Why not just play CS:GO on a Potato Build?

My Personal Experience

I’ve had the experience of running CS:GO on a potato build, on my Acer Aspire E15 E5-575G-57D4 laptop (i5-7200U & NVIDIA GeForce 940MX), and with the lowest in-game settings, resolution, and playing on a 4:3 aspect ratio (black bars), the highest fps (frames per second) I was able to achieve around 120-125. The drawback with all of these toned down settings was that the game looked very grainy, and it was harder to spot heads when trying to shoot someone from a farther distance. For that case, I just eyeballed to the generally location of the enemy’s head, but in a fast paced FPS game, accuracy is a huge part in the wins/losses. All this to say that a potato build won’t really cut it if you’re trying to play CS:GO competitively.

My previous build, which I no longer have, was an i5-6600K w/ a MSI Gaming X GTX 1060 6GB build on a 144hz 24 inch monitor, and I was able to achieve an average of 300+ fps on 1920×1080 resolution. At that time I didn’t know very much about the relationship between specific components when building it, just that these were the recommended parts from sources such as Reddit or Steam.

Which PC Components are right for me?

If I were to start another build meant to play CS:GO competitively, how would I go about deciding which components I would need? Upon writing this blog, I wanted to understand why games require hefty sums of money being spent on components. How do I know I’m getting the most bang for my buck? This led me to Google searching how a CPU and a GPU works. Perhaps if I understand how these components work, I can appreciate the premium I’m spending on said parts.

After several hours of researching, I came to understand that a CPU’s cores are better optimized for more complex computational problems. Although a CPU’s architecture can solve graphics related problems, it’s not as optimized to do so. How this translates into CS:GO is that you’ll have this game data that needs to be rendered and outputted, but the CPU only has X amount of cores, so it won’t output that data as quick as you’d want it to, because the data is fed through these cores. Whereas the architecture for a GPU is very different. It has many little cores, but these cores are meant to solve less complex problems such as geometry, which is heavily utilized in games. This ensures that massive amounts of game data is being translated at an acceptable speed. The higher the core count, within the same GPU family (GTX with GTX, RX with RX), the more powerful the graphics card is.

Recommended System Build – Price & FPS

One can get a whole lot deeper into how said components work, and their relationships to one another. But I didn’t think it was worth my time, and I would be better served relying on a relatively trusted source to recommend me suggested parts, based on the type of fps I’d get from them. Fortunately I stumbled across a Logical Increments blog that breaks down the experience one will likely have playing CS:GO (all the way from Unplayable, Buttery Smooth, Competitive, to Obscenely High) based on the pc build you opt for – http://www.logicalincrements.com/games/csgo#litiers. For my purposes, say I wanted to play CS:GO at 300+ fps on 1920×1080, I would follow their suggested build:

  • CPU → i5 9600k
  • Operating System → Windows 10 Home
  • GPU → GTX 1660
  • CPU Cooler → NH-U12S
  • Motherboard → MSI Z390-A Pro
  • RAM → 8GB DDR4
  • Data Storage → 1TB
  • Primary Storage → 240 GB
  • Power Supply → Seasonic 80+ Bronze (modular)
  • Case → Fractal Design

I’ve listed in PC Part Picker a build that’s as close as I could to the above here: https://pcpartpicker.com/list/6fjDP3. The price roughly comes out to be $1283, tax not included. This also isn’t factoring into the equation the time spent building this PC, not to mention if it’s your first time building, there will be a good amount of watching YouTube videos on how to build one. For about the same cost, the iBUYPOWER ‘Gaming RDY CBIBG201’ upgrades your CPU to an i7 9700K, 16GB of DDR4-3000MHz RAM instead of sticking with 8GB, a liquid cooler to swap out for the air cooler, and an Intel 512GB M.2 NVMe SSD (a newer model Intel SSD meant to boost game/program boot times) to replace the 1TB data storage and 240GB primary storage. On top of these upgrades, our ‘Three Year Standard Warranty’ covers three years labor and one year parts.

iBUYPOWER Memorial Day 2019 Sale

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by Chris, on May 24, 2019