Building the Best PC for Fortnite

Fortnite Battle Royale - building a PC for Fortnite and its graphics settings

Last updated: August 2018

Fortnite is a game that consists of two very different modes of gameplay built upon the idea of survival in a post-apocalyptic world. The first is a PVE (Player Vs. Environment) mode called "Save the World," and the second is a PVP (Player Vs. Player) mode caled "Battle Royale." The game as a whole is currently still in early access, with the Battle Royale mode being free-to-play and the PVE mode unlockable with a number of founders packs with different perks (unique weapons, heroes, skins etc).

This guide takes a close look at Fortnite’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 Fortnite 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 Section.

If you already have a PC but want to know what settings to use for best performance, check out the Graphical Settings section.

Please note that Fortnite will be releasing some time in 2018, and this information reflects the early access version of the game. While we expect performance to generally remain unchanged from the early access, there may be some slight differences once the game finally releases.

Fortnite Battle Royale Hardware Requirements and Recommendations

With having two very different modes along with being in early access, it is surprising how well Fortnite runs both in PVE and PVP modes. As such, you don't really need a super powerful PC to be able to play the game.

Before we explore how each PC component influences your performance with Fortnite, let's take a look at the game's minimum and recommended specifications, which Epic Games have released here.

Recommended System Requirements:

  • Processor: Core i5 2.8 Ghz
  • Memory: 8 GB RAM
  • Graphics Card (NVIDIA): GTX 660
  • Graphics Card (AMD): Radeon HD 7870

Minimum System Requirements:

  • Processor: Core i3 2.4 Ghz
  • Memory: 4 GB RAM
  • Graphics: Intel HD 4000

As you can see from both options, you could practically run this game on a toaster, which is impressive as the art style and gameplay are both great. These specifications also mean that many people could at least run the game and give Fortnite a go! If you are wanting to run the game on the maximum (Epic) settings, however, you are going to need some power.

Fortnite does have good CPU utilisation, with the load being spread reasonably well across multiple cores. But it does lean a little more on the GPU performance for most of its PVE and PVP visuals, with CPU load only increasing in heavy moments of combat. As such, you could probably get away with a slightly lower-performing CPU, so long as your GPU is up to the task.

To match the minimum specifications, you could build the "Poor" tier ($300) using the R3 2200G on the Logical Increments parts list. That would let you run the game smoothly at 1080p with the settings turned down to LOW.

To match the recommended specifications, you could build the "Fair" tier ($600) on our parts list. That would let you play the game smoothly at 1080p with the settings turned up to EPIC. Alternatively, if you want to play at HIGH, then the "Modest" tier ($550) on our parts list would likely perform well enough for that.

Recommended GPUs for Fortnite Battle Royale

GTX 1070 Ti Graphics Card - Building a PC for Fortnite and its Graphics Settings

Thanks to Fortnite's art style, you do not need something monstrous here to run the game on lower settings, while still allowing more powerful rigs to really make the most out of the game's visuals.

For Epic settings at 1080p with 60+ FPS, we recommend a GTX 1050 Ti.

For Epic settings at 1440p with 60+ FPS, we recommend a GTX 1060 6GB or RX 580.

For Epic settings at 4K with 60+ FPS, we recommend a GTX 1070 Ti.

Those of you (like myself) with a GTX 1070 can potentially hit stable 4K with 60+ FPS; however, the results vary from model to model due to overclock limitations on cooling. For example, my own performance with a standard dual fan (launch 1070 model) in Battle Royale bounced anywhere from 40-65 FPS depending on what was happening onscreen at the time. Because of the uncertainty, we have gone with the GTX 1070 Ti to guarantee frame rates.

Recommended CPUs for Fortnite Battle Royale

CPU - Building a PC for Fortnite and its Graphics Settings

One of the best things about building a PC for Fortnite is that, for a good in-game performance, you only really need 2 or more CPU cores.

For gaming on Epic settings at 1080p or 1440p with 60+ FPS, the R3 2200G would be more than sufficiently powerful. Alternatively, the i3-8100 is equally up to the task here.

For 4K gaming with Fortnite and other games, however, something with a little more processing power is advised. Something like the i7-8700K or at least the i5-8600K would be a solid option for a higher-performing rig.

RAM Recommendations for Fortnite Battle Royale

RAM - Building a PC for Fortnite and its Graphics Settings

The official recommendations for RAM are right on the money if you're aiming to play at 1080p. On low settings, the RAM usage drops significantly—so even if you were running off our "Minimum" tier's 4 GB of RAM, you could still at least run the game (assuming that you are not running anything else in the background).

For the recommended specifications, the 8 GB of RAM currently featured by default in every tier of our build chart from "Good" up to "Exceptional" is plenty for 1080p on EPIC settings. If you're wanting to play at higher resolutions, then you might consider doubling this to 16GB; it's not completely needed for just running the game, but it gives your build better breathing room and overall balance for high performance.

The performance impact of RAM speed depends on what CPU and motherboard you have, but the difference between the fastest and slowest RAM available to you will be small (usually less than 10%). If you have an AMD Ryzen CPU, you should know that it does benefit from faster RAM; so, if possible, look to spend any extra money in your budget to get some 3000MHz RAM. Although they can use 3200MHz OC RAM, the jump in price from 3000MHz usually makes it not worhwhile for the very small performance gains.

Other Components

These parts have little impact on the performance of your PC. However, they are still important.

Motherboard

Power Supply

Case

SSD

HDD

OS (most likely Windows)

Fortnite Battle Royale - Building a PC for Fortnite and its Graphics Settings

Fortnite Graphical Settings and Performance

This section takes a close look at the graphical options in the game, 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 while leaving all others untouched.

Graphics Quality Presets

The quality presets are ideal for those who don't want to touch individual settings, allowing you to change multiple settings at once.

From testing, going from the 'Epic' preset to 'Low' results in a 100-150% increase in average frame rates—in other words, you can more than double your framerate by turning all the settings to Low. Now, as one of those options on the Low preset includes setting the rendered resolution to 480p, you will notice a fair amount of detail drop when playing at 1080p or higher.

We have found that tweaking the individual settings can result in a much nicer graphical experience overall, while potentially resulting in a lesser decrease in frame rate than using one of the highest presets.

Performance Impact: Up to 150% between Low and Epic

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Fortnite Graphics Quality Preset Low - building a PC for Fortnite and its graphics settings
Fortnite Graphics Quality Preset Epic - building a PC for Fortnite and its graphics settings
Drag the bar to compare Quality Presets on Low and on Epic.

Visually, there are a lot of obvious changes. Although the UI remains fixed, everything—from the environment detail and effects (look at the water splash), to lighting, smooth edges, and more—is impacted.

3D Resolution

This essentially does what it says on the tin. This is the resolution to which the game engine will render everything. This is why the game quality can look poor when this is set to 480p on a 1080p monitor, and likewise why the developers recommend setting this to epic for the best 1080p or higher experience.

Performance Impact: Up to 100% between 480p and Epic

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Fortnite Resolution 480p - building a PC for Fortnite and its graphics settings
Fortnite Resolution Epic - building a PC for Fortnite and its graphics settings
Drag the bar to compare 3D Resolution on 480p and on Epic.

When playing Fortnite at 1080p, the most obvious changes are the smaller details which are nice and sharp at epic setting but then blur at 480p. Easy examples are the tattoo on the right arm, and edges becoming very undefined on objects and the environment as a whole.

View Distance

View distance is another setting that is relatively self explanatory. One of the things I picked up on quickly was that having a far view distance is hugely critical at times in the Battle Royale PVP mode, but less so in the PVE environments when a lot more of what you can be doing is in closer quarters without the need to keep looking for players everywhere!

Performance Impact: ~5-10% depending on game mode

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Fortnite View Distance Near - building a PC for Fortnite and its graphics settings
Fortnite View Distance Epic - building a PC for Fortnite and its graphics settings
Drag the bar to compare View Distance on Near and on Epic.

As you will see from the comparison, most of the environment stays the same, up to the point of where the horizon is in the shot. At this point, you start to lose a few details like trees and part of the barn in the middle distance. Not so much of a game breaker in PVE, but in PVP that loss of detail could cost you your life!

Shadows

Like in most games, shadows are a major GPU resource in Fortnite—so much so that this has one of the largest frame rate jumps when turned off, depending on the environment at the time. That being said, because of the cartoonish style of the game, it is well worth noting that turning the shadows off does have a huge overall impact on how the game looks, making it look a lot more flat and lifeless when compared to having them on.

Performance Impact: ~50-100% depending on map location

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Fortnite Shadows Off - building a PC for Fortnite and its graphics settings
Fortnite Shadows Epic - building a PC for Fortnite and its graphics settings
Drag the bar to compare Shadows turned Off and on Epic.

As you can see with the comparison, the shadow setup in-game is very elaborate and does a great deal to give life to a world. Just about everything is affected here, from larger shadows beneath trees and buildings to more subtle ones like the shadow between the two posts of the fence and the holes for the beams just to the left of the character.

Anti-Aliasing

One of the more subtle changes by itself is anti-aliasing. This is one of the greater benefits of the cartoon-style graphics, as finer detail like smooth edges are not always noticed, especially when playing at high resolutions.

Performance Impact: ~5% between Off and Epic

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Fortnite Anti-Aliasing Off - building a PC for Fortnite and its graphics settings
Fortnite Anti-Aliasing Epic - building a PC for Fortnite and its graphics settings
Drag the bar to compare Anti-Aliasing turned Off and on Epic.

As you can see from the car, if something is close enough, it is honestly very hard to tell the difference. However, as you start to move further away, you can pick up on the loss of anti-aliasing. Pay attention to the fence just behind the car, as well as the edges of the tree trunks.

Textures

The 'textures' option encompasses pretty much every major texture in the game. However, thanks to the cartoon art style, many will be hard-pressed to see the overall differences between Low and Epic at 1080p. Where you do start to notice this is in 1440p and 4K gameplay, so consider leaving this on Epic for a good experience if you're playing at those resolutions.

Performance Impact: ~2% between Low and Epic (mostly load times), increases to ~5% at 4K

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Fortnite Textures Low - building a PC for Fortnite and its graphics settings
Fortnite Textures Epic - building a PC for Fortnite and its graphics settings
Drag the bar to compare Textures on Low and on Epic.

Post in the comments below if you can pick out the differences at 1080p!

Effects

Another broad category is effects. Everything from fancy crafted weaponry to explosions to item-highlighting all come under the effects option. Once again, thanks to the Fortnite's art style, you honestly don't miss things too much between low and epic—a lot of it is just finer detailing that is nice to look at, but not super critical.

Performance Impact: ~5% between Low and Epic

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Fortnite Effects Low - building a PC for Fortnite and its graphics settings
Fortnite Effects Epic - building a PC for Fortnite and its graphics settings
Drag the bar to compare Effects on Low and on Epic.

In these shots, the two examples I'm showing are the yellow projection light below the virtual satellite, and the lighting around what is called BluGlo (used mainly in the PVE campaign as a power source), which is in the room below on the left.

Post Processing

Making everything look that little bit prettier. This is another one of those visual tweaks in Fortnite which you don't notice too much at 1080p, but which you will notice a lot more at 1440p and 4K. Generally speaking, the post processing has a larger impact when used in conjunction with other settings.

Performance Impact: ~2% between Low and Epic, increasing to ~5% at 4K resolution

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Fortnite Post Processing Low - building a PC for Fortnite and its graphics settings
Fortnite Post Processing Epic - building a PC for Fortnite and its graphics settings
Drag the bar to compare Post Processing on Low and on Epic.

I used this point in the start of Fortnite's campaign to try and show post-processing, but it is very slight. Have a look at how the detail behind the blue shield (and the effect on the shield itself) come across. Personally, it's something you can afford to drop down if you're chasing frames.

Grass

Finally, the grass setting. Do you want it or not? That's what you're picking here. This doesn't impact any set environment (like trees and bushes) and, as it does impact frame rate, I know a lot of players just turn it off in Battle Royale. I personally think it adds to the look of the world overall, while not being a performance hog in the majority of areas.

Performance Impact: ~1% depending on map location

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Fortnite Grass Off - building a PC for Fortnite and its graphics settings
Fortnite Grass On - building a PC for Fortnite and its graphics settings
Drag the bar to compare Grass turned Off and On.

The visual difference here needs no explanation, but just in case . . . it's the grass.

Fortnite Battle Royale - building a PC for Fortnite and its graphics settings

Choosing the Best Settings for Fortnite Battle Royale

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 Fortnite to improve your frame rate without sacrificing too much in the way of visuals.

Unfortunately, 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

  • Lower Anti-Aliasing and/or Shadow settings slightly
  • Set Effects to Low

Improve FPS by larger amounts with moderate impact to visuals

  • Set Shadows to Medium
  • Set View Distance to Near

Last Resorts

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

  • Lower Anti-Aliasing to Off
  • Set 3D Resolution to 480p or 720p
  • Set Shadows to Off.
  • Very last resort: Use the lowest Graphics Quality Preset

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.

Fortnite Battle Royale - building a PC for Fortnite and its graphics settings

Logical Increments Tiers and How They Fare

At Logical Increments, we maintain a free, regularly updated list of parts for optimal gaming PC builds. These PC builds cover a wide range of budgets that are sorted into tiers, starting with the Destitute going all the way up to Monstrous. Each of these tiers features parts that we have spent hundreds of hours researching, and have decided will provide the best combination of performance, reliability, stability, quietness, and aesthetics for the price. The builds are tailored for playing a variety of games, and also work exceptionally well for any other demanding PC task.

This table shows how builds with our recommended hardware will roughly perform in Fortnite on the Epic graphics preset:

Tier 1600x900 1920x1080 2560x1440 3840x2160
Destitute ($180) Playable Borderline Unplayable Unplayable
Poor ($260) Playable Playable Unplayable Unplayable
Minimum ($350) Playable Playable Borderline Unplayable
Entry ($415) Smooth Smooth Playable Unplayable
Modest ($450) Very Smooth Smooth Playable Borderline
Fair ($500) Very Smooth Very Smooth Smooth Playable
Good ($630) Very Smooth Very Smooth Smooth Playable
Very Good ($750) Silky Smooth Very Smooth Smooth Smooth
Great ($900) Silky Smooth Silky Smooth Very Smooth Smooth
Superb ($1000) Silky Smooth Silky Smooth Very Smooth Smooth
Excellent ($1300) Silky Smooth Silky Smooth Silky Smooth Very Smooth
Outstanding ($1500) Silky Smooth Silky Smooth Silky Smooth Very Smooth
Exceptional ($1700) Silky Smooth Silky Smooth Silky Smooth Very Smooth
Enthusiast ($2500) Silky Smooth Silky Smooth Silky Smooth Silky Smooth
Extremist ($3500) Silky Smooth Silky Smooth Silky Smooth Silky Smooth
Monstrous ($5000+) Silky Smooth Silky Smooth Silky Smooth Silky 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.

To see what different FPS looks like and understand how high FPS you need, read: All About Frame Rate.

To see how resolution affects visuals and performance, read: All About Screen Resolution.

Fortnite Battle Royale - building a PC for Fortnite and its graphics settings

To determine how your PC will perform in Fortnite, 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 this guide we aimed for a very smooth 60+ FPS with the graphical settings turned to Epic. If you’re willing to lower any graphical settings, or you’re happy with frame rates 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 Fortnite at a range of progressively more demanding screen resolutions.

1600x900

The Modest tier, featuring the GTX 1050 and the R5 1500X, will get you a very smooth performance at 900p. If you want to save yourself a little on the CPU front, consider downgrading to the G4600.

1920x1080 (1080p)

The Fair tier, featuring the GTX 1050 Ti and the R5 1500X, will get you very smooth performance at 1080p.

2560x1440 (1440p)

The Great tier, featuring the GTX 1060 6GB and the i5-8600K, will get you very smooth performance at 1440p.

3840x2160 (4K)

The Excellent tier, featuring the GTX 1070 Ti and the i7-8700K (or, as a possible less expensive substitute: the i5-8600K) will get you very smooth performance at 4K.

Fortnite Battle Royale - building a PC for Fortnite and its graphics settings

Conclusion

To play Fortnite to its full potential, you don't really need a particularly powerful PC. The biggest advantage Epic Games have with Fortnite is the cartoon art style they chose, which does not require a whole lot of hardware even though it provides a nice overall experience.

Of course, this is not an exact science (particulary with an early access game). Some players have reported less than 60 FPS at 1080p on Epic settings with a GTX 1050 Ti and even a GTX 1060 6GB—then plenty of others report a solid 60 FPS jumping to high 80's on the GTX 1060 6GB. As always, the exact performance comes down to the build as a whole and not just what GPU or CPU is in there.

We hope this guide has helped you understand the necessary PC hardware for running Fortnite to your satisfaction. If you want to do further research on PC hardware, please visit our main PC parts list on our homepage.

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

A Final Note on Game Modes and Hard Drives

Something that I feel is important to mention directly—but which I have only really hinted at in the guide above—is the different approaches that players will likely have between the two modes, in terms of performance priorities.

In the campaign (PVE content), I really don't mind just throwing everything up onto Epic settings to get the best visuals. In Battle Royale (PVP), however, I'm very much of the mindset that if something doesn't help me to see players and react, then I don't need it. So, in multiplayer, a number of little things like grass are turned off just to assist in seeing only what is critical.

Another thing of note is loading times. Throughout my own gameplay, I have had the game installed on a standard SSD as there have been some reports of people having a few issues in Battle Royale on slower HDDs.

However, as this does seem to be more of an issue for people with slower-than-7200RPM drives (which we don't recommend), it was excluded from the performance guide.

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. Epic Games' System Requirements for Fortnite, via their FAQ Page
  2. PowerGPU Fortnite Benchmarks
  3. Wolfgang Fortnite 1080p Benchmarks (Epic settings)
  4. (outdated) GameGPU Fortnite benchmarks