Although I've yet to pen my thoughts on Titanfall as a game (still debating whether it seems mechanically-sound or not), there's no doubt that it's going to be a big title across all platforms, regardless of the buggy PC beta. We previously benchmarked Titanfall on numerous video cards using the PC beta -- prior to any official driver support or game patches were announced -- and saw that AMD's generations-old Trinity performed surprisingly acceptably. Given that Trinity is a couple generations aged and there aren't any official drivers or optimization patches, this is good news for APU owners.
It's even better news for budget system builders.
This budget Titanfall gaming PC will get you playing the game on medium settings (you might be able to push medium/high hybrid) for around $500. By using an APU, we bypass the need for a discrete GPU and can get you up-and-running for cheaper; our $797 mid-range Titanfall PC build guide is another option, for those with a bit more money.
$506 AMD DIY Cheap Bastard's Gaming PC Build for Titanfall - February, 2014
OS & Recommended Upgrades
AMD A10-7850K Quad-Core ($185): AMD's A10-7850K Kaveri APU (combo'd with RAM) has a promising framework that will guarantee a well-optimized gaming future; HSA, hUMA, dual graphics, and asynchronous queuing all mean you'll get more use out of your components and have more efficient resource usage. The dual-graphics option in particular gives upgrade options in the future, should you decide to stick in an AMD GPU with the APU (will get a slight FPS improvement with a low-end GPU).
The 7850K is one of the best options for budget system builders who have no room for price movement. For anyone in the mid-range and higher budgets, we still prefer to recommend Intel's i5-series Haswell CPUs with a discrete video card. At this price range, Kaveri is pretty unbeatable in the gaming space.
Given that Trinity ran at almost 30FPS in a sub-optimized environment (read: no drivers) and on low/medium settings, the 7850K should push 60FPS on medium settings @ 1080 pretty capably. At least, it will once drivers are officiated by AMD and the game is optimized by Respawn. You might be able to get a medium/high mix with the right tweaking.
G.Skill Sniper 2x4GB 2133MHz RAM ($68): We combo'd G.Skill's RAM with the above APU for a $17 discount. As we've stated numerous times in these articles, G.Skill often takes first on global memory overclocking leaderboards (usually with Trident memory); Sniper isn't anywhere near that level of performance, but it's still damn good memory. The key thing with APUs is that they don't have on-card RAM (like video cards) and must go through significantly slower system memory at a greater physical distance. This means we need faster system memory to enable the GPU component of the APU to its greatest abilities. 2133MHz RAM will do that well.
2x4GB is more than enough for this load-out, but more importantly, a post-combo price-point of $68 is pretty unbeatable in the RAM market right now.
MSI A88X-G43 FM2+ Motherboard ($83): The FM2+ motherboard market is pretty heavily-populated right now and it's still growing. As with most new products, many of the initial boards were either too expensive or too cheap (in the bad way), but things have stabilized now. MSI's A88X-G43 board supports memory frequencies up to 2133MHz (so our RAM is fully-supported at stock speeds), can host 1xPCI-e 3.0 x16 video card for future upgrades, and has all the basic I/O we need.
A full 7.1 channel audio setup is available with optical output through the I/O panel, so those with fancy home theater speaker setups will be able to make use of them. Basic heatsinks are present on the board to help duct heat away from the MOSFETs / chokes comprising the VRM; it'll do lightweight overclocking, but don't go too crazy on the APU over-volting/clocking.
As a small bonus, the board ships with a free Battlefield 4 voucher for a free copy of the game.
Antec EarthWatts 380W PSU ($40): One of the unique aspects of an APU-centric build that foregoes a dedicated GPU is the low power requirement. Kaveri has a relatively low TDP (~95W), and with no other serious power draws in the system, a 380W PSU will be ample to get us by at near-peak efficiency. Please note that adding a dedicated video card should be accompanied by a PSU upgrade (something higher-wattage will be necessary).
The EarthWatts PSU is Active PFC-enabled (a good thing) and 80 Plus Bronze certified; at $40 after a light $10 MIR, the 80 Plus Bronze certification is an awesome bonus that we don't normally find in this price range.
The PSU is not modular, so you'll have to route the excess cables manually. A small inconvenience given our Cheap Bastard's approach to this build.
Generic Optical Drive ($20): I'd say skip the optical drive altogether if you can. If you're capable of installing Windows via USB (you can purchase a license key and then download the legal ISO), do it! If you're a little unsure about that or otherwise use optical media, pick this up to make things easier.
WD 1TB Blue 7200RPM HDD ($60): If you're wondering why we recommend this particular drive so regularly, it's because it's the most reliable at the budget; Seagate's nearest competitors have a high rate of failure within two years, so we tend to avoid them whenever possible. We can't afford an SSD at this budget, but a 7200RPM HDD is all that's needed for core applications and games.
NZXT H230 White Mid-Tower ($50): Again with the small rebates ($10), but that's what happens when you go the route of a Cheap Bastard system builder. We can score NZXT's high-quality H230 mid-tower for $50 right now, making it an exceedingly easy purchase given the overall featureset of the case. It ships with 2x120mm fans for basic airflow -- enough for this build -- and has ease-of-installation features (some cable management routing, tool-less) to make things quicker. I can't stress enough that, short of Corsair's 200R, nothing really rivals the H230 at this price-point in terms of build quality. The exterior has a clean, discrete look, which may be preferable for some of you.
A black version is also available.
That's it for this Titanfall gaming PC! If you need help building your own system, leave a comment below or (preferably) post on our forums, where our experts can help for free.
- Steve "Lelldorianx" Burke.