Destiny 2 — Guardians’ Guide to PC Gaming

May 2017 Predictions

Hunters know it’s not just about being the best — it’s about looking the best too.

Despite how much I love gaming on The Tempest, I love gaming with my friends, some of whom just prefer the simplicity of a console. For that reason, I am an avid Destiny 1 player on Xbox One. With Destiny 2’s announcement, many Destiny gamers find themselves at a crossroads. Is now a good time to jump to PC? How does it compare in price and performance to the original PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, as well as the PS4 Pro and Xbox’s Project Scorpio?


How do I compare performance between an Xbox, a PlayStation, and a PC?

Resolution and framerate are the gold standard. If you are plugging your console into a TV, the standard resolutions are 1080p and now 4K. Xbox One and PlayStation 4 will run at 1080p, and PlayStation 4 Pro will run at up to 4K.

PS4 Pro is unique in that it will display a 4K image, but it’s really about a 2K image (that is, twice the pixels of 1080p) that gets scaled up to 4K. Furthermore, if you plug a PlayStation 4 Pro into a 1080p TV, it will still play at 1080p.

Framerate is how many times per second the picture on screen is updated (i.e. frames per second — fps). Higher is better, with the minimum playable framerate being 30 fps and 60 fps being considered the best. Usually, consoles run at 30 fps, and Destiny 2 was announced to run at 30 fps for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Playstation 4 Pro.

Because the PC market is huge, spanning 5 year old rigs to brand new ones, Bungie will be supporting a range of resolutions and framerates for PC. For our purposes, we are going to look just at 1080p today


What kind of game is Destiny 2?

This is an important question, in that it’s obviously a First Person Shooter yet it carries some Open World elements. This influences how to recommend hardware. Open World games — like Watch Dogs 2 or Grand Theft Auto — tend to be more CPU demanding, simulating large environments. First Person Shooters lean much harder on the GPU.

For our purposes, I am going to assume Destiny 2 is more of a classic first person shooter but running a modern architecture — I will be using Battlefield 1 (Ultra) data from Gamers Nexus as our reference. I feel pretty good about this point of comparison because Battlefield 1 is such a stunning, complex game at Ultra settings that it is something other developers will aspire to. Destiny 2 will run on a different engine with different logic (it is a different game after all), but I am skeptical it would be more GPU intensive than BF1. If anything, it may use the CPU more as it is potentially tracking a lot of objects at once. I will also provide some context at the end for what it means if BF1 is the wrong benchmark, how much it will change performance, and what other parts should you consider.


What do the consoles actually cost?

In order to draw fair comparisons, we need to establish the right cost. As Destiny is an online-required game, we have to take into the account of Xbox Live and PS+. No subscriptions like this are anticipated for a PC release.

Here are where things stand in May 2017 (All US Prices):

Xbox One and Xbox Live (12 month) = $294
PlayStation4 and PlayStation+ (12 month) = $275
PlayStation4 Pro and PlayStation+ = $445

Project Scorpio and Xbox Live (12 month) = To be determined at E3 in June


Console-Equivalent Price: What kind of gaming PC does $275 get you?

Not one good enough to buy. If you’ve only got $275 (plus $60 for the game) and already own a TV, console is likely the way to go.

If you want to know why, let’s assume you already own a monitor, keyboard, mouse, and a copy of Windows, which saves you $230. The essentials of a gaming rig at the time I am writing this start at about $120:

Memory: 4GB Patriot Signature DDR4 2400 MHz ($29 Amazon)
Storage: Western Digital Caviar Green 500GB 7200 rpm ($30 Amazon)
Power Supply: SeaSonic S12II 520 Bronze ($24 on sale NewEgg/ $42 430 W Version at Amazon)
Chassis: Fractal Design Core 1000 USB3.0 ($37 NewEgg / $43 Amazon)

You are starting with $155 to spend on the components that actually affect performance. Budget motherboards are usually in the $40–60 range, which leaves you with $72 to spend on a processor with integrated graphics. I am not aware of a processor from AMD or Intel that can play new games at 1080p at 30 frames per second (fps) that only costs $72. AMD is expected to release new processors that might fit this in the coming months, so I will update it then.


$333 Build: Performance like a PS4 Pro at $100 less

This is comfortably between where the PlayStation 4 and the PS4 Pro sell now, and it is where the PC’s value shines.

Performance Prediction:

1080p 60 fps at Medium Settings
1080p ~45 fps at Ultra Settings

Parts List

CPU: Intel Pentium G4560 ($70 (out of stock) NewEgg / $76 Amazon)
GPU:
MSI GeForce GTX 1050 2G OC ($85 NewEgg / $80 Amazon)
Memory: 4GB Patriot Signature DDR4 2400 MHz ($29 Amazon)
Motherboard: ASRock B250M-HDV MicroATX ($63 NewEgg / $65 Amazon)
Storage: Western Digital Caviar Green 500GB 7200 rpm ($30 Amazon)
Power Supply: SeaSonic S12II 520 Bronze ($24 on sale NewEgg/ $42 430 W Version at Amazon)
Chassis: Fractal Design Core 1000 USB3.0 ($37 NewEgg / $43 Amazon)

Total System Cost: $333

What You Need to Know

  • The predicted performance is 50% better than the PS4 and XB1. All current consoles (that is, all consoles except Project Scorpio) were announced to run at a locked 30 fps. Project Scorpio’s framerate is not announced.
  • This build assumes you own a monitor, OS, keyboard, and mouse. To do a true hardware-only comparison, we are only taking into account the price of the “tower” components. That’s the bare minimum that drives performance. All of those things drive the price up higher by $230 (1080p60 monitor $100, OS $100, keyboard/mouse $30).
  • This build doesn’t have Wi-Fi built in. A Wi-Fi adapter costs about $20. A motherboard with built in Wi-Fi starts at $95 ($32 more than the original recommendation).
  • The Pentium G4560 is the best budget CPU out there. Intel created an amazing budget CPU. It’s so good, there’s essentially no reason to consider any Core i3. To get the most of it, it should be paired with a B250 motherboard which unlocks the use of 2400 MHz RAM, slightly faster than the 2133 MHz RAM available on an H110 board.
  • If you’ve got an extra $30, upgrading the GPU to an NVIDIA GTX 1050 Ti is a great investment. This system would be likely to pull closer to 60 fps at Ultra settings with an NVIDIA GTX 1050 Ti. It is a big enough performance increase that it presents a better overall value than the GTX 1050, it just doesn’t fit inside the $30 budget. If you’ve got an extra $70, upgrading the GPU to an RX 570 is the next best investment, but now we’re well outside the $350 range.
  • This isn’t great for streaming. Most of your system will be dedicated to running the game well, and trying to stream at the same time could drop your framerate.

How Wrong Could I Be?

  • Quad core might be necessary. The Pentium we recommend is a dual core. Destiny 2 is coming to PC after its console launch. GTA V followed a similar path, and when they launched, they had not optimized it well for dual core processors, as neither console uses a dual core.
  • If quad core is necessary, the starting price is closer to $456 and looks like this: 
    CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 1400 ($170 NewEgg / $169 Amazon)
    GPU:
    MSI GeForce GTX 1050 2G OC ($85 NewEgg)
    Memory: 4GB Patriot Signature DDR4 2400 MHz
    Motherboard: MSI B350M Gaming Pro Micro ATX Motherboard ($80 Amazon / $84 NewEgg)
    Storage: Western Digital Caviar Green 500GB 7200 rpm ($30 Amazon)
    Power Supply: SeaSonic S12II 520 Bronze ($24 NewEgg)
    Chassis: Fractal Design Core 1000 USB3.0 ($37 Amazon)
  • If you buy the Pentium today and Destiny 2 requires a quad core, you have a direct upgrade path to the Core i5–7400 ($176). You’d have spent more than just getting the AMD Ryzen 5 1400, but I will be pretty surprised if Destiny 2 sucks on dual cores.
  • If it’s more like an Open World game than an FPS, the predicted performance of the GTX 1050 would be more like 32–45 fps, potentially requiring a drop in visual fidelity from something like Ultra/High to High/Medium (each game developer defines Ultra, High, and Medium differently but they usually target High for consoles). The predicted performance of the GTX 1050 Ti would be more like 35–49. At this point, you can likely drop some of the visual fidelity and it’d be fine.

What rig will give a consistent 60 fps at 1080p in Destiny 2?

There are lots of options that can hit 60 fps on average, but what we want is one that gets there and stays there. To that end, we’re looking at components that consistently exceed 60 fps.

$411 Destiny 2 1080p Consistent 60 fps

Performance Prediction: 
1080p 95 fps at Ultra settings if it is more FPS than Open World (i.e. like BF1)
1080p 60 fps at Very High settings if it is more Open World than FPS (i.e. more like Watch Dogs 2)

Parts List
CPU:
Intel Pentium G4560 ($70 (out of stock) NewEgg / $76 Amazon)
GPU:
EVGA GTX 1060 3G Gaming ($160 on sale NewEgg / $167 Amazon)
Memory: 8GB G.SKILL 8GB NT Series DDR4 2400 MHz ($54 NewEgg / $56 Amazon)
Motherboard: ASRock B250M-HDV MicroATX ($63 NewEgg / $65 Amazon)
Storage: Western Digital Caviar Green 500GB 7200 rpm ($30 Amazon)
Power Supply: SeaSonic S12II 520 Bronze ($24 on sale NewEgg/ $42 430 W Version at Amazon)
Chassis: Fractal Design Core 1000 USB3.0 ($37 NewEgg / $43 Amazon)

Total System Cost: $411. That’s double the framerate of a PS4 Pro at 1080p for $30 less.


What if I want to play on PC but don’t want to build my own?

I can’t find any OEM (the big prebuilt guys that sell computers — Dell, Asus, Lenovo, etc.) that offer the Pentium G4560 with a powerful graphics card the way you would want for gaming. You would probably need to build it yourself or ask a friend that’s comfortable to build it. If you’re really concerned about it, drop me a line and I’ll build it for you — rob AT amdahlcube.com.


Why should you trust this random dude on the internet?

I am Rob L’Heureux, and I worked at Intel on standard-based projects i.e. computers that are Lego-ish. I didn’t think the manufacturers were doing a great job of helping gamers understand the performance of what they are buying, so I set up Amdahl Cube to help gamers better understand how to design gaming rigs.