Building the Best PC for Star Wars Battlefront

Last updated: May 2017

Star Wars games are nearly as old as desktop PCs. Developers have been doing their best to let us live out our fantasies of flying X-Wings and slicing through storm troopers as Jedi Knights since the early days of computer graphics.

In the competitive shooter Star Wars Battlefront, players side with either the Rebel forces or the Empire. Rebel soldiers and storm troopers are playable, and players can even play as famous characters from the movies, including Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, and Darth Vader.

Visually, Battlefront is the closest we’ve ever gotten to truly exploring Hoth, Tatooine, and Endor. Thankfully, it also runs very well for how amazing it looks.

This guide takes a close look at Battlefront's graphical settings and the impact they have on the game. We'll also give you a good idea of the kind of PC hardware you'll need to run Battlefront to your own personal satisfaction. If you just want to know what to buy without all the in-depth analysis, you can skip to the recommendations sections.

Star Wars Battlefront runs on an updated version of DICE’s Frostbite 3 game engine, which powers some of the most impressive graphics around. You may have already seen it in action powering Battlefield 4, Battlefield Hardline, or Dragon Age: Inquisition. From these games, we already know a little bit about the performance characteristics of Frostbite.

Frostbite is not particularly demanding on CPUs. That is partially because it is very well-threaded, meaning that it utilizes multiple cores on a CPU. But that doesn’t mean you need to have a particularly high-end CPU to run Battlefront.

However, the game is very demanding on GPUs, so you’ll need a good graphics card to really take advantage of the game’s visuals.

What to Buy

We recommend PC builds in "tiers," with each tier containing the most powerful, most reliable, and least expensive combination of parts for that price. We don't list the individual parts in this guide because they change frequently based on local prices and new releases. You can see the latest individual part choices for each tier at the main guide page, which is updated regularly. Open it in a new tab to compare: Logical Increments PC Parts Guide.

These benchmarks assume that all of the graphical settings in the game are set to their highest or turned on. You can get even better performance out of your PC if you adjust some of the graphical settings, but we explain that in more detail below.

Tier 1600x900 1920x1080 2560x1440 3840x2160
Destitute ($170) Unplayable Unplayable Unplayable Unplayable
Poor ($225) Unplayable Unplayable Unplayable Unplayable
Minimum ($310) Borderline Unplayable Unplayable Unplayable
Entry ($390) Borderline Borderline Unplayable Unplayable
Modest ($410) Very Smooth Smooth Borderline Unplayable
Fair ($450) Very Smooth Smooth Playable Unplayable
Good ($530) Very Smooth Very Smooth Smooth Borderline
Very Good ($630) Silky Smooth Very Smooth Very Smooth Borderline
Great ($750) Silky Smooth Very Smooth Very Smooth Playable
Superb ($840) Silky Smooth Very Smooth Very Smooth Playable
Excellent ($1070) Silky Smooth Silky Smooth Silky Smooth Smooth
Outstanding ($1240) Silky Smooth Silky Smooth Silky Smooth Smooth
Exceptional ($1600) Silky Smooth Silky Smooth Silky Smooth Very Smooth
Enthusiast ($2000) Silky Smooth Silky Smooth Silky Smooth Very Smooth
Extremist ($3400) Silky Smooth Silky Smooth Silky Smooth Very Smooth
Monstrous ($4,500+) Silky Smooth Silky Smooth Silky Smooth Very Smooth
Explanation
Below 20 FPS Unplayable Jerky animation, "lag" and "stutter".
20-30 FPS Borderline Ok for some, too "laggy" for others. AKA "Cinematic".
30-45 FPS Playable Acceptable to most people. Not very good though!
45-60 FPS Smooth Fluid animation, no "lag".
60-90 FPS Very Smooth Very smooth is very smooth to almost everyone.
Above 90 FPS Silky Smooth Criminally smooth. For hardcore and professional players.

A Note About Frame Rate (FPS)

Frames per second (FPS) measures the number of images your computer can produce every second. Higher frame rates mean that your screen will show more images per second, which means that you will see a smoother animation. Lower frame rates cause a game to appear to stutter, which is generally not enjoyable for the player.

A comparison of 50, 25, and 12.5 FPS.

For the purposes of our PC build guides, we recommend computers that will achieve 60 FPS in your game of choice. Some gamers are satisfied with frame rates as low as 30, but that depends largely on the gamer and the game.

For more information and animations explaining frame rate, please check out our Frame Rate page.

Higher Resolution for Better Gaming

A comparison of several common resolutions.

Resolution refers to the number of pixels on a screen. High resolution means more pixels and generally more space and detail, while low resolution means fewer pixels, and often less space. If you are using a typical (not high-end) laptop or an old screen, you likely have a low resolution. When comparing screens with a similar aspect ratio, it is always better to get a higher resolution screen. Higher resolution will always looks better, as you have more real estate and a sharper picture. The image below shows the difference in real estate between common resolutions.

For more information on resolutions, check our Screen Resolution page.


Battlefront Hardware Requirements and Performance

Before discussing how various PC components influence your performance with Battlefront, let’s take a look at the game’s Minimum and Recommended system requirements, according to DICE:

Official Minimum System Requirements:

  • Processor: Intel i3 6300T or equivalent
  • Memory: 8 GB RAM
  • Hard Drive: 40 GB free HDD space
  • Graphics Card (NVIDIA): NVIDIA GTX 660 2GB
  • Graphics Card (AMD): AMD Radeon HD 7850 2GB

Official Recommended System Specifications:

  • Processor: Intel Core i5-6600 or equivalent
  • Memory: 16 GB RAM
  • Hard Drive: 40 GB free HDD space
  • Graphics Card (NVIDIA): NVIDIA GTX 970 4GB
  • Graphics Card (AMD): AMD Radeon R9 290 4GB

Now let’s take a look at how each component influences the game’s performance on your PC.

Battlefront GPU Requirements

Your graphics card will play the biggest role in how well Battlefront performs on your PC. Here is a chart from Guru3D comparing Battlefront performance on a number of graphics cards at 1080p, 1440p and 4K UHD resolution:

For the money, games based on the Frostbite engine perform better on AMD GPUs. In many cases, you would need to find an NVIDIA GPU from the next-highest tier on our parts list to match the performance of an AMD GPU at any given tier. However, NVIDIA’s performance may increase after the game has been patched and new drivers come out. But because AMD cards demonstrate better performance thus far, we base our tier performance estimates on AMD graphics cards where possible.

At 1080p on maximum settings, the most affordable graphics cards to achieve high framerates will be the NVIDIA GTX 1050 Ti or the AMD RX 570.

For 1440p on maximum settings, you’re better off with the GTX 1060 or RX 580. For 60 FPS at 4K resolution, you’ll need a dual-GPU option, such as 2x GTX 1070s.

Battlefront CPU Requirements

Frostbite is a wonderfully optimized and well-threaded engine and runs well on both Intel and AMD CPUs. As long as you have 4 threads, you will be alright, and you will likely only see a small performance benefit from higher-end CPUs. That said, the engine can take advantage of at least 6 threads, as shown in PCGH's testing. Notice that they had to underclock their CPU all the way down to 1.2GHz to get the CPU to be a bottleneck and show the advantages of having more cores:

You can feel free to save a little money on the CPU. As long as it’s powerful enough, you won’t notice a huge performance difference between a budget CPU and a higher-end one when it comes to playing many games, including Battlefront. Even an inexpensive Intel G 4600 will perfom 90% as well as the fastest CPUs.

Battlefront RAM Requirements

According to DICE, the minimum RAM requirement for Battlefront is 8 GB, and their recommended specs call for 16 GB. However, the game only uses about 2 GB of system RAM, so is perfectly playable with 4GB. RAM is inexpensive, and 8 GB is safer and a more future-proof choice for any gaming PC. Having more RAM, however, does not increase performance -- as long as you have enough RAM.

Battlefront Graphical Settings

Star Wars Battlefront has 15 graphical options that you can adjust to improve your performance, should you find that the game doesn't run optimally on your system at maximum settings. Of course, some of these settings have a greater impact on performance than others. Here, we'll discuss some of those graphical settings that have the biggest impact.

First, if you were to lower all of Battlefront's graphical settings from Ultra (the highest setting) down to Low (the lowest setting), you'd see a performance improvement of roughly 60%. Thanksfully, Battlefront still looks incredibly good with all the settings on Low. Here are two comparisons:

handle
Drag the cursor to compare all settings on Low and Ultra.

handle
Drag the cursor to compare all settings on Low and Ultra.

Terrain Quality: This setting influences the appearance of the ground. Depending on the map you're playing on, the Terrain Quality setting can have the greatest impact on Battlefront's performance, easily impacting performance by 15-18%. Examine the two comparisons below to see the difference yourself:

handle
Drag the cursor to compare the Terrain Quality setting on Low and Ultra.

handle
Drag the cursor to compare the Terrain Quality setting on Low and Ultra.

Shadow Quality: As you might expect, this affects the level of detail in the game's shadows. Shadow Quality can often have an impact on performance in the range of 12% depending on your game environment. Comparison:

handle
Drag the cursor to compare the Shadow Quality setting on Low and Ultra.

Terrain Groundcover: This affects the quality of the foliage and other terrain features. On Low, many terrain objects appear smashed into the ground like textures. On Ultra, the terrain looks more realistic and alive. Lowering this setting from Ultra to Low can improve performance by 6-8%. Comparison:

handle
Drag the cursor to compare the Terrain Groundcover setting on Low and Ultra.

Mesh Quality: This setting affects the model detail of objects far away from the player. Depending on your map and what you're looking at, this setting can impact visuals by 3-10%.

Effects Quality: This influences the appearance of effects srelated to lasers, lightsabers, explosions, and the like. Lowering this setting from Ultra to Low will net you 3-5% in performance improvemnts. Comparison:

handle
Drag the cursor to compare the Effects Quality setting on Low and Ultra.

Tweaking these specific settings will produce the greatest performance improvement. The trade-off is that the game might not look quite as good, but it should still look pretty darn good. If you tweak those and still aren’t satisfied with your framerate, continue lowering other settings down to High or Medium.

Logical Increments Tiers and How They Fare

To determine how your PC will perform Battlefront, you’ll need to consider three things:

  1. The resolution you want to play at (usually your screen’s native resolution)
  2. How much graphical detail you want
  3. How smoothly you want the gameplay to run

For our purposes, we aim for a very smooth 60+ FPS with the graphical settings turned all the way up. If you’re willing to lower any graphical settings, or you’re happy with framerates lower than 60 FPS, you can get by with an even lower-tier PC.

Below, we list the the tiers on our parts list that would achieve that 60 FPS baseline with Battlefront at a range of progressively more demanding screen resolutions.

1600x900

The Modest tier, featuring a RX 460 and an G 4560, will get you very smooth performance in Battlefront for around $400 at 1600x900.

1920x1080 (1080p)

The Very Good tier, featuring an RX 480 and i3-7100, will get very smooth performance for around $625 at 1080p.

2560x1440 (1440p)

The Excellent tier, featuring a GTX 1070 and i3-7100, will get very smooth performance for around $1,200 at 1440p.

3840x2160 (4K)

You need a lot of graphical horsepower to achieve very smooth framerates in Battlefront at 4K resolution. But because Battlefront is not especially demanding on your CPU, you could save a little money there. Our recommendation would be the Enthusiast tier, except upgrading the graphics cards to 2x GTX 1070s, or even 2x GTX 1080s. Going that route would cost somewhere between $2,000 and $2,300. Of course, you could always go all-out with our Extremist build for around $3,200.

Note: As we mentioned in the CPU section of this article, you can reasonably build a PC with these higher-end GPUs and a weaker CPU. However, for a balanced PC able to handle any game you throw at it, our standard builds are better balanced with stronger CPUs.


Conclusion

Once again: With Battlefront, you want to make sure your GPU packs a punch. You can, however, skimp a little on the CPU, if you need to save money anywhere. However, our PC build recommendations aim to strike a balance of power between the GPU and CPU -- not because you need a powerful CPU for this particular game, but because you ideally want a balanced PC that can handle anything you might need it to do.

We hope this guide has helped you determine the hardware you’ll need to play Battlefront to your satisfaction, and what settings to use to help strike a balance between good visuals and good performance. If you want to do any more research on PC hardware, visit our homepage.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask in the comments below, or email us at contact@logicalincrements.com.


Video

If you want more specific build advice on hardware suitable to play Battlefront on a variety of settings, we have a video for that!

About Us

Orion: Finds your lack of faith disturbing.

James: Never wants you to tell him the odds.

The Falcon: Just another scruffy-looking nerf herder.

Logical Increments helps more than a million PC builders each year with hardware recommendations for any budget.

Sources

  1. Source used for making the table of contents
  2. Guru3D Battlefront Beta benchmarks
  3. GamersNexus Battlefront Benchmarks
  4. PC Games Hardware Battlefront Benchmarks