1920×1080, 2560×1440, 3840×2160

With the release of Titanfall this week I know that many gamers will be looking to upgrade or build new systems.

Join us on March 11th at 9pm ET / 6pm PT for a LIVE Titanfall Game Stream!  You can find us at http://www.pcper.com/live.  You can subscribe to our mailing list to be alerted whenever we have a live event!!

We canceled the event due to the instability of Titanfall servers.  We'll reschedule soon!!

With the release of Respawn's Titanfall upon us, many potential PC gamers are going to be looking for suggestions on compiling a list of parts targeted at a perfect Titanfall experience.  The good news is, even with a fairly low investment in PC hardware, gamers will find that the PC version of this title is definitely the premiere way to play as the compute power of the Xbox One just can't compete.

 

In this story we'll present three different build suggestions, each addressing a different target resolution but also better image quality settings than the Xbox One can offer.  We have options for 1080p, the best option that the Xbox could offer, 2560×1440 and even 3840×2160, better known as 4K.  In truth, the graphics horsepower required by Titanfall isn't overly extreme, and thus an entire PC build coming in under $800, including a full copy of Windows 8.1, is easy to accomplish.

Target 1: 1920×1080

First up is old reliable, the 1920×1080 resolution that most gamers still have on their primary gaming display.  That could be a home theater style PC hooked up to a TV or monitors in sizes up to 27-in.  Here is our build suggestion, followed by our explanations.

  Titanfall 1080p Build
Processor Intel Core i3-4330 - $137
Motherboard MSI H87-G43 - $96
Memory Corsair Vengeance LP 8GB 1600 MHz (2 x 4GB) - $89
Graphics Card EVGA GeForce GTX 750 Ti - $179
Storage Western Digital Blue 1TB - $59
Case Corsair 200R ATX Mid Tower Case - $72
Power Supply Corsair CX 500 watt - $49
OS Windows 8.1 OEM - $96
Total Price $781 - Amazon Full Cart

Our first build comes in at $781 and includes some incredibly competent gaming hardware for that price.  The Intel Core i3-4330 is a dual-core, HyperThreaded processor that provides more than enough capability to push Titanfall any all other major PC games on the market.  The MSI H87 motherboard lacks some of the advanced features of the Z87 platform but does the job at a lower cost.  8GB of Corsair memory, though not running at a high clock speed, provides more than enough capacity for all the programs and applications you could want to run.

The 1TB WD Blue hard drive is a steal at just $59 but obviously you are going to miss out on some of the performance advantages of an SSD.  If you can splurge a bit more in any area, this is where I would recommend you do it: grabbing something like the Samsung 840 EVO 250GB for $139.  The Corsair 200R is one of dozens of cases that can be found under $75 that will hold all your parts but that selection is very much about personal preference.  The CX 500 power supply provides more than enough juice to keep it all running.

The graphics card is biggest contributor to gaming performance and the GeForce GTX 750 Ti is a fantastic choice that requires very little power but is more than capable of keeping up with 1920x1080 gaming in most games, including Titanfall.  Available from $149 to $179, depending on the SKU and overclock, the GTX 750 Ti is my favorite sub-$200 card you can actually buy today.

Target 2: 2560x1440

Now we are stepping things up a bit, going from 1080p to 2560x1440 resolution is a 77% increase in pixel count which requires a step up in GPU compute power to go along with it.  You might think that monitors capable of 2560x1440 are pretty expensive, and some are.  But if you look around and find the low cost options, like this QNIX QX2710 display on Amazon.com, you can jump into QHD resolutions for as low as $337!!

  Titanfall 2560x1440 Build
Processor Intel Core i5-4670K - $234
Motherboard Gigabyte Z87X-D3H - $144
Memory Corsair Vengeance LP 8GB 1600 MHz (2 x 4GB) - $89
Graphics Card MSI GeForce GTX 770 Gaming - $329
ASUS GeForce GTX 770 DirectCU II - $339
Storage Samsung 840 EVO 250GB SSD - $139
Case Corsair 200R ATX Mid Tower Case - $72
Power Supply Corsair CX 600 watt - $75
OS Windows 8.1 OEM - $96
Total Price $1198 - Amazon Full Cart

At just under $1200, our second build out provides a lot more power in a few key areas.  The biggest changes are seen in the GPU, CPU and storage placements.  Using a Samsung 840 EVO 250GB SSD definitely improves boot times, game load times and level load times but at the expense of capacity.  You will more than likely want to have another drive in your case, maybe even the 1TB Western Digital Blue listed in the 1080p build. 

We upgraded the motherboard and processor to a Z87 option from Gigabyte with the Intel Core i7-4670K CPU - a true quad-core option - which will offer some improved application performance for games and for media applications.  

The biggest increase is seen in our move from the GeForce GTX 750 Ti all the way up to the GeForce GTX 770 - and a killer one from ASUS at that.  The GTX 770 is based on the same GK104 GPU as the GTX 680 was though this model is slightly overclocked.  Titanfall is absolutely able to run at 2560x1440 at a smooth 60 FPS with this combination of hardware! 

Target: 4K, 3840x2160

If you really want to show off to your console gaming friends, bring them over to show off Titanfall running on a 4K monitor and laugh at their measly little 1080p TV!  Of course, you have to actually OWN ONE of these monitors - we are using the ASUS PQ321Q which runs a cool $2900.  Obviously you really, REALLY need to want the best to fork out for this.  The good news is that your PC doesn't need to much more power to keep that 4K goodness running smooth on Titanfall!

  Titanfall 4K Build
Processor Intel Core i7-4770K - $319
Motherboard Gigabyte Z87X-D3H - $144
Memory Corsair Vengeance LP 8GB 1600 MHz (2 x 4GB) - $89
Graphics Card EVGA GeForce GTX 780 Ti Superclocked - $729
Storage Samsung 840 EVO 500GB SSD - $276
Case Corsair 200R ATX Mid Tower Case - $72
Power Supply Seasonic M12II-750 watt Bronze - $109
OS Windows 8.1 OEM - $96
Total Price $1833 - Amazon Full Cart

For under $2000 you can get a gaming PC that can power Titanfall at a magnificent 8.29 Mpix resolution!  Our upgrades from the 2560x1440 system include a jump up to the Core i7-4770K processor, that essentially adds HyperThreading support to the 4670K, which doubles thread count.  We kept the same motherboard and memory, though clearly there are more feature-packed, and more expensive options, should your budget allow.

I also bumped the SSD from the 250GB model to the 500GB model - this should allow many users to keep the SSD as their primary drive with all the games they could want installed in Steam and Origin without requiring a secondary hard drive.  The power supply was boosted a bit to a 750 watt model from Season that is a steal at just over $100!  I'm sure some of you will complain about putting all of this hardware in the modest Corsair 200R chassis, but as I mentioned above, case selection is a very personal choice!

Most importantly, we have bumped the graphics card up to the fastest single GPU option on the market, the GeForce GTX 780 Ti for $729.  NVIDIA's flagship GPU should have more than enough power, and enough memory, to power Titanfall at 4K resolutions without breaking too much of a sweat.  I'll freely admit that many other games, like Crysis 3 and Metro: Last Light, could need MORE POWER on the GPU side to run smoothly at 4K resolutions but for Titanfall this is a completely capable system.  (For those of you needing 4K on more demanding titles, just double up and go for SLI!)

 

I fully expect the 1080p target build of this story to be the most popular - with a budget of just $780 (including a copy of Windows 8.1) you can build a custom gaming PC that will play Titanfall better than the Xbox One and certainly better than the Xbox 360.  For that investment you also get access to thousands of other PC titles, a general purpose computer and some bragging rights over users that seem to think that the consoles are all there is.  Increasing your budget by about $400 gets you a computer that can game comfortably at 2560x1440 and will still offer some room to grow for future, more graphically demanding PC games.  And of course, if you want to spend ALL THE MONEY you can shell out the $1800 for our ultimate Titanfall build and prepare for the pending 4K gaming revolution.  

That's the great part about being a PC gamer - choice!

I know some of you will question the use of Intel processors and NVIDIA graphics cards in all three of our builds.  In truth, the AMD Radeon graphics cards are great options for Titanfall but the price and availability concerns are still too much to get over.  For example, the Radeon R7 265, at $150, would have been the better choice over the GeForce GTX 750 Ti for a non-power-limited gaming PC; but you can't find it for sale today.  On the mid-range system a Radeon R9 280X or R9 290 would be an excellent choice but all are either out of stock or $100 over the MSRP throwing the performance per dollar metrics back in NVIDIA's favor.  When that clears up, we'll have this discussion again.