How to choose a CPU and video card?

Playkey Team
6 min readApr 5, 2019

Building a new gaming PC has never been cheap and it’s even getting more expensive with all new technologies like VR and Real-Time Ray Tracing. Even if you try to ignore all these shiny marketing features hardware segment does not stand still — lifetime and price of PC parts have changed dramatically. But let’s stop whining and find out how powerful should your machine be to run new 2019 games. Developers don’t reveal system requirements too early but we still find a few examples.

Mortal Kombat 11

MK 11 (release on April 23) has modest requests by today’s standards. The explanation is very simple though — the fighting game is based on quite outdated Unreal Engine 3. NetherRealm did a great job modifying the engine, so that the MK 11 looks great in comparison with modern games. So here are the minimal system requirements:

· CPU: Intel Core i5–750 (AMD Phenom II X4 965/Ryzen 3 1200);

· Graphics card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670/GTX 1050 (AMD Radeon HD 7950/Radeon R9 270);

· RAM: 8 GB.

Recommended system requirements:

· Core i3–2100 (FX-6300/Ryzen 5 1400);

· GeForce GTX 780/GTX 1060 6 GB (Radeon R9 290/RX 570);

· 8 GB of RAM.

Mortal Kombat 11

Total War: Three Kingdoms

Creative Assembly provided really detailed requirements for Total War: Three Kingdoms (premiere — May 23). There is even an option for integrated graphics card:

· Core i7–8550U (1,8 GHz) paired with Intel UHD Graphics 620;

· 6 GB of RAM;

· Quality: 1280x720, low quality settings, 25–35 fps in single player and 1v1 multiplayer modes.

Here are the minimal system requirements but for a dedicated 1 GB graphics card:

· Core 2 Duo (3 GHz);

· GeForce GTX 650 Ti (Radeon HD 7850);

· 4 GB of RAM;

· Quality: 1280x720, low quality settings, 25–35 fps.

In the recommended requirements Creative Assembly specified Windows 10 and increased video memory up to 4 GB:

· Core i5–6600 (Ryzen 5 2600X);

· GeForce GTX 970 (R9 Fury X);

· 8 GB of RAM;

· Quality: 1920x1080, high quality settings, 45–55 fps.

Do you want to get 60 fps at Full HD on ultra settings in Total War: Three Kingdoms? Well then you will need something like this:

· Core i7–8700K;

· GeForce GTX 1080/GeForce RTX 2060;

· 8 GB of RAM.

As you can see, strategy from Creative Assembly is way more demanding than MK 11. By the way, Three Kingdoms got new post-processing effects and has two color palettes: Romance (rich colors) and Records (more realistic gamma). Also, the British team worked on the shadows, added TAA and improved the texture (wood, metal, leather, etc.). Well you will need to spend quite a lot to play the Three Kingdoms comfortably!

Total War: Three Kingdoms

Shenmue 3

Shenmue 3 (premiere — August 27) — one of the most anticipated adventure games of the year, the return of Yu Suzuki, creator of Virtua Fighter. So far, we know only the minimum requirements:

· Core i5–4460;

· GeForce GTX 650 Ti (you will need at least 2 GB of VRAM);

· 4 GB of RAM.

Shenmue 3

Quantic Dream games

Detroit: Become Human, Beyond: Two Souls and Heavy Rain will be released on PC by the end of the year — it is almost the most important announcement at the GDC 2019. Before that, all three Quantic Dream adventure games were Sony Play Station exclusives. The last time the French studio was interested in PC market was in 2005 (Indigo Prophecy / Fahrenheit).

The system requirements for Detroit: Become Human, Beyond: Two Souls and Heavy Rain are, quite the same:

· Minimum system requirements: Core i5–2400, GeForce GTX 660 and 4 GB of RAM;

· Recommended system requirements: Core i7–2700K, GeForce GTX 1080 and 12 GB of RAM.

Why a 9-year-old game would need GTX 1080? Well we will see soon whether Quantic Dream meant Full HD or 4K by ultra settings.

Detroit: Become Human

General recommendations

When it comes to the graphic cards, the market is filled with products from different vendors with different frequencies, prices, dimensions, available options, and guarantee periods. There is no universal solution and the selection depends largely on the case — for example, although the Zotac Amp Extreme with three 90-mm fans takes a standard slot it will block two more.

Zotac GeForce GTX 1080 Amp Extreme

We covered choosing graphics card in our last article published last week. Naturally, one should consider a corresponding CPU to make sure there won’t be any bottleneck whatsoever. The converse case is also true. For example, a system based on the increasingly popular GTX 1660 Ti ($900 PC build), should be paired with something like Ryzen 5 1600X. Picking less powerful components (like GTX 1060 6 GB or RX 570 8 GB paired with Ryzen 5 1600) will significantly reduce the performance.

That is crucial for low-cost systems. You can build a PC even with Pentium Gold G5400 and already mentioned affordable RX 570 to run games at 1080 on normal settings. But is it worth it? It’s wiser to get a more reliable CPU — Ryzen 5 1600 or Core i3–8100.

Earlier AMD budget line included RX 550 and 560, but now we see that RX 570 and 580 are taking their place. It was a good line (improved 400th series), but everything has it limit. A Vega series from the Red Team hasn’t really worked out — in any case comparing to NVIDIA products.

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

If you can spend three hundred more ($1200 build) on PC, Core i5–8400 and Ryzen 5 2600X paired with GTX 1070 would be the best choice in this price range. Looking for something more powerful? Then you should take a look at Core i5–8500 and Ryzen 7 1700. Again, if you want more details, we recommend you to read the previous article. By the way, we didn’t consider solutions like GT 1030 and RX 550, as mostly they can handle only casual online games.

In general, the choice of processor and video card depends on the games you want to play. Think what games you are going to buy this year (or next — Cyberpunk 2077 is unlikely to be released soon), look at the system requirements — and pick up the parts based on that.

Cyberpunk 2077

However, the entire gaming industry is now slowly moving from sales of games and hardware to selling only games. Remember Stadia from Google or Project xCloud from Microsoft? Well it is very convenient for gamers — you spend money only on a single product, and don’t worry about updating your PC.

You can experience cloud gaming even today on — the only thing you need is to subscribe. If you play like a couple of hours after work the basic subscription be perfectly enough, which even in a year would cost you much less than GTX 1660 Ti for example. So, check your internet connection and dive into the new world.



Playkey Team

Playkey is a working cloud gaming platform, invented to make all hardcore games available on any device without requirements to high productivity CPU and GPU.