A Good $400 to $500 Gaming PC vs. Xbox One X and PS4 Pro 2018
The console vs. PC discussion is a bit like religion. When the subject arises, almost everyone gets defensive, goes silent, or leaves offended. My aim in this post is certainly not to offend. Rather, I want to take a look at a $400 to $500 gaming PC and compare it to what you get with the PS4 PRO and Xbox One X.
The best way to approach this is to do a comparison of the Xbox One and the PS4 vs. a similarly priced gaming PC that you’d build yourself. If you prefer to game with a PC, I'll provide a couple of great options below.
Comparing PCs to Consoles
Have you ever heard that PCs have better hardware for the money, or vice versa?
Here’s a direct comparison showing a cheap gaming PC builds and current Xbox One and PS4 options.
With current GPU pricing volatility, these PCs tend to tilt more to the $500 side. For a performance and benchmarking reference, see the comparison below.
$500 AMD PC
$500 - $525 INTEL PC
PS4 PRO 1TB (Around $500)
XBOX ONE X ($450 to $500)
Parts List or Similar
Ryzen 3 2200G, ASRock AB350M Pro4, Patriot Viper Elite 2x4GB, WD Caviar Blue 1 TB, GTX 1050 Ti, Rosewill SCM-01, EVGA 430W PSU
Intel i3-8100, ASRock H310M-HDV, G. Skill Value DDR4 2666MHz 8GB, WD 1 TB Caviar Blue, MSI GeForce GTX 1050Ti, Rosewill - SCM-01 Micro ATX, EVGA 430W PSU
x86-64 AMD Jaguar 8 Cores 2.13GHz 4.2 TFLOPS AMD GPU 8GB GDDR5 Blu-Ray 1TB
8-Core AMD Jaguar 4 bit CPU 1.6GHz 1.84 TFLOPS, AMD Pitcairn (7870) 800MHz clock 1152 Shader 500GB 8GB GDDR5
Included with Bundle
DualShock 4 Wireless
Frame Rate / Resolution
4k 30 frame some native some upscale 1800p 30 / 60 1080p Unlocked to 60 1080p enhanced 30
4k HDR Gaming 1080p Improved Experience
Steam (Free) Origin (Free) OS: Windows 10 $40 to $90 Linux (free)
Steam (Free) Origin (Free) OS: Windows 10 $40 to $90 Linux (free)
$54.75/year $24.99/3mo $11.99/mo
Prices Vary Keyboard Mouse
DualShock 4 Controller $48 PS4 Camera $50
Wireless Controller $56 Elite Wireless $143 Kinect Sensor $96.9
Graphics Card Comparison PS4 Pro vs $400 PC
The modern $400 to $500 gaming PC has a graphical advantage over the older PS4 and Xbox One consoles. In fact, a much cheaper PC than this one could be used to accomplish similar performance with the now dated GTX 750 Ti.
Yet, the modern PC has a slight disadvantage when compared to the PS4 Pro. The PlayStation 4 Pro has a graphics card I’d compare to a modern RX 470. On the other hand, a does a fantastic job in 1080p, even in today’s AAA titles. If PC gamers need more, there’s always the option to upgrade in the future. For $30 more, they can get an equivalent RX 470. For around $200 more, a graphically superior experience is available in a $600 gaming PC which includes a GTX 1060 6GB and i5 processor. GTX 1050 Ti
Xbox One Benchmark Performance
Wondering what type of performance you’ll get with the Xbox One X? We recommend this video from Digital Foundry.
Xbox One X Benchmarks (Video)
i3-8100 vs. Ryzen 3 2200G
The build is slightly less expensive. However, it's tempting here to spend a bit more and go with a B350 motherboard rather than the less expensive option we listed above. The i3-8100 won't overclock for you, so going cheap here won't really affect performance. Ryzen 3 2200G
Note: Keep in mind that with all of these numbers that I try to use the best price from all retailers. If you only use a single retailer, or come in a month that doesn’t have these rebates, you’ll likely spend around $50 more for the same PC. Look for rebates from cases, power supplies, and graphics cards from the month you’re purchasing in order to get a similar final price.
PC CPU vs. Console CPU
In terms of raw performance, you're getting a much beefier CPU with the PC here. That being said, it's not as if you're noticing some big lag spike with the PS4 Pro or the Xbox One X. So, it's really not an issue.
We’ve given a 1TB hard drive to our gaming computer. This is roughly the same as what you’ll get on a console. Still, there are a lot of other options for the PC here. For one, going with a solid state drive for your operating system will increase all of your load times. Overall, the ability to use multiple hard drives is an advantage to the PC here overall.
i3-8100 vs. Ryzen 2200G Comparison (Video)
Console vs. PC: Advantages and Disadvantages
Certainly, there are some valid reasons many people favor consoles. If there weren’t, today’s intelligent consumer simply wouldn’t buy them. Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of each.
There are more games on PC than on consoles. No one would argue that. That being said, there are still a lot of exclusive games you can only play on the Xbox One and/or the PS4. If one of the AAA titles happens to be your favorite, then you’re likely to bite the bullet and go for it anyway.
This was actually the main reason I bought a Wii U. With young kids and an unquenchable nostalgia, I couldn’t help but get the console that would play the likes of Super Smash Bros, Mario 3D World, Mario Kart 8, and everything new and re-mastered from the Zelda series.
On the other hand, when I look at recent titles for the Xbox One as well as PS4, there are a lot of AAA titles that aren’t exclusive. These include Fallout 4, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, Just Cause 3, Rainbow Six Siege, COD Black Ops III, and Star Wars Battlefront to name a few. All of these can be played on PC.
Exclusives that you would miss on PC include the likes of Halo 5, Until Dawn, Uncharted 4, the Forza Series, as well as many others.
On PC, we’re all different. This can be a good thing because we all can build whatever we want, whether it be a super cheap or ultra high-end gaming rig. That same advantage can also be a bad thing in tournaments. In console tournaments, players are on equal footing from a hardware perspective. They use the same controllers and run games at the same FPS. This gets rid of some of the advantages that PC gamers with more expensive gear can have over their broke counterparts.
When you purchase a console you know what you’re getting: an inexpensive system that will run many of your favorite games for 4-5 years. You also know you won’t have to worry about the sometimes buggy optimization of them.
The counter-argument in favor of PC owners here is that games that are released for PC, that also exist on a console, should have game settings that allow you to lower the settings in the same way that the console has. Those same settings allow you a plethora of options. Going for higher frames or a resolution is your choice, not automatically dictated by the platform.
This is one option that's often not discussed. My son, who has a plethora of options at his disposal, goes with a PC when he's playing a game like Fortnite because he can cross-play with other consoles.
Also, a mouse and keyboard is more accurate than a controller. So, when playing cross-play games, you have a big advantage with the PC.
If this argument can be made for the console, it certainly can be made for the PC. Many of today’s most popular games are PC-exclusive. These include most MMORPGs, MOBAs, and free-to-play games like Hearthstone. Thousands of other PC-only games can be found on Steam and often at a steep discount.
PC Performance (Master Race Mindset)
PC gamers have to have the best in terms of performance. For them, running games in 30FPS like Ubisoft thinks is best is an outrage. Rather, they seek to do one of two things: run games at as high of FPS as possible, or as high of graphical settings as possible.
The PC Gamer argument this year is that they’re running games already in 4k while some games are still being converted to 1080p and played in 30FPS on the Xbox One or PS4. The Argument of console gamers here is that to enjoy this level of gameplay you have to spend a ton of money and continue to do so. That being said, if the build we’re showing vastly outperforms the console, this doesn’t seem to have much merit.
No Monthly Fees for Online Play
This is a bigger deal than a lot of people talk about. A 12-month membership for the PS4 and Xbox One is around $49.99. Either way, you have to pay for the internet that runs it so the extra cost is in addition to that. If you play your console online for 4-5 years that’s $200 to $250 more that you could have spent on games or hardware for the PC.
Above we’ve given you two performance optimized gaming rigs at the $400 price point. Admittedly, we’re wishing we had a $500 or even $600 budget because of the GPU market.
There are a few really good routes that you could go with including an overclocked G3258, pentium G4400, or even a previously-used generation processor. All of this may allow you to reach your GPU goals which ultimately will affect how games are played on your PC. The Ryzen R3 1200 and i3-8100 are, of course, ideal for a budget gaming PC.
The power of an i3 along with a more capable GPU in the GTX 1050 or 1050 Ti is also a build to consider, giving you the best of both worlds. While this build would have cost around $450 a few months ago, it’s now in the $500 to $550 range. I’ll include some benchmarks below so you can get a better idea of which one is best for you and the types of games you play.
Final Thoughts: Which is Really Cheaper?
For raw performance, the PS4 Pro and the PC are neck and neck here.
For those that will point out that a copy of Windows 10 will cost you in the $100 range, I would respond in several ways.
First, there are outlets that allow you to get it for more like $30 to $40. Second, a copy of Windows could be used from a previous machine. Lastly, even if you had to purchase a copy of windows 10, it’s still more than likely that you’ll spend much more for your yearly subscription fees and non-negotiable game costs over time.
What's more, after accessories you'll likely find yourself paying a couple hundred dollars more with a console. That second controller, that headset, the games case, charging options, and more will cost you.
In addition, console games will cost you more on the average. Over time, this can be a big deal.
Where the console truly shines is optimization. The way that developers optimize consoles makes them more efficient for the games that run on them. So, even though we have what I consider is a better CPU and GPU in a PC build of a similar price, it’s questionable whether or not you’ll get better-looking gameplay.
Yet, there’s always the option for the PC gamer to upgrade when things get stale.
Original PS4 owners would have had to purchase an entirely new system in the PS4 Pro to keep up. On the other hand, someone with a two or three year old PC would simply need to upgrade the graphics card.
Overall, I understand the benefit to both the console and the PC. There are some nice things about having a console in front of your television, using a controller, and playing with your friends that way. However, for the PC, gamers get cheaper games, a better upgrade path, and an easier way to access all the games they play. What are your thoughts? Be sure to voice your opinion in the comment section below.
Have an option you like best? Here’s your chance to speak your mind.
Questions & Answers
© 2018 Brandon Hart