Building the Best PC for PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds
Last updated: November 2017
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) is a demanding game to run. This guide will help you get the best performance and image quality out of the game, whether with your current PC or with a new one you plan to build.
PUBG is a third-person-shooter, arena-battle game developed by Bluehole. In each round, 100 players airdrop into an island, where they gather weapons and resources in order to fight in a progressively shrinking battle zone until only one player (or team) is left standing.
The game's creative director is Brendan Greene, whose battle-royale gameplay design has featured previously in the ARMA series and H1Z1. And though the game is still an "Early Access" title on Steam, it has quickly become one of the most popular PC games on the internet.
Because PUBG is still an Early Access title, the game's performance and graphical fidelity is subject to change. We expect that performance will continue to improve as the game undergoes development, meaning that the game may perform better than suggested in this guide as time goes on.
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds Hardware Requirements and Performance
Before we explore how each PC component influence your performance with PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, let’s take a look at the game’s minimum system requirements, according to Bluehole:
Minimum System Requirements:
- Processor: Intel Core i3-4340 or AMD FX-6300
- Memory: 6 GB RAM
- Graphics Card (NVIDIA): NVIDIA GTX 660 2GB
- Graphics Card (AMD): AMD HD 7850 2GB
The game's official minimum specifications are low. They are roughly on-par with our “Modest” tier ($400) on the Logical Increment parts list. A build with those specifications would deliver below 30 FPS in the game right now.
It is highly recommended that you have hardware at least as good as our “Great” tier ($800) if you want a smooth experience at 1080p, and higher if you’re interested in playing at 1440p or 4K.
Recommended GPUs for PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds
PUBG has a large map with many unoptimized art assets, which requires a powerful GPU to process. The game currently favors NVIDIA GPUs by about 10%, meaning that an NVIDIA GPU will perform roughly 10% better in PUBG compared to an equivalent AMD GPU. The developers are placing high priority on optimizing the performance of the game, but until then, these are our recommendations:
For Medium settings at 1080p with 60 FPS, we recommend a GTX 1060 6GB.
For Ultra settings at 1080p with 60 FPS, we recommend going with a GTX 1070.
For Ultra settings at 1440p with 60 FPS, we recommend at least a GTX 1080.
As of this writing, no graphics card is likely to achieve a consistent 60+ FPS at 4K resolution with Ultra settings in PBUG. However, your best bet would be a GTX 1080 TI for single card performance. The game does not currently support SLI and Crossfire (CFX).
Graphics Card VRAM
The graphics card needs to have enough VRAM for the game to run well. Beyond that, having extra does not noticeably increase performance.
Battlegrounds will use up to 5.5GB of VRAM at 4K, but only uses 4GB at lower resolutions. Despite that, 3GB usually cards do just fine. Powerful 2GB cards can run the game well if you have at least 8GB of system RAM and an SSD. If you're buying a new card, get one with at least 4GB.
Recommended CPUs for PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds
PUBG is also quite demanding on the CPU. High single-threaded performance is important, so previous generation AMD CPUs like the FX 8350 do particularly poorly. Ryzen and all recent Intel CPUs do quite well.
PUBG and the Unreal 4 engine can take advantage of up to about 8 threads, but really only need 4 threads. A hyper-threaded dual core will run the game well enough, but having 4 physical cores is the sweet spot.
Performance varies a lot depending on the in-game location, how many players are nearby, and what is happening. Having a powerful CPU helps a lot to smooth things out, while weaker CPUs may bottleneck performance during intense moments.
For Medium settings at 1080p, you could get by with as little as a Pentium G4560.
If you want to run at 1080p on Ultra settings, we recommend something like an i5-8400. While Intel CPUs have the edge thanks to their faster single-threaded performance, AMDs Ryzen CPUs such as the Ryzen 5 1600X are good too. Either of these CPUs would be good enough for over 60 FPS at any resolution, including 4K.
The game will use between 6.5GB and 10GB of system RAM, depending on what graphics card you have, and the game settings. 16GB of system RAM is recommended, although 8GB works if you close almost everything else while playing. If you have a bunch of things open in the background while playing, even more than 16GB of RAM could be helpful.
How much difference RAM speed makes depends on what CPU and motherboard you have, but the difference between the fastest and slowest RAM available to you will be small (<10%).
These parts have little impact on the performance of your PC. However, they are still important.
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 (Ultra) and turning only the setting in question down to the lowest (Very Low) while leaving all others untouched.
Quality is a combination of presets of the other settings. Changing this setting will automatically adjust the other settings. If you don't want to mess with the detailed settings, simply use this to find a good balance of visual quality and performance.
Performance Impact: Up to 50% between Very Low and Ultra
Resolution affects the display size and therefore detail of the game. Higher resolutions will perform worse than lower, but show additional detail up to your monitor’s native display resolution.
For example, as long as the CPU is not a bottleneck, 1600x900 can perform 30% better than 1080p. 1080p can perform up to 4x better than 4K.
Post-processing is a setting that controls a number of ‘final touches’ to the displayed visuals of the game, including more precise lighting calculations, character details, depth blurring, and more.
Performance Impact: ~18-20% between Very Low and Ultra
The shadows setting controls the precision, realism, and anti-aliasing of all of the shadows in the game (from players to structures). This setting has one of the more noticeable differences in visual quality while playing PUBG, due to the constant exploration of uninhabited houses in broad daylight.
Performance Impact: ~10-20% between Very Low and Ultra
This setting controls the level of detail present on the surfaces and objects in the game. Changing the texture quality has little impact on performance, until the point where the textures are too much to fit in the RAM on your graphics card. At that point, the performance impact becomes high. If you have 4GB or more VRAM on your graphics card, you can set textures to ultra. If you have 3GB, high or medium should work well for you.
Performance Impact: ~4-20% between Very Low and Ultra
Anti-aliasing is the process of making sharp lines and edges look less jagged (less ‘pixelated’) and more smooth.
Performance Impact: ~5-10%
The foliage setting controls the display resolution of the trees and bushes in the game. In testing, it seemed at first as though this setting had no effect whatsoever, simply because the difference between Ultra and Very Low settings is very subtle. Pay close attention to the bush on the right in the comparison below to see the difference.
Performance Impact: ~4-6% between Very Low and Ultra
The view distance setting determines how far out from your current position the game will show structures and objects. The minimum allowed by this setting is quite far from the player (likely to stop players from gaining an advantage by turning it down to see through walls), as shown below.
Performance Impact: ~4-6% between Very Low and Ultra
Motion blur turns objects into streaks if they are moving. Some players prefer it because it may smooth out rough details, whereas others think it hurts fidelity. It has no discernible performance impact, so turn it on or off according to your personal preference!
Performance Impact: Negligible
Choosing the Best Settings for PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds
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 PUBG to improve your framerate 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
- Turn down “View Distance” and “Foliage” (even the minimum of these is currently comparable to the highest).
- Use the “High” preset instead of “Ultra”. This can increase FPS by 30% and still look very good.
Improve FPS by larger amounts with moderate impact to visuals
- Turn “Anti-aliasing”, “View Distance”, and “Foliage” to Very Low.
- Lower “Shadows” to at least Medium.
- Use the "Medium" preset.
If doing all of the steps above still does not achieve your desired framerate, try some of the following:
- Turn “Shadows” to Very Low
- Lower “Post-processing” or “textures” to at least Medium
- Very last resort: Use the "Very Low" 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 the 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.
These assessments may skew slightly conservative. PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is still in early access, and should perform better in the future, after additional optimization. Here is how the standard builds will perform in Battlegrounds:
|Very Good ($620)||Playable||Playable||Borderline||Unplayable|
|Superb ($850)||Very Smooth||Smooth||Playable||Borderline|
|Excellent ($1120)||Very Smooth||Very Smooth||Smooth||Playable|
|Outstanding ($1250)||Silky Smooth||Very Smooth||Smooth||Playable|
|Exceptional ($1600)||Silky Smooth||Very Smooth||Very Smooth||Playable|
|Enthusiast ($2000)||Silky Smooth||Silky Smooth||Very Smooth||Smooth|
|Extremist ($3300)||Silky Smooth||Silky Smooth||Very Smooth||Smooth|
|Monstrous ($4500+)||Silky Smooth||Silky Smooth||Very Smooth||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 Battlegrounds, 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 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 Battleborn at a range of progressively more demanding screen resolutions.
The Superb tier will get you very smooth performance in PUBG at 1600x900.
The Excellent tier will get you very smooth performance at 1080p.
The Exceptional tier will get you very smooth performance at 1440p.
If you want to play at 4K, you'll get the best performance by building the Enthusiast tier.
Because PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is (1) in Early Access (and therefore unoptimized), (2) being developed by a small team (and therefore being optimized slowly), and (3) using a modern game engine (Unreal Engine 4), running it smoothly requires a powerful machine.
We hope this guide has helped you understand the necessary PC hardware for running PUBG 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.
Daniel Podgorski is a contributing writer for Logical Increments. He also does all of the writing, graphic design, and web development for The Gemsbok blog website and The Gemsbok YouTube channel, where you can find articles and videos on books, games, movies, and philosophy.
Logical Increments helps more than 2 million PC builders each year with hardware recommendations for any budget.
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