One of WoW's greatest strengths, in my opinion, is that it will run on a toaster. It will launch on an old laptop I have with a really terrible processor and 1GB of RAM. When I say it will launch, I mean it won't play, I can't use it, but it will launch. I've played it on that laptop in the past, and it's worked. And now, while I have a more powerful machine, I've had to play a bit on the interim laptop, a 2GHz AMD laptop with onboard graphics and 4GB of RAM. And it works. I got this laptop in 2009, and WoW runs on it. Not just that, but it runs raids. Sure, my framerate isn't brilliant, and I'll sometimes have to point my camera at the floor, but it runs, and I can perform in whatever role I'm in.
But with graphical upgrades come greater strains on older machines. And Community Manager Bashiok has weighed in, addressing player concerns on the official forums. The answer to the questions raised, as you can see after the break, is that the devs just don't know the full impact of these upgrades just yet. You can tell the difference between Cata and Mists as far as the performance of older machines goes, and Warlords may be another step away from "backwards compatibility" for older machines. But bear in mind what else will run on these old, old machines. My interim laptop, as I call it, will run WoW and little else. What can you play WoW on? Hit the break for Bashiok's full post.
My question is, do you have any idea at this time what that demand is going to be? I have signed up for Beta and my computer specs are listed there, but I also know that I get lag in raids and high graphic environments, like flying through heavily colored areas.
We don't, and we tend not to have updated system requirements/recommendations until most content is in, most big changes and engineering are done, and we're looking like there isn't going to be anything else that would greatly affect performance. So we won't really know absolutely until some point through the beta. We're keenly aware of the system requirements the new character models may require, and how that could impact client performance. No further details yet on how they'll be supported on lower end systems, if at all.
Fun fact, the game still supports processors and graphics cards that were released over 8 years ago. To put that in other terms, modern day systems are in some cases 50x more powerful than the lowest end systems the game still supports. Moving us forward graphically in such a dramatic way with the new models way is going to require a lot of testing, tweaking, optimizing, and determination of what we can realistically support going forward, but we just don't know what that will look like yet.