Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Can You Run It - A True “Minimum Requirements” PC

A True “Minimum Requirements” PC
PC gaming, despite the possibilities it offers, is complex. Unlike playing on a console where you’re essentially guaranteed that any title will run in the best possible way, gaming on a PC often means you’ll have to ask one particular question: can you run it?
But, what if you want to have a computer that’s powerful enough for most games yet doesn’t cost a fortune? Or, at least something that won’t require you to run a benchmark or demo for every new title just to be perfectly sure that it’ll run—and be actually playable.
Well, getting that kind of setup is no longer a dream. Aiming for the minimum, or rather the sweet spot, is now a viable option for anyone planning to get into PC gaming.
Three Key Components
A computer’s gaming performance largely depends on three essential components: the central processing unit (CPU), the graphics processing unit (GPU), and the random-access memory (or RAM).
Sufficient Computing Power
Starting with the CPU, the true minimum is one that’s fairly recent. Intel’s i3-9100F is among the best budget processors today. Despite being sold for less than 100 USD, it’s more than capable of handling the latest games. And yes, it should be enough for future titles as well.
The i3-9100F is a quad-core processor that’s clocked at 3.6 GHz, though it has a max turbo frequency of 4.0 GHz. Its closest competitor, which you’ve probably heard about, is AMD’s Ryzen 3 3200G. Truth be told, the Ryzen isn’t as fast and is often slightly more expensive. 

So, why is it a common recommendation in minimum-requirement builds? Well, the 3200G’s integrated graphics is more than enough for eSport titles—which are the very things that many budget gamers aim to play. But here, the goal is to come up with a PC that can run most games.
Capable Graphics Rendering
You’ll want to match the i3 9100F with a fairly powerful GPU. After all, performance in most games mainly depend on graphics processing power. In this case, there’s only one clear choice—and it’s AMD’s RX 570. Do note that video card manufacturers have this in 4 GB and 8GB variants.
Of course, it’s ideal that you go for the latter as it should offer a smoother experience in AAA titles. Using the Can You Run It tool won’t matter as much since you have that extra video RAM ready to support your next virtual adventure.
What’s really exciting about AMD’s offering though, is that it’s fairly cheap. You could find 8 GB cards for less than 150 USD. If you’re really strapped for cash at the moment, the 4 GB variant is often sold for no more than 120 USD—but again, it’s probably better to save up instead.
Ample Quick-Use Memory
Intel’s i3-9100F supports DDR4-2400 RAM, which is actually the maximum stock clock for this particular type of memory. There are factory overclocked DDR4 modules, but there really isn’t any need for those—games won’t significantly be faster just because you have slightly faster memory.
What matters the most here, is how much RAM your system will have. And in most cases, 8 GB is the true minimum. Sure you’ll see top-rated games that only require half the amount of RAM, but you need to remember that your PC won’t only be running games even while you’re gaming. 
On Game Performance
If you’re wondering how capable this minimal configuration is, well, here’s a quick comparison of titles and their average FPS at 1080p (with optimized in-game configs, of course):
  • Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
    • 74 FPS
    • Ultra Settings, Low Shadows
  • Assassin's Creed Odyssey
    • 51 FPS
    • High Settings
  • Grand Theft Auto V
    • 87 FPS
    • Very High Settings
  • Battlefield V
    • 67 FPS
    • High Settings
  • DOTA 2
    • 144 FPS
    • Ultra Settings
It’s safe to say that Intel’s i3-9100F, AMD’s RX 570, and 8 GB of RAM combined represent the true minimum for PC gaming as a whole—not just eSport titles. By building a computer that (at least) has these parts, you won’t be googling “can you run it” every time a game piques your interest.