Battlefield 3 (BF3) System Build Guide - What you need to succeed
2560x1600 (or multi-display) - Ultra Settings and Closing Thoughts
Let's be honest - if you aren't gaming on your PC you are probably working to save money so you can game on your PC. For you, not having the latest hardware isn't really an option it is just something ingrained in your psyche and MUST BE DONE. That is why you have a 30-inch panel with a 2560x1600 resolution or maybe even a set of three 1080p panels for some AMD Eyefinity or NVIDIA Surround action. You want all of that running at 60 FPS and you won't settle for anything less than the Ultra settings.
CPU: Core i7-2600k - $314
MB: ASUS P8Z68-V Pro - $199
If we are going big, you might as well go with the fastest Sandy Bridge processor available that includes HyperThreading giving you and your system 8 addressable threads. The motherboard gets yet another boost with support for Quad SLI and Quad CrossFire while offering all the bells and whistles you'll want on your PC. 8GB of memory still remains but you can also push that up to 16GB if you want to spend the extra $50.
For the AMD platform, there isn't anything that can really match the Core i7-2600k in terms of performance yet, but if you wanted to wait another month or so we might see Bulldozer finally out for sale and you can compare gaming benchmarks accordingly.
GPU: 2 x MSI N580GTX Lightning 1.5GB - $1048 ($524 / each)
There are going to be lots of options for the person that is willing to spend a LOT of money but my favorite solution currently sits with a pair of GTX 580 cards. With this combination you'll be able to run three displays or run a single 30-in panel at just about any quality settings you want, including Ultra in BF3. This MSI Lightning card comes overclocked out of the box but you could also go a bit cheaper and find reference cards or something closer to $489 a piece; but if you are spending the cash, then spend it.
GPU alternative: 2 x ASUS EAH6970 DirectCU II 2GB - $758 ($379 / each)
The AMD Radeon HD 6970 cards in CrossFire are definitely the more cost efficient way to meet your goals but the fact is that the GeForce cards have been proven to have better multi-GPU scaling. Still, if you prefer the AMD route, this is what we recommend.
For those of you running Eyefinity or Surround setups, I should warn that hitting 60 FPS with more than 6 million pixels a frame is going be pretty hard, even with these SLI and CrossFire configurations. You MAY have to resort to High settings to reach that 60 FPS plateau based on our initial testing and some user reports.
As a side note, I would have liked to have recommended either the GeForce GTX 590 or the Radeon HD 6990 but they are so notoriously hard to find, I would have felt like I was selecting an option you might never see for sale. Also, the ASUS MARS II card - a great option if you can afford $1400 and find it WITHOUT a combo attached.
Base Components Cost: $1608
Unfortunately we are about twice the base cost of the High quality system option on the previous page but if you want the best, you always have to pay for it.
I hope you find our little system build guide here useful for your Battlefield 3 gaming purposes. It is by no means the final answer for your own particular situation but I think it gives a lot of guidance as to what hardware and in particular, what GPU, we recommend to reach the gameplay quality you want to reach.
We left the selection of the case, coolers, storage and everything else up to you because even though they might be fun for a hardware geek, it is not really going to affect your BF3 gaming experience and that is what this guide focused on. SSDs are nice and will help you load levels more quickly, but aren't going to help you blow up that tank as it's about to run you down.
I welcome any and all questions or comments in the fields below (registration is NOT required) and you can let everyone know what hardware YOU are running on the beta and how it performs.
Good luck to you and feel free to hit up our PC Perspective Platoon!