Max Payne 3 System Requirements & PC-Exclusive Enhancements Revealed

Gaming News


April 26th, 2012

By Andrew Burnes

When Max Payne 3 hits the shelves on May 29th, what kind of system will you require to get the most from the eagerly anticipated third-person shooter? I’m glad you asked, because Rockstar has gone into great detail about the game’s PC-exclusive enhancements, and the technology required to use them.

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First and foremost, Max Payne 3 will require 35GB of hard drive space, an insignificant amount in the era of 2TB hard drives, but more than almost any other game. Why? Rockstar explains:

"We had always stated that our goal with Max Payne 3 on PC was to have a game that runs beautifully out of the box on day one across a wide range of machines. To achieve this goal we developed the PC version in parallel with the consoles instead of a direct port. The PC is the only platform where you can really max out the high end if you want to, and we wanted Max Payne 3 on PC to have the potential to look beautiful on the highest possible resolutions on the biggest monitors available - so while we can still scale performance down to suit even reasonably low-end rigs, every asset is available at the highest resolution possible, from audio to video to textures."

"The installed size of Max Payne 3 is attributed to the no-compromise quality of its assets which have already pushed console disc space to the limits. A good portion of the extra space on PC can be attributed to increased texture size which is four times that of the consoles. In addition, the audio quality is significantly higher than the consoles due to lower compression rates which increase fidelity. Again, this comes back to the range of possibilities that the PC platform opens up for us."

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In addition to high resolution, high-quality assets, Rockstar Games has developed numerous PC-exclusive enhancements, resulting in "substantially better visual quality". Specifically:

  • Screen resolution is scalable, limited only by the player's machine.
  • Triple-monitor support enables Surround gaming.
  • Multisample 2x, 4x and 8x Anti-Aliasing (MSAA), and NVIDIA FXAA increase fidelity (optional Alpha Transparent Coverage Mask fidelity increases with higher MSAA levels).
  • Scalable reflections with optional MSAA anti-aliasing result in realistic, sharp reflections.
  • Scalable water enables reflective, realistic puddles and bodies of water at higher settings.
  • Scalable shadows take advantage of DirectX 10 and 11 shadow filters on high-end machines to enable softer, more realistic shadowing.
  • Improved Screen Space Ambient Occlusion with optional High Definition Ambient Occlusion further increases the quality and accuracy of shadowing.
  • Increased detail on both characters and vehicles increases the quality of the game’s visuals and makes use of the extra VRAM of PC graphics cards. Furthermore, optional DirectX 11 Tessellation adds curvature to character and vehicle models, making them appear more realistic and less angular.
  • Scalable texture filter allows users to enable up to 16x Anisotropic Filtering to increase visual fidelity.

On their own, the above enhancements more than justify Rockstar’s claim that Max Payne 3 isn’t a simple conversion, and with the addition of optional DirectX 11 enhancements, detailed below, it’s clear to see that Max’s PC development was done in parallel to that of the console versions, and not as an afterthought.

  • Compute Shaders: High Definition Ambient Occlusion and Blur.
  • Hull, Tessellation, and Domain Shaders: Adding curvature to the character and vehicle models.
  • DirectX 11 asynchronous resource creation.
  • DirectX 11 self-managed resources (provides system memory savings).
  • Alpha Transparency Coverage Masks: when MSAA is enabled, ATCMs improve the look of semi-transparent objects.
  • Gather4: Optimized Shadow Sampling and FXAA.
  • Geometry Shader & Stream Output: Bokeh depth of field effects.
  • Multisample Anti-Aliasing color and depth sub-pixel sampling.
  • DirectX 11 texture samplers.

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All in all there’s dozens of enhancements designed to leverage the full power of your PC, and according to Rockstar the following components are what you’ll require to run Max Payne 3 using low-end and high-end settings.

Minimum Specifications

  • Windows 7, Vista, XP (32 or 64-bit)
  • Intel Dual Core 2.4 GHz or AMD Dual Core 2.6 GHz, or better
  • 2GB System RAM
  • NVIDIA GeForce 8600 GT 512MB RAM

Low Recommended Specifications

  • Windows 7, Vista, XP (32 or 64-bit)
  • Intel Dual Core 3GHz or AMD equivalent
  • 3GB System RAM
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTS 450 512MB RAM

"At this level, you will be able to comfortably run the game at 30 frames per second at 1920 by 1080," said Rockstar, but if you want the high-end features you’ll have to upgrade to the system below.

High Recommended Specifications

  • Windows 7, Vista (32 or 64-bit)
  • Intel i7 Quad Core 2.8GHz or AMD equivalent
  • 3GB System RAM
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 480 1GB RAM

The 'High' quality preset uses the following settings, which are the highest available. By enabling MSAA (Multisample Anti-Aliasing), the overall image becomes sharper, as do reflections, so for the absolute best image quality enable the high-cost anti-aliasing technique in addition to FXAA. However, please note that this is only feasible on top-end systems, hence MSAA being disabled by default.

  • DirectX Version: 11
  • Resolution: 1920x1080
  • Ambient Occlusion: High
  • Reflections: High
  • Texture Quality: High
  • FXAA: On
  • MSAA: Off
  • Shadow Quality: High
  • Water Quality: High
  • Tessellation: High

Looking at our relative performance chart you can see that the GTX 480 is a smidge faster than a GTX 560 Ti, and slower than the GTX 570 and other, newer GPUs. Not shown on the chart is the Limited Edition GeForce GTX 560 Ti 448 Core GPU, which performs especially well in DirectX 11 games utilizing tessellation or hardware-accelerated PhysX effects.

Using a pre-release version of Max Payne 3 our internal benchmarks, shown below, reveal that the 448 Core GPU is about 11 frames per second faster than the standard GTX 560 Ti, putting it on par with the Rockstar-recommended GTX 480.

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Please note that these results are taken from a pre-release, work-in-progress version of the game, and as such the numbers will be even higher come Max Payne 3's release on May 29th.

Highest Tested Specifications

Rockstar’s final specification shows the game’s maximum supported configuration using the latest technology. Needless to say, any system with this setup will receive astronomical frame rates and have no trouble enabling every single feature at a high resolution.

  • Windows 7, Vista (64 bit)
  • Intel i7 3930K 3.06 GHz or AMD FX8150 3.6 GHz
  • 16GB System RAM
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680 2GB RAM

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So, where does your system sit in the scheme of things? Will you be upgrading to get the most from Max Payne 3? Let us know in the comments.