Battlefield 3 $550 System Build

Battlefield 3 $550 System Build

AMD Phenom II X4 975With the release of Battlefield 3 fast approaching, many of us find ourselves reevaluating our systems, some of us uneasily realizing they no longer possess the hulk of a computer they used to. For some of us money is tight and the costs of buying a whole new system premade are too much. The systems at your local Best Buy are expensive and don’t even have good parts. The best way to get yourself back up to date and for the least expense is by purchasing parts and building your own PC. Now many people initially cringe at that concept thinking that they can’t possibly be smart enough to put together their own computer. Fortunately, if you can read, you are probably intelligent enough to do it. It really isn’t difficult and the money saved will make any effort expended worth it, especially once you are comfortably able to play BF3.


Now before we get into the meat of this build, there are a couple of assumptions that Kal and I have made about you, the builder. First, we set a budget of $550 +/- $5. Originally we were shooting for a nice $500 limit but we simply weren’t happy with anything we were able to put together at that price point considering the significant improvements that become available for just $50 more. Even if you are tight on money, missing a few meals in order to afford this upgrade will leave you plenty satisfied.


Second, we assume that you are replacing an older machine so that you already possess a keyboard, a mouse, and a display you can reuse. Additionally we are assuming that you also already have a copy of Windows Vista (64-Bit), or Windows 7 (64-Bit). Windows XP will NOT suffice, it does NOT support DirectX 10 (or higher), which is required to play BF3. If you already have XP and you can install it on your new system, you will need to get an upgrade disc. If its tied to your current brand of computer you won’t be able to use it, you will just have to buy a new copy of Windows 7. This is going to cost you about $100. However, if your college student, check to see if your university has a student discount program for Microsoft products (I got an upgrade disc to Windows 7 Ultimate for $10 at University of Kansas). Microsoft’s licensing and installation rules are confusing so ask for help in a comment or our forum if your not sure what your options are. There are also other less than ethical ways to fulfill this requirement but I neither recommend or condone them.


Finally, we assume, since you have gotten this far, that you are able to read. Building a computer doesn’t take a brain surgeon but it does require you to take the time to read directions and occasionally troubleshoot with Google. If you can do these two things, you can build a PC.


Okay, here is your meat and potatoes. To build a functioning computer you need eight basic items: a CPU (Processor), a motherboard, a video card, a hard drive, memory, a power supply, a CD/DVD drive, and a case.


We chose to use an MSI nForce 630 motherboard mainly because it was inexpensive yet retained all the key features a gaming machine needs such as a PCI-E x16, and support for up to 16 GB of RAM in two slots. Despite being a mirco ATX sized board, it still offers all the amenities we need for a performance system. This motherboard also includes a low end GeForce 7025 on-board video card that you can use to boot the machine if you ever have video card problems.


Thanks to the money we saved by going for a inexpensive motherboard, we were able to afford one of AMD’s most powerful quad-core processors, AMD Phenom II X4 975 CPU. Yes, let it be repeated, in a budget build we were able to squeeze in one of AMD’s best CPUs.


The video card, just like the CPU, is not a place to try cut corners and save a few bucks, consider that since 60% of our build cost is dedicated to just these two items, so having the right one is important! We chose the Nvidia GeForce GTX 560 with 1 GB of DDR5 memory. This card provides a ton of video muscle for its price and goes toe to toe with AMD’s Radeon 6870 edging the AMD out by the width of a hair in most benchmarks. The difference really is a toss up, so considering both cards can be found for the same price, you could just as easily opt for an AMD Radeon 6870, particularly if you have an affinity for a specific brand over another.


Memory is incredibly inexpensive these days so we easily decided on 8GBs of DDR1333, the highest speed supported by our motherboard. Since we have only 2 memory slots we have to use 4GB chips. We also found it strange that 2 4GB sticks cost less than 4 2GB modules would but we won’t complain about that! For the hard drive we simply choose the least expensive yet still reputable brand of 500GB drive we could find. The same can be said of the CD/DVD burner we chose. Those are two places to save money.


Finally, Kal selected the XION-180 case to house our components. Its a cheap case that has a lot going for it. It features tool-less drive bays, and many of them, five 3.5″ and four 5.25″ bays to be exact. It also includes two front USB 2.0 ports, a 3.5mm audio out port, and a mic in port. So there is plenty of space for future devices/reuse. It also has a fan and space for 3 more and it looks half decent. It doesn’t have all the high end features a more expensive case might but this is a budget build yet it has what it needs to get the job done.


I must reiterate the importance of reading directions one final time. When you get these pieces and prepare to assemble them, be sure that you read and follow the directions that come with the parts, they write them for a reason. The instructions will walk you through exactly what you need to do. If you are unsure, ask someone who does know! There are knowledgeable members here, and we have a forum specifically for the type of questions that might come up when building your own machine. ASK! This build will be more than capable of running BF3 well even as you push to its higher settings. Of course this is in our opinion the best possible combination of hardware that $550 will get you and proof that quality gaming is possible on a budget. Kal and I also put together a high performance build with a $950 dollar budget, look for that article to be published in the near future. Enjoy.


CPU AMD Phenom II X4 975 Black Edition 3.6GHz $159.99
Motherboard MSI NF725GM-P31 AM3 nForce 630a Micro ATX $48.99
Video Card ECS GeForce GTX 560 (Fermi) 1GB  $179.99
Memory Team Elite 8GB (2 x 4GB)DDR3 1333  $42.99
Hard Drive HITACHI 500GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s $39.99
Case XION-180 Meshed Steel ATX Mid Tower Case $34.99
Power Supply HEC 585W ATX12V Power Supply $29.99
CD/DVD Drive SAMSUNG CD/DVD Burner Black $16.99
Total: $553.92


EDIT: After further research, we found that this build is a heck of a deal. A system with similar hardware was available from for over $200 more.

, , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Best of Elite, Elite Tech, News | 4 Comments

4 Comments on “Battlefield 3 $550 System Build”
Comment #411


wow thanks, i searched a ton but no1 seems to have a decent setup that can play bf3 for cheap

October 12th, 2011, 2:42 pm
Comment #412


i gotta ati 6850 already, will that work in this build how much would it cost with that card instead?

October 18th, 2011, 7:27 pm
Comment #413


Avatar image

If you already have the card then that will save you the $179.99 that it costs for the Nvidia 560. And your total would be 373.93$ Although the 6850 will not do too well with bf3 on higher resolutions. You will need to play on either a lower resolution or low Graphics settings for the game to run “smoothly”

October 18th, 2011, 10:24 pm
Comment #414


Avatar image

Your Welcome, Thanks for the compliments!

October 18th, 2011, 10:24 pm

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Powered by phpBB ©2007 phpBB Group. ©2013 Elite 2.0 Theme. Graphics from AcidTech.
Web Site Hit Counter