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What does it take to run Fallout 4 at 1080p60?

It’s our contention that the best possible PC gameplay experience comes from matching both native resolution and refresh rate to your monitor. Right now, the most popular gaming display configuration features a full HD pixel-count running at 60Hz: 1080p60. On the face of it, Bethesda’s Fallout 4 isn’t the most technologically complex game on the market, and you can get some great results running on fairly modest kit – but hitting 60fps with a good degree of consistency is actually a substantial challenge.

In this guide, we’ll be testing the game across a series of PC configurations covering off many of the major gaming CPUs and graphics cards on the market. We’ll be targeting 1080p60 primarily, but as we scale up to the likes of the R9 390 and the GTX 970, we’ll be seeing what it takes to run the game at higher resolutions. At the absolute top-end, the so-called uber-cards – AMD’s R9 Fury X and Nvidia’s GTX 980 Ti – will be tested at 4K, with some intriguing results.

Bethesda’s recommended specs for Fallout 4 are interesting. CPU-wise, a quad-core i5 from the Sandy Bridge era or a Phenom II X4 are apparently the minimum – paired with either a GTX 550 Ti or a Radeon HD 7870 (two cards that are hardly comparable – the AMD card is much faster). At the higher end, an i7 4790 is recommended or else AMD’s eight-core FX-9570. Radeon R9 290X or the GTX 780 are the suggested top-end GPUs. 30GB of hard drive space is required, along with 8GB of RAM.

Real-life recommended specs are actually a lot less onerous: the hard drive space and the eight gigs are basically non-negotiable, but a modern Core i3 processor or AMD’s FX-6300 are perfectly serviceable, while a GTX 750 Ti or a Radeon R7 370 are fine for handing in better-than-console visuals at full HD. Assuming console visuals are the baseline, you can see here that the Digital Foundry budget PC hands in an excellent experience – though we do recommend instigating a 30fps cap. In fact, the settings chosen here actually produce a visually richer experience than either PS4 or Xbox One owing to further object draw distance.