PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X are the leading video consoles. The path of the PC and video game consoles converged a long time ago. Microsoft’s first console, the original Xbox, borrowed many components from the computers of its day, including a CPU very similar to the 733 MHz Pentium III processor and a GPU derived from 4th generation GeForce graphics processors. Although it did not look like it, essentially this console was a PC specifically sized for gaming.
Sony took longer than Microsoft to take the PC path. The PlayStation consoles for which Ken Kutaragi was responsible (the first three desktop and PSP) implement an architecture significantly different from that of compatible computers, but PS4 and PS5, the desktop machines conceived by Mark Cerny (he is also the main architect of Playstation Vita ), they are essentially a PC.
Just take a look at the specifications of Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 to confirm that both machines have hardware comparable to that of a very competent current PC , although if we stick to the graphical section, Microsoft’s console is significantly more ambitious than Sony’s. . And this conclusion invites us to ask ourselves a question: how much would it cost us to configure a PC that has features reasonably similar to those of these two new consoles?
The purpose of this article is to give an answer as accurate as possible to this question, although before entering flour it is important that we bear in mind that both Microsoft and Sony have introduced several innovations in the architecture of their consoles that at the moment are not possible to replicate on a PC.
In fact, not even the CPU and graphics logic built into the APU of both consoles are identical to what AMD currently proposes for PC, which will force us to take some licenses. Even so, it is possible to develop a computer with a power reasonably similar to that of both machines, so this is what we are going to try.
The challenge: find the PC components most similar to those of Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5
If we are lucky enough to have a generous enough budget, we can get a PC significantly more powerful than PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X. The new Ryzen 5000 processors from AMD and the graphics cards with GPUs from the GeForce RTX 30 family of NVIDIA and Radeon AMD’s RX 6000 are the ideal ingredients for cooking it, but this is not the point of this article.
What we have proposed is to configure the cheapest PC possible and with a power similar to that of new generation consoles, so all the decisions that we are going to make must pursue this dual purpose.
The first thing we are interested in doing is reviewing in some detail the specifications of the new Microsoft and Sony consoles, so we have collected them in the table that you have below these lines. A note before moving on: the debate about to what extent AMD’s RDNA 2 microarchitecture implements the PS5 graphic logic is beyond the scope of this article, but if you are interested we will talk about it in depth in the text I link right here.
PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X
|PLAYSTATION 5||XBOX SERIES X|
|CPU||8-core processor up to 3.5 GHz (variable frequency) customized with AMD Zen 2 microarchitecture and 7nm photolithography||3.8GHz 8-core processor customized with AMD Zen 2 microarchitecture and 7nm photolithography|
|GPU||Custom graphics processor with 36 compute units up to 2.23 GHz (variable frequency), AMD RDNA 2 microarchitecture and up to 10.28 TFLOPS||Custom graphics processor with 52 compute units at 1.825 GHz, AMD RDNA 2 microarchitecture and 12 TFLOPS|
|MEMORY||16GB GDDR6 with 256-bit bus||16GB GDDR6 with 320-bit bus|
|MEMORY BANDWIDTH||16GB to 448GB / s||10GB at 560GB / s and 6GB at 336GB / s|
|I / O PERFORMANCE||5.5 GB / s (uncompressed data) and up to 9 GB / s (compressed data)||2.4 GB / s (uncompressed data) and 4.8 GB / s (compressed data)|
|INTERNAL STORAGE||825GB custom SSD with proprietary interface||1TB Custom SSD with NVMe Interface|
|OPTICAL UNIT||4K Blu-ray player||4K Blu-ray player|
|SOUND||3D Tempest audio technology||Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS 5.1, Dolby TrueHD with Atmos and LPCM up to 7.1 channels|
|CONNECTIVITY||1 x HDMI 2.1, 2 x USB 3.1, 1 x USB 2.0, 1 x USB 3.1 Type-C, 1 x Gigabit Ethernet and 1 x Internal PCIe 4.0 M.2 slot for SSD storage expansion||1 x HDMI 2.1, 3 x USB 3.1 Gen 1, 1 x Gigabit Ethernet and 1TB Seagate expansion card slot|
|WIRELESS CONNECTIVITY||WiFi 6|
Dual band radio connection for accessories
|DIMENSIONS||390 x 104 x 260 mm||151 x 151 x 301 mm|
|WEIGHT||4.5 kg||4.44 kg|
PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X feature an AMD CPU with Zen 2 microarchitecture manufactured using 7nm photolithography . Both chips are supported by eight cores using SMT ( Simultaneous Multithreading ), so each can simultaneously process two threads ( threads ).
Microsoft and Sony assure that their engineers have intervened in the design of the CPU of these consoles, so, on paper, they are not identical to the microprocessors with Zen 2 microarchitecture that AMD proposes for our PCs.
The main difference that we know between the CPU of these two consoles is that the Xbox Series X works at a clock frequency of 3.8 GHz , while the PlayStation 5 operates at a variable frequency of up to 3.5 GHz.
In any case, we already have the clues we need to choose the AMD processor with Zen 2 microarchitecture that will be the brain of our PC: a Ryzen 7 3700X.
AMD has two other 3rd generation Ryzen processors that, like the Ryzen 7 3700X, also incorporate 8 cores and are capable of processing 16 threads: the Ryzen 7 3800XT and Ryzen 7 3800X.
However, the one that best fits our PC is the model we have chosen because it is the most economical of the three, it has a TDP of 65 watts (the other two Ryzen 7 have a TDP of 105 watts) and it works at a frequency of watch that, although it is not identical to that of the chips of the two consoles, places it in the same league.
The graphical logic of PS5 and Xbox Series X will make it a little more difficult for us. Our choice will not be constrained by the unfortunate stock issues both AMD and NVIDIA are experiencing , and we will also bypass the debate about how far AMD’s RDNA 2 architecture implements PS5 graphics logic.
Once we’ve set the rules it seems reasonable for us to set our sights on the latter company’s GPU graphics cards which, like the Xbox Series X and PS5 APUs, implement the RDNA 2 architecture.
At the moment AMD has launched three graphics cards with this technology: the Radeon RX 6900 XT, the Radeon RX 6800 XT and the Radeon RX 6800. All of them, in addition, incorporate an HDMI 2.1 output , like the new Sony consoles and Microsoft. The problem is that even the most “modest” of the three, the Radeon RX 6800, is noticeably more powerful than the graphical logic of PS5 and Xbox Series X.
TFLOPS are only one of the parameters that we can use to evaluate the theoretical power of a GPU, but in this context it is useful because we are comparing graphics processors with the same architecture.
The graphical logic of Xbox Series X has a maximum performance in single precision operations (FP32) of 12 TFLOPS , while that of PS5 is somewhat less powerful due to reaching 10.28 TFLOPS when the GPU works at the maximum frequency of clock (2.23 GHz).
Reducing the capacity of a graphics processor to its performance in TFLOPS is an oversimplification , but in this scenario and given that the architecture of the graphics logic of both consoles is similar (Sony and Microsoft have worked with AMD to take RDNA 2 as a base already From there, make your own personalized recipe), it is a useful piece of information that is worth looking at.
The Radeon RX 6800 graphics processor has a maximum performance in single precision operations of 16.17 TFLOPS , making it noticeably more powerful than the graphics logic of both consoles. But we have another option: look at the NVIDIA catalog.
If we choose a graphics card with a GeForce RTX 20 GPU for our PC, we will keep ray tracing , a technology that is present in both PS5 and Xbox Series X and Radeon RX 6000 graphics cards, but we will lose the RDNA 2 architecture in favor of Turing , and also the HDMI 2.1 output.
Graphics cards with a GeForce RTX 30 processor are ruled out because they are all significantly more powerful than the PS5 and Xbox Series X GPUs (even the more “modest” GeForce RTX 3060 Ti ). And furthermore, its Ampere architecture has nothing to do with RDNA 2.
If we turn to TFLOPS again as an indicator of the FP32 operations calculation capacity in the NVIDIA catalog, the GeForce RTX 2080 SUPER fits us. Its 11.15 TFLOPS puts it right between the Xbox Series X GPU, which is somewhat more capable, and the PS5, which is slightly less powerful.
The GeForce RTX 2070 SUPER is somewhat short with its 9 TFLOPS FP32, so we are interested in ruling it out. Undoubtedly the perfect option for our PC would be a hypothetical Radeon RX 6700 XT that would maintain the RDNA 2 architecture and be a little less powerful than the Radeon RX 6800, and, therefore, that would be more equal to the power of the graphical logic of Xbox Series X.
It is possible that even a hypothetical Radeon RX 6700 would be better aligned with the PS5 GPU, which, as we have seen, is somewhat less powerful than the Xbox Series X. But, for the moment, although we can be reasonably sure that these graphics cards will not take long to arrive, we cannot count on them for our PC.
If we keep in mind all that we have exposed so far we can conclude that the most interesting option for the computer we are shaping is the Radeon RX 6800 graphics card from AMD . And it is because, although it is a little more powerful, it shares the RDNA 2 architecture of the Xbox Series X and PS5 GPUs, which currently positions it as the most similar graphical logic to the one that these consoles integrate (until the Radeon RX 6700 XT and RX 6700 that we just talked about).
One of the most important differences that exist between a PC, Xbox Series X and PS5 is that both consoles use a unified memory map. This simply means that the CPU and GPU access the same shared memory map, while, as we all know, a PC incorporates a clearly differentiated main memory and VRAM located on the graphics card.
Another relevant difference is that the two consoles incorporate GDDR6 type memory, which is what we usually find in graphics cards, while the main memory with which we can equip our PC is DDR4 type. On the other hand, although Xbox Series X and PS5 incorporate 16 GB GDDR6 , Microsoft’s console uses a 320-bit bus, while Sony’s uses a 256-bit one.
The PC components that we can access do not allow us to recreate a unified memory like that of the new generation consoles, so our option is to resort to DDR4 modules . However, there is a very wide range of memories of this type. Which one should we choose? The transfer speed of DDR4 memory is much lower than that of GDDR6 memory, although this disadvantage of the PC is largely compensated by the dedicated VRAM memory of the graphics card, which is also GDDR6 type.
As we are not interested in the price of our PC skyrocketing, it is reasonable that we equip it with 16 GB DDR4 with an effective clock frequency of 3200 MHz, which is the highest frequency supported by the motherboard without resorting to overclocking . There are faster memory modules, but they would significantly increase the price of our equipment and their impact on the overall performance of the machine would be moderate.
The heart of the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X secondary storage subsystem is a solid-state drive that works hand-in-hand with a custom I / O controller and dedicated compression hardware that unchecks both solutions from the SSD drives we can install currently on a PC.
On paper, the figures for Sony’s console are better than those of Microsoft’s proposal, although both machines are in this field light years away from PS4 and Xbox One, an improvement that is already clearly perceptible in the first games.
On the other hand, the Xbox Series X SSD has a capacity of 1 TB , but the usable space that users have left to install games and other applications is reduced to 802 GB. The PS5 figures are less generous than those of Microsoft’s machine. And it is that the SSD unit of the Sony console has a capacity of 825 GB , which in practice is reduced to 667.2 GB of useful space.
If we want to provide our PC with a solid state drive capable of playing in the same league as the secondary storage subsystem of the new generation consoles, the ideal is that we opt for a solution with a 1 TB capacity and NVMe PCIe 4.0 interface.
The choice of this component of our PC is conditioned by these three factors : the microprocessor for which we have opted, the need to install an SSD unit with a PCI Express 4.0 interface, and, finally, the obligation to keep the price under control .
For this reason, the ideal option is a motherboard with AMD’s B550 chipset because it is compatible with the 3rd generation Ryzen processor that we have chosen, although it can also coexist with the new Ryzen 5000 . Another point in its favor is that it is the cheapest platform for AMD chips with PCIe 4.0 connectivity .
The other components
We are almost done shaping our PC, but we still have several components that are worth a moment’s pause. Xbox Series X and the version of PlayStation 5 that costs 500 euros incorporate an optical drive capable of reading 4K Blu-ray media, but it is preferable that we avoid dedicating part of the budget of our PC to this component because it is an element that in computers current compatible is usually expendable . And, in addition, we are interested in making it as cheap as possible even if we lose the ability to play movies in physical format.
On the other hand, when it comes to sound and network connectivity, we will settle for the ones on the motherboard . A dedicated sound card could have a noticeable impact on audio quality, but it would significantly increase the price of the PC. Also, motherboards of a certain quality often have a competent sound chip.
Finally, our power supply will have a maximum power delivery capacity of 650 watts because it is the one recommended by AMD to power a computer in which a Radeon RX 6800 graphics card resides. And we will solve the box by looking for an option of certain quality that is as economical as possible.
The time has come to do numbers: this is what our PC costs
We have already outlined with enough precision the configuration that our PC will have, so the time has come to specify all the components to be able to calculate precisely how much a computer with a power comparable to that of new generation consoles would cost us .
As I mentioned a few paragraphs above, the graphics cards that will in all probability give us a performance similar to that of Xbox Series X and PS5 will be the very probable Radeon RX 6700 XT, whose power should be similar to that of the GPU of the console Microsoft, and Radeon RX 6700, which should perform like Sony’s console graphical logic. But since they have not yet been officially presented the RDNA 2 option that has a lower price and a more measured performance is the Radeon RX 6800.
As regards CPU cooling, as we are interested in making our PC as economical as possible, we will stick with the Wraith PRISM fan that AMD gives us along with the Ryzen 7 3700X processor. Of course, there are higher quality air cooling solutions, but they would increase the price of the equipment significantly.
One last note: as you will see below, we have collected the prices of Pc Componentes as a reference because it is a store with a wide product portfolio and quite competitive prices. Of course, some of the components that we have chosen, such as the motherboard, the main memory or the power supply, could be replaced by others of similar characteristics and price.
This is the exact configuration of the PC that we propose to you in order to imitate the power of PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X:
- AMD Ryzen 7 3700X 3.6 GHz microprocessor with 8 cores and 16 threads + Wraith PRISM fan ( $677.98 )
- MSI AMD Radeon RX 6800 16 GB GDRR6 graphics card ( $499 )
- Kingston HyperX Fury RGB 16 GB DDR4 3200 MHz PC-25600 (2 x 8 GB) CL16 ( $129.99)
- Samsung 980 Pro SSD 1 TB PCIe 4.0 NVMe M.2 ( $139.99)
- Motherboard Gigabyte B550M S2H with AMD chipset B550 PCI Express 4.0 ( $129.99 )
- CoolBox DeepPower BR-650 650 W 80 Plus Bronze power supply
- Case Aerocool CS-105
The total cost of this PC without adding the price of the operating system, the keyboard and the mouse, which we would also need, would be 1409.80 euros. In addition, motherboards with a B550 chipset do not usually have WiFi connectivity, so if we want it the price would go up even more. We do not contemplate the cost of the monitor because, logically, the console also needs us to connect it to a television or a monitor.
If AMD had already launched the Radeon RX 6700 XT and 6700 graphics cards, we could cut the price of the PC somewhat, but in no case enough to equal it to the 500 euros that Microsoft and Sony currently ask us for their Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5.