Budget and the Beast is our monthly column that shows you the bits and pieces to build two different types of gaming PCs; an affordable budget box that will still run today’s games well, and a high end beast designed to slaughter any polygon that dares cross its path. Today we’re bringing you a special version of this guide, showing you two PC builds that are designed to run Battlefield 3. The budget box will run with most settings at high, with a resolution of 1920 x 1080, while the Beast can handle Ultra, with high levels of anti-aliasing. If you’re looking to build a new gaming PC just for BF3, then walk this way.
Graphics like this don’t come for free.
The Budget Battlefield 3 Box
CPU: Intel Core i5-2300 2.8GHz Quad Core
This budget chip from Intel will run the game wonderfully at default speeds, and will do so with a minimum of fan noise thanks to its low operating temperature. With a silent PC you’ll never blame fan noise as the reason why some knife-wielding noob is now clutching your dog tags. Price: $179.99
CPU Cooler: Intel Retail Stock Cooler
Keeping your chip cool is of utmost importance. Considering we’re not overclocking our CPU, the stock “in the box” Intel CPU will do the job nicely.
Motherboard: ASRock P67 PRO3 SE
This sub-$100 motherboard offers all of the features we need for a good budget gaming rig without piling on features we don’t need. It has SATA 6Gb/s support as well as USB 3.0 for super speed data transfers. The Pro3 SE is geared toward gaming, thanks to the dual PCI Express x16 slots, perfect for upgrading to an SLI system in the future.
Graphics: ASUS GTX 560 Ti DirectCU II
Battlefield 3 is incredibly reliant upon a decent graphics card, so you really don’t want to scrimp on the GPU. The GTX 560 Ti chipset from NVIDIA offers excellent BF3 performance with most options set to high, and running at a resolution of 1920 x 1080. You’ll probably have to make do with 2XAA, but the game will still look amazing.
RAM: Crucial Ballistix sport 4GB DDR3 1600
Four gigs is the minimum we’d expect in any gaming rig these days, and it’s hard to go past such a great price. These Crucial sticks aren’t just cheap, they’re also excellent quality and offer a little headroom for overclocking, if you’re that way inclined. Battlefield 3′s memory footprint is less than 2GB, so having 4GB is plenty.
Storage: WD Caviar Blue 750GB SATA 6Gb/s Hard Drive
Battlefield 3 only eats about 11GB of storage space, so this drive will leave you with enough capacity for even the most dedicated game collector, and certainly enough speed to cut down those loading screens.
Optical Drive: LG CD/DVD Burner GH22NS70
Unfortunately we can’t do away with the DVD drive like we did the floppy… just yet. This burner is perfect for loading new games off disk (how archaic!) or backing up your game saves.
Power Supply: COOLER MASTER eXtreme Power 600W
Skimping on your power supply is the worst possible decision when building a budget buster. There’s nothing more irritating than tracking down a power problem, so buy quality every time. This PSU will ensure your machine has a clean power supply so you can enjoy BF3 uninterrupted for hours at a time.
Case: Cooler Master CM Storm Enforcer
Beauty isn’t everything – but it counts. This case has enough room to keep all of the components cool and comfortable, while still looking great and offering room for expansion.
Total cost without accessories: $764.92
Keyboard: Microsoft SideWinder X4
The best gaming rig in the world is no good without some serious peripherals. This keyboard gives you all the functionality needed to be competitive. Can anyone say macros?
Mouse: Logitech G500
With a gaming grade laser and more buttons than you have fingers, the G500 is a huge step up from your average twin-button desk surfer.
Monitor: Acer B223WGJbmdr 22in LCD Monitor
It’s not the fanciest monitor out there, but this 5ms screen is fast enough for gamers, and the fully adjustable stand means you can be comfortable for gaming marathons.
Total price including accessories: $1044.89
The Battlefield 3 Beast
CPU: Intel Core i5-2500K
Even at default speeds this chip will provide a rock solid BF3 performance, but ten minutes of tweaking in the BIOS should see you hit 4.5GHz without too many troubles. At this speed you can be sure Battlefield 3 will run perfectly, even if Dice releases insanely big maps sometime in the future.
CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-D14
This is the key to bringing the Core i5-2500K to life. The D14 is arguably the best air cooler on the market, but it’s bloody big, so you’ll need a nice big case to fit it. However, we love the way this cooler can tame even an overclocked i5 2500k yet still remain whisper quiet.
Motherboard: ASRock Z68 Extreme4
We’ve used the very same motherboard to easily overclock our own i5 2500k, and the Windows based tweaking software makes it so easy your gran could do it. It’s also armed with plenty of PCI Express slots, perfect for an SLI or CrossFire system.
Graphics: 2 x ZOTAC GTX 570
Battlefield 3 scales perfectly in a multi-GPU system, which is why we’re recommending dual cards. Unfortunately ATI has been a bit slow with driver support for BF3, and overall it appears NVIDIA cards offer better performance. Our choice of dual GTX 570s will give you plenty of speed to crank all the bells and whistles to Ultra.
RAM: G.Skill Sniper Series 8GB (2x4GB) 1866 PC314900
With an overclock friendly CPU, there’s no point in skimping on the memory if you want an extra boost. These high quality DIMMS from G.Skill give you that extra bit of headroom. If you want to go truly overboard, pick up two kits for a total of 16GB.
Storage 1: OCZ Vertex 2 60GB
This SSD offers blazing fast Battlefield 3 loading times, yet remains nice and cheap as it’s from the last generation. 60GB is plenty of room for Windows 7 and the game, but it won’t fit much else, hence the inclusion of a second mechanical hard drive.
Storage 2: Seagate Barracuda ST31000524AS 1TB
With a whopping 1TB of storage space you’ll have plenty of room for all of your Battlefield 3 recordings. Surprisingly, this is quite a zippy drive for the price, thanks to its 7200RPM platter rotation speed.
Optical Drive: LG CD/DVD Burner GH22NS70
Unfortunately we can’t do away with the DVD drive like we did the floppy… just yet. This burner is perfect for loading new games off disk or backing up your important files (save games).
Power Supply: Corsair TX850
Powering this system requires some serious oomph, and we know this PSU is up to the task because it’s the one we use in the GameSpy labs on our fastest, dual GPU gaming rig. Sure, you’ll pay a little more, but how much do you value system stability?
Case: Cooler Master HAF X
Go big or go home. This huge case has all the top features you’d expect from the Beast, and has plenty of room for the massive heatsink and dual graphics cards. Multiple fans, huge cooling potential, USB 3.0 front panel support and enough expansion space to house a family of raccoons.
Total cost without accessories: $1667.89
Accessories: Keyboard: Razer BlackWidow Ultimate USB
Mechanical keyboards are as good as it gets for gamers. Sure, they’re loud, but they’re also precise, comfortable and seriously hard to damage.
Mouse: Razer Lachesis 5600
This is a love it or hate it mouse for a lot of people. The unique design means it’s very comfortable for long gaming sessions, and the 5600dpi resolution makes it well equipped for the perfect headshot.
Monitor: Acer H Series 27″
With the best graphics ever seen in a video game, obviously you’ll want them displayed as big as possible, which is why we’ve selected a 27″ monitor. Sure, we could have gone for a 30″ model but they’re exponentially more expensive, and even this powerful PC might halter at times with the increase in resolution.
Total including accessories: $2132.86