Written by Jon Martindale
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 might have the same name as the 2011 Call of Duty release, but this is a brand-new game. It’s a sequel to the revamped Modern Warfare 2 from 2022 and is built on an updated version of the Infinity Ward IW Engine. This is version 9.0, with its new water simulation system, improved AI, and better mobile support. It also enjoys all the upgrades of IW 8.0, with its tactical destruction, advanced shading, and textures with damage layers, among many other improvements.
All of this means that Call of duty: Modern Warfare 3 isn’t just going to look great, it’s likely to be the most demanding Call of Duty game ever. If you’ve been just about limping along with an old gaming PC playing older CoD titles on low settings, it might be time for an upgrade.
Here’s what you need to play Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III.
• CPU: Intel Core i5-6600, AMD Ryzen 5 1600, or better
• RAM: 12GB
• Graphics: NVIDIA GTX 970, GTX 1650, AMD Radeon RX 480, or better
• VRAM: 3GB
• Storage: 65 GB SSD
• Operating System: Windows 10 64-bit
Sledgehammer Games has set the bar for entry relatively low with Modern Warfare 3, so just about anyone with a gaming PC made in the past five years should have no trouble getting it running. If you can meet or match these specifications, you can expect to enjoy the game at 1080p resolution with an average of at least 30 FPS, while most of the game settings remain on low.
The processors were mid-range for their time, but were released eight and six years ago, respectively, so they’re well past their due dates and easily beaten by a modern entry-level processor from the past couple of generations. Most importantly, the 6600 is a quad-core processor with no simultaneous multithreading (SMT), so you don’t need lots of cores to play this game. It’ll work just fine on older quad-cores – and even better if they have SMT support.
For RAM, it’s a shame to see 8GB not supported by these minimum system requirements, as a good 15% of Steam gamers still only have 8GB of RAM. However, most gamers have 16GB or more RAM, so this won’t gatekeep many. For those who are locked out of playing, 16GB of RAM is a very affordable upgrade in 2023.
As with most gaming requirements, the graphics card is the highest barrier to entry, but even that’s quite short. All of the recommended graphics cards are many generations old, and though the GTX 970 and RX 480 were relatively top-spec cards in their time, they’ve been replaced and supplanted several times over. You’ll get comparable performance with the most entry-level of modern cards, and if you have anything mid-range from the past few years, you’ll have a lot more power to bring to the table.
Storage requirements are pretty modest for a modern game, with some of the latest big releases running well north of 150GB. You’ll want an SSD for this one, though. While CoD may function on a hard drive, nobody should be gaming on anything but an SSD in 2023. They’re super affordable and even cheaper than some hard drives in smaller storage sizes, so don’t skimp there.
If you don’t have a PC capable of running Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III, then you aren’t likely to find one that will simply meet the minimum specs, outside of very old second-hand systems in flea markets or auction sites. If it wasn’t obvious, you should not be buying a system that old and that neglected.
Your best bet, if you can’t meet these requirements, is to simply buy (or build: see below) something new. You can easily put together a PC that will match or exceed this kind of hardware for a very affordable price, unlocking not only a better-looking and playing Modern Warfare III experience, but the power to play a range of other modern games.
With that in mind, one of the best options to play Modern Warfare III at entry-level settings, is the HP Victus 15L. It features an AMD Ryzen 5 5600G processor, with six Zen 3 cores, and a high clock speed. It supports simultaneous multi-threading, so we have way more processing power than this game needs at its minimum system requirements, and we’re years ahead of it from an architectural standpoint.
• CPU: AMD Ryzen 5600G
• RAM: 16GB DDR4-3200MHz
• Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050
• Storage: 512GB SSD
• Operating system: Windows 11
The Victus 15L has 16GB of fast DDR4 memory, so we meet and exceed the system requirements there, and the half terabyte of SSD storage is plenty of space for this game and many more besides.
As for graphics, it’s got an NVIDIA RTX 3050. That’s an entry-level GPU from the last generation, but it’s a successor to the recommended GTX 1650 with a far more powerful Ampere GPU. It also operates at higher clock speeds, and has double the VRAM, making it much more applicable for modern gaming.
One really important addition to that card, though, is its Tensor cores. Those allow it to utilize NVIDIA’s excellent upscaling algorithm, Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS). That has the potential to massively boost frame rates in compatible games, and Modern Warfare III does support DLSS, helping this GPU punch well above its weight.
This system also supports Wi-Fi 6, helping you to have the fastest, lowest latency connection for competitive play, and it supports Bluetooth 5.3 if you have any wireless devices you want to connect.
It’s a fast, affordable gaming PC that easily outstrips the ancient minimum system requirements. With the HP Victus 15L, you should be able to enjoy the game at 1080p resolution at a steady 60 FPS. Perhaps with a few settings set to medium, and even high if you enable DLSS.
If you’re more of an AMD fan, you can swap DLSS support for a faster GPU with the PowerSpec G516 Gaming PC.
More interested in building your Modern Warfare III gaming PC yourself? You’re a gamer after my own heart. In that case, you have the pick of the litter when it comes to hardware, so you can either build something more powerful to unlock greater frame rates, detail settings, and resolutions, or we can make something even more affordable.
The best bang for buck gaming processor is, at the time of writing, the Micro Center exclusive AMD Ryzen 5600X3D. To make it even better value, we have an awesome bundle deal for the CPU, a capable mid-range motherboard, and 16GB of fast DDR4 memory, all for under $300.
You can buy those components individually, but you’ll end up spending close to $400 for such a collection, and that’s money you can put into your graphics card instead. You won’t need a lot though. The AMD RX 6650 XT is an awesome 1080p gaming graphics card, available for just $235 at the time of writing. This is the specialized ASRock overclocked, triple fan version, too, so it runs faster than a stock 6650 XT and much quieter, too.
That will mean you won’t get DLSS support, but Modern Warfare III also supports FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR), AMD’s upscaling algorithm. That works on just about any graphics card, too, so you can further boost your frame rates in this game using it.
If you’re leaning towards NVIDIA, you can grab an RTX 3060 for a comparable price and get that DLSS support. It is, however, a bit less powerful than the RX 6650 XT, so you’re leaving some general rasterization performance on the table if you go this route. Ray tracing performance is better, though, so if you play other games with RT support, it could be a better choice for you.
For storage, any SSD will do. The Western Digital Blue SN580 is available at 500GB and 1TB sizes for $40 and $60 each, so you can get a lot of very fast storage space for very little investment. If you want to go bigger and faster, you can always put a couple of drives in there, or opt for an affordable larger drive, like the Crucial P5 Plus 2TB.
As for the power supply, you want one from a reputable brand like Corsair, Seasonic, EVGA, or Cooler Master. You’ll want a capacity of at least 500W to make sure you have enough power for the graphics card and processor, though you can go for more if you want to. It’s a good idea to opt for a unit with an at least 80+ Bronze rating, as that will ensure the PSU is efficient and doesn’t waste too much power, helping to keep your energy builds down. It’s also a sign of quality components, so you can rest assured the PSU will last a good few years.
For the case, just ensure it can fit your motherboard. In our case, that’s a B550-M Micro-ATX board. Any mid-tower chassis will be able to fit it, but smaller ITX cases may not be able to, so don’t try to build an ultra-compact system with this kind of hardware.
• RAM: 16GB
• Graphics: NVIDIA GTX 1070, RTX 3050, or AMD RX Vega 56
• VRAM: 6GB
• Operating System: Windows 10 64-bit, or Windows 11
The recommended system requirements for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III are more demanding, but not egregiously so. The CPUs are the same, so we should recognize that this game is not going to be CPU bottlenecked. Ensure your processor is decent, and you’ll have no trouble playing it at even higher settings.
Where we do see a leap in demand is in memory and graphics. Thankfully, the memory bump isn’t a big deal, as 16GB is in line with what most gamers already have in their PC. It won’t be a hard requirement to meet.
The graphics card requirements are heavier hitter than the previous options, but these are still cards that were either super-entry level (in the case of the 3050) or years old. Most gaming PCs made in the past few years will have absolutely no trouble hitting these kinds of specifications or exceeding them.
If you can at least match them, you’ll be able to enjoy the game at 1080p, with most settings on high, and a steady 60 FPS in most areas. If you enable DLSS on the RTX 3050, or FSR on the other cards, that 60 FPS should be all but guaranteed no matter what’s happening on screen.
If your PC can’t quite meet the recommended system requirements for this game, you may be able to just upgrade your graphics card to something modern to bring your PC up to spec. If not, though, all the hardware here is years out of date, so you’d only be able to find it second hand and, at this age, that’s really not advisable. You never know if graphics cards of that generation have been used for cryptocurrency mining, and with no warranty, there’s no help if something goes wrong.
You’re better off buying or building (see below) a new gaming PC to play Modern Warfare III, and we have the perfect PC for the job. The MSI Codex R is a mid-range gaming PC with a great selection of high-powered components.
• CPU: Intel Core i5-13400F
• RAM: 16GB DDR5-4800MHz
• Graphics: NVIDIA RTX 4060
• Storage: 1TB NVMe Gen3 SSD
• Operating system: Windows 11
This is far faster than the recommended requirements, making you well equipped to play this game at not only higher settings and frame rates, but other modern games too. It’s also priced very affordably – and has a big discount at the time of writing, so take advantage of it while you can.
The Intel Core i5-13400F CPU is one of the best bang for buck gaming processors of its generation. It has 10 cores, which is the kind of power you’d only get in flagship processors a couple of generations ago. Six of those are performance cores, too – this isn’t a low power laptop chip. The four additional efficiency cores help boost its multi-tasking and multi-threaded power, which is perfect for running loads of browser tabs at once, or you want to edit together some clips of your gaming highlights.
The 16GB of DDR5 memory will ensure that your Intel CPU is running at peak performance all the time, and there’s enough of it to support almost all modern games. There are a handful that benefit from 32GB, but that’s a very cheap upgrade in the future if you need it.
The real centerpiece of this build, however, is the NVIDIA RTX 4060 graphics card. This GPU has all the power you need to play Modern Warfare III at maximum settings at 1080p, with a high frame rate. Working together with the 13400F, you can expect a stellar gaming experience at 1080p, and in games like this one that support DLSS or FSR, you can even dabble with 1440p resolution if you’re willing to accept lower settings or frame rates.
With a terabyte of SSD storage, there’s plenty of space for Modern Warfare III and a number of other big AAA games, with space to spare. It also supports 2.5 Gigabit Ethernet, for very fast local networking and support for the latest of Gigabit and faster internet connections. Alternatively, if you’d prefer to use wireless, there’s also native support for Wi-Fi 6E, which is just as fast as Ethernet if you can get close enough to the router to fully utilize that 6GHz frequency.
If the MSI pre-built gaming PC above doesn’t suit your fancy, or you just want to give building your own PC a go, you’re in for a treat. We can easily match or exceed the recommended system requirements with modern hardware, and picking and choosing individual components gives us the greatest selection, with lots of scope for additional features and performance should you want them.
Considering the CPU recommendations haven’t changed between the minimum and recommended system requirements, you’re still best off opting for the excellent Ryzen 5 5600X3D bundle with included B550 motherboard and 16GB of DDR4 3200MHz memory. It’s still one of the best gaming processors available today, and at its super affordable bundle price, you have so much to spend on additional components to bring your system’s performance up to the level we’re looking for.
The only downside to this bundle is it does lock you into an older generation with limited upgrade potential down the line. If you’d rather opt for something newer with future upgrade potential, the AMD Ryzen 5 7600X and Intel Core i5-12600K offer comparable performance, and they’re good for overclocking, too.
Just make sure if you go those routes, you buy a compatible motherboard and cooler to go with them.
Whatever processor you pick, we need to partner it with a powerful graphics card to rival or exceed the performance of our two recommended GPUs. You could get an RTX 3050 as it recommends, but that’s a very low power graphics card and it’s not particularly cost effective. We can do better.
If we’re only spending a few hundred on the processor, motherboard, and memory, we can afford to go a little bit more extravagant on the graphics card. At around $330 after recent discounts, the AMD RX 6700 XT is an amazing graphics card for this sort of game. Being an AMD graphics card, but it only supports FSR in its place, which is a great framerate boosting tool, should you choose to use it.
The ASRock AMD Radeon RX 6700 XT Challenger GPU
Alternatively, NVIDIA fans can opt for a 4060 Ti, which offers roughly comparable performance, though is a bit more expensive. If you want to push the budget a tad further, you can get the AMD RX 7700 XT instead, which is a big leap over all of these cards and a true next-generation performer.
Storage needs are no different at this tier, so spend as much or as little as you like – just make sure you use an SSD for your boot and game drive. If you want to keep your budget tight so you can focus on other components, an affordable SSD like the Western Digital Blue SN580 is great, and is available at 500GB and 1TB sizes. If you want something faster, more modern, and larger, the Samsung 990 Pro 2TB model is available at a steep discount – grab it while stocks last.
Playing Modern Warfare III at 1440p isn’t that demanding since the game itself isn’t, but it does represent a jump in graphical power requirements. That means we’ll need a more powerful graphics card, and for my money, I’d probably upgrade the CPU too, just so that it was definitively capable enough to prevent any CPU bottlenecks.
I’d probably be tempted to upgrade the memory to 32GB as well, especially since it’s such an affordable upgrade.
If you’re upgrading your existing PC to do this, you’ll want to make sure that your power supply can handle all of these improvements too, since the latest generations of graphics cards are particularly power hungry.
The quickest and easiest way to get a PC capable of playing Modern Warfare III isn’t to build one or upgrade what you’re got, though, it’s to buy one. On the more affordable end of the spectrum, the Asus ROG Strix GA15 is a great buy for playing this sort of game, at these sorts of settings. The CPU and platform are a generation old with limited upgrade potential, but the RTX 3080 is a stellar graphics card from the last generation and would have cost almost as much as this whole system alone when it was first launched.
This PC will be able to play Modern Warfare III with all settings maxed out at 1440p, and at 100+ frames per second throughout the entire game, no matter what you’re doing. Turn DLSS on, and it’ll probably crest a comfortable 150 FPS at times.
If you have a bigger budget and want to get something a bit more powerful, a bit more modern, with a better upgrade path for the future, the PowerSpec G714 is a super-powered alternative. It comes fitted with the Ryzen 7800X3D CPU, the best gaming processor ever made, and 32GB of super-fast DDR5 memory. To top that off, it has an NVIDIA RTX 4070 graphics card, which is not only super-fast, but supports DLSS 3 frame generation, so in compatible games can boost frame rates even more with some AI generated content. It’s a real game changer.
Building a PC gives us a little more scope to pick individual components to really maximize performance and your budget.
For the processor, get the AMD Ryzen 7800X3D. It’s probably overkill for what we have here, but it’s so much more powerful than any other chip in its price range that you might as well. Especially at its newly discounted price. Check reviews on some of the mid-range B650 motherboards and get one that has everything you need and not much else – it’s not worth blowing much budget on fancy motherboards when you won’t be doing much overclocking. The 7800X3D might be super powerful, but it doesn’t have much scope for more.
Memory speed does tend to effect AMD processors more readily than Intel ones, so you’ll want a fast kit of RAM. Fortunately, like SSDs, RAM prices have fallen to new lows for the latest generation DDR5 modules. Grab an awesomely fast 32GB of G.Skill Flare X5 6000 MHz memory for under $100.
The Gigabyte AMD Radeon RX 7700 XT GPU
For graphics, one of the best bang for buck 1440p graphics cards in 2023 is the AMD RX 7700 XT. It’s brand new, very affordable for the performance it brings, and it has enhanced ray tracing accelerators, so in games that support ray tracing, it’s ready to go. It also supports FSR, so you can boost frame rates even more.
Just make sure you have a powerful enough PSU for it. AMD recommends a 700W model for the 7700XT.
To play Modern Warfare III at 4K, we’re going to need to upgrade our graphics card. There’s little more demanding for a gaming PC than playing at 4K (save for high-level ray tracing) so you’ll want a top card. You’ll want a decent CPU to go with it too, to make sure it’s not bottlenecked – though there’s no need to go for the very fastest option unless you want to do some heavy work outside of gaming.
As for everything else, we can keep it pretty close to the spec of our 1440p PC. Yes, 4K is more demanding, but mostly on the graphics card. It won’t need more than 32GB of memory and the storage sizes aren’t changing. Depending on your GPU of choice, though, a power supply upgrade may be in order.
Jump right into 4K gaming in Modern Warfare III and just about any other game out there, with the HP Omen 45L. This high-end system features an AMD Ryzen 7900X 12 core processor, so it’s right up there with the top chips when it comes to raw CPU performance. It’s paired with 32GB of fast DDR5 memory, and a terabyte of SSD storage, so it will boot up super fast and remain responsive even over long gaming sessions.
The real powerhouse in this machine, though, is its graphics card. The NVIDIA RTX 4080 is one of the most powerful GPUs ever made and is ready and raring to play Modern Warfare III at 4K resolution and the highest of high settings.
Better yet, it comes with a free copy of Alan Wake 2, and it’s on a heavy discount at the time of writing. Snap this one up while it lasts.
If you’re building a PC to play any game at 4K, you can throw the kitchen sink at it if your pockets are deep enough. But to maximize your budget, let’s take a look at some components which really stand out for their bang for buck, even at this kind of level.
Despite newer competition, the Ryzen 7 7800X3D is still the bang for buck gaming king. You could end up spending more than double on a competitor chip and see maybe a 1% improvement in your frame rates. It’s just not worth it. This CPU is powerful, affordable, and you’re starting off on AMD’s first generation of Zen 4 motherboards, so you’ll be able to upgrade at least a few more times before having to change your motherboard in the future.
Pair it with 32GB of fast memory and however much SSD storage space you need.
The ASUS NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090 ROG Strix GPU
As for graphics, you could opt for the most powerful graphics card ever made: The NVIDIA RTX 4090. It’s the best 4K gaming graphics card ever made. However, you have to pay a lot for that privilege, and it’s arguably overkill for Modern Warfare III, even at 4K. Though if you’re planning on running the latest and greatest AAA titles for years to come, its not a bad investment. A slightly more modest solution is the AMD RX 7900 XTX. It is the most powerful GPU AMD has ever made, and it’s more than capable of playing Modern Warfare III (and any other game besides) at 4K and beyond.
Modern Warfare III might not be a super demanding game, but it’s a good looking one, and if you want to have high frame rates to remain competitive, you’ll need to bring a decent PC to the table to play it. If your existing system isn’t up to the task, Micro Center has a range of pre-built gaming PCs that will suffice, or a range of affordable components you can use to build your own.
Whatever you decide, good luck out there soldier.
great choices for mw3
Great to have options at several different price points
Should be an awesome game! Sweet build recommendations.
this article is laid out beautifully.. I will be referencing this later, thanks!
Those are some good recommendations!
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