Building the Best PC for Fortnite
Last updated: December 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
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 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
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 4K gaming with Fortnite and other games, however, something with a little more processing power is advised. Something like the i7-9700K or at least the i5-9600K would be a solid option for a higher-performing rig.
RAM Recommendations for Fortnite Battle Royale
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.
These parts have little impact on the performance of your PC. However, they are still important.
OS (most likely Windows)
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
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.
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
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 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
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!
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
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.
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
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.
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
Post in the comments below if you can pick out the differences at 1080p!
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
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.
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
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.
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
The visual difference here needs no explanation, but just in case . . . it's the grass.
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
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.
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:
|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|
|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.
To determine how your PC will perform in Fortnite, you’ll need to consider three things:
- The resolution you want to play at (usually your screen’s native resolution)
- How much graphical detail you want
- 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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!