The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – Hardware Guide

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

What hardware do I need to run it on PC?

Hardware rating

3/5

The Witcher 3 looks stunning on both high and ultra settings and is very well optimised. With the right system it will play very smoothly without any major frame drops. It can put a strain on older systems due to it being an open world game, with lots of NPCs in places such as novigrad.

Pros

  • Optimised well
  • Older game
  • Not prone to frame drops

Cons

  • Open world
  • Many NPCs in areas
  • Hairworks

The Witcher 3 was released back in 2015 and has remained popular, even more now due to the release of the Netflix Witcher adaptation. It was a very difficult game to run back in 2015 due to its complex graphics and features, especially hairworks, and can still challenge some modern hardware on ultra settings. 

We will be recommending a build that can play at least 60fps at 1080p (Full HD) with options for both high and ultra settings with hairworks off. Hairworks is an nvidia feature which gives more realistic hair effects on both Geralt and beasts. We do not recommend this setting due to its huge impact on fps, with the benefits not outwaying the loss.

What CPU ?

The Witcher 3 is an open world game, it’s large and has a lot going on, especially in towns and cities. Like most open world games, a decent CPU is recommended. 

The follwing processors  will give a stable, smooth experience on this game, and of course will be a great CPU for other games as well.  Here are our Intel and AMD options:

Intel – I5 9400f, 2.9Ghz Base/ 4.1Ghz Boost

AMD – Ryzen 5 2600, 3.4Ghz Base/ 3.9Ghz Boost

Both of these processors come with a cooler. The intel is a little faster but also a little more expensive. The AMD has 12 threads against the 6 threads of the I5, which could be an advantage in future gaming if games start making better use of extra threads, this is likely since the next generation of consoles will have 16 thread AMD chips.

What graphics card?

Nvidia LogoThe Witcher 3 is a stunning game even by today’s standards. The game relies on the GPU above the CPU due to the amount of detail in the world. You definitely want a capable graphics card to run this with higher settings at 60fps. Here are our recommendations of both NVIDIA and AMD graphics cards. 

NVIDIA:

  • GTX 1660 SUPER 6Gb (High Settings) 
  • GTX 1660TI 6Gb (Ultra Settings) 

AMD:

  • RX 5500XT 8Gb (High Settings) 
  • Vega 56 8Gb (Ultra Settings) 

The main culprits of fps loss are “Hairworks” (keep setting off) and “foliage visibility range”. Even the “High settings” cards should be able to turn some settings up to ultra and maintain 60fps due to the small impact they have on performance. 1440p is possible on all of these card with a slight adjustment to some settings to maintain the 60fps target, especially on the lower cards. 

How much RAM?

We recommend 16Gb of RAM for any new gaming PC due to the current cost of RAM. It is a worth while and cost effective purchase but it is also something you can easily expand later. For those looking to save money in the short term, 8Gb will play The Witcher 3 just as well.  When it comes to speed 3000Mhz is ideal but 3200Mhz tends to be the most cost effective. AMD processor especially benefit from faster RAM, faster is always better but after 3200Mhz you will seen greatly diminished returns. The main question is, do you want RGB or not? 

RGB:

  • Corsair Vengeance Pro Black RGB 3200MHZ C16

Non-RGB:

  • Crucial Ballistix Sport LT 3200mhz C16

The advantage of the non-RGB option is that it is Micron e-die RAM, which basically means its better. If you ever plan to overclock your RAM in the future then this is the better purchas as it has more headroom for higher speeds and lower timings. If you do not plan on overclocking, it all comes down to if you want RGB or not.

Other hardware

This section covers components that do not directly impact performance unlike the previously recommended parts. These recommendation are heavily opinion based.

Intel and AMD have different processor sockets so you will need to buy a motherboard to suit the CPU you choose. There are a wide range of motherboards available with a large variance in price. The main difference between low-end and high-end motherboards is mainly features such a built in WiFi, Pcie 4.0, more m2 slots, more ports and better overclocking potential. None of this will impact the performance of the game. We’ll be recommending budget, but good quality motherboards for both Intel and AMD. If you feel you may need built in WiFi or any of the other features we have listed then you may want to look at other options. 

  • AMD – MSI Tomahawk MAX B450

The above motherboard has an older chipset but has an upgraded bios meaning its compatible with the ryzen 3000 series if you ever felt like upgrading. 

  • Intel – MSI Z390-A PRO

Both of these motherboards are fairly standard but of good quality. They don’t have any fancy features but do their job well. 

The Power supply is something you definitely do not want to go cheap on. A cheap PSU will likely fail faster than a high quality one and will have more of a chance of destroying other components when it does.

Modular PSUs have removable cables, resulting in tidier builds. Non-modular power supplies have fixed cables, making it harder to tidy your case. Some PSUs sit half way between the two, these are known as ‘hybrids’, some of the cables are removable and some are fixed.

We’ll be recommending a mid-tier hybrid PSU. 

  • Corsair TX550m 550w 80+ Gold 

This is a fairly high quality PSU at a decent price. The most commonly used cables are fixed and the others can be removed. With a 80+ Gold efficiency rating and a 550w output, you will be left with headroom to upgrade your PC later. If you think you may upgrade to a high end graphics card down the line, you may want to go for a 650W supply instead.

Both of the recommended motherboards come with an M2 drive slot, M2 drives are super fast and around the same price as an SSD drive. We recommend one for your operating system and maybe even a couple games. We also recommend a standard hard drive as they offer far more storage at a fraction of the cost.

  • M2 Drive – Sabrent 512Gb Rocket M2
  • HDD – Seagate Barracuda HDD 1Tb

The Sabrent Rocket M2 is a very fast but budget friendly option which almost matches the top end samsung drives. This will hold your operating system with space left over for a few games. 

The HDD has 1Tb of storage, ideal for multimedia or any games you can’t fit on your M2. The Barracuda comes with various storage space options, so if you feel like 1Tb isn’t enough then you may want to consider a larger size. 

If you are on a strict budget you can skip the M2 entirely as an HDD will suffice but you will have longer boot and loading times. A future upgrade is is very possible as they are easy to fit. 

It’s hard to recommend a case as it’s mostly down to personal preference and what you like the look of. We can recommend you get a mid size tower case as they have more than enough space for your components and provide good cable management features, while having reasonably small form factor. 

Make sure you don’t buy an ITX case or anything similar as the recommended motherboards won’t fit!  

If we had to recommend one it would be the Fractal Designs Meshify C case, as it is fairly cheap, looks great and is very easy to build in. However the choice is entirely up to you. 

Total Cost

This complete build will cost roughly £600 – £800 depending on which parts you choose and if you choose an M2 drive or not. 

Final Notes​

This build will allow you to play the game as it should be played. You can buy cheaper parts but you will not get the full experience of how beautiful The Witcher 3 can be on PC. 

The build was designed using completely new and up to date parts, but older parts such a GPUs may still be at least as powerful as the ones we recommended. So if you already have a GPU, it may be worth doing the research before buying a new one. However, we do not recommend buying a used GPU due to the lack of warranty and the danger of it being previously used intensly for activities such as crypto mining.

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