Here’s how much it would cost to build a PC that compares to the Xbox Series X or PS5
Spoiler alert: It’s not a pretty number.
The next generation of console gaming is here with the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5, with more power in those not-so-little boxes that go next to our TV sets. This generation didn’t just bring power improvements, but a host of features previously only found on PCs, like variable refresh rates, ray tracing, Zen 2 CPU cores, and the promise of 60fps gaming at 4K.
Add speedy SSD storage, RDNA 2 GPU cores that also power the 6000-series of AMD graphics cards, and you’d be forgiven if you thought you were reading the specifications of a high-end gaming PC. You are, in a way, although you’d be hard-pressed to do office tasks on a console.
If you look on the comments section of almost any tech website, you’ll see a chorus of netizens chiming in to say that you should just build a PC, instead of buying a console. With the previous generation of consoles, they might actually be right, since you could build a PC that would roughly approximate an Xbox One X for the same price.
Can you do the same thing now, with the current console generation?
Can you build a PC that compares to the Xbox Series X or PlayStation 5 for the same price?
Short answer: No way
Take a minute to refresh yourself with the specifications of the Xbox Series X. It’s essentially a PC, with everything on the list also having a corresponding off-the-shelf PC component. The PlayStation 5 has a very similar specs list, with AMD providing the silicon for both.
The thing is, even just a comparable CPU and GPU will run you way over the $500 MSRP of either console. The CPU in either console is comparable to the Ryzen 3700X, an 8-core CPU from the last generation, which still runs for $300 when it’s in stock. The cheapest RDNA2 discrete graphics card, the AMD Radeon RX 6800, is $579, but good luck finding one that’s in stock.
Add another $200 for a PCIe Gen4 NVMe drive to match the consoles, $100+ for a motherboard to plug everything into, $70 for a blu-ray drive, another $70 for a power supply, and $50+ for a case, and you’re approaching $1,400 fast. Ouch.
Hardware is only part of the equation, though, and building your own PC won’t bring some of the console-specific tweaks, such as Quick Resume, which saves the game in a paused state, so you can resume instantly when you want to play again, or the ability to apply HDR to games that weren’t created with HDR in mind.
Yes, some of this will eventually come to PC, like DirectStorage which is the main technology used in the super-fast Velocity Architecture used in the Xbox Series X and Series S for its fast storage, but that day is still a while off. That said, if you already have a gaming PC, you only need to add either an RX6800 for $579, or an RTX 3070 for $500 to get similar performance to the new consoles.
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