Despite the fact that many PC gamers turn their noses up at console gamers due to their illusions of grandeur of the “PC Master Race”, the world of console gaming is well and thriving in 2018. Not only are consoles more affordable at the moment, but you can pick up some good deals on both the Xbox One X and PlayStation 4 Pro.
As the Xbox One X is the most expensive of the two consoles and not to mention the more powerful of the two, we will be using it as our benchmark. At full blown retail it will cost you a cool $499, however there are some great deals with a second controller and a game for slightly lower prices. Regardless, I decided to use $500 as good a measure for what you could spend on PC parts. Bear in mind, you will not be able to build a 4K gaming PC with new parts for $500, you might be able to get some second hand parts off of EBay or Craig’s List, though this article is about building a new PC in 2018 for the same price as the Xbox One X.
The Xbox One X uses a custom AMD CPU and GPU, this means that it’s impossible to purchase them as parts for a PC. Added to this, the custom AMD GPU is a lot more powerful than either the NVIDIA GTX 1050Ti or the AMD RX 560. Neither one of these cards can handle native 4K gaming and are only really rated for 1080p resolution. The Xbox One X on the other hand can handle 4K gaming and offers 6.1 TFLOPS (though this is not really a measure of graphic performance). However, what does matter is the fact that its custom GPU has a far higher memory bus of 384 bit vs the 128 Bit of the GTX 1050Ti and RX 560, its memory bandwidth is also far higher at 326.4 GB/s. It also features more shading units than both the GTX 1050Ti and the RX 560 combined. And lastly the custom GPU has a far higher Texture Rate than both of the other cards. So, what does this actually mean? Well, it means that despite their good performance and more affordable prices, neither one of these cards can keep up with the graphics performance of the Xbox One X. Though, the difference is that you could upgrade your GPU at a later stage for something a little more powerful, and way more expensive (thanks crypto currency miners).
I decided to go for an AMD Ryzen 3 2200G due to its affordable price and the fact that it was only released in Feb 2018. It offers 4 cores and 4 threads, and a clock speed of 3.5GHz with a turbo speed of 3.7GHz. You will also be able to overclock the 2200G to 3.9GHz, which will increase the overall performance. Though, you will have to look at an aftermarket cooler, as the stock Wraith Stealth cooler isn’t quite up to the job of keeping the APU at optimal temperatures.
Every gamer would love to buy the best cards on the market, however, even the standard GTX 1080 or the RX Vega 56 cost more than the entire Xbox One X. Even mid-range cards have taken a beating due to those pesky crypto currency miners. With GPU prices at an all-time high it was necessary to choose a way cheaper card. The NVIDIA GT 1030 would be no better than the integrated Vega 8 integrated graphics that come with the Ryzen 3 2200G, so I went for the AMD RX 560 from MSI. Usually I wouldn’t go for an ITX style card, but this one is really well priced and the case that I selected has ample airflow to keep it cool. You could add another $80 and get a GTX 1050 Ti if you are not a fan of AMD’s range of GPUs.
While it would be great to spend $150 or more on a motherboard, but this build has a budget and blowing it on a high-end motherboard is out of the question. So, I decided on a very popular B350 motherboard that won’t break the bank. The MSI B350 PC Mate is loved for its affordable price and due to the fact that it allows for overclocking, unlike the range of A320 or A300 boards. Added to this, the PC Mate also features an M.2 slot and a USB 3.1 Type-C port (Not Thunderbolt compatible).
The price of RAM has steadily increased in recent months and this has dealt a blow to many budget DIY builders whose budgets are stretched as is. Many budget gamers have turned to value or select RAM, however there are some great deals to be had online. For this build I went for 8GB of Ballistix Sport LT DDR4 2666 RAM, the higher clock speed will help when overclocking the CPU.
The Xbox One X features a 1TB storage drive and this is by the easiest part of this build to choose. I went for a Western Digital 1TB Blue drive as they are priced really well. Plus the per GB price tag is far better than that of even the cheapest SSDs.
Every PC needs a power supply, the Thermaltake Smart 500W 80+ white box PSU is our power supply of choice. It offers 500W of power, which is more than enough power to run this system, added to that it has an 80+ power rating which means it’s fairly energy efficient.
Cases are a very personal thing for gamers, but beggers can’t be choosers in this case (mind the pun). To keep costs low, I went for a Thermaltake Versa H17 case. This case is quite well priced and doesn’t look half bad. Added to that, it’s not one of those ultra-cheap cases that have sharp edges that will require a first aid kit while assembling the PC.
We can’t have a PC without an OS, so I decided to go for the cheapest Windows 10 Home OEM key that I could find. Yes, you need an OS and no getting yours off Pirate Bay is not ok.
The Xbox One X features a Blu-Ray drive which can be used to watch Ultra-HD Blu-rays, but even a standard Blu-ray drive will set you back $50. Seeing as we can download all of the best games, I decided to scrap the Blu-ray drive as it’s just an unnecessary cost.
Can It Be Done?
Well to be honest, no. While you get a great budget gaming PC with the parts that I have selected, this PC is just not 4K gaming ready. Plus, the higher price of GPUs and RAM has meant that the price of budget gaming PC is quite a bit over the $499 price tag of the Xbox One X. Now some could argue that you get more uses out of a PC, but this is not the point of this article. So, in short, you cannot build a 4K gaming PC for the same price as the Xbox One X.