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Better CPU or GPU for Battlefield 3 multiplayer?

Last response: in CPUs
a b à CPUs
May 16, 2012 8:57:00 PM


I'ts come to the time when I feel like an upgrade coming along. I've been playing battlefield 3 multiplayer and as I still get around 30-40 fps on foot, it gets choppy on 64 player Team DM and when alot of explosions and effects are being rendered. I'm playing on high texture, medium terrain quality and low effects/mesh settings with the ambient occlusion off at 1680x1050. This thing is, battlefield multiplayer recommends a quad core, and I know that the GTS 450 should play on slightly higher settings than it is. It may be the DDR3 version, but its still not that bad. Would I get a better jump in performance by getting a better CPU or graphics? I'd probably be allowed to spend £70 ish max on a new gpu and the same on a cpu, so it'll be ebay buying. Anyone know of any bargains for that price on ebay UK? I don't want to spend money on a new cpu only to find out that the gpu was the bottleneck all along.

My board is the ASUS M4A78LT-M LE board with the barebone bios, so the CPU support is a bit limited, the supported CPUs are on this link pretty much. Can this be changed though?

Rest of the system:
Athlon ii 455 @3.3ghz with stock fan
GTS450 DDR3 with 850mhz core, 1700 mhz shaders, 850 mhz memory
4 gigs DDR3 1333mhz
500 watt OCZ Stealth X stream (forgot I don't want to buy anything that would overload that, but loads of good gpus will run on a 500watt PSU, has only one one 8/6 pin PCIE power plug mind)

Thats all that matters really.

Thanks for any help :) 
a b à CPUs
May 16, 2012 9:16:48 PM

spend it all on the GPU
a b à CPUs
May 16, 2012 9:29:05 PM

how does it run in single player? Multiplayer is more cpu intense than the single player mode, but single player should give you an idea of how well your gpu will handle the game.

Run windows task manager while playing, when you hit some massive lag, alt-tab to see how high your cpu usage is. If your at 100% on all 3 cores, then its the cpu being the problem

The PII 560 runs fine on single player, look at what happens in MP.

Thats with a 6990 ... 9 fps ...
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a b à CPUs
May 16, 2012 10:06:17 PM

The processor is the biggest limiting factor in BF3 64 people multiplayer games, by far.

You really want to have a solid 4 core processor to be doing that stuff.

You might want to consider an H61 motherboard and an i5-2400 processor.

That being said, the video card does sound really weak for this game as well. It sounds like you are bottlenecked both ways.

Anyway, if it were me I would first go for the i5-2400/H61 setup.
a b à CPUs
May 16, 2012 10:10:16 PM

Seeing that the Phenom II scores 49 fps minimum I'd guess the overclocked Athlon will keep you over 30 fps minimum which is fine.
a b à CPUs
May 16, 2012 10:14:37 PM

It is noteworthy that the benchmark is using a 6990 and the OP has a GTS 450 which is like 100x worse.

Not that I think that should change anything, but I would still get the Intel quad core like I said before.
a b à CPUs
May 16, 2012 11:11:46 PM

With a very low budget I think it's obvious he should try with the Athlon first - the i5 is not going to help if he's going to be GPU bottlenecked anyway.
a b à CPUs
May 16, 2012 11:54:23 PM

There is no option to "but it and see". Like I said, use task manager to see, I can pretty much guarantee the athlon x3 is pegged at 100% just like my test of the fx-4100 was with 2 6970 cards.

Single player will tell you if the gpu is capable, mp will show cpu weakness.
May 17, 2012 12:44:56 AM

I no its nothing in your price range but all I can say from personal experience is that I was on AMD 955 BE and same motherboard you have plus a ASUS gtx 570 but was bottle necked by CPU.

I recently got a i5 2500k & z68 and the results are out of this world. What I would do is hold out longer and save for a good i5 and p67 bundle I no its not cheap but one thing I have learned is to work and save for a good few months. Buying a amd cpu or even upgrading your current card really wont give you that much performance. Going with a 2500k and good board even with you current gts the increase in fps will better off by a mile.
I have spent a good few hundred this year trying to get a rig to have BF3 run at roughly capped 60 FPS on medium-high setting(for me anything below 60 is no good online) rather then upgrade here and there go all out in a month or two.Hope this help you making your choice.
a c 88 à CPUs
May 17, 2012 12:50:20 AM

the phenom 2 945 is the best your system can handle. the gts 450 ist a brilliant card but is enough to give you a smooth game if you disable the dx11 features and run on medium low with high textures.
i run on medium settings with dx11 disabled on my system to get a rock solid minimum of 50 fps...
anything less will just spoil the game for you...
a b à CPUs
May 17, 2012 4:33:24 AM

I'd say gpu>quad am3 processor>last being a platform change if you are budget strapped. Good luck.
a b à CPUs
May 17, 2012 7:03:53 PM

I've been playing battlefield single player and at it runs alot better- coming on medium high. I dropped the res down to 720p and I was playing everything on high with minimums of over 40. In multiplayer the frame rates are a great deal lower and don't really change when I put the res up. Interestingly the frames go up when i turn mesh quality to low and turn ambient occlusion off in multiplayer, but doesn't really go up when I turn down resolution.

The frame rates aren't too bad a 1024 x 768 though, which would suggest that the GPU is the bottleneck. But you'd expect the frame rate to go up when the resolution is turned down from 1680x1050 to 720p, but it stays the same near enough. I have to go down to 1024x768 for the frames to go up. My graphics can't be struggling that much can they? And surely would the frame rate drop scale with higher resolution?

If the CPU is the bottleneck, I'd on save up for an intel build. The Phenoms on ebay are far too much, nearly £80 for an Athlon 630 quad- much faster 125watt (and therefore unsupported) phenoms can be found for not much more. I remember reading that Sandy Bridge Pentiums can keep up and possibly do better than them. I't would just be a new board and CPU, i'd keep everything else for now. Would something along the lines of a core i3 be ok you think? It does execute 4 threads and is alot faster than the architecture of my current CPU. I don't know how much I would be able to save and when I'd have enough but at least I'd know what to save for. I don't really care about overclockability of the board, I won't be able to afford a K series. I don't care much about features really, as long as I'tll use a keyboard and has a PCI-E 16x slot for my GPU I'll be fine
a b à CPUs
May 17, 2012 7:07:09 PM

Also forgot, what are the best deals for graphics cards on ebay in the UK? In the shops you can get a HD6770 for about £70 but they're only a little bit better than what I have apparently.
a b à CPUs
May 17, 2012 10:38:17 PM

There are a lot of cards that fall between the 450 and the 6770, but in general there isn't a super huge difference between the two. The really big jump is going from a 6770 to a 6850 (or from a 450 to 6850).

Anyway, regardless what you do with the video cards I don't think it will make 1 iota of difference in your multiplayer experience.

If you want a better multiplayer experience, I would do what I said before and get an H61 micro board for like $50 and an i5-2400 for like $130.

You should experience a huge multiplayer FPS boost if you do that.

Here is a direct comparison using some video game benchmarks (but not BF3).

The one for Starcraft 2 will be the closest comparison for how it would affect your BF3 multiplayer FPS.
a b à CPUs
May 18, 2012 12:43:31 AM

Not exactly sc 2 is designed for 2 threads and actually punishes you when you go over 4. Bf3 scales quite well through 8 cores.

Check and see how the 2600k is slower than the 2500k.

But I do agree, he should just save up for a cpu uupgrade as his budget will only land an equal card.

Optionally tho is 450 sli.
a b à CPUs
May 18, 2012 3:09:37 AM

There is clearly a huge difference in Starcraft 2 when switching from a Athlon 455 to an i5-2400. It is right there in the link.

Not sure what you are trying to contradict here.

If you mean to say that one of the other games from the link demonstrates better what the change in BF3 performance will look like, then say which one.

Otherwise you are wasting your time contradicting nothing with no evidence, counterpoints, or even a point to what you are saying.
a b à CPUs
May 18, 2012 3:55:11 AM

Op said he was considering a sb pentium. I definately wouldn't advise it for bf3 based on the fact that sc2 runs great on it. Even if it is intel, dual cores are not for bf3.
a b à CPUs
May 18, 2012 6:56:03 AM

Right so general consensus is to save up for an intel build? Would it have to be a £140 ish sandy/ ivy bridge i5? Could an i3 cut it or not?

I'm not fussed by the board, will be a H61 board as Raidinn said. I won't be able to afford an overclockable CPU anyway. Is there anything I can do with my current rig in the meantime? How good is my board at overclocking? I'd have to get another cooler but I could use that with the intel rig when I get it
a b à CPUs
May 18, 2012 7:53:44 AM

I3 is the lowest id do with bf3. People who have used it eventually don't like it and upgrade to the I5.

If you can update with that bios, you can use up to a 960t, that board should overclock, but it will be limited as to how much, probably around 3.5 ghz. You might be able to get one of the x6 cpus to about 3 ghz before it would draw too much power.
a b à CPUs
May 18, 2012 8:41:27 AM

I would split an even keel here. For Battlefield of Duty 3 I would recomend nothing lower than a 965BE, and pair that with nothing less than a GTX560ti or HD6870.

The other universal secret to play BFOD3 online well is to drop the detail to medium or low, you will find your response is crisper, frankly eyecandy is the best way to be noobfodder for us senior players.

Best solution

a b à CPUs
May 18, 2012 12:47:40 PM

The i5-2400 is super affordable for the power it brings to the table, especially combod with a cheap H61 board.

If you really need Intel 4 core performance, there is no cheaper way to get it.

You could go with an AMD 4 core processor, but each AMD core is worth about 1/2 of an Intel core so the Phenom x4s are about the same as i3-2120s.

The 4 core Intel is more like an 8 core FX AMD chip except that all 4 of Intel's cores can be used whereas 4 of the FX cores won't be.

Because of this, Intel chips will always beat AMD chips by far core for core in gaming.

Anyway, you really want the whole 4 cores for BF3 multiplayer and you really want to get the most productivity possible out of those cores so Intel it is.

With a low budget the H61 + i5-2400 is the biggest processing power jump you are going to get starting from where you are now.
a b à CPUs
May 18, 2012 4:29:41 PM

Yeah I'm gonna save up for a core i5 2400/ ivy bridge equivalent (depends on whats available when I have the money). The Phenom quads are £100 near enough, so I'd might as well wait for the extra £40 to go towards an i5. Granted I'd have to buy another board but intel's chipsets seem to be far better and newer and I'm willing to pay for that in order to get the huge performance gains that intel can give. The i5 has alot more life in it than the Phenom will, and thats key with a build like mine. I'll upgrade the GPU later on, when kepler gets cheap I suppose.

Sorry AMD guys, I'm joining the darkside :p 

I can live with the performance on battlefield currently, it gets choppy at times but it's still playable. Thanks for the input guys :) 

a b à CPUs
May 18, 2012 4:30:10 PM

Best answer selected by blahman11.