Building the Best PC for Apex Legends

Apex Legends Official Art

Last updated: April 2019

Apex Legends is a free-to-play battle royale game developed by Respawn Entertainment and published by Electronic Arts. It was released for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One on February 4, 2019. Since that initial release, it has grown into a hugely popular title, thanks in part to its excellent gameplay inspired from the Titanfall series (also by Respawn).

Whether you haven’t had a chance to play the game before, you’re looking to update an existing PC to get the most out of the in-game visuals, or you just want to know how much of an impact each of the game’s graphical settings have on performance—this guide will lead you on the right path towards an excellent Apex Legends experience.

In Section 1, we discuss the official minimum and recommended specifications for Apex Legends, and what kind of performance each set of specs could provide.

In Section 2, we provide four balanced example builds geared toward providing enough power to run Apex Legends at 60 FPS with different resolutions (1080p, 1440p, and 4K).

Finally, in Section 3, we have put together an Apex Legends graphics settings guide that will tell you what each graphics option does, and how much each of them impacts the FPS of the game.

Apex Legends Screenshot 1

Apex Legends Official Hardware Requirements

The official system requirements for Apex Legends, according to its Origin store page, are as follows:

Minimum System Specifications:

  • CPU: i3-6300 or FX-4350
  • Graphics Card: GT 640 or HD 7730
  • RAM: 6GB DDR3 1333 MHz
  • Storage Space: 22GB
  • DirectX: 11+
  • OS: Windows 7 64-bit

Recommended System Specifications:

  • CPU: i5-3570K or Ryzen 5 (modern equivalent: i3-8100 or R5 1500X)
  • Graphics Card: GTX 970 or R9 290 (modern equivalent: GTX 1060 6GB or RX 580)
  • RAM: 8GB DDR3 1333 MHz
  • Storage Space: 22GB
  • DirectX: 11+
  • OS: Windows 7 64-bit

Now, the observant readers may have noticed that those specifications look quite similar to Titanfall 2's requirements, which is no surprise based on the game being built on the Source engine by the same developer as Titanfall 2 (as their very next game)! As with any competitive game, you will likely want to keep your frame rates up, at least as high as the refresh rate of your monitor, to help with your reactions. So keep in mind that these specifications are simply designed around getting in-game in the first place, even at lower frame rates and/or resolutions.

Generally speaking, Apex Legends isn't that CPU-intensive to simply play at 1080p with 60 FPS; it's more important to have a decent GPU in your system. There's plenty of examples out there of folks using older-generation CPUs like the ever-faithful i7-2600K and running the game at 60 FPS on low settings, for example. However, this changes in the higher frame rates where having multiple, highly-clocked CPU cores can help really churn out frames while guarding against performance dips.

These trends have guided our decisions for our example builds below, and this is well worth noting if you're hoping for high framerates at 1440p or 4K. Prepare yourself, and read on!

Apex Legends Screenshot 2

Example Apex Legends PC Builds

These builds are designed to provide sufficient computing power for playing Apex Legends at 60+ FPS (or 100+ FPS, where noted) at 1080p, 1440p, or 4K resolution.

There is a slight difference between performance with certain settings, based on the speed and number of players which are often in your field of view at any time (hard to quantify, but can be around 10% difference in average output).

If you're not sure what resolution you want to play at (or how the different resolutions compare to each other), then take a look at our monitor resolution explanation page.

If you're not sure what frame rate you want to play at (or what frame rate is), then take a look at our FPS explanation page.

1080p 60 FPS [Low Settings] Apex Legends Build ($450)

Designed to simply allow you to play the game—we’ve put together a really budget set-up, with an entry-level Ryzen CPU and AMD GPU to play on low settings.

This is the lowest-tier build that we feel can comfortably promise a consistent 60+ FPS in Apex Legends at 1080p while playing with most graphics settings down to their low settings (or off, where applicable).

CPU: AMD R3 2200G
Graphics Card: RX 560
Motherboard: ASRock B450M-HDV
RAM: 8GB DDR4 2400
Storage: 1TB Seagate HDD
Power Supply: Rosewill Glacier 500
CPU Cooler: Stock
Case: Antec Gaming Series One
Operating System: Windows 10

1080p 60 FPS [High Settings] Apex Legends Build ($750)

By comparison to above, this build is specifically designed to play the game on maximum settings at 1080p and never drop below 60 FPS. Because of this, you might find that—in smaller enclosed areas where less firefights are taking place—you'll get significantly more than 60 FPS (more on that in the settings/performance section below). But the aim is to ensure you're always getting at least 60 FPS.

As you can see from the cost and significant parts upgrade, if you're wanting your game to look super-pretty then be prepared for a jump in price! If you want the build to run a little smoother, then consider overclocking the CPU a touch; the cooler provided by AMD is more than powerful enough for this, and more importantly will allow you to squeeze some more frames out!

To cut down on the cost of this build, we're still opting to skip an SSD. So that is one area that you may definitely want to consider, if you're wondering how to upgrade this build a bit.

CPU: AMD R5 2600
Graphics Card: GTX 1660
Motherboard: MSI B450-A Pro
RAM: 8GB DDR4 2400
Storage 1: 2TB Seagate HDD
Power Supply: SeaSonic M12II 520
CPU Cooler: Stock
Case: Cooler Master HAF 912
Operating System: Windows 10

1440p 60 FPS / 1080p 100 FPS [High Settings] Apex Legends Build ($1600)

It is at this point where (as we're really pushing frames) we have to switch to Intel CPUs. AMD are really, really close here—but as we need guaranteed game performance, we're going with Intel chips for their superior single-core performance, and we're going to overclock! For reference (regarding AMD being close), from various benchmarks seen online: the GPU we're going with here (the RTX 2070) was getting 1080p FPS lows of 94-97 with the R7 2700X, yet 1080p FPS lows of 102-110 with the i7-8700K.

Because of wanting to overclock, we've gone with a heavier cooler, more (and faster) RAM, as well as a larger case.

CPU: Intel i7-8700K
Graphics Card: RTX 2070
Motherboard: ASUS TUF Z390-Pro Gaming
RAM: 16GB (2x 8GB) DDR4 3000
Storage 1: 240GB ADATA Ultimate SU650 SSD
Storage 1: 2TB Seagate HDD
Power Supply: EVGA Supernova 750 G3
CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-U14S
Case: Phanteks Enthoo Pro
Operating System: Windows 10

4K 60 FPS / 1440p 100 FPS [High Settings] Apex Legends Build ($2900)

Oh boy, this is a tough one. There's an awful lot of benchmarks of the game available now, all of which say the same thing: getting a guaranteed 60 FPS at 4K is damned near impossible. Your general average can be higher, usually around 75 FPS, yet you will get lows that go below 60 FPS, more into the realm of 55-60 FPS.

Performance Issue Note: On testing, the single RTX 2080 Ti in this build is just about enough. But, normally, FPS drops below 60 FPS aren't really what we're all about when we say, "this build will do 60 FPS at this resolution" in an article. In this situation, however, it's such a close call that we're leaving it up to you. If you want a guaranteed 60 FPS at 4K, you could go with 2x 2080 Ti cards in SLI (with the newer NVLINK), or go really mad and go for the Titan RTX. Like I said, in this case we'll leave it up to you!

CPU: Intel i9-9900K
Graphics Card: RTX 2080 Ti
Motherboard: ASUS ROG Strix Z390-E Gaming
RAM: 32GB (2x 16GB) DDR4 3200
Storage 1: 500GB Crucial P1 NVMe M.2 SSD
Storage 1: 2TB Seagate HDD
Power Supply: CORSAIR HX850
CPU Cooler: Thermaltake Water 3.0 Ultimate
Case: Phanteks Enthoo Primo
Operating System: Windows 10

Apex Legends Screenshot 3

Apex Legends Graphics Settings and Performance Guide

This section takes a close look at the graphical options in Apex Legends, and their effects on the game’s performance.

The ‘performance impact’ in each subsection below is the measured difference in average FPS between playing the game with all settings at their highest and turning only the setting in question down to the lowest (or off) while leaving all others untouched.

It is also worth pointing out that the performance impact is not necessarily perfectly additive. So if disabling one setting increases FPS by 10% and disabling another increases FPS by 10%, disabling both would not be expect to increase performance by 20%. Instead, the increase would likely be somewhere from 12-18% total.

Finally, at 1440p and 4K resolutions, turning some of these settings down or off entirely can have huge performance improvements but at the cost of significantly more noticeable drop in visual quality.

For the sake of good indicative screenshots, they were taken from the training area at 1440p (scaled down for display in this article). Performance impacts were then calculated through repeated gameplay at different areas on the map.

Anti-Aliasing

A common feature in most games these days, designed to smooth out jagged lines—yet it can be at the risk of creating a slightly blurred image.

Performance Impact: ~5-10% between None and TSAA

handle
Apex Legends Anti-Aliasing None
Apex Legends Anti-Aliasing TSAA
Drag the bar to compare Anti-Aliasing on None and TSAA.

Texture Filtering

This setting relates to how the textures are applied to 3D models. In Apex Legends, it applies to the overall sharpness of surface details (mainly because you're in first person and looking at different environment surfaces all the time). It does not impact the quality of the textures themselves.

Performance Impact: ~4-8% between Bilinear and Anisotropic 16X

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Apex Legends Texture Filtering Bilinear
Apex Legends Texture Filtering Anisotropic 16X
Drag the bar to compare Texture Filtering on Bilinear and Anisotropic 16X.

Ambient Occlusion Quality

This setting affects the shading of the game’s environments. Turning it up can add a lot of detail and depth to the game’s visuals, but at a fairly significant performance cost. This specifically impacts the render resolution used for SSAO (Screen Space Ambient Occlusion).

Performance Impact: ~10-15% between Low and High

handle
Apex Legends Ambient Occlusion Quality Low
Apex Legends Ambient Occlusion Quality High
Drag the bar to compare Ambient Occlusion Quality on Low and High.

Sun Shadow Coverage and Detail

These control the amount of shadows and other details cast to the environment from the sun. These are a generally simplistic High/Low toggle, and you can only really see the difference when there's a lot of depth to a scene. For instance, on Low, various objects in the distance will not cast shadows for a performance boost.

Performance Impact: ~5-15% between Low and High (environment-dependent)

handle
Apex Legends Sun Shadow Coverage and Detail Low
Apex Legends Sun Shadow Coverage and Detail High
Drag the bar to compare Sun Shadow Coverage and Detail on Low and High.

Volumetric Lighting

Designed to add more realistic-looking lighting, this setting controls how the sun beams interact with materials in the world, essentially simulating light scattering in the air. Like with the shadow setting above, the impact of this setting varies hugely depending on environment.

Performance Impact: ~5-10% between Disabled and Enabled (environment-dependent)

handle
Apex Legends Volumetric Lighting Disabled
Apex Legends Volumetric Lighting Enabled
Drag the bar to compare Volumetric Lighting Disabled and Enabled.

Model Detail

This is pretty self-explanatory; it impacts the detail of all the models in the game, both objects in the world and the legends themselves.

Performance Impact: ~4-8% between Low and High (environement-dependent, player-count-dependent)

handle
Apex Legends Model Detail Low
Apex Legends Model Detail High
Drag the bar to compare Model Detail on Low and High.

Effects Detail

This was the one setting that was a little too hard to get a comparison shot for; in essence, it's the detail level of every flashy effect in the game. Heals, shields, explosions... you name it! Going from High to Low results in lower quality effects being used.

Note: there is currently an issue with grenade explosions causing frame drops, but as this is a bug (not a feature) and that impact drop is not included in the performance assessment below.

Performance Impact: ~2-5% between Low and High

Impact Marks

This controls where (and how many) impact marks show up on the environment. In a 1-v-1 encounter, this isn't overly noticeable. If you get into a larger group fire fight, however, this can become very noticeable.

Performance Impact: ~4-8% between Disabled and High (player-count-dependent)

handle
Apex Legends Impact Marks Disabled
Apex Legends Impact marks High
Drag the bar to compare Impact Marks Disabled and on High.

Choosing the Best Settings for Apex Legends

If your computer can achieve a steady 60 FPS with all the settings turned up at your desired resolution, then we recommend keeping things as they are.

However, if you’re not reaching 60 FPS, or if you have a specialized monitor with a higher refresh rate and want to get even better performance, there are certain settings you can lower in Apex Legends to improve your framerate without sacrificing too much in the way of visuals.

Unfortunately, as we said above the image sliders, lowering multiple settings will not have a straightforward cumulative effect on framerate: if dropping one setting gives 10% improvement, and dropping another gives 10%, lowering both will not give 20%, but possibly between 12-18%.

Improve FPS considerably with little to no impact on visuals

  • Turn off Impact Marks.
  • Turn Model Detail down.

Improve FPS by larger amounts with moderate impact to visuals

  • Turn down Effects Detail.
  • Turn down Sun Shadow Coverage and Detail.

Last Resorts

If doing all of the steps above still does not achieve your desired framerate, try some of the following:

  • Turn down/off Anti-Aliasing.
  • Turn down Ambient Occlusion Quality.
  • Turn down Volumetric Lighting
  • Very last resort: Turn any and all settings to Low or Off.

If you try all of the above and still can’t run the game as smoothly as you would like, you may need to upgrade your hardware.

Apex Legends Screenshot 4

Conclusion

If you cannot tell by this point, the game performance is a bit of a tale of two halves. On the one hand, playing the game at 1080p isn't so bad and, looking at the FPS numbers folks are getting, that resolution seems to be what Respawn focused their launch performance on. However, jump up into either 1440p (or 4K especially) and suddenly you're needing larger and larger builds in order to handle the game. It's possible that Respawn will improve this as time goes on, at which point we will ensure that this guide is updated accordingly.

Thankfully, there’s a whole host of options for players to customize their settings specifically to their needs. And the best part is there’s still new players joining all the time, so now’s the best time to jump on in and starting to learn how to play!

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

About Us

Chris is a contributing writer for Logical Increments, and has worked in the gaming and technology industries as a community manager for many years, as well as a live streamer. He has been building PC's for over 11 years.

When Chris is not here creating builds and guides, he can be found at University, studying for a BSc in Video Production as he makes the transition over to the film industry from gaming. You can read more about his journey on his website.

Logical Increments helps more than 2 million PC builders each year with hardware recommendations for any budget.

If you want to see our build recommendations for general purpose gaming PCs, check them out!

Sources

  1. Far too many hours playing on my own PC build for comparisons - i7-8700K (5GHz), GTX 1080 Ti, 32GB DDR4 3000MHz
  2. RX 560, RX 570, RX 580 Benchmarks
  3. RX 570 with i5-8400, i3-8100 Benchmarks
  4. RX 560 vs. GTX 1050 with R5 2400G Benchmarks
  5. GTX 1660 Benchmarks
  6. RTX 2070 with R7 2700X Benchmarks
  7. RTX 2070 with i7-8700K Benchmarks