Build a PC – COD Advanced Warfare

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Call Of Duty Advanced Warfare was released today. I have spent a few hours playing it and have come away engaged and impressed. I actually enjoyed Ghosts and was excited to see how the mechanics, game play and narrative would be in this new installment to the franchise. For those of you thinking about picking it up make sure to check out our game play impression article which will provide some insight into the game along with all the technical details that are expected here at PCDIY. The focus of this article though is to make it easier for PCDIY builders who may be looking to build a PC for the wide range of games that have come out this year and as well as the remaining high profile games hitting this month and going into January. I have spent a good chunk of time to define a wide range of system configurations with varying price point that all offer a great experience in COD Advanced Warfare. If you have been looking for a recommendation what type of hardware to select or what system to build for Call of Duty Advanced Warfare look no further.

Per our normal recommendations we have a few important items to detail first

  • We have used a single etailer / merchant in creating our pricing. While sites like PCPARTPICKER make it extremely easy to check for the lowest price across a multitude of etailers this may not always be the best deal. Many times varying levels of taxes, shipping and other factors can influence pricing. As such to make things streamlined and consistent we have defaulted to Newegg. Selecting Newegg generally ensures us a quality selection of components with competitive pricing. Newegg is a leader in PC components and has a strong logistics system to help ensure prompt processing time and shipment of product. Additionally going with a single etailer makes potential returns much simpler and less complicated. There is also the benefit of combo pricing which occurs when popular components are paired. Newegg also offers a wide range of continual mark downs, rebates etc and as such can offer up some really great savings on components.
  • We have not selected bottom of the barrel components. Here at PCDIY we strive to find a balance in quality, features, functionality and performance. While there are recommendations out their that may be lower by using lower quality motherboards, cheaper chassis and entry quality PSUs our focus is in recommending components you can feel confident in overtime. More importantly that system and its components offer a good experience whether it be in the assembly process or in the performance the system offers. Reliability, stability are important in any system and especially in a gaming system which is put under extended periods of load. Additionally quality components offer better validation, interoprability / compatibility as well as headroom and even future support ( via firmware for components like a motherboard ). Some examples of picking a very entry motherboard may be limited expansion, limited or reduced warranty coverage, limited port connectivity. Even more importantly firmware support may be more variable which can affect interoprability and compatibility of components. Beyond that the selection of better components like a motherboard can ensure superior functionality such as improved fan controls or superior integrated audio for improved music, movies or games. Beyond that improved design can help to protect against common occurrences that can damage product like ESD or surge.
  • All systems include an optical drive and a copy of Windows on disc. If you already have these items or plan to install your OS via USB flash drive then this cost can be eliminated. The same goes for the operating system. Should you already have a copy of Windows then you can eliminate the cost of the OS.
  • Last but not least the systems specifications selected are not locked. You can upgrade the CPU change the SSD or upgrade to a higher performing PSU. Our goal with the recommendations is to provide a platform you can be confident in for enthusiast needs. Secondary or optional recommendations are listed along with the system builds.

 

Price range of systems

Entry – $703.47

Good – 876.15

Better – $1325.79

Best – $1676.88

Ultimate – $3824.21

* Performance all these builds are designed to allow for 2560 x 1400 gaming performance. As such 1920 x 1080 is ensured. Via the the GeForce Experience applications gamers can easily modify the optimizations slider should they want to focus on image quality as opposed to frame rate. By default the GeForce Experience will optimize with a balance towards both.

 

Entry system

PCPartPicker part list: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/ckcTt6

CPU: Intel Core i3-4160 3.6GHz Dual-Core Processor  ($119.99 @ Newegg)

Motherboard: Asus H97M-E Micro ATX LGA1150 Motherboard  ($107.98 @ Newegg)

Memory: Crucial 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory  ($68.99 @ Newegg)

Storage: Western Digital Caviar Blue 1TB 3.5″ 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive  ($54.99 @ Newegg)

Video Card: Asus GeForce GTX 750 Ti 2GB Video Card  ($149.99 @ Newegg)

Case: Thermaltake Versa H25 ATX Mid Tower Case  ($39.57 @ Newegg)

Power Supply: Thermaltake TR2 600W ATX Power Supply  ($44.99 @ Newegg)

Optical Drive: Asus DRW-24F1ST DVD/CD Writer  ($14.99 @ Newegg)

Operating System: Microsoft Windows 8.1 (OEM) (64-bit)  ($101.98 @ Newegg)

Total: $703.47

 

Important points regarding the system

  • The i3 while being only a 2 core part offers HT ( hyper threading ) and due to its modern Haswell architecture offers very strong performance. In most cases this CPU will not generally bottleneck the GPU and provide very good performance in COD which consistently can place load across 4 threads.
  • The motherboard offers improved audio via a isolated audio design refereed to as Crystal Sound 2.0. This provides better clarity and overall improved audio experience with music, movies, and games
  • A hard drive is most cost effective and provides a lot of space to have windows, applications and COD including its multiplayer component installed. One disadvantage though is the loading between levels in COD can be fairly lengthy due to some advanced caching implementations use by the developer to improve fluidity, response and overall game experience. An SSD considerably improves the experience both in loading and in game.
  • The GTX 750Ti has considerable overclocking headroom and it is worth considering overclocking it to further improve its gaming performance. The non reference cooling solution on the card can easily accommodate and ensure cool and quiet operation even with aggressive overclocks.
  • The motherboard as well as the chassis feature front USB 3.0 support
  • The motherboard features superior fan controls allowing for more flexibility in tuning CPU and chassis fans.
  • The motherboard supports PCIe M.2 based SSDs

 

Good System

PCPartPicker part list: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/PMnLf7

CPU: Intel Core i5-4460 3.2GHz Quad-Core Processor  ($189.99 @ Newegg)

Motherboard: Asus Z97-A ATX LGA1150 Motherboard  ($134.99 @ Newegg)

Memory: Crucial 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory  ($68.99 @ Newegg)

Storage: Western Digital Caviar Blue 1TB 3.5″ 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive  ($54.99 @ Newegg)

Video Card: Asus GeForce GTX 760 2GB DirectCU II Video Card  ($225.66 @ Newegg)

Case: Thermaltake Versa H25 ATX Mid Tower Case  ($39.57 @ Newegg)

Power Supply: Thermaltake TR2 600W ATX Power Supply  ($44.99 @ Newegg)

Optical Drive: Asus DRW-24F1ST DVD/CD Writer  ($14.99 @ Newegg)

Operating System: Microsoft Windows 8.1 (OEM) (64-bit)  ($101.98 @ Newegg)

Total: $876.15

 

Areas of improvement

  • This system upgrades the CPU to a core i5 offering superior general application and desktop performance. In regards to gaming it eliminates CPU bottle necking and ensures the best CPU to GPU gaming performance. It offers overall improved 4 thread performance due to being a native 4 core CPU as opposed to the previous i3 being 2 core based with 4 threads via the implementation of Hyper Threading. Additionally it offers twice the cache which further improves aspects of performance.
  • The motherboard is considerably improved upon. While the CPU does not support overclocking the Z97 chipset does. This enables superior long term upgrade flexibility Additionally many areas of improvement are present these includes more fan headers ( with support for 3 pin DC & 4 pin PWM fans ), more SATA connections including support for SATA Express along with M.2 based SSDs. An upgraded Intel NIC for improved UDP gaming performance. Support for SLI and much more
  • The GPU has been upgraded considerably While the GTX 750Ti offers 2560 gaming performance in COD it does compromise on aspects of image quality. The GTX 760 helps to improve all aspects of image quality at higher resolutions. For gamers playing at 1080 resolutions it provide higher frame rates allowing you to benefit from enabling V-SYNC for superior image quality and elimination of tearing. Users of high refresh monitors will also benefit from the card being about to game much close to high refresh rates ( FPS ) of 120.
  • The GTX 760 has considerable overclocking headroom and it is worth considering overclocking it to further improve its gaming performance. The non reference cooling solution on the card can easily accommodate and ensure cool and quiet operation even with aggressive overclocks

Important points regarding the system

  • A hard drive is most cost effective and provides a lot of space to have windows, applications and COD including its multiplayer component installed. One disadvantage though is the loading between levels in COD can be fairly lengthy due to some advanced caching implementations use by the developer to improve fluidity, response and overall game experience. An SSD considerably improves the experience both in loading and in game.

 

With SSD

PCPartPicker part list: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/H99N23

CPU: Intel Core i5-4460 3.2GHz Quad-Core Processor  ($189.99 @ Newegg)

Motherboard: Asus Z97-A ATX LGA1150 Motherboard  ($134.99 @ Newegg)

Memory: Crucial 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory  ($68.99 @ Newegg)

Storage: Crucial MX100 256GB 2.5″ Solid State Drive  ($113.98 @ Newegg)

Storage: Western Digital Caviar Blue 1TB 3.5″ 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive  ($54.99 @ Newegg)

Video Card: Asus GeForce GTX 760 2GB DirectCU II Video Card  ($225.66 @ Newegg)

Case: Thermaltake Versa H25 ATX Mid Tower Case  ($39.57 @ Newegg)

Power Supply: Thermaltake TR2 600W ATX Power Supply  ($44.99 @ Newegg)

Optical Drive: Asus DRW-24F1ST DVD/CD Writer  ($14.99 @ Newegg)

Operating System: Microsoft Windows 8.1 (OEM) (64-bit)  ($101.98 @ Newegg)

Total: $990.13

 

Areas of improvement

  • An upgrade to a SSD offers multiple improvements including faster POST, faster BOOT and much faster game installation, patching and level loading. As whole the system will be much more responsive and quick. It can also improves aspects of gaming if information is being actively pull from the storage volume. Users of sleep and hibernation will also see improvements.

 

With SSD and upgraded PSU and chassis ( case )

PCPartPicker part list: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/kqsX3C

CPU: Intel Core i5-4460 3.2GHz Quad-Core Processor  ($189.99 @ Newegg)

Motherboard: Asus Z97-A ATX LGA1150 Motherboard  ($134.99 @ Newegg)

Memory: Crucial 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory  ($68.99 @ Newegg)

Storage: Crucial MX100 256GB 2.5″ Solid State Drive  ($113.98 @ Newegg)

Storage: Western Digital Caviar Blue 1TB 3.5″ 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive  ($54.99 @ Newegg)

Video Card: Asus GeForce GTX 760 2GB DirectCU II Video Card  ($225.66 @ Newegg)

Case: Corsair 200R ATX Mid Tower Case  ($49.99 @ Newegg)

Power Supply: Corsair CX 500W 80+ Bronze Certified Semi-Modular ATX Power Supply  ($54.99 @ Newegg)

Optical Drive: Asus DRW-24F1ST DVD/CD Writer  ($14.99 @ Newegg)

Operating System: Microsoft Windows 8.1 (OEM) (64-bit)  ($101.98 @ Newegg)

Total: $1010.55

 

Areas of improvement

  • An upgrade to a SSD offers multiple improvements including faster POST, faster BOOT and much faster game installation, patching and level loading. As whole the system will be much more responsive and quick. It can also improves aspects of gaming if information is being actively pull from the storage volume. Users of sleep and hibernation will also see improvements.
  • The PSU is upgraded to a semi modular PSU offer improved cable routing flexibility as well as improved efficiency.
  • The chassis is upgrade allowing for more airflow flexibility as well as more fan size flexibility and mounting variability. It also upgrades front USB 3.0 support to 2 ports.

 

Better System

PCPartPicker part list: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/QTCzCJ

CPU: Intel Core i5-4690K 3.5GHz Quad-Core Processor  ($239.99 @ Newegg)

CPU Cooler: Phanteks PH-TC12DX 68.5 CFM CPU Cooler  ($59.99 @ Newegg)

Motherboard: Asus Z97-A ATX LGA1150 Motherboard  ($134.99 @ Newegg)

Memory: Crucial 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory  ($68.99 @ Newegg)

Storage: Crucial MX100 256GB 2.5″ Solid State Drive  ($113.98 @ Newegg)

Storage: Western Digital Caviar Blue 1TB 3.5″ 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive  ($54.99 @ Newegg)

Video Card: Asus GeForce GTX 970 4GB STRIX Video Card  ($355.91 @ Newegg)

Case: Phanteks Enthoo Pro ATX Full Tower Case  ($99.99 @ Newegg)

Power Supply: Thermaltake 750W 80+ Gold Certified Semi-Modular ATX Power Supply  ($79.99 @ Newegg)

Optical Drive: Asus DRW-24F1ST DVD/CD Writer  ($14.99 @ Newegg)

Operating System: Microsoft Windows 8.1 (OEM) (64-bit)  ($101.98 @ Newegg)

Total: $1325.79

Areas of improvement

Other previous upgrades such as the SSD, and modular PSU are present.

  • We  upgrade to a even faster CPU that offers overclocking. This CPU will provide outstanding gaming and desktop application performance with the ability to further improve performance through overclocking.
  • Superior CPU cooling solution to offer cool and quiet operation while also allowing for overclocking headroom.
  • A considerably improved chassis offer more routing flexibility and cooling configurations including support for water cooling. The larger interior space is great for more complex builds and offers more than enough room for upgrades in storage and even a secondary GPU. Advanced layout options also allow for an extremely clean build not only allowing for a clean look and feel but great airflow
  • A significant upgrade to the GPU. The GTX 970 is a true high end GPU designed for ultra high image quality settings at 2560 x 1440 resolutions. The cooler is fully non reference ensuring extremely cool and quiet operation. The non reference PCB design along with the cooling solution also allow for impressive overclocking allowing users to further improve frame rate and overall performance. The GTX 970 also features sufficient graphics performance to leverage DSR allowing gamers to have high IQ settings and use forms of super sampling to play the game at higher resolutions than there monitor allows. For gamers who want high refresh rate performance the 970 can offer 120Hz and 144Hz gaming performance with minimal IQ reduction.
  • Should users want to run an SLI configuration or upgrade to a faster GPU the PSU can accommodate these upgrades without issue.

 

Best System

PCPartPicker part list: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/cTsLf7

CPU: Intel Core i5-4690K 3.5GHz Quad-Core Processor ($239.99 @ Newegg)

CPU Cooler: Phanteks PH-TC12DX 68.5 CFM CPU Cooler ($59.99 @ Newegg)

Motherboard: Asus Z97-A ATX LGA1150 Motherboard ($139.99 @ Newegg)

Memory: Crucial 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($68.99 @ Newegg)

Storage: Crucial MX100 512GB 2.5″ Solid State Drive ($215.98 @ Newegg)

Storage: Western Digital Caviar Blue 1TB 3.5″ 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($54.99 @ Newegg)

Case: Phanteks Enthoo Pro ATX Full Tower Case ($99.99 @ Newegg)

Power Supply: Thermaltake 750W 80+ Gold Certified Semi-Modular ATX Power Supply ($89.99 @ Newegg)

Optical Drive: Asus DRW-24F1ST DVD/CD Writer ($14.99 @ Newegg)

Operating System: Microsoft Windows 8.1 (OEM) (64-bit) ($102.98 @ Newegg)

Other: ASUS GTX 980 STRIX ($589.00)

Total: $1676.88

 

Areas of improvement

Other previous upgrades such as the SSD, and modular PSU are present.

  • The SSD has been increased allowing for more games to be stored on the SSD ensuring the best gaming performance.
  • The GPU has been upgraded to the GTX 980. This GPU offers a truly outstanding experience allowing for maximum image quality in game at high frame rate. The cooler is fully non reference ensuring extremely cool and quiet operation. The non reference PCB design along with the cooling solution also allow for impressive overclocking allowing users to further improve frame rate and overall performance. The GTX 980 also features sufficient graphics performance to leverage DSR allowing gamers to have high IQ settings and use forms of super sampling to play the game at higher resolutions than there monitor allows. For gamers who want high refresh rate performance the 980 can offer 120Hz and 144Hz gaming performance with almost not reduction in IQ settings except for AA.

 

Ultimate System

PCPartPicker part list: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/zLhkzy

CPU: Intel Core i7-4790K 4.0GHz Quad-Core Processor  ($329.99 @ Newegg)

CPU Cooler: Phanteks PH-TC14PE_RD 78.1 CFM CPU Cooler  ($74.99 @ Newegg)

Motherboard: Asus MAXIMUS VII HERO ATX LGA1150 Motherboard  ($204.99 @ Newegg)

Memory: Kingston Fury Black Series 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR3-1866 Memory  ($144.00 @ Newegg)

Storage: Samsung XP941 Series 256GB M.2-2280 Solid State Drive  ($249.99 @ Newegg)

Storage: Western Digital BLACK SERIES 2TB 3.5″ 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive  ($129.99 @ Newegg)

Video Card: Asus GeForce GTX Titan Black 6GB Video Card (2-Way SLI)  ($1106.13 @ Newegg)

Video Card: Asus GeForce GTX Titan Black 6GB Video Card (2-Way SLI)  ($1106.13 @ Newegg)

Case: Phanteks Enthoo Pro ATX Full Tower Case  ($99.99 @ Newegg)

Power Supply: SeaSonic Platinum 1000W 80+ Platinum Certified Fully-Modular ATX Power Supply  ($227.04 @ Newegg)

Optical Drive: Asus BC-12B1ST/BLK/B/AS Blu-Ray Reader, DVD/CD Writer  ($57.99 @ Newegg)

Operating System: Microsoft Windows 8.1 (OEM) (64-bit)  ($102.98 @ Newegg)

Total: $3834.21

 

Areas of improvement

Other previous upgrades such as the SSD, and modular PSU are present.

  • The SSD has been upgraded to a PCIe m.2 based SSD offering extremely fast performance faster than standard SATA III 6G interface. Users looking for ultra fast storage performance will benefit from this upgrade as it will provide outstanding storage performance superior to that of a tradtional SSD.
  • The CPU has been upgraded to the fastest gaming CPU available with 4 native cores and 8 threads. It offers more threads, more cache and higher clock frequencies helping to ensure outstanding multitasking performance and desktop performance across all applications.Same as previous CPUs the cores and CPU frequency and overall architecutere ensure the CPU does not bottleneck the GPU ensuring the best possible graphics performance. As with the 4690K the 4790K also supports overclocking for users looking for even faster CPU performance.
  • The GPU has been upgraded to the GTX TITAN BLACK. While the TITAN BLACK is slower than the GTX 980 it offers a 6GB frame buffer. This is the only GPU available that will allow for super sampling to be used in COD Advanced Warfare. For users looking for the highest level of image quality and ultra high frame rates at 2560 x 1440 and even 3840 resolutions this configuration is for you. A Single GTX TITAN BLACK will offer impressive 2560 x 1440 gaming performance even with super sampling enabled so SLI is only recommend should users want 60+ FPS frame rate or are gaming in surround or 4K resolutions.
  • The PSU has been upgrade to a fully modular PSU allowing for the absolute best in cable routing flexibility. It also features superior efficiency and hybrid fan operation allowing for true silent operation under idle to moderate loads.
  • The mechanical HD has been upgrade to a 2TB offering more storage capacity along with superior performance and quieter operation. It also offers a 5 year warranty with superior reliability ratings compared to the Blue series which has lower ratings and a 2 year warranty.
  • The CPU cooler has been upgraded to maintain outstanding cooling performance, quiet operation and overclocking headroom.
  • The motherboard has been upgraded to the ROG series offer superior component quality for improved thermal performance, component lifespan and reliability as well as overall improved performance metrics. The MAXIMUS VII HERO also comes included with gamer centric software including packet priority and control software to optimize ping and latency performance for multiplayer / online games as well as network centric services and applications. The NIC is further improved upon featuring a higher end internal design improving reliability especially in respect to ESD, EMI and surge. Superior board level toplogy also incorporates advanced USB design for superior signal quality for improved compatibility and reduced noise. The audio is also upgraded to superior audio codec with a advanced gamer centric audio suite allowing for advanced audio controls including virtual surround.
  • The optical drive has been upgraded to a Blu-ray combo drive allowing the system to burn CDs,DVDs and read both formats as well as Bluray.

Other recommendations

  • Users who want a larger SSD but want the best possible performance should consider SanDisk Extreme II or Extreme Pro as well as the Samsung 850 Pro. These SSDs offer large capacities and outstanding real world performance and feature advanced firmware for ensured read and write consistency.
  • Users looking for a high performance closed loop water cooling solution should consider the Corsair H105. It offers a high performance design and comes included with static pressure fans optimized for radiators.
  • Some users may want additional airflow and as such may want additional fans. There are a wide range of quality fans that offer good CFM and quiet operation. We would advise PWM ( 4 pin ) fans for the best granularity in the fan curve and generally quietest operation.

 

Hopefully these recommendations will make it easier for you out there looking to build a PC for this new title. I will be updating these build recommendations with monitor information for those of you who will also be getting a monitor or are considering upgrading. For those who have any feedback please make sure to leave it in the commentary or email me at PCDIY@ASUS.com