Borderlands 3 system requirements, settings, benchmarks, and performance analysis

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It looks like with Borderlands 3, despite seven years (and a raft of rival loot shooters) having passed since Borderlands 2, Gearbox has stuck to its however-many-millions of guns. (1 billion, we counted!) At its core, Borderlands 3 is still about ganging up with a few friends, extinguishing a few thousand lives, and using the bodies as randomized loot vending machines.

What has changed, thankfully, is the tech. The jump from Unreal Engine 3 to UE4 has brought improved lighting, shadows, reflections, and effects to the series’ signature hand-drawn style, and publisher 2K has said the whole game was “developed from the ground up” to take advantage of AMD’s most recent Radeon GPUs and 3rd-gen Ryzen CPUs.

As such, it supports AMD’s FidelityFX suite, and notably goes without the DLSS and ray tracing features offered by Nvidia RTX cards. Don’t worry too much if you’re on team GeForce, though: we’ve been testing Borderlands 3 across a range of GPUs and CPUs, and it looks like it will run at least decently on any hardware. Yes, even the cheap stuff.

First, though, let’s look at the PC features list for Borderlands 3.

This is about as complete a list as we’ve seen. Ultrawide and doublewide are available, and the FOV automatically adjusts to the wider resolutions (though it still says 90). HUD customizations are also available, under the Gameplay menu. That leaves mod support as the odd man out yet again. Sigh.

Other highlights are the fully uncapped framerate, letting your GPU run wild and free. On a 60Hz display, we also saw options for 30/60/120 caps, while a 144Hz display gave us even more options (like 72 and 24). You can adjust distinct FOV settings for whether you’re in FPS mode or driving one of the game’s many murdercars, and key bindings are fully customizable.

You also have a choice of running in DX11 or DX12 modes. For now, it’s better to stick with DX11, as we ran into a couple of fairly annoying issues with DX12 mode. Even the retail release continues to behave poorly with DX12.

Borderlands 3 system requirements

The official system requirements don’t immediately throw up any red flags; as we’re about to see, semi-recent budget GPUs will comfortably handle 1080p very low, so the older models listed in the minimum requirements have a good shot at 30 fps. The only potential issue is likely to be RAM, if you’re somehow still on 4GB. (If so, please, upgrade your PC.)

Minimum:

  • OS: Windows 7/8/10 (latest service pack)
  • CPU: AMD FX-8350/Intel Core i5-3570
  • Memory: 6GB RAM
  • GPU: AMD Radeon HD 7970/NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680 2GB
  • Storage: 75GB free

Recommended:

  • OS: Windows 7/8/10 (latest service pack)
  • CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 2600/Intel Core i7-4770
  • Memory: 16GB RAM
  • GPU: AMD Radeon RX 590/NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 6GB
  • Storage: 75GB free

Gearbox doesn’t state what the minimum or recommended specs will get you in terms of settings or framerates, other than the resolution. Our testing suggests the recommended specs will handle 1080p ultra, though not at 60 fps. Rather ambitiously, the Borderlands 3 website lists these as being for “1440p gaming”—not if you also want ultra quality, friend. The RX 590 might be able to scrape 30 fps with this combination of resolution and settings, but the GTX 1060 falls short, so we’re going to assume 2K is recommending 1440p and a lower quality setting.

For the best 1080p experience, I’d sooner recommend an RTX 2060 or Radeon RX 5700, both of which will deliver 60 fps on ultra. They’ll also put up a respectable fight at 1440p ultra, though strictly speaking you’ll need at least an RTX 2080—quite the upgrade—for a 60 fps average.

Borderlands 3 graphics card benchmarks

With the final release now available, we’ve retested Borderlands 3. We also took the time to update to AMD’s new 19.9.2 drivers (which perform a bit better but have some other issues), and Nvidia’s 436.30 drivers. The presets have changed slightly, and there are now “very low” and “badass” options at the bottom and top, respectively.

All our GPUs have been provided by our partner MSI, and we paired each GPU with an Intel Core i7-8700K CPU overclocked to 4.9GHz, to avoid CPU bottlenecking. We use MSI motherboards for both AMD and Intel platforms, fast SSD storage, and DDR4-3200 CL14 memory.

The benchmark utility in Borderlands 3 handily provides an average fps result, and we’ve also used the benchmark.csv files it produces to calculate 97th percentile “minimum average fps” results. These should give a good indication of minimum performance, not just the mean.

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