GTA IV PC: Exciting Specs Talk

A Shader Model 3.0 Serbian, yesterday

Via VG247, the official recommended system specs for the upcoming PC port of of Big Steal Car 4. Oddly, since their discovery yesterday, they’ve been pulled off the official Games For Windows site and replaced with a ‘Coming Soon’. Theories? Either they were wrong, it’s the notorious Rockstar info-chokehold at play again, or they’ve been taken down because the entire internet misinterpreted ‘recommended’ as ‘minimum’. Here’s what they were yesterday though.

OS: Windows XP SP2
Processor: Dual core processor (Intel Pentium D or better)
Hard Drive: 18GB free hard disk space
Video Card: 512MB Direct3D 10 compatible video card or Direct3D 9 card compatible with Shader
Drive: DVD-ROM dual-layer drive

18 gig! 512Mb 3D card! And ‘shader’ what – 1, 2 or 3? No doubt the minimum spec will be less eyewatering, but if this recommended one is accurate, rather than an MS balls-up, it suggests this is perhaps one of those ‘pull lever to port 360 game to PC’ jobbies rather than something scalable to a wide range of systems.


  1. Jay says:

    Shadermodel 3
    A Direct3D9 card would also include all the old cards, Geforce 7, Radeon 19xx. That are probably the minimum specs.

  2. Pavel says:

    The moment I saw “card compatible with Shader” I knew those specs would get pulled. They were written by some incompetent idiot.

  3. suchchoices says:


  4. Wedge says:

    Wow, you can run GTA IV on a 6200? Impressive. ;P

  5. Bob Arctor says:

    Gah, 512mb for a card is the problematic bit. Ah well, low res textures, come on!

  6. Lukasz says:

    512MB card ain’t a problem. new ati’s 4000 cards due to be released soon are 512. and they are below 100 bucks.

    what i fear is dual core. I am using amd 3200 and no way i will replace it this year (since it will involve replacing mob, cpu, ram.) :(

    also 18GB… meh. i still have 800GB free. I will survive.

  7. Kismet says:

    18 choco-bites… I suspect I’ll need to reconsider my partition strategies in the not-so-far future.

  8. Cunningbeef says:

    Ugh, that’s a lot of porn I’ll have to delete.

  9. Jay says:

    Suspicious about those specs myself – it looks like my laptop can run it, but I’m naturally pessimistic about those since my ancient 1GHz desktop could run San Andreas without problems.

    Also the top poster nicked my name. I’m the only Jay here, buddy

  10. nakke says:

    That is many peggles.

  11. teo says:

    Wow that’s stupid
    512 MB VRAM? Consoles have 256 MB
    2GB RAM? Consoles have 256 MB

  12. nakke says:

    Well, considering what RAM costs nowadays, it’s not much to ask that a ‘common gaming PC’ would have 2GB of it.

  13. Yhancik says:

    I can’t really say that I follow such things with constancy, but it’s the first time I actually see recommended system specs released without their little sister the minimum. Is that more common than I think, and shouldn’t it be the other way around ?
    I mean, the first question is “can I run this game?”, and “how well can I run this game?” only comes second, to me. No?

  14. Reverend Speed says:

    Weeeallll… about those 18 gigs…

    CAVEAT: I’m by no means an expert on the topic, which makes me the perfect person to speak on this topic.

    Have you ever opened the archives for a console port and browsed the texture files? It’s kinda interesting. Aside from being able to read all the in-game text from, ooh, Silent Hill 4 (3.7 gigs) or coming across some further oddities in Metal Gear Solid 2 (8 gig), there’s the bloody strange way the textures are stored.

    There’s a lot of repetition. A LOT. Identical textures are spread throughout the archive, generally for the most common models and environments – PC textures, weapon textures, common enemies, etc.

    From this, and with absolutely no knowledge of console hardware, I’m going to forward this hypothesis:

    Lots of console port archives are organised in this fashion in order to take advantage of high CD access speeds and to avoid the problems of having tiny amounts of machine memory.

    Like I say, all of this is speculation based on the slightest of evidence.

    Consoles are built to read information in small, useful chunks off the medium, present ’em to the player and get ’em playing as quickly as possible.

    With the emphasis on speed, replicating data over the medium makes sense – it saves the head from having to skip from one section of the disc to another and streamlines reading.

    Everything in your world-shattering next-gen title is built off this loading system, organised around swift medium access and low on-board memory common to consoles.

    And then you convert to PC–

    –holy crap! Look at this memory! Memory everywhere! Memorygasm!

    But (speculation) the medium player isn’t as fast as the specialised console model?

    I’m really curious about that last point. Why can’t PC players play their games off their DVD / Whatever drives like console players? If someone can solve that one for me, I’d appreciate it.

    BUT! For whatever reason, the PC medium player isn’t acceptable for play directly off the medium – and anyway, the file system within the game is already built to deal with the archives as laid out. Changing the access system is going to require a great deal of art conversion, programming…


    But– but– all the repetition, now in super high-res, I mean, how are we going to–


    And so 18 gig.

    (In comparison, San Andreas was 4.7 gig)

    I’m not trying to say that this is a GOOD thing, just that it doesn’t happen without reason.

    Again, for my money the big question is:

    Why can’t PC gamers play their games directly from the medium, like their console bretheren?

    Can anybody tell me?

  15. EyeMessiah says:

    Because you have type in the cd-key during install?

    And all pc gamers are criminals. That is all.

  16. Kadayi says:

    “Why can’t PC gamers play their games directly from the medium, like their console bretheren?”

    Maybe because we’d rather install 18GB and have games with higher textures, polycounts and features? In all seriousness you can buy a 750 GB HD for about £50 now. What’s the big deal?

  17. Tom says:

    Why can’t PC gamers play their games directly from the medium, like their console brethren?

    Because we use nocd cracks of course! Its like sooo obvious….

  18. Björn says:

    Also, CD/DVD drives make noise in most computers when spinning. HDs not as much.

  19. ascagnel says:

    Reverend Speed, you left out one other important point (that I gleaned from the PC port of MGS2): compression.

    On most consoles, there is so much disc space it’s not worth using compression. Instead, that CPU time can be dedicated to doing something useful in the world (because games like MGS2 and GTA4 are loading constantly). MGS2 was about 8GB worth of uncompressed TGAs and WAVs. If even minor compression (like a high-bitrate MP3 or OGG codec) had been used on the audio, the game probably would have been shrunk by a gigabyte or so (remember that every line of text in the game, and more, is spoken). Texture compression is hairier, since the textures in MGS2 were pretty muddy to begin with.

    So, yeah: audio compression is your friend. Especially when in a dialogue- heavy game.

  20. Reverend Speed says:

    Björn, good point… =) We do tend to play that little bit closer to our drives.

    Ascagnel – compression is an excellent point, and not just for audio. There were quite a few mip-maps within the archive…

    I will take exception to your point on the textures being muddy, though. The majority seemed exceptionally clear (to the point of almost being pixel art!) … and you can hardly argue with the end result.

    Best. Rain. Evarrr.

    (In passing… which games could you run off the CD? Resident Evil 1, methinks. There were others…)

  21. malkav11 says:

    Because I’m running out of room on my (collectively) 700 gigs of hard drives and in order to hack my graphics card into my case I pretty much prevented adding a third hard drive, meaning that I would have to replace one, meaning that I would first have to somehow backup or transfer the entire contents of that drive. It doesn’t matter how cheap drive space is becoming if the logistics of taking advantage of it are crazy difficult to accomplish.

    Besides. GTAIV is on a single DVD9 for console. 18 gigs is bloody ridiculous. The other specs are nothing particularly scary. (Read, I’ve got all of the above, no trouble.)

  22. ascagnel says:

    @Reverend Speed:
    You could run Halo 2 for Vista off the disc. In fact, you could install it while playing if you wanted to.

    Of course, most everyone I know just downloaded the XP crack for Halo 2, which required the full install. If only games that had innovative bits like “Tray-to-Play” (as MS calls it) didn’t come with unnecessary baggage (Vista requirement).

  23. Reverend Speed says:

    “Tray to Play”?


    This is why we can’t have nice things.

  24. Sum0 says:

    @Reverend Speed: Tray and Play, part of the Games for Windows specification, allows playing directly off the disc: only Halo 2 does this at the mo, apparently.

    …like they said.

  25. I don't understand this comment system says:

    The games for windows specification don’t seem to very well enforced. Microsoft seems too eager to allow companies to slap the label on the box, rather then having an enforceable standard. Which is really too bad, I remember reading articles where Microsoft talkied about the ability to play games directly from disc as one of the de facto features of vista. Guess that didn’t work out to well.

    From a technical perspective, one big difference is that console drives keep dvds constantly spinning to avoid spin up times, whereas pc drives allow the drives to spin down. Don’t know if this is still true about consoles, but it was in the olden days (PS1 era).

  26. Kadayi says:


    link to

    not tricky at all.

  27. redrain85 says:

    The Games for Windows specifications aren’t enforced at all, despite how much Microsoft protests to the contrary.

    If they were: we’d have Tray-to-Play as an option on every GfW title; the Vista Experience Index number printed on every GfW box (whatever happened to that, not one GfW title I’ve seen has come with this number); we wouldn’t have had the flawed widescreen support in Bioshock; and using a game like Bioshock on more than one Windows user account, wouldn’t have required installing the game again and using up extra activations.

  28. alan says:

    Wow that’s stupid
    512 MB VRAM? Consoles have 256 MB
    2GB RAM? Consoles have 256 MB

    Comparing a Pc to a console is like comparing a microwave to a toaster. Both consoles have completely different internal structures (for example, IIRc the memory bus for the 360 goes through to the GPU before the CPU(s), the opposite of a PC arrangement), can rely on hardware dependencies (i.e. streaming). Not to mention the rather important absence of anything other than a minimal footprint Operating System.

  29. mister slim says:

    So the PC install is over twice the size of the 360 version? That’s a bit odd.

  30. AbyssUK says:

    A bigger install is good, means better quality textures, sounds etc.. perhaps more world details too. I don’t want my 800 quid PC to look like a 200 quid xbox now do I

  31. aldo says:

    So the PC install is over twice the size of the 360 version? That’s a bit odd.

    The game has larger (resolution/size) textures, I think.

    Hopefully it’ll run well on my machine…. I’ve been getting some inexplicable pop-up in several games like Spore (inexplicable as I can’t seem to reduce it, even with reduced graphics settings etc – my computer should be more than able to handle it)

  32. NoNamePls says:

    It could be worse. Remember that Resident Evil 4 port? Remember how the minimum requirement to play it was a shader model 2.0 card when the fact is the game barely uses shaders? I argued with someone over the forums how the requirement for the game was way higher than Doom 3 and it could run on a shaderless GeForce 4MX, RE4 on the other hand required a 6200 minimum. You know what the guy said? You can’t compare a PS2 with PC because it’s impossible.

    I agree we can’t compare architectures. Yes, but sayin a PS2 port needs a 2.0 shader based card to run is insulting. That thing doesn’t even come close to a GeForce 3. Seriously, that’s like saying GTA4 needs shader model 4.0 to run, anything lower won’t cut it. Arghhhhh!

  33. aldo says:

    Yes, but sayin a PS2 port needs a 2.0 shader based card to run is insulting

    It’s bonkers, too, given that RE4 wasn’t even a PS2 game to start off with (the PS2 architecture – and the PS3 – is a notorious bastard, if memory serves the former has many low-bandwidth pipelines/buses that need balanced).

    What I said previously was really just meant to say that you can’t compare the raw numbers – i.e. that so many GHz on a Pc isn’t the same as so many GHz on a console, etc. But you can, of course, judge based on comparing the games on each machine (or machines).

    Oh, and Halo PC was an absolute joke of a conversion, too.

  34. The Shed says:


    Wow that’s stupid
    512 MB VRAM? Consoles have 256 MB

    No. 360 has 10MB eDRAM, which counts for much more than is seems.

    2GB RAM? Consoles have 256 MB

    No. Main alone is 512MB for 360, and it doesn’t have to deal with any background runnings, so also consider it much more. Mind for PS3 it’s much more (complex), so it’s really not a problem. Not stupid at all.

  35. NoNamePls says:

    Oh and let’s not forget how Microsoft designs their OS to take 1/3rd of the system memory. Every now and then the OS decides to a leak and finally fill up almost half the RAM. Is it any surprise why they coined the term memory leak? Maybe it’s some kind of cruel programmer joke at M$ who had to hold his bladder before he submitted his next build.
    Whatever it is, PC gaming needs a far more scalable OS but seriously I’m going on a rant here.

  36. grumpy says:

    Any sane OS will take as much memory as possible. Why not? No one wins by having unused RAM.

    The trick is of course whether or not the OS is able to let go of the memory again if another application needs it. But please, looking at task manager when nothing else is running is *not* a good way to determine Windows’ memory usage.

  37. Frymaster says:

    thank you grumpy… :)

    My linux server currently has 1.2 gigs of memory being used by all processes… and approximately no memory free. Why? It just caches more disk accesses, because it might as well.

    XP is the same; vista even more so

  38. kite says:

    Mr The Shed:
    That 512 meg of RAM on the 360 is used for the GPU too, it has to hold all the textures etc that would be held in the video card RAM on a PC (or PS3), as well as all the other normal RAM stuff like OS and game code. And there are background processes on 360, you can download in the background, get live messages, etc.

    Also, PS3 just has a straightforward 256 megs of graphics RAM, so it is stupid to require more.

  39. quenus says:

    hopefully(like all 360 ports) the graphics are a lot prettier.