How To Build A PC For Crysis 3
The $2000 Budget Crysis-Destroyer
While the $600 Crysis 3-on-a-budget rig is nothing to sneeze at, you might be interested in spending a little (see: a lot) more cash on your next gaming PC. That’s where our $2,000 machine comes in handy.
CPU, GPU and Motherboard
This time around, we have an Intel/AMD combo to consider, and the CPU choice is the Intel Core i7-3770K. The Core i5-2500K is also a great choice, but the i7-3770K fits into our $2,000 budget without any issues, hence the more expensive part. The i7-3770K is built on the latest core from Intel (Ivy Bridge), has a high base clock rate of 3.5 GHz, and Hyper-Threading gives this quad-core part eight virtual cores. And lastly, it sits around $300 ($319.99) which tends to be the cap price for most gamers in the PC space.
While many, including myself, usually expect to see Nvidia cards in a high-end rig like this, I went with two AMD Radeon HD 7970s in a Crossfire configuration. Performance-wise, the 7970 tends to sit between the GTX 670 and 680, but recent price breaks means AMD’s single-GPU flagship is less expensive than the 670. Two XFX Double D FX-797A-TDFC cards – each with a 925 MHz core clock, 2048 stream processors, and 3 GB of video memory – cost $50 less than the MSI GTX 670s I was looking to include. The cherry on top in this deal? Each XFX 7970 comes with codes for FOUR free games – Far Cry 3, Hitman: Absolution, Sleeping Dogs, and Medal of Honor: Warfighter.
Our motherboard choice for the $2,000 rig is more robust than the ASRock in the $600 build. The Gigabyte GA-Z77X-UP4 TH still sits in the mid-range at under $190, but its I/O is hard to match: Six USB 3.0 ports, three PCI Express slots, and – my favorite – two Thunderbolt ports.
RAM and Storage
Because of the bigger budget, I get to choose a bigger RAM kit! This time around I went with a 16 GB Mushkin kit, which comes in at DDR3-1600 and a penny under $100. The lower 8-8-8-24 timings and 1600 MHz speed should make this an OC-friendly setup, although “extreme” overclockers will likely go with a DDR3-2000 kit instead.
Storage in the $2,000 build is fast and plentiful; the storage drive is a 1 TB Samsung Spinpoint F3, which should hold your games and media libraries without incident. As for the boot drives, I went with a dual-SSD RAID configuration. Frankly, you could go with any two solid state drives, and the performance would put the Millennium Falcon to shame…or something like that. I chose the Crucial M4 because a) it’s incredibly popular amongst the enthusiast crowd, and b) it’s current $119.99 price tag is a hair better than the competition from Intel, Samsung, etc. Once Windows 7/8 is installed, two Crucial M4’s in RAID 0 (data striping) should provide over 200 GB of “Ludicrous Speed”-like storage for your most played games.
Power Supply, Cooling, Case and Optical
Despite the two graphics cards and three hard drives, there’s no need to go overboard with the power supply. A high-end system with two Radeon HD 7970s in Crossfire won’t even draw 600W of power, so here’s to bucking the Kilowatt PSU trend. I’m going with a 750W Corsair HX750, one of the best sub-800W power supplies on the market today. Along with a seven year warranty, the HX750 has an 80 PLUS Gold rating (which means it’s around 90 percent efficient), comes with modular cables, and has enough PCI power cables for the two 7970s.
The case is a bit of a step up from the $40 NZXT option in the $600 build. I chose the Cooler Master HAF 932 Advanced, which has plenty of room for the two 7970s. The 932 comes with four fans pre-intstalled – three of which are 230mm – so cooling won’t be an issue, and its front I/O suite is generous, with six USB ports (two are 3.0), FireWire, eSATA, and audio. The inside is just as fleshed-out, thanks to a tool-less design, cut-out in the motherboard tray for cooler access, and cable routing throughout.
The $2,000 budget also allows for some more creative cooling options. While the $600 build uses the stock fan on the AMD CPU, There’s enough money in this build to snag a Corsair H80 water cooling kit. The H80 radiator would mount on the rear fan bracket in the HAF 932 (this can be done easily, as the World Wide Web shows), and the block is compatible with our Socket 1155 board, as well as virtually every existing socket under the sun. The H80 will keep the 3770k cool at stock speeds, and if you ever want to overclock in the future, the H80 is the perfect future-proofing solution.
While it’s not a necessity, I upgraded the optical drive as well. You could easily go with a DVD burner again, but there was enough room in the budget to include an LG Blu-ray burner. It won’t help you play Crysis, but watching HD movies and backing up copious amounts of data will be a snap.
Cost and Expected Performance
The final price on Newegg is $2,128.88, but there are several rebates to factor in. Rebates on the video cards, case, power supply and water cooler amount to $130, which brings the total down to $1,998.88, just under our $2,000 target. This list nets you the hardware necessary to play games well into the future, and features like two SSDs, Thunderbolt connectivity and ample USB 3.0 ports makes this a true speed demon.
And what if you want to spend more than $600, but less than $2,000? There are several parts you can go without on the $2,000 system, including the second SSD, second video card, H80 cooler, and 16 GB memory kit. Replace the latter with an 8 GB kit, and exchange the Blu-ray burner for a DVD burner, and that’s an expected savings of over $650. Your mid-range rig will settle somewhere between $1,300 and $1,400. Need to shave off even more? Swap out that Core i7-3770K for a Core i5-2500K or Core i5-3570K (they use the same socket, so no need to change the motherboard), and that will save you another $100.
Sticking with the $2,000 system, unchanged, how can you expect Crysis 3 to run? This system blows past the High-Performance recommendations, and it will definitely tackle High Quality at 1920×1080 with at least 60 fps. In fact, you’ll probably get 60 fps (or close to it) at 2560×1600. Sadly, despite spending $2,000, it looks like ratcheting things up to Very High Quality will bring average framerates down into the low-to-mid 40’s. While that’s definitely playable, it’s a bit of a letdown for a $2,000 rig.
It’s important to remember that all of the above is…well, let’s call it “educated speculation.” A lot of the work involved is based on multiplayer alpha benchmarks, so the final version of Crysis 3 may be more taxing than what’s been seen so far.