Can you build a comparable PC for the cost of an Xbox One or PS4?

Mex wrote:

Tagging for interest. I mean, I saw an Xbox-1One running at some kiosk here (Titanfall) and it was pixelated, I could tell it had slowdown, and honestly the graphics jump was nowhere what I expected from new consoles, or it didn't make me go "Damn! That's like 3 years into the future of PCs, MAYBE" like I did with the PS2 and PS3. I jumped headfirst into the Xbox OG and PS2, and I needed very little convincing for a 360, but this new generation, man, I dunno...

I don't want to troll either of the console threads, but I was super disappointed when I actually saw the games running.

For those with better knowledge and memory than me, was it even possible to build and buy a reasonable gaming PC on par with the previous gen(PS3+360)?

We called it "Next-gen" for like 5 years straight, until it became clear that PCs had caught up and surpassed them.

I think the same kind of gap existed back then, but a smaller number of people knew it. The difference these days is the lower cost for great hardware and the fact that developers are actually bringing the games to the PC. At the time, I thought the games on 360 & PS3 looked passable, but they didn't really compare to what I saw on my PC. A few years after launch, they were much prettier. I fully expect enthusiasts will always eat consoles for breakfast, but when developers have had some time with the consoles we'll see more games that might elicit the kind of reaction for which you'd hoped.

So no one seems concerned with the whole economies of scale issue here? I am sure that Sony doesn't pay the same price as you and I do for it's ram. This is a fundamental issue if you are trying to build a PC to match the PS4 for the same price.

I think you run into the tit for tat situation and Sony and Microsoft are selling the hardware at a loss as well. You may not be able to build a pc that will match th console at its price point but you can easily spend a few hundred dollars more and get twice the ram, 4x the hdd space a much better cpu and gpu (that won't have to share ram). ThAt also has a much better chance of not red ringing for 5+ years.

One could argue that the direction of console (especially digital) sales has been prompted in some part by Steam sales. I think it's fair to say that Steam's PC dominance is largely based on their sales, and I can't see them changing their direction when they begin to push their own OS and boxes. I think it's silly to NOT factor in Steam sales.

So are we going to also factor in Gamefly for consoles? Or the fact that I can split the price of a game with a few guys at the office and we can just pass it from person to person?

Regarding comments about making assumptions about SteamOS and the Steam controller, I would suggest that it's just as easy to make assumptions about what it can't do as make assumptions about what it can do. Nobody really knows for sure, but at least we can make an educated guess based on big picture mode and the (very few) articles on the controller. Until we get things in hand, any decision we make will be made on limited information. I'm a glass half full kind of guy, so I'll admit that I am excited about what it'll bring. Honestly, I've been a glass half full guy with regard to Valve and Steam for years and they haven't let me down. I hope they bring the same success to the hardware space.

Well from what we know SteamOS is only backwards compatible with your entire Steam catalog through streaming. Meaning you have to have a fairly powerful PC that can actually play the games running Windows and then another running SteamOS. So even if we assume that going forward everyone is going to start writing their games for Linux/SteamOS you still have a long way to go until SteamOS by itself is viable, and if you want the full compatibility you just added a few hundred dollars to the cost of your PC Gaming rig.

As for the controller i'm excited about it, however none of the hands on impressions i've read have lead me to believe it's better than a keyboard/mouse or a controller in games that were designed for those input devices.

manta173 wrote:

So no one seems concerned with the whole economies of scale issue here? I am sure that Sony doesn't pay the same price as you and I do for it's ram. This is a fundamental issue if you are trying to build a PC to match the PS4 for the same price.

I don't think concern enters into it since there's nothing that can be done about it.

Seems to me that the answer is that no you can't build a game PC for the same amount you can build a PS4/XBone at the moment. However, you can build a superior game machine for a bit more, and that superior game machine will also run a whole bunch of stuff that the PS4 or XBone won't :).

Mex wrote:

For those with better knowledge and memory than me, was it even possible to build and buy a reasonable gaming PC on par with the previous gen(PS3+360)?

Here you can see some old Oblivion benchmarks:
http://www.anandtech.com/show/1996/4
With a high end GPU you could run it significantly better (I don't think console settings were equivalent to high either), but all those GPUs became outdated quite rapidly.

Mex wrote:

Tagging for interest. I mean, I saw an Xbox-1One running at some kiosk here (Titanfall) and it was pixelated, I could tell it had slowdown, and honestly the graphics jump was nowhere what I expected from new consoles, or it didn't make me go "Damn! That's like 3 years into the future of PCs, MAYBE" like I did with the PS2 and PS3. I jumped headfirst into the Xbox OG and PS2, and I needed very little convincing for a 360, but this new generation, man, I dunno...

Random thought. Titanfall is not going to be out for a while (March). Are you sure you weren't watching compressed video of the game instead of the system rendering it? At the very least it was beta code.

But yeah, I get what your saying. These systems seem to match $800-900 PCs of today, definitely not future stuff. I think once we start to see more core optimization the games will look significantly better too and the core i5s will not be sufficient for ports anymore. One thing that has me excited about this generation is the quickness and flexibility of the new interfaces. After watching how smooth they seem to work Alt-tabbing is looking pretty archaic.

TheGameguru wrote:

So...reasonably looking at this I came up with a $950 build..

http://pcpartpicker.com/p/21odm

But that is a rock solid 1080P@60fps for some time to come..realistically you will game at 1600P at 60fps as well.

The only thing I'd argue on that system build is that I think you could achieve 1080p@30-60fps (because honestly, many console games will still run at 30fps) with a slightly less powerful graphics card. But even that savings would only drop the price on that pc build to the $850-900 range, so the point remains.

Sorry, I'm anal retentive about these things.

It's nice for now, but never underestimate the ability of consoles to ruin a good thing. Take look at the relatively clean 360 blades interface that it shipped with, then compare it to the clunky, ad-strewn thing that it's gradually turned into.

manta173 wrote:

So no one seems concerned with the whole economies of scale issue here? I am sure that Sony doesn't pay the same price as you and I do for it's ram. This is a fundamental issue if you are trying to build a PC to match the PS4 for the same price.

I've brought it up before and been poo-poo'd for doing so. You're correct that when drawing a comparison between what it costs us to build an off the shelf box to perform as well as either the PS4 or XB1, we're generally going overbudget at off the shelf pricing. Bulk discounting on parts is most of where we're losing ground in comparison.

cheeba wrote:

Seems to me that the answer is that no you can't build a game PC for the same amount you can build a PS4/XBone at the moment. However, you can build a superior game machine for a bit more, and that superior game machine will also run a whole bunch of stuff that the PS4 or XBone won't :).

This is really the honest answer. However, I'd caveat it; if I could obtain parts at a comparable discount(including selling at a loss, if applicable), I would state that you absolutely could build a PC with off the shelf components to perform as well as, or even out perform PS4 or XB1, especially if you're only looking at launch titles. Once developers are better able to optimize for the consoles, game quality clearly sky rockets(look at Forza 2 vs Forza 4 for example), but even then I feel that it's possible to match quality now with currently available components.

But ultimately, those two factors are really what throws the wrench in the works of this type of comparison. It's something that as a consumer, you're simply unable to do.

Farscry wrote:
TheGameguru wrote:

So...reasonably looking at this I came up with a $950 build..

http://pcpartpicker.com/p/21odm

But that is a rock solid 1080P@60fps for some time to come..realistically you will game at 1600P at 60fps as well.

The only thing I'd argue on that system build is that I think you could achieve 1080p@30-60fps (because honestly, many console games will still run at 30fps) with a slightly less powerful graphics card. But even that savings would only drop the price on that pc build to the $850-900 range, so the point remains.

Sorry, I'm anal retentive about these things. :D

totally agree.. the 7850 which is thrown around as being roughly comparable to the PS4 and Xbox One GPU is around $150 and will run most games at 1080P between 30-50fps with reasonably high details is probably more realistic since I don't believe ALL next gen console games will truly run at 1080P 60fps.. BUT the assumption is that over time they might get closer to that because of all the advantages in performance developers can squeeze out of the fixed console platform.

So I tried to get a GPU that would achieve a rock solid 60fps @ 1080P in all games.

manta173 wrote:

So no one seems concerned with the whole economies of scale issue here? I am sure that Sony doesn't pay the same price as you and I do for it's ram. This is a fundamental issue if you are trying to build a PC to match the PS4 for the same price.

Usually the question in the topic is asked in the context of something like, "Don't buy a PS4 or Xbox One because you could just build a PC that's as powerful for the same price". It's a suggestion for average consumers to skip one piece of hardware in favor of another for the same cost, so economies of scale and volume pricing really don't come into it.

One thing that hasn't been discussed is the size of the system - even if you can spec out a PC to perform similar or better than a PS4 or Xbox One, you will struggle to custom build something nearly as compact and (depending on your tastes) as aesthetically pleasing. If you go for a slim HTPC style case, you're normally limited to half-height GPUs, which max out at around HD 7750 I think, or you go mini-ITX, which, although smaller than a PC tower, in my experience are still sizable boxes. Any efforts to fit into lounge-room decor also normally bumps up the price of the parts. I'm excited that this seems to be something that Valve is addressing with the Steam Machines.

ClockworkHouse wrote:
manta173 wrote:

So no one seems concerned with the whole economies of scale issue here? I am sure that Sony doesn't pay the same price as you and I do for it's ram. This is a fundamental issue if you are trying to build a PC to match the PS4 for the same price.

Usually the question in the topic is asked in the context of something like, "Don't buy a PS4 or Xbox One because you could just build a PC that's as powerful for the same price". It's a suggestion for average consumers to skip one piece of hardware in favor of another for the same cost, so economies of scale and volume pricing really don't come into it.

This is exactly why I've never touched this aspect.. whats the point? We all know that the cost to manufacture for Sony and Microsoft are very different than what the consumer can enjoy.. which is sort of the point. If both the PS4 and Xbox One were $800 they would be significantly less attractive to the general populous.

Ask 3DO and SNK how that worked for them.

TheGameguru wrote:
ClockworkHouse wrote:
manta173 wrote:

So no one seems concerned with the whole economies of scale issue here? I am sure that Sony doesn't pay the same price as you and I do for it's ram. This is a fundamental issue if you are trying to build a PC to match the PS4 for the same price.

Usually the question in the topic is asked in the context of something like, "Don't buy a PS4 or Xbox One because you could just build a PC that's as powerful for the same price". It's a suggestion for average consumers to skip one piece of hardware in favor of another for the same cost, so economies of scale and volume pricing really don't come into it.

This is exactly why I've never touched this aspect.. whats the point? We all know that the cost to manufacture for Sony and Microsoft are very different than what the consumer can enjoy.. which is sort of the point. If both the PS4 and Xbox One were $800 they would be significantly less attractive to the general populous.

Ask 3DO and SNK how that worked for them.

Well I think the trick here is that we should see what's possible 1 year after launch, when the consoles have a decent library and the PC market has moved on. A lot of people still haven't gotten a console yet and will be thinking about it for the holidays next year. Take that $800 build and it could possibly be down to $500, although it may require some used components to hit the price mark.

Why a year??.. hell in 4 years when the Xbox One is still chugging along my Tablet will probably have two times the power.. at some point we have to stop caring about raw power and realize its about the games.

manta173 wrote:

Well I think the trick here is that we should see what's possible 1 year after launch, when the consoles have a decent library and the PC market has moved on. A lot of people still haven't gotten a console yet and will be thinking about it for the holidays next year. Take that $800 build and it could possibly be down to $500, although it may require some used components to hit the price mark.

That PC might be less capable of running the newest games, though.

Consoles are cheaper. There really isn't a good argument that they aren't. PC can offer a better experience, and it's a device that people can justify spending more money for because it does more.

zeroKFE wrote:

Seriously, though, I'm actually very interested in this idea. I've skated by with a six year old PC (technically, a dual booting Mac Pro) since I have low standards about resolution and framerate (1680x1050 at 30fps is okay by me!) just by adding a bit of ram and newer graphics card here and there, thanks to the fact that nearly every game targeted eight year old hardware for it's lead platform. However, the time is coming sooner than I'd like when that will no longer cut it, and I'll need to get my sh*t right.

Woah, I thought I was the only one...

It's too bad the new Mac Pros don't have an option for cheaper, gaming-focused GPUs. Not that they would last as long as the old ones, what with the lack of hardware upgrades moving forward.

I expect my Mac Pro to be a viable video editing box for a few years longer than it's a viable gaming box. It was mostly a fluke that I needed to upgrade both at the same time, and I don't think it's likely that those needs will sync up in the future. So there's a decent chance my* next gaming machine will be some kind of Steam Box, whether it's an actual Steam Box or a self-built Windows PC that boots straight into Big Picture Mode. I'll probably be paying more attention to what Valve recommends than I will be to what the console hardware is.

*The inevitable X1 or PS4 purchase is going to be my wife's Call of Duty machine.

It's too bad the new Mac Pros don't have an option for cheaper, gaming-focused GPUs. Not that they would last as long as the old ones, what with the lack of hardware upgrades moving forward.

Yeah, as much as I love my Mac Pro, the new one is the wrong computer for me for about seven different reasons. These days all my professional work happens on the Macbook Pro I have from work, so I need three things:

1. A pleasant, usable web terminal.
2. A media center.
3. A gaming PC.

My current computer has done all three of those things for the last six years beautifully, and no doubt will continue to do the first two for another few years, but it's not going to serve as a gaming PC much longer. Ideally, I'd have things things continue to be all in one box, which essentially means I need to build a Hackintosh, but a Mac Mini paired with a dedicated gaming PC might end up being a decent solution as well.

Is current gen PC comparable technically, i.e. graphics/animation/ai with the new consoles? Exclusives notwithstanding?

My concern is that games like NBA 2K14 are clearly different on the new consoles than on the PC.

El-Producto wrote:

My concern is that games like NBA 2K14 are clearly different on the new consoles than on the PC.

You've seen both running? I always got the feeling from the people here that the PC version for the last couple years was fine, but not well supported or superior. Two reviewers on twitter:

"Final ps4 review day thoughts: NBA 2k14 looks goddamned amazing, and some of our PS4s are already more than half full."

"Dropping $400+ on a next-gen console? @2KSports NBA 2K14 for PS4/XB1 is a great way to show it off."

From what I gather, the PC version has the same features as the 360/PS3 game (crew mode, Lebron: Path to Greatness) whereas the PS4/XBone version has My GM and Park mode. Personally the next gen version sounds more suitable for me. I don't care to play as Lebron or be obligated to play on any kind of schedule.

El-Producto wrote:

Is current gen PC comparable technically, i.e. graphics/animation/ai with the new consoles? Exclusives notwithstanding?

My concern is that games like NBA 2K14 are clearly different on the new consoles than on the PC.

I think it depends on the quality of the port, where the game was designed to primarily, and factors like that. If it's designed to be a good port, and take advantage of extra PC horsepower, you're going to have a higher fidelity, cleaner experience on the PC every time. The problem comes in when corners are cut, and the effort isn't made.

Blind_Evil wrote:
El-Producto wrote:

My concern is that games like NBA 2K14 are clearly different on the new consoles than on the PC.

You've seen both running? I always got the feeling from the people here that the PC version for the last couple years was fine, but not well supported or superior. Two reviewers on twitter:

"Final ps4 review day thoughts: NBA 2k14 looks goddamned amazing, and some of our PS4s are already more than half full."

"Dropping $400+ on a next-gen console? @2KSports NBA 2K14 for PS4/XB1 is a great way to show it off."

From what I gather, the PC version has the same features as the 360/PS3 game (crew mode, Lebron: Path to Greatness) whereas the PS4/XBone version has My GM and Park mode. Personally the next gen version sounds more suitable for me. I don't care to play as Lebron or be obligated to play on any kind of schedule.

I have the PC version, and from what video I have seen from the next gen systems.. technically it's much different.

I'm gonna assume you mean the next gen versions look/perform better.

If so, it's not that surprising. Games like NBA 2k and CoD make their money on the consoles. NBA 2k faces competition this year for the first time in quite a while, and they want to establish themselves as still being dominant on the new machines. All that in mind I'd totally expect them to put more resources behind those than the PC port, which they sell for $30 less right out of the gate.

Hmm, I have recently taken a closer look the hardware specs for the xbox one.

I am starting to think we are over inflating the capabilities. If you look them up on wikipedia, you'll find that the cpu is 2 quad core amd custom apu's based on the jaguar that runs at 1.7 ghz. So I looked up jaguar to try and find the closest match for the xbox one. What I found seems to me like they took 2 a4-1350's (the newest jaguar quad core apu) and up clocked them to 1.7ghz (from 1.0) or they took 2 a6-1450's (which run at 1.5 ghz). What is special about these processors is the extreme low wattage they run at. Which makes them ideal for long battery life in tablets and laptops.

Now the real kicker is whether they used one beefier gpu in lieu of the 2 quad core apu's instead of each apu's internal gpu. Or are the internal gpus running in tandem or did they meld them together as one.

But still the specs I've seen of it look more like a 7750 instead of a 7850.

Now I know that without the overheard of windows, the focused hardware can perform and be manipulated to perform much greater than its desktop component counterpart.

Next is the 8GB of ram. It lists only 5GB available to the games. Which means that the other 3 is shared between the OS and the graphics card. So you could get away with only 4GB of RAM and a 2GB graphics card when building the desktop counter to the xbox one. Or throw in the piddly extra $20 and get 6GB.

But I would not be surprised if you couldn't put something together for the $499 list price of the xbox one.

cpu - fx-6300 (which is only 6 core) $114 or fx-8120 (for 8 core) $139
ram - 4GB ddr3 $35, 6GB $50 or 8GB $65
motherboard - a host of them can be had for $60-70 (it will still have the network and all the usb ports)
PSU - $50 (you won't need much here)
case - $50-60
500GB hdd - $50? I think you can get 1TB for $60, I just bought a 2TB for $85
gpu - radeon 7750 $80 (plus ~30 for 2GB) or 7850 2GB for $150

I am purposefully not including windows in this because it really isn't fair to saddle the desktop with a full OS and then allow the console a stripped down OS. But you can get "branded" full versions online of win7 for $70 for reference.

So a quick add up of that is $439-594
There was a great deal on a "tahiti" based OC 7870 2GB for $169 plus a $30 mail in rebate. That would force us to also add to the PSU another $20. So even without the rebate, that would be $624 at most.

**My ideal price/performance config = fx-6300, 8GB, mobo $60, $70 psu, $50 case, 2TB, 7870 OC (incl rebate)= $584**

So what do you think? How would that compare to the xbox one? To me that is a pretty kick ass desktop regardless of how it compares to the xbox one. And I figure it would fair pretty well with the slight edge to the xbox one with some trade offs on each side.

There are also a lot of ~$10 margins for when Black Friday/Tech Monday begins. You should be able to knock off another $30-50. If ram was not so crazy expensive right now... 8GB used to be $40-45. Also, the low end cpu's may not lower much but the i5 3570, 4570 or 4670 might be too good to pass up @ $150...

I don't know what most of that means so I'm going to buy a console

@fangblackbone

I beleive the 5 GB RAM is allowed for the game or the graphics card as it is shared. The OS doesn't touch that. A 4GB likely wouldn't have enough RAM for upcoming games as Windows and other background tasks would eat a bit it (so 8 GB is a must). Also by not adding Windows, controllers, & Blu-Ray you are leaving out a substantial portion of the costs. A 60-70 motherboard will not have great sound (for an entertainment center) and probably no wifi as well. Lastly, in 2-3 years that PC will feel very dated but the consoles will still be playing their games as designed.

Edit: You should probably be speccing against $400 (PS4) price too. The XBone includes the Kinect which adds a bit to the cost and has added benefits for many.

Edit 2: It would be pretty interesting to see how it would perform comparatively. My gut feeling thinks it wouldn't make the cut do to the consoles lower overhead and software being designed for a specific spec. Perhaps someone more knowledgeable could chime in.

EvilDead wrote:

Also by not adding Windows, controllers, & Blu-Ray you are leaving out a substantial portion of the costs.

Agreed, without these things the PC is just a box full of toxic chemicals and completely useless.

Total cost of ownership really should be the metric people are using. Game prices and Steam sales are a pro for the PC, but rentals are a pro for the consoles. A PC needs a mouse, keyboard and controller, a console comes with at least one controller. To watch Blu-rays on a PC you (obvs) need a Blu-ray drive and paid software.

I'm as gung-ho about the PC as anyone, but I can't make an argument for a $500-$600 gaming PC. It may work today, but will not have any longevity.

Do the new consoles require fees to play online like Xbox live? Monthly fees really start to add up over the lifetime of a console. That is definitely a point in favor of PC.