It's safe to say that Brink isn't an overly demanding game for the most part, though considering it's based on the aging idTech 4 engine, we were surprised by how taxing it could be when using a single GPU at higher resolutions, especially 2560x1600.
We started testing Brink last week soon after it was released and applied the first patch. Performance was significantly lower than it is today. Many of the high-end graphics cards became ~10% faster with the third patch, while some of the budget and mid-range cards witnessed as much as a 30% speed boost.
The latest patch notes claim users will see improved performance when using Ambient Occlusion, a feature we enabled for our tests. The first and second patches wouldn't let us use Soft Particles or High Quality Post Processing settings. The third update has removed the former option, but the latter is now usable.
At the relatively low resolution of 1280x800 Brink is very hardware-friendly. Affordable $110 graphics cards such as the Radeon HD 6750 and GeForce GTS 450 provide playable performance with maximum visual settings enabled.
In fact, that remains somewhat true as you scale up to a more desirable resolution such as 1680x1050. You shouldn't have to splurge on a flagship single-GPU card like the GeForce GTX 580 to play Brink with most of its eye-candy enabled. The Radeon HD 6790 and GeForce GTX 460 averaged around 50fps.
Because Brink is largely GPU-dependent, you shouldn't need to worry much about your processor either. Most entry-level parts were capable of delivering between 84 and 94fps. That's not half bad considering the beefier Core i5 and i7 processors maxed out at ~104fps.
Judging by the quick updates, it seems Splash Damage is motivated to squash bugs and smooth out performance issues. Nonetheless, it's unfortunate that developers are increasingly comfortable with launching half-baked games instead of delivering a highly polished product from the outset. As for gameplay, we hear the game is solid in many aspects but falls short of amazing. We'll let you be the judge on that.