F1 2021 System Requirements: Ray Tracing Hits the Track

F1 2021 system requirements
(Image credit: Codemasters)

EA and Codemasters revealed the F1 2021 system requirements for the upcoming PC launch on Steam. The long-running annual series looks set to add a few extra twists and turns this round, with enhanced ray tracing visuals. That means you'll likely benefit even more from having one of the best graphics cards driving the game, alongside one of the best CPUs for gaming powering the engine. The game currently has a launch date of July 16, 2021. Here are the minimum and recommended PC specs:

Minimum System Requirements for F1 2021

  • Processor: Intel Core i3-2130/ AMD FX-4300
  • Memory: 8GB RAM
  • Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 950 / AMD Radeon R9 280
  • Ray Tracing: Nvidia RTX 2060 / AMD RX 6700 XT
  • Storage: 80GB
  • API: DirectX 12, DirectX Raytracing (DXR) optional
  • OS: Windows 10 64-bit (1709 or later, 2004 or later for ray tracing)
  • Processor: Intel Core i5-9600K/ AMD Ryzen 5 2600X
  • Memory: 16GB RAM
  • Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti / AMD Radeon RX 590
  • Ray Tracing: Nvidia RTX 3070 / AMD RX 6800
  • Storage: 80GB
  • API: DirectX 12, DirectX Raytracing (DXR) optional
  • OS: Windows 10 64-bit (1709 or later, 2004 or later for ray tracing)

Both the minimum and recommended system specs are relatively tame until you add in ray tracing. For the CPU, Codemasters lists a relatively ancient Core i3-2130 or an FX-4300. Intel's CPU is a 2-core/4-thread chip running at 3.4GHz, while AMD's old FX-4300 is a 4-core/4-thread chip running at up to 4.0GHz — though the FX-series used a CMT (Clustered Multi-Threading) approach that shares some resources between pairs of CPU cores. Most likely, older CPUs could also suffice, though there's no mention of expected performance. The recommended CPUs meanwhile are far more capable: 6-core/6-thread 4.6GHz for Intel, and 6-core/12-thread 4.2GHz for AMD, with updated architectures compared to the minimum spec.

The GPU will likely play a bigger role, particularly if you want to dip your toes into the ray tracing waters. The GTX 950 and R9 280 hail from 2015 and 2014, respectively, with Nvidia's card roughly matching a GTX 1050 and AMD's card coming in a bit ahead of an RX 560. Recommended graphics hardware easily more than doubles performance, with the GTX 1660 Ti and RX 590. And if you want ray tracing, you'll need at least an RTX 2060 and preferably an RTX 3070 from Nvidia, or an RX 6700 XT and preferably an RX 6800 from AMD.

The remaining F1 2021 system requirements look pretty standard: 8GB RAM, 16GB recommended, 80GB of storage (preferably on an SSD), and of course Windows 10 64-bit — build 2004 (the May 2020 update) is needed for ray tracing, or 2017's Creators Update build 1703 will suffice for standard rendering.

Our big question regarding the graphics overhaul is how ray tracing will be put to use. Codemasters published Dirt 5 late last year, with a patch adding AMD-promoted ray tracing in March 2021 (press were provided a preview build in December). Unfortunately, the RT effects are only for shadows — one of the least important uses of ray tracing in our opinion. We'd like to see options for RT reflections and lighting as well, but of course that requires more powerful RT hardware.

Given F1 2021 will also launch on the latest consoles, which are less potent than high-end PC graphics cards, we're not expecting much in the way of dramatically enhanced graphics thanks to ray tracing. Perhaps we'll be pleasantly surprised this summer.

Jarred Walton

Jarred Walton is a senior editor at Tom's Hardware focusing on everything GPU. He has been working as a tech journalist since 2004, writing for AnandTech, Maximum PC, and PC Gamer. From the first S3 Virge '3D decelerators' to today's GPUs, Jarred keeps up with all the latest graphics trends and is the one to ask about game performance.