Last Updated: Mar 3, 2018
Planning the best PC build for CSGO? This guide explains everything you need to know about Counter Strike's hardware requirements and explains:
CS:GO Hardware Requirements
Short for Counter Strike: Global Offensive, for those who’ve been living under a pretty large rock these past few years CS:GO is a massively popular team-based FPS game created by Valve and Hidden Path Entertainment, and is the latest version in the highly successful Counter Strike series.
Counter Strike games have been played competitively for many years, and today CS:GO is one of the most popular eSports on the planet that boasts the most professional gamers of any game, with many tournaments being fought each year many of which include large cash prizes and huge worldwide viewership.
If you’re going to be playing CS:GO competitively and you care about winning (as you should), whether just for fun or with the hopes of becoming a pro one day, you want to absolutely ensure you’re playing with a PC that’s not going to let you down.
Specifically, you want a system with hardware good enough to deliver consistently flawless performance in your chosen resolution and refresh rate (either 60Hz or 144Hz, more on that in a bit) so you don’t encounter any frame-rate slipups that could hamper your performance and in-game results.
A stutter here or there can be the difference between winning or losing in a fast-paced game like this, so if you care about winning then you’ll want to be using a setup that doesn’t get in your way of playing at your absolute best.
CS:GO doesn’t have high hardware requirements, meaning you don’t need a powerful PC to play it nice and smoothly and it’ll fair quite nicely on older systems.
However, in saying that you will need a fairly decent rig if you want to play well on a 144Hz monitor which is highly recommended and what every single Counter Strike professional uses.
144Hz monitors are more expensive, and if you’re on a tight budget it may be out of question so we’ll talk about building a PC for a standard 60Hz monitor here too. We’ll talk more about 144Hz vs 60 Hz monitors when we talk about choosing a monitor for CS:GO below.
Either way, no matter whether you get a 60 or 144Hz monitor, with a FPS game like CS:GO you want to stay above the flawless frame rate level at all times (60 FPS for 60Hz monitors and 144FPS for 144Hz monitors).
Slight dips under 60 FPS may affect your in-game performance in such a fast-paced game and may detract from your focus.
If you’re using a 144Hz screen and you dip under 144 FPS it’s far less of a problem as visuals will still be very smooth, but if you’re investing in a 144Hz screen you’ll want to take full advantage and aim for a consistent 144 FPS at all times.
Minimum CS:GO Hardware for 60FPS+
If you’re aiming for a consistent 60 frames per second for use on a standard 60Hz 1080p monitor, and with maximum in-game settings which will make for the most enjoyable viewing experience too, you’ll want to use a PC that doesn’t ever slip below that 60 FPS mark and that ideally averages out around 100 FPS to be safe.
You want to avoid dropping below 60 at any time in the game to avoid any stuttering or visual lag that may get in the way of your in-game performance.
The following CPU, GPU and RAM are the minimum trio for this exact purpose if you want to keep costs as low as possible.
These 3 parts (GPU, GPU and RAM) are the ones that actually affect gaming performance, hence why we won’t be recommending other components as they don’t have a direct influence on performance.
But as with building any type of PC, aim to pick a decent-quality, well-priced motherboard, case, power supply and storage drive that are compatible.
The RX 550 2GB is a great little budget card that is good enough for CS:GO, and combined with the decent G4560 dual-core, four-thread processor and 4GB of RAM (minimum amount of memory we’d suggest for any build these days) and you have a solid little setup for averaging over 100 FPS and never dropping below that holy grail of 60 FPS.
AMD cards tend to perform slightly better than NVidia’s for CS:GO so we’ve stuck with them for all our CS:GO recommendations, but feel free to get a NVidia equivalent as the difference in performance isn’t huge.
If you’ll also be playing more modern, demanding PC games then you’ll want to ideally get something a little better, but if you turn down the settings this rig will run the latest games in a playable fashion.
Minimum CS:GO Hardware for 144FPS+
Now onto the best cost-effective parts if you’ll be playing on a 144Hz 1080p monitor (more on 60Hz vs 144Hz in the monitor section below) where you’ll want to make sure your frame-rate doesn’t ever dip below that 144 FPS.
If it did, it wouldn’t be much of a problem as you’ll still get smooth performance, but if you’re shelling out the extra money for a 144Hz screen then you’ll want to take full advantage and that makes staying above 144 FPS.
Apart from the same amount of RAM as 4GB is more than enough for an older game like CS:GO (feel free to get more though), this build steps up both the CPU and the GPU to the next tier above the previous build.
This will keep you consistently above that holy 144FPS mark at all times when playing in 1080p on an awesome 144Hz monitor (and will average around over 170FPS).
Yes, you’ll stay above 144FPS even on ultra in-game settings, although keep in mind you may have the rare occasional dip slightly under 144FPS in the most extreme action sequences, but this isn’t an issue on a 144Hz monitor as dipping slightly under 144FPS doesn’t create visual lag like dipping under 60FPS on a 60Hz screen does.
Ideal CS:GO Hardware for 200 FPS+
If you’re a serious CS:GO player and you don’t want to leave anything to luck to avoid dipping under 144FPS in 1080p on ultra settings at all costs, and you like having your frame-rate way up over the 200-300 FPS mark as many top CS players like, this is the type of build you should be looking at.
This setup will also play CS:GO very nicely in 1440p and 4K as well, although if you want flawless 4K performance on a 144Hz screen you’ll need an even better GPU such as the RX 580 or even the super-powerful GTX 1070. For 4K on max settings, the i5-8400 will do well, but the i7-8770 would be even better.
Note that all these recommendations assume you won’t be overclocking your CPU, as most people won’t, but if you do plan on overclocking remember then you’ll need to get the “K” versions of the i5 and i7 as well as an aftermarket CPU cooler although if you didn't know that you probably shouldn't be overclocking ;p
GG and good luck on the battlefield.
Got a question or want to share your thoughts on this guide? We're listening and you can reach us on the platforms below (or feel free to email us). Also, constructive criticism is always appreciated as it helps us continue making BGC the best noob-friendly DIY resource it can be.
Have more specific wants and needs for your build and want to tap into our build design experience to thoroughly plan the perfect parts-list for your exact situation?
We'll be glad to help: send in your budget, performance aims and any other requirements here in as much detail as possible, then leave a small tip in our tip jar to cover the time necessary to properly do this for you (we'd love to research builds all day for free but BGC would suffer for this as the site requires a 110% workload as-is and that math doesn't add up ;p)
We'll then get to work on your build ASAP and email it within 1-4 business days (depends on our current schedule) including any relevant info on your parts that we think you may need. If instead you simply want us to look-over your parts-list feel free to email us here and we'll gladly give you a few pointers (100% free of course) assuming we're not too crazy-busy.
Former hobbyist game programmer turned tech enthusiast, Julz is the founder of BGC and has kept a keen eye on the latest in DIY gaming since starting the site in his spare time over a decade ago as an almost-laughably basic, unimpressive little site with a simple aim to try and make building a PC more accessible to the average gamer since most resources were far from noob friendly.
Over countless reinventions and reiterations to the quality and depth of content over the years, the site has steadily grown into the fairly expansive, comprehensive and constantly-updated PC building resource that it is today, now reaching and helping thousands of gamers and power users each and every month to more effectively plan optimal setups for their exact needs. His fav PC games of all time are HL1, WC3, C&C TS and SWKOTOR (OOT, Perfect Dark, DKC2 & MGS2 for consoles) and he promises never to speak in third-person again. You can learn more about the BGC mission here & how to support it.