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.
Clearly, the GPU market instability makes building a PC with a dedicated graphics card difficult. In this post, we use a GTX 1050Ti. In order to reach a $400 price point, you’ll need to find one at MSRP or around $130. This could prove difficult in the current market. However, we’re keeping this article updated in the hopes that stability may eventually arrive.
Xbox One and PS4 Console vs 2 Good Gaming PCs Around $400
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.*Prices for the GTX 1050Ti at MSRP should be available for as low as $130. Some patience may be required to find it at this price.
**Our budget for case is around $25. We were able to find the Corsair 100R at this price at the date of this article. If it is not, find a similar option on sale.
***Our budget for the power supply is around $25. This should allow you to find a 400 to 500W 80 Plus option from Corsair or EVGA. Browsing online retailers may be required.
****Less Expensive H Series 300 motherboards for the i3-8100 should be available shortly. Once available, this PC should be available in the $450 price range along with a 1050Ti at MSRP.
Have an option you like best? Here’s your chance to speak your mind.
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 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, 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.
Xbox One Benchmark Performance
Wondering what type of performance you’ll get with the Xbox One X? We recommend this video from Digital Foundry.
i3-8100 vs Ryzen 3 1200
You’ll see in the benchmarks below that the i3-8100 is the superior gaming CPU. However, with a $20 higher MSRP and Z370 motherboards that cost significantly more, it’s hard to fit the i3-8100 into the $400 category. Perhaps, we’ll be able to within a few months. For now, take a look at this comparison for more of an idea of what you’ll get with each.
For more information on the graphics cards in this price range that would be best, check out our comparison of the best graphics card for the AMD Ryzen R3. For our current build, we’re using a stock wraith fan CPU cooler.
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.
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 standard 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 Ryzen 3 1200 or the i3-8100. 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
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. Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of each.
Exclusive and Early Games
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 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, and not that platform’s option.
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.
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 here including an overclocked G3258, pentium G4400, or even a used previous generation processor. All of this may allow you to reach your GPU goals which ultimate 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.
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. For a higher budget, you can also take a peek at our $500 Ryzen 3 build.
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 $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.
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.