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Best BF1 Graphics Cards by Budget 2016

We take a look at graphics cards for all budgets and let you know how they'll perform in Battlefield 1. Pictured: Here's a look at NVIDIA's GTX 1060, 1070, and 1080 side by side. We'll compare them to AMD's new RX 480, 470, and 460.
We take a look at graphics cards for all budgets and let you know how they'll perform in Battlefield 1. Pictured: Here's a look at NVIDIA's GTX 1060, 1070, and 1080 side by side. We'll compare them to AMD's new RX 480, 470, and 460.

Finding the right graphics card for upcoming title Battlefield 1 could be a decision you have to live with for the next few years. This is especially true if you're a Battlefield junkie like me.

I've been playing Battlefield games for over a decade so as you can imagine I'm more than excited for the Battlefield 1 release. This is the one game I play consistently over several years rather than months.

Depending on what resolution you plan to play the game on, you may need an upgrade this time around. So, I'll take you through my thoughts on the benchmarks I've seen so far as well as many of the new graphics cards that have been released this year.

Battlefield 1 Performance vs Battlefield 4

Like every Battlefield game since Battlefield Bad Company, Battlefield 1 uses the Frostbite engine. Frostbite 3, the current version, was used by Battlefield 4, Battlefield Hardline, Star Wars Battlefront, and is used for Battlefield 1 as well.

While the system requirements are still more demanding for Battlefield 1, my basic point is that if your computer could play Battlefield 4 pretty well, it'll likely play BF1 fairly well.

Minimum and Recommended System Requirements BF1 vs BF4

Battlefield 1
Minimum
Recommended
CPU
AMD FX-6350 or i5-6600k
FX 8350 Wraith or i7 4790
GPU
HD 7850 or GTX 660
AMD RX 480 4GB or GTX 1060 3GB
Memory
8GB RAM
16GB RAM
Hard Drive
50GB
50GB
Battlefield 4
 
 
CPU
AMD Athlon X2 2.8GHz or Intel Core 2 Duo 2.4GHz
AMD Six-Core CPU; Intel Quad-Core
GPU
AMD 3870 or higher, GeForce 8800GT or higher
AMD 7870 or higher, GeForce GT 660 or higher
Memory
4GB
8GB
Hard Drive
30GB
30GB

The minimum and recommended system requirements for Battlefield 1 don't really make sense. Comparing the i5-6600k to an FX-6350 is like comparing a Ferrari to a minivan. I wouldn't even put EA's Recommended AMD CPU in the same club with that CPU so it's a bit confusing.

For GPUs, they're clearly making a recommendation for 1080p here, so keep that in mind.

BF1 DirectX 12 vs DX 11 Performance

So far, I've seen little performance improvement in Battlefield 1 from using the DirectX 12 API. This is consistent with what I've seen so far in Star Wars Battlefront and therefore suspect it'll be the same all around for Battlefield 1.

For that reason, I wouldn't use DirectX 12 as a decision for a particular card in BF1 at this point in time.

Best BF1 Graphics Cards for the Money 2016

No matter whether you've got a budget as low as $100 or $1500 you'll be able to have a good experience in Battlefield 1. To get the best possible performance for your dollar, here are my thoughts on some of the newer cards at various price points.

GPUs From Under $100 to $150

Recommended Settings; 1080p, Medium to High

The RX 460 is a good value but how does it stack up against the similarly priced R7 370 and GTX 950? Also, what about the GTX 1050?
The RX 460 is a good value but how does it stack up against the similarly priced R7 370 and GTX 950? Also, what about the GTX 1050?

If you're looking to play Battlefield 1 in high settings it's not going to cost you a lot this time around. That being said, the competition in the $100 to $150 price range is rather fierce.

In the under $90 range you could go with the GTX 750Ti or R7 360. Around $100 you'll find the RX 460, the GTX 950, and the R7 370 all at the same price range and all within around 5% of each other in terms of performance.

Both the RX 460 and GTX 950 are very power efficient with the RX 460 having a lower TDP of 75W while still maintaining a similar peak power draw. The GTX 950 is definitely the better overclocker with gains from 5 to 15% with the RX 460's overclock improvement at under 5%.

If that's not enough, we also have NVIDIA's GTX 1050 and 1050 Ti launching in the $120 to $150 range. It's likely that both of these will have a 75W TDP and therefore not require a 6-pin power connector.

Final Thoughts:

I'll keep you updated on the performance of the 1050 and 1050 Ti. If you need to purchase something right now, I'd look to where you can get the best rebate as performance is so similar between the 950 and the RX 460.

Graphics Cards Under $200 to $250

Recommended Settings: 1080p Ultra, 1440p Medium to High

Pictured: MSI Gaming RX 480 8GB
Pictured: MSI Gaming RX 480 8GB

Battlefield 1 in 1440p

For me, the Battlefield franchise is all about pushing the performance of my PC. So this time around, I'll be playing the game in 1440p.

In terms of my PC I'm still fairly happy with my Haswell i7 processor. So, that extra money I'm saving will be put towards good use. If you're wondering how a certain graphics card performs in 1440p, I'll give you some benchmarks for the GTX 1060, RX 480, GTX 1070 and GTX 1080 below.

BF1 64 Player Match Closed Beta Benchmarks

For reference, here are some benchmarks comparing the GTX 1060 and RX 480 reference cards at stock settings. The system used was an i7-6800k at 4.3GHz with 32GB of ram. Video settings are at ultra with motion blur and weapon DF off.

GPU
API
Resolution
FPS Benchmark (Average)
GTX 1060 6GB
DX11
1080p
75
GTX 1060 6GB
DX12
1080p
72
GTX 1060 6GB
DX11
1440p
52
GTX 1060 6GB
DX12
1440p
51
RX 480 8GB
DX11
1080p
76
RX 480 8GB
DX12
1080p
78
RX 480 8GB
DX11
1440p
52
RX 480 8GB
DX12
1440p
51
Pictured: Gigabyte Windforce GTX 1060
Pictured: Gigabyte Windforce GTX 1060

RX 480 vs GTX 1060

If you're looking in the $200 to $250 price range, most likely you're choosing between the RX 480 and the GTX 1060. I'd also call a card like the GTX 970 a good used option for under or around $200 and the GTX 980 a good value option around $275.

The GTX 1060 and RX 480 are both good cards with similar performance in Battlefield 1. I'd call the GTX 1060 the better performer all around in DirectX 11 titles with the RX 480 catching up in many others.

Unlike the 960, the GTX 1060 can not be used in a dual card configuration. That being said, I would say that is much more efficient overall. Anandtech mentioned in its Crysis 3 power consumption test that the 1060 draws 37W less for 14% better gaming performance.

Keep in mind that both of these cards deliver around 70 to 75% of the performance of the $400 to $450 GTX 1070.

Ultimately, you could go with either card here and I've listed some benchmarks in Battlefield 1 below to help you make the decision. If you want to eventually do a Dual Card configuration, go with the RX 480. If you don't, I feel like the 1060 is a bit more appealing with it's better overall performance in other games and lower power draw.

Graphics Cards Under $400

Recommended Settings: 1440p Ultra

While AMD may have a future competitor at this price point, right now I'm recommending the GTX 1070 or 980 Ti.
While AMD may have a future competitor at this price point, right now I'm recommending the GTX 1070 or 980 Ti.

With the GTX 1070 you're basically getting 980 Ti performance for around $400. Speaking of the 980 Ti it is possible for you to get a used one well under $400 or even a new one for around the same price.

GTX 980 Ti and GTX 1070 Performance in Battlefield 1 1440p and 1080p Ultra

While the 980 Ti is certainly faster by a frame or two in most games that have been tested, in Battlefield 1 in Ultra Settings on 1440p it was about a frame or two slower on average. On both graphics cards frame rate never dipped below 60 FPS and most often stayed in the 75 to 80 range. At 1080p, the frame rate was consistently over 100 FPS dropping to around 90 to 95FPS when firing.

Final Thoughts:

Overall, I find these cards to be fairly equal to each other. That being said if you're buying for Battlefield 1 and they cost the same price, I'd probably go with the GTX 1070.

BF1 Graphics Card Setups from $650 to $1,500

Recommended Settings: 1440p Ultra, 4k High to Ultra

Here's an up close look at the GTX 1080 reference card.
Here's an up close look at the GTX 1080 reference card.

Many gamers have different goals at this price point. Some may want to game in 4k Ultra at 60 frames or consistently get above 100 frames in 1440p. Others may even be looking to game in 4k Ultra at a high frame rate.

It's interesting to see how NVIDIA's cards line up for the Battlefield 1 release. The GTX 1060 is a great 1080p card, GTX 1070 a 1440p card, and GTX 1080 for 4k. Gaming in 4k on the 1080 you'll find yourself mainly in the 50 to 60 FPS range.

For those wanting to play 4k in a higher frame rate, using GTX 1080's in SLI scales very well from what I've seen and is definitely an option.

Purchasing a Titan X Pascal is also an option here albeit a pricey one. With that configuration you get the most out of a single card solution, but you certainly won't get the performance of a Dual GTX 1080 configuration. Also, with the possible 1080 Ti Release incoming, it's hard to be sold on this card. Speaking of the 1080Ti release dates point to a CES 2017 launch date.

Final Thoughts:

A single GTX Titan X Pascal is certainly an effective high framerate 1440p option but probably not one I'd recommend. Even GTX 1070's in SLI will give you more overall performance. Even if you're wanting the best, right now, I'd stick with the GTX 1080 in a single or dual card configuration until the release of the 1080Ti in 2017.

Interactive BF1 Reader Poll

What's your overall GPU budget for Battlefield 1?

See results

Summary

In terms of the game itself, I played the Beta extensively and am cautiously optimistic about some of the changes I've seen. This looks like a solid entry into the Battlefield franchise and it's different enough that it won't get stale.

For graphics cards, I think you can get by on a lot less this time around then when Battlefield 4 came out. At that time, it simply cost more. It's great to see that more mainstream cards perform so well in 1080p. This evens the playing field for everyone.

© 2016 Brandon Hart

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