Best Video Card for Battlefield 3
If you’re reading this, then you’ve decided to play Battlefield 3 on PC — congratulations for making the correct choice in gaming platforms. Unfortunately, you may need to invest in a solid gaming rig to truly appreciate what BF3 has to offer — those glorious graphics don’t come free.
While a solid processor and sufficient RAM are an integral part of running any game, for today’s purposes, we’re considering the gamer who is looking to upgrade his video card. Just remember — a top-of-the-line video card will have its performance bottle-necked by an ancient processor.
Battlefield 3 is the debut game of the Frostbite 2 engine, which means we have no currently-released games to base benchmarking assessments on. However, we know Frostbite 2 will take full advantage of DirectX 11 API and 64-bit processors, and that it will not support DirectX 9. We also have Battlefield 3′s system requirements, which we will use as a baseline for our analysis.
GRAPHICS CARD (AMD): DIRECTX 10.1 COMPATIBLE WITH 512 MB RAM (ATI RADEON 3000, 4000, 5000 OR 6000 SERIES, WITH ATI RADEON 3870 OR HIGHER PERFORMANCE)
GRAPHICS CARD (NVIDIA): DIRECTX 10.0 COMPATIBLE WITH 512 MB RAM (NVIDIA GEFORCE 8, 9, 200, 300, 400 OR 500 SERIES WITH NVIDIA GEFORCE 8800 GT OR HIGHER PERFORMANCE)
GRAPHICS CARD: DIRECTX 11 COMPATIBLE WITH 1024 MB RAM (NVIDIA GEFORCE GTX 560 OR ATI RADEON 6950)
We’re looking for the best video card for Battlefield 3 — but what does that mean? The card that will perform the best? The card that will run BF3 for the cheapest price? For our purposes, we’re looking for the best bang for your buck — great performance at a reasonable price.
That said, we’ll examine cards with two criteria in mind: DirectX 11 compatibility, and at least 1 GB of on-board RAM. We’ll be using Newegg.com as a pricing point.
The GeForce GTX 560 Ti outperforms the HD 6870, but at $230, there are more cost-effective cards, like the Radeon HD 6950. Although it costs $10 more, the HD 6950 is the slightly more powerful card, and a version with 2 GB of RAM is available for $260.
The most powerful card we’ll recommend is the GeForce GTX 570 at $320. It’s performance-to-price ratio isn’t up to par with the less expensive cards, and anything more expensive will result in diminishing returns on your investment.
Which to buy?
Which card you select will depend on what you value more. If you’re looking for power, opt for the GeForce GTX 570. If you’re looking for the best performance for your dollar, the Radeon HD 6870 is for you. The HD 6950 serves as a middle ground for those who don’t want to spend over $300 but want something more powerful than the 6870.
Note: We have not run full benchmarks on these cards or reviewed them separately in an official capacity. This article is intended as a consumer’s guide to help make a purchasing decision easier. Prices can change on a daily basis, and we recommend consumers do their research before making a purchase.