How To Build A PC For Crysis 3
The $600 Budget Crysis-Solver
CPU, GPU and Motherboard
As is the case with many budget PCs, I went with an all-AMD lineup in the $600 rig. For the CPU, I chose the AMD FX-4170 processor, one of the cheapest quad-core solutions around. This CPU is usually thrown into the octagon with Intel’s low-end Core i3-3xxx offerings; while the latter are undoubtedly more power efficient (see: 55W for an i3-3220 vs 125W for AMD’s chip), the FX-4170 is the more performance-oriented part. Plus, when it comes to overclocking down the road, you’ll be happier with the FX-4170.
My GPU choice is the AMD Radeon HD 7850 2 GB, or more specifically, the XFX Double D FX-785A-CDFC. The HD 7850 is one of the best price-performance values in the graphics card market right now, and my XFX choice takes that value and adds a non-reference design cooler. Two fans are almost always better than one.
The motherboard is a budget Socket AM3+ part, the ASRock 970 EXTREME3. ASRock’s offering isn’t going to wow anyone with its I/O and extra features, but it’s a solid motherboard with PCI Express 3.0, SATA III connectors, USB 3.0, eSATA and optical audio out.
RAM and Storage
[Sits back in rocking chair while smoking a corn cob pipe.] Back in my day, we liked our LCD monitors square, our CPUs with one physical core, and our RAM incredibly expensive. You paid $200 for a 2 GB kit of DDR-400 and you LIKED it.
Thankfully, much has changed over the last half-decade or so (I have a real wooden pipe now), and RAM is now so cheap, it’s borderline insulting. My weapon of choice for the $600 build? The gaudy-looking-but-highly-effective G.SKILL Ripjaws Series. This DDR3-1333 8 GB kit would be at home in a PC twice the price, and it’s a bargain at under $40.
The storage component of the $600 build will likely draw the most criticism, as I skipped the traditional large hard drive and went straight for the solid state drive (SSD). The logic behind this move is simple: If you already have a gaming PC, you can recycle whatever 320/500 GB hard drive you currently use and repurpose it as a media/games storage drive. The SSD is the crown jewel of this budget list, and its performance boost over a platter hard drive is too big to ignore. [NOTE: if you think an SSD in a PC this cheap is silly, feel free to ditch it and add a 1 TB hard drive. The overall price will still be at or around $600.]
Moving on! Our SSD choice is the ADATA Premier Pro SP900, specifically the 64 GB version. The SP900 has read and write speeds of up to 550 and 505 MB/sec., respectively, and will load games and applications before you reach the end of this sentence. As a bonus, the SP900 comes with a free copy of Acronis True Image HD (worth around $50 on its own), which means data migration and backup will be way easier for your new drive. 64 GB isn’t exactly spacious, but Windows 7 and Windows 8 only need 20 GB on the boot drive. While the bulk of your games library will end up on a second hard drive, Crysis 3 can live comfortably in flash storage heaven.
Power Supply, Case and Optical
For system power, I chose the 500W Thermaltake TR2 TR-500. It was a tough choice between this and the SilverStone ST50F-ES, as the latter has 80 PLUS certification. However, it also has a short one year limited warranty, while the less-efficient TR-500 has a five year limited warranty. The TR-500 has everything else we need, too, including two PCI power connectors and six SATA power cords.
The case of choice, while pretty barebones, still has a lot of options I want in a case. The NZXT Source 210 comes in at $40, but still mounts the power supply on the bottom of the case and has a cutout to make after-market cooler installation less of a pain. Plus, you still get three ports along the side for cable-routing.
Last…and yeah, probably least (in terms of price!): The optical drive. The LITE-ON DVD burner I chose is one of the cheapest you can find ($17.99)…and it plays and burns CDs and DVDs. Awesome!
Cost and Expected Performance
As previously mentioned, I did my Crysis 3 machine wish listing on Newegg. There are plenty of other choices in PC hardware purchasing, but Newegg tends check all the right boxes on price, customer service, and user-friendliness. Newegg puts our total at $621.92, but that’s before the $30 rebate on the graphics card. When it’s all said and done, our total comes down to $591.92.
As far as performance goes – and this is educated speculation coupled with hours of research online – our machine will play Crysis 3 on Medium Quality at 1920×1080. The CPU is better than the FX-4150 recommended by Crytek in the High-Performance bracket, and the HD 7850 is between the Recommended HD 5870 and the High-Performance HD 7970. This machine won’t be belting out Very High Quality graphics at 1920×1080/60 fps, but you will get playable frame rates (likely between 35-45 fps) on Medium at 1920×1080 or lower, with 60 fps+ if the settings hit rock-bottom.