Arma 3 Gaming Rig for Ultra Settings Advice Needed!

Hello. As the title says, I'm building a rig to play Arma 3. I would like to ask your advice on specific components, especially if you have experience with playing the game in highest possible settings. I will include all info below. Thanks, in advance, for your input.

So my main goals are:

1) To play Arma 3 online in ultra settings (which are the highest possible settings) and I would like to get 60+ fps. The rig itself should be capable of higher fps but online severs often just won't allow for more.

2) I would like to stream to while playing Arma 3 on ultra settings and sometimes record gameplay to my computer at 1080p.

My budget is $1,200-$1,500, before shipping. If I can achieve my goals with this build for $1,200 that would be great but if I need to add that extra $300 then I will do what it takes! I do NOT need a monitor, mouse or keyboard.

Approximate Purchase Date: As soon as possible, ideally this week

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Arma 3! I don't play many other titles.

Parts to Upgrade: I am starting from scratch so I need ALL the necessary parts from A-Z.

OS: Yes, I'm thinking Windows 8 but open to suggestions if some of you think Windows 7 is a better choice.

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: - I live in Canada so I would like to buy from a Canadian website. If you know a better/cheaper website in Canada, I would buy from it as long as they are reliable.

Location: I live in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

Overclocking: Maybe.

SLI or Crossfire: Maybe.

Monitor Resolution: My resolution will be 1080p unless I can find a decent 27" monitor that displays 2560x1440 with a high refresh rate.

Additional Comments: I would like a build that can be upgraded, since 4k resolution is around the corner it would be nice if this rig can get me there through upgrading certain parts. I'm also thinking of buying 3 1080p monitors down the line so if it's possible with this rig and some upgrades that would be great too.

I'm upgrading because my current rig just doesn't perform to the level I would like. I sure do love my Arma 3 and I would like to enjoy it to it's full potential.

Okay, thanks for reading through and I hope you guys have some good builds in mind for me to look into! 

Cheers. - decent enough

I might consider a 850w power supply if he wanted to crossfire in the future.  Otherwise, a good build.

Thanks man. I read somewhere that Arma 3 favours Nvidia over AMD. I'm considering the GTX 970 and might buy a second 970 for SLI later once I buy more monitors. The i7 4790k is looking like the right choice. Still not sure which motherboard to pick up..

Was going to put a 970 in the list but knew that with all the commotion at the moment with the vram issue it was best to stop a 1 page thread becoming a 10 page one. Maybe check out run out deals on 780 / 780ti's. 

hmm, ya but do you think the 970 issue is really a deal breaker? Is it not still better than 780/780ti?

I don't want to start a huge debate but I do want to choose wisely so some debate would be welcome..

Yea, I'd probably stay away from the 9 series until the smoke clears a bit more and we can make accurate judgments on those cards.

Looking at the various benchmarks for Arma 3 a few things pop out:

1.) 970 and 290x seem to perform roughly equal in this title

2.) Hyperthreading doesn't add much to performance in this title

3.) Clock speed does add an appreciable amount of performance so Overclocking will help a decent amount.

So based on that,

Still within your budget, albeit closer to the high end, and will crush at 1080p. This should be able to handle 1440p fine as well.

1 Like

Thank you all for your quick responses and feedback. I'm taking all recommendations into consideration while contemplating the final build.


I got this list recommended to me at a local computer shop today. I've added in the monitor I want. In comparison to your build, I notice they did not recommend any CPU cooler. But I'd like to know your thoughts on this build. Do you think they've offered a good option or nah? I've copied all the components into pcpartspicker and the price they are charging is about $100 more.

I think the 4790K and a 970 probably is as safe a bet as any (if I ignore the "Nvidia lying to consumers" bit). I usually recommend a single powerful card over two in crossfire/sli. And I agree that getting a nice cooler to overclock a 4690K/4790K is a good idea.

Also. I would recommend looking into the startup parameters for Arma3. You can specify a lot of stuff there, like cpu core count etc. Some people seems to have success with changing the mem allocator as described here:


Here is an AMD based build that comes in $88 overbudget but will be ballin.

PCPartPicker part list:

Price breakdown by merchant:


  • CPU: AMD FX-8350 4.0GHz 8-Core Processor ($196.98 @ DirectCanada) 
  • CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-U9B SE2 37.9 CFM CPU Cooler ($57.00 @ Vuugo) 
  • Motherboard: Asus M5A97 LE R2.0 ATX AM3+ Motherboard ($84.99 @ NCIX) 
  • Memory: Team Elite Plus 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($75.48 @ Newegg Canada) 
  • Storage: A-Data Premier Pro SP600 256GB 2.5" Solid State Drive ($99.98 @ DirectCanada) 
  • Video Card: XFX Radeon R9 295X2 8GB Core Edition Video Card ($914.63 @ Amazon Canada) 
  • Case: Thermaltake Versa H21 ATX Mid Tower Case ($39.95 @ Vuugo) 
  • Power Supply: Antec HCG M 850W 80+ Bronze Certified Semi-Modular ATX Power Supply ($111.99 @ NCIX) 

Total: $1581.00
Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available
Generated by PCPartPicker 2015-01-27 14:03 EST-0500


Oh, Arma 3 and Dayz suck on AMD blah blah blah........ Those games can be tweaked for performance. Hell, even on my 4770k I have to tweak them. Those graphs and tests are doe with stock settings. No TBBMALLOC changes, no exthreads, no maxmem, no cpucount. guess what, if you add these parameters to your startup, you will see an average of about 15-20 fps improvement on AMD and intel. Running an AMD 1100T.

Seriously, before dropping your trousers and bending over for Intel, try these tweaks first!

Add: -high -exthreads 7 -maxMem=<your RAM divided by 2> -cpuCount=<How many CPu cores you have> (don't add the brackets) to your startup parameters.

Then, change the memory Allocator since the default ones suck!!

use tbbmalloc_arma and add -malloc=ttbmalloc to the startup parameters too.

Get this one: arma(the binary_nolog one)put it into steamapps/common/arma 3/dll

Use ProcessLasso or Radeonpro with AMD to set ArmA 3 to always run on high priority and help steady performance

  • Sampling: Use 100% unless you have a very specific reason. *
    • Texture Quality (HDD/GPU): High to Ultra, High stops a lot of the building pop-in Ultra basically eliminates it.**
    • Objects Quality (CPU/GPU): High to Ultra,, on a higher setting will reduce object pop-in but comes at the cost of frames.**
    • Terrain Quality (CPU/GPU): Standard to High, higher means more frame lag for not much gain visually or otherwise.**
    • Shadow Quality (GPU): DISABLED or High+, lower settings seem to be worse, Ultra seems to give best performance.
    • Particles Quality (GPU): Standard or High, Ultra seems to have no effect on frames.
    • Cloud Quality (GPU): Low, this setting is superfluous unless you are really into flying.
    • PIP (GPU): Low or DISABLED, while better than it was previously keep in mind that it still consumes a lot of frames while driving for a cosmetic effect.
    • HDR (GPU): Low has better performance.
    • Dynamic Lights (GPU): Low or High, Ultra seems to have no effect on frames.
    • Overall (CPU/HDD/GPU): Use something like 1050 as Low, 1600 as Standard, 2150 as High, 2700 as Very High and 3800 as Ultra.**
    • Object (CPU/HDD/GPU): Use something like 858 as Low, 1105 as Standard, 1353 as High, 1601 as Very High and 2097 as Ultra.**
    • Shadow (GPU): Leave as 100 or off.
  • Bloom (GPU): Purely cosmetic, set to whatever you'd like recommended 100.
    • Radial Blur (GPU): motion blur on objects, recommend off or 25.
    • Rotation Blur (GPU): motion blur, recommend off or 12.5.
    • Depth of Field (GPU): is the blur effect you get when trying to look beyond your rifle or other object, recommend off or 25.
    • SSAO (GPU): attempts to approximate the way light radiates in real life, recommend off for performance gain.
    • Caustics (GPU): light rays under certain situations like on the seabed, recommend off for performance gain.
    • Antialiasing (GPU): Shouldn't lose much performance having on x4 as compared to x2 (x8 is for over 1080p), if while scoped there is an FPS drop lower the setting. ***
    • AToC (GPU): Set to DISABLED or Trees only, Grass may make your scope lag.
    • PPAA (GPU): DISABLED or SMAA High to Ultra, Ultra will likely not impact performance.***
    • Anisotropic Filtering (GPU): High to Ultra, will most likely not impact or increase performance.

*** if you disable AA and use just SMAA you should get a similar look but improved performance.

ArmA3Alpha.cfg Located in C:\Users\<username>\Documents\ArmA 3 Alpha\

  • GPU_MaxFramesAhead=4; This may help smooth your frames and with mouse responsiveness, try settings 1-4.
  • GPU_DetectedFramesAhead=0; This may help smooth your frames and with mouse responsiveness.
  • refresh=120; This will make VSync work better if you need it.

These are the list of possible Startup parameters:

Startup Parameters You can also use the startup parameters to help in certain situations by right-clicking ArmA 3 in Steam > Properties > Set Launch Options and entering the following.

  • -enableHT Enables Hyper-Threading on supporting CPU's, this option may be overridden by -cpuCount so if you want to use maximum number of CPU cores use -enableHT without -cpuCount. ****
  • -malloc= This can set the particular allocator to be used. Significantly affects both performance and stability of the game. More details.
  • -maxMem= set this to 2047 as ArmA 3 uses automatic values (512-1536 MB) without the maxMem parameter.
  • -maxVram= this option will tell ArmA how much Video RAM your graphics card has, 128 is hard-coded minimum (anything lower falls backs to 128). 2047 is soft-coded maximum, any value over 2GB might result into unforeseen consequences!
  • -noBenchmark mainly for the development build this option disables any benchmarking that ArmA automatically does.
  • -noCB Turns off multicore use. It slows down rendering but may resolve visual glitches.
  • -noLogs mainly for the development build this option disables any logging that ArmA automatically does.
  • -noPause Does not pause the ArmA window when alt-tabbed in Fullscreen window mode, good for multi-taskers and streamers.
  • -noSplash gets rid of the intro stuff at startup.
  • -world=empty Starts up the game faster as it loads empty level.

so for instance my startup parameters look like


-enableHT -maxMem=2047 -maxVram=3071 -malloc=tbbmalloc -noBenchmark -noLogs -noPause -noSplash -world=empty****enableHT can help smooth the game by letting it know to spread the load properly.


I would highly recommend the Intel and AMD setup for ARMA.  I have compared my computer with i7 3770k and a hd7950 and I get the same fps as my friend with a 3770k and a gtx670.  So the nvidia vs amd in arma is not really a thing.  I would go with a R9 290.  Please don't buy a FX cpu you will be disappointed in your arma/dayz fps.  Trust me my other friend had a fx6300 @4ghz and he got a lot lower fps then my friends with i5's and i7's even though the cpu usage never even reached 50%.  He now has an i5 and every thing else is the same including the hd6870 and he saw like 40% more fps and put him on par with my 3770k and hd7950.

That build is ugly. Why the 1000W PSU? Try this one on for Size: SSD for ArmA 3 makes a HUGE difference. The 290X has 8GB of RAM and is a Sapphire Card which is good.  Mushkin makes excellent RAM. You do not need 16GB of RAM unless you are doing something like 3D rendering. I still think the 4790 CPU is Overkill. Getting a Platinum 80+ certified PSU is better than having a 1000W PSU since it is more efficient. 

PCPartPicker part list:

Price breakdown by merchant:


  • CPU: Intel Core i7-4790 3.6GHz Quad-Core Processor ($333.32 @ TigerDirect Canada) 
  • Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-Z97-HD3 ATX LGA1150 Motherboard ($119.95 @ Vuugo) 
  • Memory: Mushkin Blackline 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($96.98 @ Newegg Canada) 
  • Storage: A-Data Premier Pro SP600 256GB 2.5" Solid State Drive ($99.98 @ DirectCanada) 
  • Video Card: Sapphire Radeon R9 290X 8GB Vapor-X Video Card ($581.98 @ Newegg Canada) 
  • Case: Antec Three Hundred Two ATX Mid Tower Case ($49.99 @ NCIX) 
  • Power Supply: Antec 750W 80+ Platinum Certified ATX Power Supply ($137.95 @ Vuugo) 
  • Optical Drive: LG GH24NSC0B DVD/CD Writer ($19.99 @ Memory Express) 
  • Operating System: Microsoft Windows 8.1 (OEM) (64-bit) ($108.98 @ DirectCanada) 
  • Monitor: BenQ XL2420Z 144Hz 24.0" Monitor ($344.99 @ Amazon Canada) 

Total: $1894.11
Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available
Generated by PCPartPicker 2015-01-27 17:01 EST-0500

A lot of the benchmarks I read only had the 8350 a few frames behind the 4790k and I was tempted to build around that as well. But for more reasons based on perception rather than fact, I kept it intel and went to the i5 version.

I'm currently running near Ultra (max on everything but certain filters that don't do much for me visually) with on average 50-60FPS. i7-2600K @4.6ghz, GTX 580, 16gb RAM. That may help with perspective, if this older build can run it nicely.

Thanks again for your feedback guys. Here's one more, very-close-to-final build. 

I have put together a 'cream of the crop' Arma rig just to see what the price looks like. My main goal was to select a great CPU, video card, motherboard and RAM. It is a bit too expensive so I'm now deciding which parts to swap out for cheaper components. I also included the monitor I'll be getting. If I can get the total down to $2,500 or a bit less then I'll be ready to put my money down and get this baby ordered. 

Have a look.. I think I'll swap out the GTX 980 and go with GTX 970. I might not get a CPU cooler since I don't plan to overclock until at least 6 months after I buy. That will save me $300-ish. If I can figure out any other obvious places to save money without seeing a big loss in performance then I will be happy to do so. 

Let me know what you think. I know this is more expensive then I had originally planned to spend but I really want to do it right and get quality components.

dude, wtf? 2400mhz ram aint gonna help you as much on intel as it would on AMD. You can shave off ~100 if you dont drop 150 on a case, you can drop the liquid cooler you dont need.

This build brings you to ~$2500 and will kick the snot out of the 980.

PCPartPicker part list:

Price breakdown by merchant:

  • CPU: Intel Core i7-4790 3.6GHz Quad-Core Processor  ($333.32 @ TigerDirect Canada)
  • CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper TX3 54.8 CFM Sleeve Bearing CPU Cooler  ($18.91 @ DirectCanada)
  • Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-Z97X-UD3H ATX LGA1150 Motherboard  ($149.99 @ NCIX)
  • Memory: A-Data XPG V2 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR3-1600 Memory  ($140.48 @ Newegg Canada)
  • Storage: A-Data XPG SX900 256GB 2.5" Solid State Drive  ($129.95 @ Vuugo)
  • Storage: Seagate Barracuda 3TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive  ($110.98 @ Newegg Canada)
  • Video Card: XFX Radeon R9 295X2 8GB Core Edition Video Card  ($914.63 @ Amazon Canada)
  • Case: NZXT S340 (Black) ATX Mid Tower Case  ($59.99 @ NCIX)
  • Power Supply: SeaSonic X Series 850W 80+ Gold Certified Fully-Modular ATX Power Supply  ($159.99 @ Newegg Canada)
  • Operating System: Microsoft Windows 8.1 - 64-bit (OEM) (64-bit)  ($108.34 @ TigerDirect Canada)
  • Monitor: BenQ XL2420Z 144Hz 24.0" Monitor  ($344.99 @ Amazon Canada)
  • Case Fan: Cougar Vortex 60.4 CFM 120mm  Fan  ($14.99 @ Memory Express)
  • Case Fan: Cougar Vortex 60.4 CFM 120mm  Fan  ($14.99 @ Memory Express)

Total: $2501.55
Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available
Generated by PCPartPicker 2015-01-28 05:59 EST-0500

I just revisited ARMA 3 after some time on my AMD system, and after reading this thread I actually started Fraps alongside to check on my performance. I was kinda disapointed. My AMD-system is an FX-6300 clocked at 4.7 GHz, paired with a Sapphire R9 290 Tri-X @ 1100Mhz GPU/1300Mhz VRAM and 16GB of Corsair Vengeance 1866 Mhz RAM.

I use the startup parameters for ARMA 3 and still, I get only 30-40 FPS. Is that my CPU bottlenecking the R9 290? The CPU never exceeds 60-75 percent use on the 5 threads I told ARMA to use, and the GPU is also far away from getting fully utilized. What's the problem here? I actually think I had better FPS before the new AMD drivers came out.

Your CPU is usually bottlenecking the gpu in this game unfortunately. Good news though, the timeline for ArmA 3 shows them adding proper Multi-thread/Multi-core support client side and server side hopefully around the time the Expansion comes out. The expansion usually includes some major changes to the engine. I believe DayZ is working on a cross-platform renderer. (OpenGL?) If that comes to fruition and is really good, then it may make its way into ArmA 3 as an optional renderer instead of DirectX. The devblog timeline is really full of the stuff they are working on. They are very familiar with the current Engine limitations. The problem is upgrading the engine without scrapping it entirely since that would destroy backwards compat with other ArmA content as well as messing with mods.


A good upgrade for you that wouldnt break the bank would be the 8320 or 8350. Those chips wouldnt bottleneck a 290/290X.

I didn't even know there was an espansion coming to ARMA3. That's good news.

I would have made the upgrade to a 8350 already but I still doubt that adding another module (2 cores) would solve the problem. I'm sure the Motherboard (gigabyte 990FX-UD5) and the PSU (750W Corsair) could handle it even overclocked, but is this really going to solve my problem? I should probably just give it a shot.

But I'm still wondering why ARMA doesn't max out the cores it uses and still bottlenecks.