The Console Vs. PC discussion is a bit like religion. 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 PC and compare it to what you get with the PS4 and Xbox One. The best way to approach that viewpoint is to do a comparison of the Xbox One and PS4 vs. a similarly priced gaming PC that you’d build yourself.,
Certainly, there are some valid reasons for many people to favor consoles. If there weren’t, today’s intelligent consumer simply wouldn’t buy them. Before we add our $400 PC build to our Gaming PC Build series, let’s take a quick look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of PCs and consoles.
Xbox One and PS4 Console vs PC Hardware Around $400
Contents at a Glance
Ever hear that PC has better hardware for the money or vice versa? Here’s a direct comparison showing a cheap gaming PC build and current Xbox One and PS4 options. The Xbox Scorpio, not on this list, should be available for holiday 2017.
|$400 Gaming PC Option 1||$400 Gaming PC Option 2||PS4 Pro 1TB||PS4 Slim||Xbox One S
|Parts List or Similar|
|Included with Bundle|
|Frame Rate / Resolution|
30 and 60FPS
**The i3-7100 is compatible with the H110 chipset but some H110 motherboards may require a BIOS flash from a Skylake motherboard. An H270 motherboard is a good choice here as an alternative.
Graphics Card Comparison PS4 Pro vs $400 PC
As most of you will equate better graphical performance with a win for either the PC or Console, here’s what you need to know.
The modern $400 gaming PC has a graphical advantage against 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, our 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 GTX 1050 ti 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 vs RX 470 4GB
Just how much better is the RX 470 against a 1050 Ti? It greatly depends on the game. Here’s a look at some benchmarks across multiple APIs and titles.
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.
While it’s not an exact comparison, the PS4 processor uses something I’d equate to an FX 8320. If I had a choice for a $120 processor on a PC system, I’d prefer something like the i3-6100 we used on our $450 RX 470 build. Still, this processor works better with the PS4 Pro’s system which has an API that can take better advantage of its 8 cores. For that reason, I’d call this a tie.
Console Vs. PC Advantages and Disadvantages
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 more we’ve listed on our Xbox One vs PS4 Exclusives list.
On PC, we’re all different. This can be a good thing because we all get the choice of building anything from a super cheap to an 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 get over their broke counterparts.
When you purchase a console you know that 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 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, and not that platform’s.
If the 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 upconverted 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.
2 Good Around $400 Gaming PC Builds for 2017
Above we’ve given you two performance optimized gaming rigs at the $400 price point.
There are a few really good routes that you could go with here including an overclocked G3258, Kaby Lake or Skylake i3, and the FX 8320E for an 8 core option. For a faster overall computing experience on everyday tasks as well as most games, the i3 really shines here.That being said going with the less expensive G3258 gives you a bigger budget for your GPU, the real game-changer here. Going forward, it should be really interesting to see what a R3 processor will do here.
We’ve done extensive testing of the R5 vs the i5 CPU as well as the i7 processor vs the R7 1700. So, if you’re curious about how Ryzen is stacking up against the competition, go there. That being said I think the R3 might be the most curious space of the 3. The additional cores could be more beneficial than the IPC and 2 cores and 4 threads of the i3. For now, we’ll have to wait and see.
If you’re thinking about one of the newer Skylake Pentium options here instead of the G3258, think again. The G3258 is overclockable and gives you incredible value for the money you spend. This can’t be duplicated by one of the more modern chips.
I’ve also included a build that gives you the best of both worlds; the power of an i3 along with a more capable GPU in the GTX 1050 or 1050 Ti. While this build would have cost around $450 a few months ago, it’s now in the $400 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. For a good comparison of how all of these CPUs perform in-game, I highly recommend Techspot’s review of the i3-6100. If you go with the i3-7100 these numbers should be slightly higher because of the higher clock rate. However, in terms of IPC Kaby Lake is pretty much neck and neck with Skylake.
*Keep in mind 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 be around $50 more expensive 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.
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.
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 Playstation 4 owners would have had to purchase an entirely new system in the PS4 Pro to keep up. On the other hand, someone with a 2 or 3-year-old system, would simply need to upgrade the graphics card.
Overall, I understand why both sides do what they do. There are some nice things about having a console in front of your television, using a controller, and playing with your friends that way. 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 let us know in the comment section below.