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In brief: The developers behind PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds have announced a dedicated team has been working on PUBG Lite in secret. PUBG Lite will be a shrunken down version of the PC game designed to run on older GPUs or even integrated graphics, and it will be available completely free. There's no release schedule yet, but the beta is already available in Thailand and is coming to other regions soon.
PUBG Lite is cut down in the ways you'd expect, at least for now. The two largest differences are that it only has PUBG's original map, Erangel, and that first person is unavailable. The developers have said that it still features solo, duo and squad modes, but that feature modes might be added later. While many MacBooks meet the system requirements, it currently does not support macOS.
The minimum requirements for the original PUBG calls for a mid-tier quad core CPU, 8GB of RAM and a GTX 960, but those specs can't quite run the game at 60 fps on very low. Up until now, the only option budget gamers have had is to run the free PUBG mobile app on an Android emulator, which is about as bad as it sounds.
Our goal for PUBG Lite is simple:
Deliver the PlayerUnkown Battleground's experience to players in areas where the core game's required specifications are more difficult to achieve due to the hardware available. To this end, the PUBG Lite team has focused on balancing lower hardware requirements, without compromising on our quality standards. The end result is a build that is playable even on computers and laptops utilizing integrated graphics.
The minimum specs for PUBG Lite is a Core i3 that runs at least 2.4Ghz, with 4GB of RAM and Intel HD 4000 integrated graphics. The recommended spec is a Core i5 that runs at least 2.8Ghz, 8GB of RAM and a GTX 660 or Radeon HD 7870. If you happen to know your Fortnite trivia, you may have realized that the world's most popular battle royale has the exact same requirements.
Comparing the recommended and minimum specs of the two PUBG games, it seems that PUBG Lite picks up about where PUBG becomes unplayable. For anything less powerful than a GTX 970 or GTX 1060 it makes sense to choose PUBG Lite, as the higher frame rates will make for a more pleasant experience, despite some visual compromises.
Speaking of visual compromises, PUBG Lite only takes up 4GB of storage, compared to PUBG's 30GB. While there are fewer maps, that's still a potentially large shrink in texture file size.
The Intel i5-4430 that PUBG says is the bare minimum for the full PUBG scored 479 points in Cinebench, way back in 2015 when we tested it. While I don't have an old i3 that PUBG Corp says is the minimum for Lite, locking my own system down to 2 cores 4 threads at 2.4Ghz brings down the Cinebench score to 270 points (56%), and that's with modern IPC and RAM.
On the GPU side, the recommended GTX 660 is about 40% as powerful in 3DMark as the GTX 960 PUBG recommends as a minimum. Integrated graphics is around 5-10% depending on how modern it is. Either PUBG Corp has worked miracles to optimize the game, the visual quality has been completely ruined, or they're being overly optimistic with the specs to draw players away from Fortnite.
Games with such low system requirements that still manage to look good usually use cartoon-style graphics, like Fortnite or Overwatch, or very basic geometry like CS:GO. Could PUBG Lite be successful using either of those? The obvious real goal of PUBG Lite is to poach the free-to-play everyone-can-play business strategy from Fortnite, but add the realism and feel that made the Battle Royale genre so popular in the first place.
PUBG Lite is what many players have been asking for, but only time will tell if it can live up to its promise.