The post-apocalyptic future is now bigger and prettier than ever. Fallout 4 is out, and millions of gamers are already pissing off giant mutants, modifying laser guns, and amassing a small fortune in bottlecaps.
If you’d like to escape from the vault that is your daily existence and begin exploring virtual wastelands, you might be wondering how powerful of a PC you need to play Fallout 4. Well, this video is going to cover everything you need to know to play Fallout 4 on PC on a variety of settings, from the bare minimum up to extremely demanding resolutions like 4K. Shall we get started?
First, a few notes on the technical demands of Fallout 4.
Fallout 4 is built on an updated version of the Creation engine, developed by Bethesda and originally powering the Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim back in 2011. The engine has received some significant upgrades since Skyrim, including physics-based shading, which definitely makes Fallout 4 look better than Skyrim, but the visual quality still doesn’t match the nicest looking games that came out this year.
Despite that, the game does boast nice visuals, and it is tough on hardware. As an open world game, Fallout has a high draw distance, meaning that the game renders objects that are far away from the player, which requires significant graphical power.
The most important computer component for playing Fallout — and nearly any game — is your graphics card. Assuming you don’t have any other bottlenecks, your framerate and level of graphical detail in Fallout will be largely dependent on the quality of your graphics card.
Let’s compare that to CPUs: As long as your CPU is good enough for Fallout, getting a better CPU will not significantly improve the game’s performance in the way that getting a better graphics card will.
Now, with that out of the way, let’s take a look at the minimum specs for the game, according to Bethesda:
- GPU: NVIDIA GTX 550 Ti 2GB or AMD Radeon HD 7870 2GB
- CPU: Intel Core i5-2300 or AMD Phenom II X4
- RAM: 8 GB
For minimum requirements, Bethesda has set the bar moderately high here. You need a 2 GB graphics card from NVIDIA or AMD — though not anything very high-powered — and a decent lower-midrange CPU. The most surprising thing about these minimum requirements is the 8 GB of RAM. If you’re really scraping together change to build a PC for Fallout 4, you could probably get away with just 4 GB of RAM, but realistically, pretty much any PC these days should have 8 GB anyway.
Regardless, these components listed as the minimum requirements are actually kind of outdated, so you can’t just go buy these particular parts anymore. If you were looking to build a minimum spec machine for Fallout 4 today, here’s what we’d recommend instead:
We’ve updated the graphics cards to either a GTX 750 Ti from NVIDIA, or an R7 370 from AMD. Our CPU recommendation is one of two relatively cheap options: the G3258 from Intel or the 860K from AMD. A complete PC built with specs like this would probably cost around $400.
1080p High Quality
OK, while knowing the minimum specs is helpful, most people want to play their games at a higher level of quality. Let’s look at what we’d recommend for playing Fallout 4 with maximum settings at 1080p, while achieving a decent framerate of 50 or more FPS:
Here we’ve upgraded to the GTX 960 or the R9 380. Either of these cards should get you a nice average FPS of 50 in Fallout at 1080p with nearly all the settings turned to maximum. The i3 4170 or FX-6350 will work well as CPUs that won’t bottleneck the game’s performance.
If you game at 1080p and you’re looking for the most affordable solution to play Fallout on high settings, this is it. A setup built with these specs will probably cost around $600, and you can lower just a few graphical settings to get up to 60 FPS if you’re not happy with your framerate.
In particular, there are three settings that have an enormous impact on FPS: God Rays, Shadow Distance, and Shadow Quality. Tweaking these settings will be your best option for achieving 60 FPS without sacrificing a lot of visual quality.
1440p High Quality, 1080p Ultra Quality
But what if you have a fancy 1440p monitor, or you want to ensure you’re getting a solid 60 FPS at 1080p without sacrificing any of those sweet, sweet god rays? In that case, we have a slightly beefier setup in mind:
CPU: Intel i5 4590
RAM: 8 GB
This build will get you close to 60 FPS at 1440p, and well above 60 FPS at 1080p with maximum settings. We’ve upgraded to the GTX 970 and R9 390 for the GPU, and the i5 4590 for the CPU. A complete build with these specs would cost around $900 dollars. Once again, at 1440p, you can tweak a few graphical settings, like these three we mentioned above, and hopefully achieve a smooth 60 FPS with this setup.
4K Ultra Quality
Finally, what if you’re the type of person who’s bored of sleeping on your mattress of hundred dollar bills and you want to play Fallout 4 at 4K resolution? Let’s see what you’d need for that:
GPU: 2x GTX 980
CPU: Intel i7 5930K
RAM: 16 GB DDR4
There isn’t really a single graphics card that will get you close to 60 FPS in Fallout 4 at 4K without sacrificing some graphical detail. To get the job done, you’ll need to double up on a powerful graphics card, like the GTX 980. The i7-5930K is a little overkill for a CPU, but this is an overkill kind of PC. And, of course, you still only really need 8 GB of RAM, but you might as well get 16 GB if you’re going all out on this thing. A complete build with this hardware would cost you somewhere around $2,300.
And that’s it. If you have any questions or suggestions, please leave them in the comments below. And if you want more recommendations on building the best PC for your budget, visit us at logicalincrements.com. Thanks for reading, and have fun collecting those bobbleheads.