Battlefield 3 $950 System Build

Battlefield 3 $950 System Build

Last week we presented a relatively inexpensive system build that would run BF3 quite well given that Wright and myself restricted ourselves to a 550$ budget. In this installment we will give you, the money bags gamer, a system that will not only play BF3 with ‘ease’ but keep you satisfied for years to come. For our high end build, we set the budget to a reasonable $950 give or take a twenty. Why $950? The answer is simple, after much thought, discussion, and a few hurt feelings (not really), we decided that exceeding our $950 budget was just plain unnecessary and borderline wasteful. For those of you interested in why this is so, Wright will be taking a more in depth look at the concept of future proofing and its flaws in an upcoming article but this is not the place for that explanation.


As for our budget, $950 is what it takes to create a PC that will not only be a mid-high range system but will continue to demolish games now and for some time to come, particularly since BF3 is a member of a now rare breed of game that is still built specifically for the PC. As such BF3 has requirements that far exceed those of the majority of games coming out in the near future, many of which are “watered down” console ports with no optimized visual eye candy for us PC gamers. Now God forbid you play another game after playing BF3, this build should have no trouble for years to come.


Before we begin with the build let us re-state what assumptions Wright and myself have made for all of you just in case you skipped over it in the $550 build. For this build we assume that you have enough money to afford this system as it is the reason why we are building it for you at this price. If you don’t, the $550 build is what you want. 950$ is an amazing amount of money to work with for a gaming PC. Obviously we would not mind having more for a PC but we don’t think Santa Claus is that generous :).


Second, we assume that you are replacing an older machine so that you already possess a keyboard, a mouse, a display you can reuse and 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 your current operating system is XP you will need to get an upgrade disc. 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. Microsoft made this process super confusing so if your not sure what you can or need to do, ask for help on our support forum. There are also other less than ethical ways to fulfill this requirement but we neither recommend nor condone them.


Finally, once again we assumed, 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.


Now on to the build. As we said in last weeks article, your computer requires eight basic items to work: a CPU (Processor), a motherboard, a video card, a hard drive, memory, a power supply, a CD/DVD drive, and a case.


Choosing the right motherboard is important, it’s one of the few major component that will have to last the life of your computer. We chose the a Gigabyte P67 motherboard for a few reasons. The P67 platform is an inexpensive solution that still offers high performance and the features that a serious gamer wants. It gives plenty of BIOS options for overclocking (if you are into that stuff). It features a LGA 1155 socket that supports all of the Intel’s i series ( i7/i5/i3) CPUs. The only issue(s) to be noted about this board is that it does not have SLI/Crossfire support. When you put in 2 cards in, it gives you the 16x/4x mode which does not increase your FPS by any significant amount. This is not a concern however since we are only using one video card. Lastly, it has a F1 BIOS which may cause issues with USB detection and you need to flash it to a F3 BIOS in case the problem shows up for you. Not a big deal, its a good practice to check for BIOS updates anyway when building a machine. Instructions are generally included with the individual motherboard.


The second component we chose is the Radeon HD 6970 2gb by Sapphire. This is arguably the best single GPU card currently on the market. Costing a whopping $349.99 this counts for over 1/3 of the build price and combined with the CPU we hit fulfill our “60% of build cost goes to CPU and GPU” rule exactly. Compared to its Nvidia rival the GTX 580, it not only outperforms it but   does so for nearly 12o dollars less. This card will not only run BF3 smoothly but it will destroy games that are to be soon released.


Memory is becoming cheaper and cheaper so Wright chose to put in 12GB of DDR3 RAM at a speed of 1600MHz. 12GB will last you for quite some time as most programs don’t take advantage of more than 2GB of RAM even under high workload. The modules are from Crucial’s high end Ballistix line of memory, a line that has garnered quite a reputation for reliability. We also gave you a 1TB Seagate Barracuda hard drive that should offer plenty of storage space for your computer. It also has a 6.0Gb/s SATA connection that will take advantage of the high speed SATA ports our motherboard features.


Power supplies are tricky as you need to find one that not only fits your case but, delivers enough to power your computer and have space for extra. We chose the 750W PSU by HEC. The recommended wattage for our build was around between 550W-650W (depending on the usage). This PSU not only gives you enough juice for the build, exceeding the recommended wattage but gives you plenty of overhead for additional components should you ever decide to add things later.


Ahh the mighty CPU. Without a good CPU this build would be worthless. So we decided on giving you one of the best CPUs on the market. The almighty Intel i5 2500k. The i5 gives you some of the best performance possible for your computer. Tag-teaming with the 6970 this beast will rip through your games. At a clock of 3.3GHz with a turbo boost to 3.7GHz the i5 offers great overclocking abilities and great performance. Compared to the i7 2600k and the i7 920 this is a very very reasonable choice. The jump in price from the i5 to the i7 is too high to notice any major, and sometimes even minor, increase in performance.


To house our build we chose the Thermaltake Armor A60 Mid-Tower gaming case. I (Kal) personally use this case and am blown away by its cooling and spacing. Supporting up to 7 fans, this case will keep your build nice and cool. This also comes with space to hold up to 10HDDs. This case sports some of the most space for video cards of any mid-tower style case on the market so there will be no trouble getting the massive Radeon 6970 inside. In back it gives you 6 USB ports for your mouse, keyboard, webcam, external HD etc etc and in front  it gives you USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports, an e-SATA port, and HD audio port (AC 97)  for even faster file transfers and great sound input and output with easy access.


One last time remember the importance of reading directions. 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 at the highest settings with great FPS. Of course this is in our opinion the best possible combination of hardware that $950 will get you to not only play games with ease but to last you quite a while until your next  build. Happy Gaming!


CPU Intel Core i5-2500K 3.3GHz $219.99
Motherboard GIGABYTE LGA 1155 Intel P67 ATX $99.99
Video Card SAPPHIRE Radeon HD 6970 2GB $349.99
Memory Crucial Ballistix 12GB (3 x 4GB) DDR3 1600 $74.99
Hard Drive Seagate 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 6.0Gb/s $59.99
Case Thermaltake Armor A60 Mid-Tower Case $74.99
Power Supply HEC Zephyr 750W ATX12V Power Supply $69.99
CD/DVD Drive SAMSUNG CD/DVD Burner Black $16.99
Total: $966.92


Note: I have seen the i5-2500k for as little as $180.

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