarl you should be able 2 run on max .. but it depends on your resulution.. zyox a 4600+ is alright to play ut3

jfpl138
jfpl138

Check out www.systemrequirements.com this site will analyze your system and tell you whether or not you can run stuff.

Jocarl1215
Jocarl1215

Can the game run at maximum settings at this specs Pentium Dual-Core E2140@1.60GHz GeForce 8600GT 1.5GB of RAM

--ZyoX
--ZyoX

I have an AMD Athlon 64 4600+ X2 (4.6GHz). Is it enough to play UT3?

ShadeofChaoS
ShadeofChaoS

I'm with an Intel Pentium 4 3.06 GHz 2 CPUs - GeForce 8600 GTS 512 Mb RAM - 2G RAM - Windows XP Home Edition Service Pack 2 I'm probably gonna purchase a new CPU but i want to know how much fps i could get on 1280x1024 resolution with my actual settings with High/Very High settings.

IceEmpress
IceEmpress

wow im pleased to see it will run well on my new laptop. This is very usefull information :D. Now im definatly going to get this game.

ktdc_lb
ktdc_lb

I played UT3 on a AMD 3500+ @2.42Ghz - 1Ghz Corsair VS Memory - MSI Geforce 7800GTX not overclocked - Max detail @ 1152 x 720 = 40ish steady FPS for anyone whos looking to play the game with a similar spec.

Hellknight13
Hellknight13

AMD 1.8ghz, ATI Radeon Pro 9250, 512mb RAM, Windows XP SP2 Im guessing the system performance will definately be negative XD This is why im getting the XBox360 version instead.

PimpiNbananas
PimpiNbananas

will my M1530 XPS laptop 4Gb ram, T7500 2.2ghz, Geforce 8600M GT 256mb run this game all maxed out 1600 1200 smoothly?

AzharAzz
AzharAzz

Oh man!! This looks embarrasingly primitive in comparison to Crysis!! Look at the framerates, just look at them!!!!!

zeroxin
zeroxin

Man this makes me mad I'm A Xbox 360 fan and when I hear that ps3 has a game made by the makers of Gears of War that makes me mad. (opionion)

Adam_the_Nerd
Adam_the_Nerd

lol the only thing my 6 year old computer meets is the minimum 512MB RAM requirement. hahahaha I got owned. :'(

unknown-racer
unknown-racer

I have a Intel core2 x6800 2gb corsair ram running at 800mhz Nvidia 8600gt and i still have alot lag on my computer at 1280x1024 that my monitor max resolution

DeadParrot145
DeadParrot145

I had a bfg geforce 6200 pci card in my old rig before I upgraded. Its pointless to try to run it on medium settings (2 i take it?), even so it didnt matter since theres no way the card could render the full pixel size. But it DOES run, even says so on the box under minimum system requirements. On a happier note, Im Pentium D 3.0ghz, 2 gigs of ram (ddr2 667) and xfx geforce 8500gt, game runs max settings, 1360 x 768 at approx 20-40fps

neo_aeolus
neo_aeolus

"I play this game with a Nvidia 6200 and I can run it at medium graphics but my computer freezes up during the intro vid of the campaign. Can someone possibly help me??!!" It's because your VGA card is too weak. The game required at least geforce 6800 with 256Mb You should upgrade your system to play this game. I'm using P4 3.2Ghz, 2x1Gb ram, and the sapphire x1950pro 512Mb DDR3 AGP8x to play this game at high settings. It's amazing.

DacooXD
DacooXD

I play this game with a Nvidia 6200 and I can run it at medium graphics but my computer freezes up during the intro vid of the campaign. Can someone possibly help me??!!

User-
User-

this game is amazing

eric7233
eric7233

crazy.. the newest nvidia drivers are forceware 163.92 or something but there is a different beta driver that specific to ut3 and the versions number is 169.28 and you can get it at nzone .com .. or just type forceware beta driver 169.28 in your browser to find it elsewhere.

crazyfullhouse
crazyfullhouse

@Sammojo, I tried the new drivers but it seems to have made little impact. Think it may be Vista slowing the system down ?

Sammojo
Sammojo

@crazyfullhouse, read what eric7233 said, do you have the newest NVidia drivers?

crazyfullhouse
crazyfullhouse

I am having a hard time getting the game to run smooth on my laptop, T7300@2.0Ghz Duo, 2GB ram and 8600GT video card, any ideas how to speed it up please ?????

Sammojo
Sammojo

Hey I am wondering if there was something wrong with the demo. It completely crashed my PC. I have a pentium 4 2.4ghz, 1GB DDR1 Ram, and a 7600GS and when I tried to play the demo my screen went black and the computer stopped working. Does the demo version do this, and if so would it happen in the full game?

vtss120204
vtss120204

I am curious,with the ps3 version of this game,what level from 1 to 5 would the graphics be set at on the Image Comparison page,surely it wouldn't be on the lowest detail 1,I am thinking it might be level 3 or 4.

eric7233
eric7233

Wow.. my problems have just been solved.. I downloaded the forceware beta driver 169.28 and i tripled my resolution and upped all the settigns and get no more crashes.. any who are having crashes or forced to use low settings i highly recommend downloading that driver.. its an absolute miracle . i was just about to throw in the towel on this game cus my computer sucks but that driver made the game very playable.