CD Projekt Red’s graphical masterpiece, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, was released for the PC and next-gen consoles on May 19, 2015 with Blood and Wine DLC available around April 16 of 2016.
If you’re gaming on the PC and looking to play at the highest Ultra settings while getting a buttery smooth 60 frames per second (fps), then the builds I’m reviewing today will get you sorted.
When CD Projekt Red announced the Recommended System Requirements they also were honest about the fact that the recommended specs would be for running the game at 30 FPS on ultra, however being that this is the PC, we’re obviously going to want to push that up to 60 FPS if at all possible with everything cranked up.
Witcher 3 Recommended System Requirements
Intel CPU Core i7 3770 3.4 GHz
AMD CPU AMD FX-8350 4 GHz
Nvidia GPU GeForce GTX 770
AMD GPU Radeon R9 290
OS 64-bit Windows 7 or 64-bit Windows 8 (8.1)
HDD Space 40 GB
Looking at the requirements you can see that The Witcher 3 is demanding even for 30 frames per second, so pushing that to 60 FPS is going to require some extra horsepower. Let’s jump into the build.
Good Build for The Witcher 3 – 2017 Update
Contents at a Glance
I’ve decided to go with the Phanteks Enthoo Pro because of hands-on experience with the case and also the glowing reviews that I’ve watched and read. For under $100 you won’t find many other options that have the same level of modularity, water cooling support, and cable routing options.
To find another case on the market to counter this case in terms of overall design and features, you would be looking at spending a lot more money.
CPU & Motherboard
The recommended requirements show that running an i7 Intel processor or an 8-core FX 8350 is ideal. I’ve decided for this buyer’s guide to offer you two options in this regard based on your budget and needs as a user. The extra cores have proven to be useful in various tests I’ve seen.
Intel Processor and Motherboard
On the Intel side, we are going with the latest i7, the 6700k from Intel. This is going to be a higher-end option and if you’re looking to game and also have a heavy workflow then the i7 might be a better option thanks to the better single threaded performance when compared to AMD. The i7 6700K comes out of the box at 4GHz and a Turbo Boost of 4.2GHz. Of course, it can easily be overclocked higher than that if need be.
As we mentioned in our post on the best Skylake motherboards, I really like Gigabyte’s GA-Z170X-UD5 because of its many connectivity options along with All Direct Intel USB 3.0 / 3.1. It has plenty of overclocking features like POST code display and voltage read points and of course, a standard overclock button for those of you who don’t want to get your hands dirty.
Witcher 3 Ultra / 60FPS Build Summary
|Part||Intel Build||AMD Build|
|Case||Phanteks Enthoo Pro||Phanteks Enthoo Pro|
|CPU||Intel i7-6700k||AMD FX-8350|
|Motherboard||Gigabyte GA-Z170X-UD5 Motherboard||ASRock Fatal1ty 970|
|Graphics Card||GTX 980 Ti 6 GB Superclocked ACX 2.0 for 1440p ultra or a single GTX 970 for ultra 1080p ($350 less). For 4k, you'll need a pair of 980 Ti's.||GTX 980 Ti 6 GB Superclocked ACX 2.0 for 1440p ultra or a single GTX 970 for ultra 1080p ($350 less)|
|Memory||16 GB Corsair Vengeance LPX||16GB of Corsair Vengeance @1600 MHz|
|CPU Cooler||Corsair H100i V2||Corsair H100i V2|
|HDD||Hitachi Deskstar 7k2000||2TB HGST mechanical hard drive|
|SSD||Samsung 850 Evo 250GB||Samsung 850 EVO 250GB|
|Power Supply||EVGA 850W 80+ Bronze or G2 as a Gold Certified option)||850W EVGA B2|
Prices are taken from various online U.S. retailers.
AMD FX 8320 vs 8350
If you are coming into this build on somewhat of a budget then AMD will be the better way to go. With the combined cost of the processor and motherboard costing less than the i7 4790k, on it’s own, AMD is going to be a great choice if gaming is your main reason for building a system.
You could either go with the FX 8320 or FX 8350 here from AMD. The 8350 is going to be a little bit more expensive and in my eyes isn’t really justified. For the added $30 of cost you are get a CPU that runs a little faster out of the box at 4GHz, but has the same 8MB L3 Cache as the 8320, which comes in at under $150. The 8320 is clocked at a lower speed of 3.5GHz, but can be overclocked to 4GHz and beyond.
The motherboard for the AMD side is going to keep things affordable at under $100. For this, I’ve chosen the ASRock Fatal1ty 970 which will offer enough PCI lanes for Crossfire and should help you in overclocking that 8320 or 8350.
Good Value SLI / Crossfire Graphics Card Solutions
Since the whole purpose of this build is to be running The Witcher 3 at 60 FPS on ultra, a single GPU solution is not going to be enough for our needs. So we are going to be looking at a Nvidia SLI configuration as well as an AMD Crossfire solution. For, our Batman Arkham Knight build, a single 980 should be fine.
Update: While last year we were able to get unbelievable performance out of a pair of 970’s, in 2016 I can’t recommend it. Go with a single 980 Ti which is very close in performance for SLI optimized games and much better in others for 1440p ultra. For 1080p ultra a single 970 does a fantastic job with the much more optimized game at this point in time.
Our Previous Recommendations:
We’re doing an SLI setup for maximizing performance in The Witcher 3 so I’ve gone with two GTX 970’s. You won’t need to worry about getting something like the 980 because the added cost of roughly $200 more is only going to give an extra 10% in performance. Two 970’s paired together for roughly $700 total should net you some stellar framerates at 1080p and 1440.
There is a wide variety of options in terms of just GTX 970’s. The most affordable one right now is the EVGA ACX GTX 970, but prices are changing every day. The coolest running card which would likely overclock the best is the Gigabyte G1 Gaming, however, it’s worth noting the Gigabyte card is rather long so make sure your case can fit it.
For the AMD side, we are going to be doing Crossfire with a pair of MSI R9 390’s which is going to provide a better price to performance when compared to the Nvidia / Intel 970’s SLI build. That’s kind of the theme here with the AMD build; getting the most performance for your gaming dollars. Once again, you have a number of options for the R9 390, but at the time of writing this article, the MSI Twin Frozr had one of the better prices. Still, the 980 Ti is the direction I’d recommend most go in.
Still, the 980 Ti for 1440p and GTX 980 for 1080p is the direction I’d recommend most go in.
Witcher 3 4k Ultra Settings
Want to play in 4k? While I don’t have the benchmarks to post, I’ve tested a pair of 980 Ti’s in 4k and it barely holds 60 FPS at that with NVIDIA HairWorks off. So, be prepared to do a little tweaking even if you have $1300 worth of GPUs at your disposal.
In my experience, 8GB of system memory is more than enough for gaming. If you’re looking to do content creation then you may want to consider going with 16GB, but for the purpose of this build, we are going with 8GB of Corsair Vengeance @1600 MHz for the AMD build and 16GB of Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4 memory for the Skylake build.
You have a lot of options in this arena; If your budget permits it you could do an all in one water cooling solution like a Corsair H100i, but to help keep down noise and cost, I’ve chosen the Phanteks U-Type Dual Tower cooler. The black & white color scheme will also blend in nicely with the MSI motherboard that we discussed earlier and at under $60 you really can’t ask for much more than this five star rated cooler from Phanteks.
EVGA have definitely been making waves over the last couple years with their B2 and G2 lines of PSU’s. Utilizing high-quality Japanese capacitors and modular design, they offer some of the best performing power supplies on the market while also keeping cost in line. For those reasons, I’ve chosen an 850W EVGA B2, which at under $100 gives us an 80+ Bronze certification and semi-modular design to help reduce cable clutter in our build. If you want something higher-end, I also recommend EVGA’s G2 which made our shortlist of power supplies for gaming.
For our boot drive, I’ve picked the Samsung 850 EVO 250GB version. SSD’s have come down a lot in terms of cost and with 250GB drives now costing about $120, there is little reason to not own one. This is going to help out a lot with boot times for Windows and startup programs. Since it is 250GB, you will have enough space left over for The Witcher 3 and its needed 40GB of space.
For mass storage we will go with a 2TB HGST mechanical hard drive. I’ve chosen HGST for the same reason that I do for all my personal builds. HGST (Hitachi) have a proven track record of the lowest failure rate among all mechanical drive manufacturer’s. Makers like Western Digital have nearly double the failure rate and Seagate failure rates are as much as ten times higher than HGST.
The Witcher 3 is definitely shaping up to be the new benchmark by which all PC’s will be judged. In the past it was Crysis and Metro: Last Light, but CD Projekt Red seems content on delivering not only a stellar gaming experience, but a beautiful and immersive world for us to explore. It’s not going to be cheap, but if you want to play the Witcher 3 at 60 FPS with all the settings turned up, then this is what you’re going to need.