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CS: Source beta widens, HL2 preload begins

Counter-Strike: Source should be available to Condition Zero owners and ATI coupon holders now, alongside a new benchmark tool to check how your PC will run Half-Life 2.

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Image credit: Eurogamer

As a number of you will have spotted already, the Counter-Strike: Source beta is now open to owners of Counter-Strike: Condition Zero, as well as gamers who bought an ATI graphics card as part of the Half-Life 2 cross-promotion around the turn of the year. Last week Valve rolled out the beta to a number of Cyber Cafés. You can read our first impressions of CS: Source here.

In addition to CS: Source, Valve is also providing a benchmark tool that tests out your PC to make sure it's capable of running Half-Life 2, which appears to be on track for release in September. According to CEO Gabe Newell, speaking on a fan forum, this is actually responsible for holding up the start of preloading Half-Life 2 content. Newell had previously said that art and other static HL2 assets would start uploading to Steam users yesterday on the 18th, but apparently the benchmark tool was prioritised.

"It was ready yesterday," he told a forum on Wednesday, "but we decided to use the bandwidth to get out the [benchmark] first since I get pelted with zillions of questions from people asking how their PC will run Half-Life 2." The preloading of Half-Life 2 content will now begin today. The benchmark tool, which Steam users ought to have no trouble finding, will give you an idea of whether your PC is up to the task, and also has the option of reporting the results to a Valve-hosted site that aims to compile them and - presumably - give the developer an idea of what it's up against.

Previously Valve has run a Half-Life 2 hardware survey, where more than half a million respondents gave details of CPU speed, memory, graphics card preferences and networking amongst other things.

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