Build an under $2,000 Battlefield 4 Optimized Gaming PC for 2015
Battlefield 4 Release and Information
Some guys go golfing and some play poker, I play Battlefield on the weekend. So, while those other guys are dedicating all their money to their hobbies, I dedicate some of mine to building an awesome rig.
Battlefield 4 can be played with substantially less expensive parts but I, like many other gamers, enjoy the experience of the game in max settings. For some that will mean 4k; however, for me that means 90+ FPS Ultra in 1440p or 1080p to go along with the high refresh rate G-Sync monitors that are available.
Why game in 1440p?
The 1440p standard seems like a good mix between being able to get high frames and still playing in a high resolution. Several good G-sync monitors are also available at this resolution.
What about a PC Build for Battlefield Hardline?
Battlefield 4 and Hardline use the same engine and thus perform very much in the same way. While I prefer the vehicular style of BF4, those playing Hardline should also lean towards similar parts at this price range.
Choosing a Processor is Not as Cut and Dry as You Might Think:
There's a reason I choose the processor first when I'm building a PC on a budget. It's because your whole build will essentially revolve around it. Spend too much and you won't have enough for your graphics card and other components and spend too little and it may cause a bottleneck in your FPS-related performance.
Haswell Vs. Ivy bridge for PC Gaming:
If you're considering an Intel processor, then you'll have to decide whether you want to go with the previous generation Ivy Bridge models or the newer Haswell models. Clock for clock Haswell is faster, but Ivy Bridge is easier to overclock. If you do choose Haswell, then be prepared to upgrade your motherboard to the newer socket 1150 compatible motherboards.
Benefits for Choosing Ivy Bridge:
If you don't, then you may find some money savings by going with a similar performing processor and motherboard from Ivy Bridge.
Ultimately Going with Haswell is a Better Idea:
Personally, I don't think the money savings is worth it as I'd rather have a newer generation processor and motherboard then look backwards.
Haswell i5 4690k vs. i7 4790k
This is where some personal preference is going to come into play. You could go with something like the i5-4690k here, save $100, and dedicate it to your other components and suffer nothing when it comes to your overall FPS. That being said I personally use my gaming rig for my work so having the additional hyper-threading is a must for when I'm editing video or rendering.
What about an AMD FX Series Processor?
There are valid reasons to look at AMD's FX series when it comes to this gaming PC. The FX 8350 is similarly priced with the i5-4690k and AM3+ motherboards are in general, cheaper. Keep in mind that a higher end pair of Radeon graphics cards may require a more powerful processor; however, for the most part the FX-8350 keeps up with in-game performance about as well as the i7-4790k. If you're wanting to know more about this, then Tom's Hardware recently did an article on the FX vs. i7 processor that's well worth reading.
My Personal Choice: Intel i7-4790k
Interactive Builder Poll
What Processor would you Choose for this BF4 rig?
Choosing the Right Graphics Card for BF4
Just like our processor it's not as cut and dry as you might think when it comes to choosing a graphics card for Battlefield 4. Right now you'll probably get more FPS out of AMD's cards. That being said there are many that would rather avoid these cards because of energy efficiency and heat.
AMD partnered up with EA for Battlefield 4 in order to optimize their graphics cards for the game. Since that time NVIDIA has heavily optimized their cards as well and its fairly similar in performance overall.
Best Graphics Cards Between $600 and $800:
Depending on your actual budget here and what you allocate towards your processor and other components this budget can actually vary by a substantial amount.
SLI GTX 970 Benchmark:
There's a few ways of thinking here. If you want maximize performance, then go with an SLI configuration of GTX 970s. NVIDIA's graphics cards scale amazingly well in a game like BF4 and this $700 combo should score, according to Guru3d, around 108 FPS in 1440p ultra with 2xMSAA.
Single GTX 980 Performance
For $500 to $600 you could also consider going with a GTX 980 and not hassling with a dual card configuration. This would net you an average of 72 FPS in 1440p ultra.
R9 290X Crossfire Performance:
According to tweaktown you should average around 85 FPS for 1600p and 126 for 1200p with dual 290X's.
Interactive Graphics Card Poll
What would be your graphics card setup of choice in the $600 to $800 price range?
An 1150 Motherboard for Overclocking and Functionality
When it comes to motherboards I want something I can definitely use for overclocking while still maintaining a high degree of functionality. I recently wrote a post on Haswell motherboards where I described my favorites for a few different categories.
Right now I'm going to recommend the Asus Z97 PRO which has tons of great features like Asus Dual Intelligent 4-way optimization, USB 3.0 boost, and of course Wi-Fi GO! In addition to having tons of functionality it's also one of the better overclockers in the $140 to $150 price range.
An Energy Efficient Power Supply is a Must
When it comes to a power supply you really shouldn't skimp. This is especially true for a higher-end gaming PC like this one. In my post on switching to platinum I talk not only about how much your computer costs to run each year, but how much you can save by switching to an energy efficient PSU. In addition you want a power supply from a manufacturer whose capacitors you can trust.
All in all this build should not need more than 650 watts if you don't plan on overclocking. However, to be on the safe side I'd recommend you go with at least 750 watts and if possible, 850 watts.
For this build we're going to go with the Seasonic 850W 80 Plus gold power supply. While it's not platinum it is significantly cheaper than a similar 850W Platinum modular PSU and only about 2% less efficient at 50% and 100% capacity.
This Hardware Secrets award winner also comes with a 7 year parts and labor warranty. As far as warranties are concerned, it's about as good as you'll get. You'll also notice that the fully modular design makes cable management a breeze.
Other Hardware and Parts Considerations
Solid State Drive vs. Hard Drive Vs. Both
If you want a solid state drive and a hard drive for this build, then you're going to have to make some concessions to meet the $2,000 price point. Personally I'd go with a high capacity solid state drive here. I use one in my current rig and honestly couldn't consider going back. For around $340 you could go with Samsung's 840 series here. It doesn't have the fastest write speeds in the world, but its read speeds are fantastic and per GB it's one of the least expensive options available.
Samsung's new EVO series was also recently introduced which is just slightly more expensive. It has better write speeds and offers super high 750GB and 1TB capacities for solid state drives.
For this build I'm ultimately going to go with the Samsung 840 standard 500GB solid state drive. It's around $340 vs. the Evo's $405 price tag and has the read speeds we're all looking for.
If You Need One, then Find a Cheap DVDRW:
With all the Steam and Origin games I have I've hardly used my DVD drive in the past year. For this reason you'll want to go with something inexpensive and highly rated like the Asus DRW-24B1ST.
I recently used Cooler Master's Storm Enforcer in a build of mine and was impressed by not only the overall aesthetic look of it, but also the design. A window where I can see all my components as well as mesh ABS plastic, and a 2.5" internal space for my solid state drives really sold me.
CPU Coolers - Kraken X60 Vs. Corsair Hydro H100i
You might be surprised to know that many fan coolers perform as well as liquid ones. I really like the Cooler Master 212 EVO as an inexpensive light overclocker and the Corsair Hydro H100i as well as the NZXT Kraken X60 for water cooling kits. If you want the better performer, then go with the Kraken X60. If you want slightly better quality, then I feel the Hydro H100i should be your pick. Ultimately, it's up to you.
Ram - 16 or 8GB?
If you're using your machine solely to game with, then 8GB is plenty. That being said with ram being cheap buying 16GB gets you into photo and video editing space. We'll stick with 16GB of Corsair Vengeance ram here. If you can get G.Skll's Ripjaw series for the same price, then I'd recommend that. For ram just be sure to get memory with 1600Mhz speed. Ram above this speed is considerably more expensive and doesn't really help your FPS and ram lower will negatively affect your FPS.
Video Review for Top Ten Gamer's Most Recent Builds
This build is amazing if you can afford it. If you're playing in 1440p, then I highly recommend you get a good low input lag gaming monitor like the Asus ROG monitor. Its 144Hz refresh rate should help you to fully take advantage of the extreme FPS numbers you're getting over 60.
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© 2013 Brandon Hart