What Logical Increments Tier do you Need to run the Most Popular Games on Steam?

(Information on Steam’s most consistent top games were gathered for this article from Steam Charts)

Logical Increments has a continuously updated tier list, showing how much it will cost to build a system with a specific performance goal in mind. Ranging from the basic ‘Destitute’ system to the crazy ‘Monstrous’ system, it gives readers an idea of what they can achieve, what their upgrade paths are, and provides easy build lists to ensure a balanced system with high-quality parts.

Using that list, we can cross-reference with the most popular games currently being played on Steam (in terms of consistently high player counts), and fit each game with a Logical Increments tier. In fact, I’ve matched each of the 15 games in this article with 2 LI tiers each: one for 60+ FPS at 1080p, and one for 60+ FPS at 4K.

As I compiled this information, I had two basic criteria that a system had to fulfill to fit into a specific category:

  • Over 90% of the time, it had to run at 60 frames per second or above at each desired resolution.
  • It had to achieve at least very high graphical settings (not necessarily maximum for every setting).

Now, let’s see what kind of PC it takes to run Steam’s top games!

The Top Games PC Build List

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO)

Released in 2012, CS:GO is the fourth iteration of the Counter-Strike franchise, and is still one of the most popular Steam games currently being played. It doesn’t really require a powerful computer to play, unless you’re venturing into the competitive scene. As with all Source engine games, the CPU’s clock speed is king, followed by the number of cores. That said, if you are looking to play the game at 144+ FPS at 1080p, then our recommendation for 60+ FPS at 4K will also suit you nicely.

1080p, 60+ FPS

4K (2160p), 60+ FPS

Minimum tier

Good tier
You can get solid frame rates with a Minimum spec system, as the integrated graphics processor in the R5 2400G is more than capable for this game, even on high or max settings. This system adds a dedicated GPU and a more powerful CPU compared to the 1080p system. Note that the GPU itself still isn’t that powerful, but it can manage 4K in this particular game.

DOTA 2

The multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) Dota 2 was officially released in 2013, and quickly rose in ranks to become one of the most popular games on Steam. Allowing for a range of different gameplay styles, such as strategical and tactical or more aggressive, you can play the game almost any way you want. It has a fairly steep learning curve, and can be an exercise in frustration for newcomers, but once you get the hang of the controls you’ll be greeted with fun, exciting gameplay.

1080p, 60+ FPS

4K (2160p), 60+ FPS

Entry tier Very Good tier
Being a Source (2) engine game, the most important part is the CPU. I was looking at the R5 2400G as it has a dependable GPU built into it, but I found that 1080p60 just wasn’t stable at this resolution. You could probably get away with the Minimum tier system if you want, but I feel the Entry tier system is a more reliable option. The Very Good tier is the minimum you should go for if you want 4k60, and you’re fine with a few graphical settings being slightly reduced. If it’s really important to max everything out, then the Superb tier is the better option.

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG)

One of the first standalone battle royale online multiplayer games, it was released at the end of 2017 and quickly rose to be one of Steam’s most popular games. The game pits about one hundred players against each other to be the last person (or team) alive, fighting on one of a few maps in which the playable area periodically reduces in size. The players must scavenge for items, and use tactics to hide, ambush, and take out opposing players. In its early days, PUBG was not well-optimized, and even now it is a challenging game to play because it is still being heavily updated and developed, but since late 2018 a lot of performance issues have stabilised.

1080p, 60+ FPS

4K (2160p), 60+ FPS

Superb tier Enthusiast tier
PUBG benefits from having a powerful GPU, so this is the focus. You can get away with the Great tier if you’re alright with lowering your graphical settings a bit. You won’t be able to max out all settings if you aim for a fluid 60 FPS at 4K, but you can still get mighty close. I had a quick look at the possibility of SLI (at this level, you’re pretty much stuck with an Nvidia graphics card), and it doesn’t look like there’s enough of a benefit to warrant the price increase. Plus, there are some reports of the menu not working properly with SLI.

Grand Theft Auto V (GTA V)

First released in 2013 on the 7th-gen consoles, it took us PC gamers a further two years before we got it in 2015. In that time, Rockstar fleshed-out GTA online and further optimized the game for the PC release. That optimization might not have gone quite far enough, however, as even now (almost five years after its release), GTA V still requires a fairly powerful system to make the most out of the game.

1080p, 60+ FPS

4K (2160p), 60+ FPS

Great tier Extremist tier
Surprisingly to me, research has dictated that even the GTX 1660S isn’t powerful enough for smooth, reliable  60 FPS at 1080p with maximum settings. However, if you don’t mind lowering your settings slightly, then the GTX 1660S is sufficient. The CPU doesn’t need to be this powerful, but two Nvidia GPUs running in SLI is definitely necessary for this level of performance.

Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege (R6S)

A tactical shooter released in late 2015, Rainbow Six Siege focuses on team cooperation. Being an online multiplayer game, Ubisoft did a good job ensuring it could run on a wide range of hardware, by making sure it was reasonably well-optimized.

1080p, 60+ FPS

4K (2160p), 60+ FPS

Very Good tier Enthusiast tier
For smooth performance at 1080p60, you’re best bet will be looking at a GTX 1660S. At the time of writing this article, the RX 5600 XT hasn’t been released, but since it’s supposed to rival the GTX 1660S, I’d say that’s likely to be a viable option as well. This game benefits from more powerful GPUs for smoother gameplay. Just make sure you get the 4K texture pack online.

Team Fortress 2

This game must be over 12 years old by now—and it’s still going strong! That said, due to its age, it’s nearly impossible to get good data on how well current GPUs run this game. Fortunately, for that same reason, the game runs very well on mid-tier and even low-tier hardware

1080p, 60+ FPS

4K (2160p), 60+ FPS

Minimum tier Good tier
Source engine = decent CPU providing solid performance = R5 2400G being plenty for this game. There’s no hardware list available to see what’s needed for 4k60 among modern options, but considering the age of the game and the stats for the other Source games around, I’m comfortable suggesting the Good tier.

Destiny 2

An online-only FPS by Bungie, Destiny 2 was released in 2017 and incorporates RPG elements. It looks amazing, considering its relatively low system requirements—definitely thanks to its high level of optimization.

1080p, 60+ FPS

4K (2160p), 60+ FPS

Good tier Outstanding tier
As long as you are running the game a notch below absolute maximum, the Good tier will be enough for smooth 1080p60. Smooth 4K is actually achievable! An RTX 2080S is fine, but an RTX 2080 Ti would be a much better option.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

A visually stunning game released in 2015, this open-world fantasy game has wonderful gameplay, an engaging storyline, and memorable characters. Because of how hardware-intensive the game is, it still requires a fairly beefy computer.

1080p, 60+ FPS

4K (2160p), 60+ FPS

Great tier Enthusiast tier
This tier will be perfectly fine for 1080p60, but lean more towards the GTX 1660 Ti than the GTX 1660 Super for more sustained high FPS counts. You should be able to max The Witcher 3 out at 4k60 with this tier.

Path of Exile (PoE)

A hack-and-slash action RPG released in 2013 that borrows elements from the Diablo series, Path of Exile has a deep level of customisation that allows for replayability. The game constantly releases new expansions to entice both new and old players—pretty good for a free-to-play game! As a minor note, compared to a lot of other games, Path of Exile greatly benefits from being installed on an SSD.

1080p, 60+ FPS

4K (2160p), 60+ FPS

Very Good tier Enthusiast tier
Getting a stable 60 FPS in this game is a little more difficult than most, as this game is a glutton for hardware. Whatever you throw at it, it will demand more. There seems to be no definitive answer to getting smooth 4k60 gameplay. So, relaxing my standards a bit, the Enthusiast tier should easily suffice.

Rust

Pulling a lot of ideas from DayZ (and, to an extent, Minecraft), Rust has slowly but surely gained its own identity, providing hours upon hours of enjoyable (and sometimes frustrating) survival gameplay. Pretty good for a game released in 2013 (which finally saw a full release in early 2018).

1080p, 60+ FPS

4K (2160p), 60+ FPS

Very Good tier Enthusiast tier
Ensuring a smooth ride throughout most of the game, the Very Good tier is your best bet. You won’t get 60 FPS every second of every play session, but it will be uncommon for the framerate to dip below that number. For similar reasons as stated in the 1080p section, you can’t guarantee perfect smoothness at 4K. Nonetheless, using the Enthusiast tier system will get you pretty darn close.

Rocket League

Released in 2015, this crazy soccer game with rocket-powered vehicles has consistently been one of Steam’s most popular games. What’s really good is that the game doesn’t require an overly powerful computer to play.

1080p, 60+ FPS

4K (2160p), 60+ FPS

Modest tier Great tier
You can get a Minimum tier system if you are willing to run at low settings, but for solid performance with higher settings, the Modest tier is more suitable. 4K Rocket League doesn’t need a huge amount of power, so even a Great tier system should be fine.

ARK: Survival Evolved

Another multiplayer survival game, this one involves you surviving on an island filled with dinosaurs. It’s still being improved, and thus it’s not exactly well-optimized, which means that you’ll need a more powerful system to get a consistent framerate—but it is definitely better than it was initially.

1080p, 60+ FPS

4K (2160p), 60+ FPS

Very Good tier Enthusiast tier
Due to its current level of optimization, if you want a stable(ish) 60 FPS, then you shouldn’t go lower than the Very Good tier. Pretty much any current system will struggle at a consistent 4k60, even if you have SLI.

Football Manager 2020 (FM2020)

The next installment in the soccer/football management simulation games where you manage a soccer/football team (hence the name of the game). Even though it has a 3D match engine, most of the time you’ll be staring at graphs, charts, and a dizzying amount of text onscreen.

1080p, 60+ FPS

4K (2160p), 60+ FPS

Minimum tier Good tier
FM2020 doesn’t really require a huge amount of GPU power, so as long as you have a decent CPU you’ll be fine. Really, this is more to push performance as much as you can and reduce processing time.

Terraria

A consistently updated 2D sandbox adventure game that was released in 2011, Terraria has many different elements that make the game as a whole highly addictive and compelling to play.

1080p, 60+ FPS

4K (2160p), 60+ FPS

Minimum tier Modest tier
It’s a 2D side-scroller with art akin to the SNES era. It’ll be fine on anything made within the last five years—probably in the last 10 years, but don’t quote me on that. If you get absolutely swarmed by enemies, I guess you could drop below 60 FPS if you were using the R5 2400G. So, this tier has a GPU to ensure that there’ll be no problems.

Sid Meier’s Civilization VI (Civ VI)

The latest in the highly popular 4X turn-based strategy game series, Civ VI was released in 2016 and involves developing a civilization into (hopefully) a world super-power to achieve a goal that results in victory.

1080p, 60+ FPS

4K (2160p), 60+ FPS

Very Good tier Exceptional tier
Sometimes, the screen will look like a still image. Other times, there will be a huge amount going on. The Very Good tier should ensure at least 60 FPS in most (if not all) circumstances. Late-game, you’ll definitely need a more powerful CPU and GPU with everything going on.

Conclusion

As I checked each game, I found that the recommended system settings on their store pages were not entirely accurate. They were reasonably close, but a few years after release, it was possible to get a ‘crowd-sourced’ system suggestion for each of them. From there, I checked what the best fit would be in our system tiers.

You probably won’t be able to get a consistent 60 frames per second with zero dips forever in any of these games (except perhaps Terraria) due to how many elements there are on the screen, how much processing needs to be done in the background, and the variable nature of online multiplayer systems. If you truly were aiming for that, you would need to spend close to 50% more on each system—for, as you might expect, a diminishing set of returns. Instead, we’ve made reasonable selections that will give you a smooth and enjoyable experience in each of these games the vast majority of the time.

These systems will do you well for years to come, and (above all) you can be assured that you’ll be satisfied with their performance in your favourite game.

Sources