Up For Debate - What Is An Acceptable Frame Rate?

Written by Jon Sutton on Sun, Aug 7, 2016 4:00 PM

Earlier this week I spotted quite a conversation going on in GD about acceptable frame rates, and indeed whether it was even possible to play a game at 5 frames per second. Which got me thinking about frame rates and how they differ from person to person.

We all have our own set of standards, and too often PC gaming is just pigeonholed as the ‘PC Master Race’ rubbish which is all about extreme performance and frame rates in the hundreds.

Despite talking the loudest though, these are the minority in PC gaming. Here on GD we have hundreds of thousands of members with a huge spread of systems with varying gaming performance, from creaking old laptops perfect for a Super Meat Boy session to hand-built, custom tuned machines designed for maximum value for money.

As such, we all have different targets when it comes to frame rates. Some of us are never happy unless we’re rocking 144Hz, others go down the middle with a solid 60, while some are perfectly happy with 30 or even lower.

So where on the spectrum do you lie? What’s the minimum frame rate you can deal with before you stop playing or consider an upgrade? Do you drop the resolution below your monitor’s native res in order to gain an extra few frames? Let us know!

What is your minimum acceptable frame rate?

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00:49 Aug-20-2016

It's better to have a constant 30fps rather than 60fps that drops down causing stutters.

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00:04 Aug-13-2016

the questions is for the minimum fps, so if you are using v-sync on a 60fps monitor 30 is the minimum, and when i say minimum that means during battles and etc.

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19:08 Aug-11-2016

Well i have a mid pc so i can get 60fps on 1080p in almost all games, if its over like 70fps i just make the graphics setting better to get 60fps and i am happy with it, but i played batman arkham knight on 40fps on 1080p on low and i played it for like 5days with no problems, it just depends how hyped you are for that game, if your hyped enough even 30fps is good :D

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17:47 Aug-11-2016

Why on earth have ppl voted for 144 as their minimum acceptable fps? Like siriusly, how many fps do u game on, 500?

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06:51 Aug-12-2016

Likely 144 Minimum and 165 Good.


If one has 1080 SLI and has 165/144 Hz monitor, why will he want anything less than 144?

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05:32 Aug-10-2016

well i heard the only the human eye only needs 20frames per second to see a smooth image. some birds need right up to 90frames. So its probably much more than frame rate that makes for a smoth image, thus v-sync.

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06:46 Aug-10-2016

But Framerate play importance too.
Its actually 16 Frames that are needed to see a slideshow like a video.
Higher Fps will improve smoothness.
V-Sync keeps those frames synced i.e. adjusts timings.... To keep them from overlapping etc to stop any tearing.

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10:29 Aug-10-2016

If i use a manual frame limiter though forexample a RTSS, will it work like v-sync too?

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11:03 Aug-10-2016

Without vsync enabled you will still get tearing. Frame limiter is just frame limiter, but if you cap fps below your refresh rate with vsync enabled, your input lag might get better at the cost of slight stuttering.

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11:10 Aug-10-2016

Enable Vsync as well.


Or try creating a Custom resolution at lower refresh rate and enable vsync if the above method fails which it likely will not.

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19:54 Aug-11-2016

Creating a manual refresh rate at, say, 48Hz and the v-syncing to that could indeed make a game perceptably smoother than trying to run the game at that framerate on a 60Hz refresh :)

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14:16 Aug-10-2016

framerate consistency makes smoothness, imagine 1 are frames and 0 are latency:
smooth: 10101010101010101010
laggy: 11010100100011110100
both have 10x 1 and 10x 0 so let's say both are 10fps, yet the difference is obvious

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14:17 Aug-10-2016

what V-sync does is try to match the graphics output frames with monitor refresh rate (to simplify, 60Hz means 60fps)

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21:01 Aug-10-2016

That only applies if you're going above 60fps. Anything below can stutter like A$$ even if you use VSYNC.
Variable refresh rates (G-Sync/Freesync/AdaptiveSync) FTW!

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12:22 Aug-11-2016

actually if gpu outputs less frames than monitor refresh rate, V-sync will still try to "match" the frames (so for ex. it will skip one whole frame to be "matched" on next "refresh" instead of outputting frame "between" two monitor "refreshes")

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19:51 Aug-11-2016

... OBVIOUSLY V-sync doesn't allow output between refreshes - that's what causes tearing.
But Vsync has no control over animation timing, it can just tell the GPU to render frames and maybe even triple-buffer the frames so the GPU can keep rendering for a smoother experience.
But if you're running below 60fps on a fixed-refresh 60Hz screen then any refreshes that don't get a unique frame (when a frame takes longer to render than the length of a refresh) just get a double of whatever frame was there before and therefore - a stutter in the animation. One can argue against 3:2 pulldown too, but it exists and it's by design.
It's how it works and there's no denying it.

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02:26 Aug-12-2016

Actually there is a V-Sync Half Refresh Rate setting in the nVidia control panel that will force a 60Hz display to run at 30Hz/30fps. Also there is the V-Sync Smooth setting for SLI setups that also halves the refresh rate. Running at half refresh rate does not stutter because the timing still stays right by flashing each image twice instead of once per native refresh cycle.

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11:10 Aug-11-2016

Great explanation. When I was first reading about frame times, I couldn't get why it was superior to fps as a measure of performance. After all, they are just the reciprocal of each other.
The simple explanation imo, is that a second is just too long to measure the quality of rendering. Hence not all 30fps are equal

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12:24 Aug-11-2016

exactly, that's also why 29.97fps movie will usually look smoother than 30fps game :)

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19:53 Aug-11-2016

...usually that's due to the fact that most games have no object-based motion blur and you're not controlling the movie so you are not dealing with any input latencies. A locked 30fps game with proper motion blur support will be fine and dandy, just like a video would be.

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08:13 Aug-12-2016

true, but it's again about frame pace consistency

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16:46 Aug-09-2016

I played the DOOM demo at 22 fps and all settings low, like basement low. It was a wee bit sluggish, but somewhat consistent. Had a pretty good time, but mostly because I REALLY wanted to try it out before upgrading. It really comes down to how much you want to play a game I suppose. I also learned that my GTX 605 TI 1GB can still squeeze out a smidgen of magic. Go figure....

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23:37 Aug-09-2016

mate you should play it better , the cause is just your Vram.

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10:32 Aug-10-2016

only 1 Gb for a beastly 650 ti ?(compared to mine)
why torture the card like that even my gpu runs outta vram sometimes (90-95% gpu usage, 950mb+ vram usage)

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11:12 Aug-10-2016

I tried ACS.
On 1080p minimum setting, I was low on VRAM :P

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18:04 Aug-11-2016

Well on 1080p its a completely different scenario. Resolutions eat a whole lotta dem MBs

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11:13 Aug-10-2016

Try lower resolution and Higher setting.
Settings that use less VRAM

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16:27 Aug-09-2016

Any frame rate is acceptable so long as it is stable with no stuttering.

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16:36 Aug-09-2016

Yeah, that's true.

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16:37 Aug-09-2016

Agreed! Too many frames can even be bad, if your monitor can't handle it you will get tearing which is gross.

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19:51 Aug-09-2016

That's what V-Sync is for, in which case you'll have a very beautiful stutter-free solid gaming experience. In case of 120/144/165Hz monitors - more frames = better and G-Sync takes care of all the problems :)

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16:58 Aug-09-2016

But at what FPS does it start to stutter for you? Its a very subjective topic, hence the debate.

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17:23 Aug-09-2016

It's hard to explain all the variables that can cause screen tearing. Your monitor is part of it. Its refresh rate matters. The game matters a lot. Imagine that the top half of your screen is refreshing perfectly fine. But when you turn around all of the objects (ex: a busy city) give the computer a bit of an Oh Nelly! and suddenly the top part of your screen slows down a bit. Meanwhile the bottom half refrehsed just fine because there are few objects to see (ex: a road texture). So the screen seems to cut where the slowed down half and the usual speed half meet.

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17:24 Aug-09-2016

If i have a lot more FPS than my screens refresh rate.

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18:58 Aug-09-2016

@Randomgamerguy1999, Well that varies from game to game. Some games play well even at extremely low fps so long as the fps is stable & not fluctuating, but other games will stutter if they dip even slightly below 60. So it completely depends on which game you are playing. Also some game stutter just because of fluctuating fps. The Witcher 3 is a good example of this. I can max it out at 1080p and stay between 40 and 50fps, but the fluctuation makes it stutter which makes the game feel like it is lagging. However locking the frame rate to 30fps eliminates the fluctuation, the stutter, & lag.

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19:05 Aug-09-2016

Continued... Now I can lower enough settings in the Witcher 3 to get 60fps, but it still doesn't feel as smooth as a locked 30 unless I turn enough settings down to keep the game locked at 60 without dips or fluctuations below 60. That fluctuation or instability of frame rates is what makes games feel like they are lagging. At least that is how it works for me. 60 or even 120 fps isn't good when fps fluctuates enough that I notice. I would take a game locked at 30 over a game fluctuating between 40 & 60 any day.

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19:53 Aug-09-2016

And this, my friend, is what G-Sync/Freesync is for :)
Then you just leave the framerate unlocked to whatever and the stutters and tears are gone! :)

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20:01 Aug-09-2016

I would love to have a G-Sync monitor, but until I do whatever fps is stable is what I will shoot for. It just isn't time for me to go all out again yet. Heck by the time I am ready again maybe there will be a good 144Hz 4K with G-Sync available. ;)

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20:06 Aug-09-2016

@ leadstardude i know the feeling man!

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11:01 Aug-10-2016

@leadstardude I know what you are trying to say. sometimes 30-40fps is perfectly smooth, sometimes it stutters. Its hard to pinpoint exactly what causes one or the other. For Witcher3, Ive found that dialing down shadows and foliage (w/vsync off) gets me to that smooth fps even without getting even near a locked 60 fps

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11:06 Aug-10-2016

[continued] It's not even really stuttering, coz stuttering is a lot worse. The frames just don't flow smoothly. In some cases turning vsync off improves the smoothness. Just pray the game doesn't tear like crazy.

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20:09 Aug-09-2016

Have a thumbs up everyone! This has been a fun thread. :D

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21:11 Aug-09-2016

Giving you some back, you silly Billy :D

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16:02 Aug-09-2016

If there's something below 144 FPS, my eyes start bleeding.

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16:04 Aug-09-2016

And mines started to bleed when i saw this comment :D
You are being ironic right?

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16:05 Aug-09-2016

Not really... :)

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16:09 Aug-09-2016

Well you have the machine for it. 1070 is pretty beastly.

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16:12 Aug-09-2016

I know, thanks for the kind words. :)

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16:17 Aug-09-2016

Maybe you mean CS: GO? :P

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16:30 Aug-09-2016

No, man. I don't like multiplayer games at all. The only one I play is GTA Online, because I'm a big fan of Rockstar Games.

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19:55 Aug-09-2016

According to your GTA V bench your eyes must be bleeding...

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11:39 Aug-09-2016

When you have a laptop... 30 FPS is fine
Desktop... 60 is gr8
when you have 144hz ... I entered new dimenzion ... Upgrading hardware now

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14:57 Aug-09-2016

since i just got this desktop i think i am going to overclock my display to 75 hz.

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19:56 Aug-09-2016

165Hz screen here and I approve that message. It's something else!

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10:27 Aug-09-2016

If I was asked a month ago, I would have said 20.
Now after playing games on 60 FPS (like BF4, WD, TW3 etc) I cannot play FPS at anything below 50 properly.
TW3 works fine on 30 FPS as well.

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08:48 Aug-09-2016

Anything above 29 fps is acceptable for me.

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14:50 Aug-09-2016

yeah, once it drops below 30 it gets kind of unbearable.

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04:43 Aug-09-2016

OK for me, simply it depends on what mode you play in the game, like for single player mode, 30fps even lower is totally acceptable, while when i am playing in multiplayer mode, i definitely need it to be 60fps at least.

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02:50 Aug-09-2016

In an FPS I prefer above 30fps. Dropping below 30 is tenuous at best. I don't so much care what the maximum is when I look at a card review. What's the point of a card peaking at 70+fps in a game if it winds up dipping into the 20s when the 'stuff' hits the fan? Because right about then is when I get splattered everywhere too.

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01:36 Aug-09-2016

It depends on the game for me, with my old pc (not listed here anymore) I played DA:I at a nice whopping `17fps on average. The game has to be in a genre I like, and I am willing to suffer throught a lot, so I am easily sated at 30.....But with that said, with rig upgrades I am now getting spoiled, so the game gots to be epic now before I settle for anything under 30...

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23:00 Aug-08-2016

90 so i don't have to worry about drops. so get a gtx 1070 for 1080p.

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16:48 Aug-08-2016

I remember when I had my old AMD XP 2500+ with and ATI 1650x PRO card and all these shiny new great games were coming out like Mass Effect 1 & ME2. So for me for the titles I reaaaly want to play but simply don't have the machine for even 20FPS is good enough.

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16:11 Aug-08-2016

60+ fps for games that require quick reaction time... imagine skadoodle playing CSGO with awp. at 30fps. 30>=fps acceptable for action games that aren't shooter.. like ryse. or such games.. and turn based games. could go for 30 sumthing fps.

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16:13 Aug-08-2016

also...i happen to have my FPS at 40 at a certain RPG game. for some unknown reason.. i think that has more cinematic feel than 30FPS... feels to choppy. hahahahaha. 40fps is ?

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22:59 Aug-08-2016

lmao for csgo you need 150+ constant considering you need a 144hz monitor for that game.

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00:37 Aug-09-2016

true that.. hahaha

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12:26 Aug-08-2016

really depends on game type,
if it's a lot about smooth motion (like racing games, shooter games and other action-paced games) then I'd say 60fps is minimum acceptable,
on the other hand if it's some strategy or slow-paced adventure game, then I guess even 20fps is totally okay for me

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14:11 Aug-08-2016

Maybe it's just me, but in RTS games I don't really see a difference between 30-60 FPS. But I agree for those games 60 FPS is pretty much standards frame rate.

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14:26 Aug-08-2016

well, last weekend I played Empire Earth II and I actually noticed fps dropped from 60 to about 5, and it was kinda annoying, but not entirely unplayable xD

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14:28 Aug-08-2016

also it's more about frame pacing, meaning, the consistency of frames "flow", because human eye notices any stutter/inconsistency much more likely than "smoothness" of more frames

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14:58 Aug-08-2016

Awesome, it's nice to hear people still play Empire Earth 2 :) One of my all time favorite RTS games. And yeah, I see what you're saying about the consistency of frames.

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07:52 Aug-09-2016

I got the unofficial patch 1.5 which lets up to 4000 global population (compared to default max 1600),
I think the problem causing framerate drops is the heavy AI logic on crowded maps :D

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08:21 Aug-09-2016

lol. I know what you mean, I had this mod for Age Of Empire 3 that allowed unlimited population. Then I did notice serious FPS drops.

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08:50 Aug-09-2016

haha yea, AoE:III is what I play a lot too, but instead of unlimited pop, I just tweaked how much pop units take and buildings I can build (so I can build plenty of forts, factories and all cavalry takes just 2 pop)

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11:40 Aug-08-2016

Well depends, for some games 30 FPS seems just fine, but others are laggy.

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11:21 Aug-08-2016

For me, anything would go, as far as the game runs lag-free.

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17:51 Aug-08-2016

But that is THE QUESTION. What is the min FPS before you feel that the game's lagging?
Lags are very subjective, i for one cant differentiate anything above 60 FPS, everything looks the same, i guess my eyes arent that sensitive.

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19:58 Aug-09-2016

and over here 60 is considered lag after having lived with a 165Hz screen. Very different perspectives :)

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17:45 Aug-10-2016

Well, the FPS ranges from 5 in JC3 (Unplayable due to low-end PC) and 120-135 probably in Max Payne 1 & 2. For most of the games, lag-free FPS is around 18-22 FPS.

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02:53 Aug-09-2016

Have you tried Fallout 4 with unlocked FPS? Believe me, you don't want that.

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Can They Run... |

| 30FPS, Medium, 720p
Core 2 Duo E7500 2.93GHz Radeon R7 250X Sapphire 1GB Edition 4GB
0% No [1 votes]
| 60FPS, High, 1080p
Core i7-10870H 8-Core 2.20GHz GeForce RTX 3060 Mobile 16GB
| 60FPS, Ultra, 4k
APU A10-9700E 4-Core 3.0GHz Radeon R5 M320 2GB 12GB
0% No [1 votes]
| 60FPS, Medium, 1080p
Core i5-11400 6-Core 2.7GHz GeForce GTX 1660 Ti Asus TUF Gaming 6GB 16GB
| 60FPS, Low, 1080p
Core i5-6500 3.2GHz GeForce GTX 1060 16GB
| 60FPS, Medium, 1080p
Ryzen 5 3500 6-Core 3.6GHz GeForce GTX 1660 Asus Phoenix OC 6GB 16GB
100% Yes [1 votes]
| 60FPS, Medium, 1080p
Core i5-3570K 3.4GHz GeForce GTX 1060 Gigabyte Windforce 2X OC 3GB 16GB
| 60FPS, High, 1080p
Core i7-12700K 16-Core 3.6GHz GeForce RTX 3060 Ti Asus ROG Strix Gaming OC 8GB 32GB
| 60FPS, Low, 1080p
Ryzen 7 2700X Radeon RX 550X 4GB 24GB
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1080p
Core i5-10600KF 6-Core 4.10GHz Radeon RX 580 Asus Dual 8GB 16GB
| 60FPS, Medium, 1080p
Core i5-11400F 6-Core 2.6GHz GeForce GTX 1060 MSI Gaming X 6G Edition 16GB
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1080p
Ryzen 5 2600 Radeon RX 580 4GB 8GB
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1080p
Core i5-4570 3.2GHz Radeon HD 7970 OC Sapphire Edition 16GB
| 60FPS, Medium, 1080p
Core i7-8086K 6-Core 4.0GHz GeForce GTX 980 4GB 32GB
| Low, 1080p
Core i5-7400 3.0GHz GeForce GTX 1050 Palit StormX 2GB 12GB
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1440p
Ryzen 7 3700X 8-Core 3.6GHz GeForce RTX 3060 Ti Gigabyte Aorus Master 8GB 16GB
100% Yes [4 votes]
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1440p
Ryzen 7 3700X 8-Core 3.6GHz GeForce RTX 3060 Ti Gigabyte Aorus Master 8GB 16GB
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1080p
Ryzen 5 3600 6-Core 3.6GHz GeForce RTX 3060 Ultra 16GB
| 60FPS, Ultra, 4k
Core i9-10900KF 10-Core 3.70GHz GeForce RTX 2080 Super MSI Ventus XS OC 8GB 64GB
| Medium, 1080p
FX-8300 Radeon RX 560 Sapphire Pulse OC 2GB 16GB