Do you want an Xbox One X, now that was officially revealed at E3 last week? Don’t want to wait for the November 7th release date? Let me replicate, and slightly improve on the system for about the same 550 USD of the Xbone X, counting the first year of Xbox Box Live (XBL). Ready? Let’s go. All prices are at time of writing, and in the US, though I know them to be similar in much of the EU.
GPU – MSI GTX 1060 3 GB: 204 USD
- Not so quick side note, for those of you who are smart enough to do research on the parts but might end up misinformed. While TFLOPS has become a buzzword it’s not actually a great way to measure performance, as different architectures manage different performance with similar TFLOPS. For example, the GTX 1070 has ~6.4 TGLOPS to the RX 580s 6.2, a mere 3% difference, but the GTX 1070 manages an average FPS that’s about 20% higher. With that said however, we know that the Xbone X is using modern AMD architecture and we know what ~ 6 TFLOPS looks like on a modern AMD architecture because that’s about what the RX 480 and RX 580 have. Basically, the Xbone X has an RX580 in it and the 1060 has roughly the same performance as that (it varies by game) and is cheaper at the moment, which is why I picked it.
CPU – Pentium G4560 3.5GHZ: 77 USD
Motherboard – MSI B250 LGA1151: 74 USD
RAM – 2.4 GB Corsair Vengance GDDR4 2400ghz (8GB in total): 67 USD
HDD – Western Digital 1 TB 7200 RPM HDD 49 USD
Power Supply – SeaSonic 520 Watts at 80%+ Efficency: 35 USD
- For the uninitiated that means it actually supplies somewhere between 360 and 400 watts, but this build only uses 290. I mention this because it’s relevant if you decide to upgrade later as you need to make sure your using fewer than ~360 watts or you’ll need a new power supply.
Case – Bog Standard Case 25 USD
WiFi – WiFi Antenna 10 USD
Controls – Logitech Mouse and Keyboard. 15 USD
- Assuming you’re gaming from a couch and so the PC is hooked up to your TV you may also need USB extension cords that are 6 dollars each. Or you may opt for an Xbox/Xbox One controller for the same or a little more, depending on type and condition.
OS – Linux or Windows 10
- Linux is free. Copies of Windows 10 (which is the version you, sadly, must have on the G4560) go for like 10 bucks on ebay, and it’s software so new/used makes no difference. (Windows is way better for gaming in most cases.)
This PC doesn’t have an optical drive. This means either you need to spend an extra 15 USD so you can install windows/linux from a disk, or you need an 8gb flash drive (~5 usd) and access to a friends PC so you can turn said flash drive into a bootable drive with windows on it, and install windows with that.
Total price: 556-595 USD
- Minimum 556 usd: No usb extenders, no windows (or a friend has a copy you can use) no optical drive.
- Maximum: 595. 2 usb extenders (one each for mouse and keyboard,) windows, optical drive.
At max I went a bit over budget, but keep in mind XBL is 50 usd per year, so 2 years of it will even the prices out if you had to go the most expensive route.
I’m not going to lie and tell you this is the best computer ever, it most certainly is not. It’s a combination of entry level and mid range parts. What it will do, is roughly match the performance of the Xbone X based on the specs we know, which can be found here. The more CPU-bound the game, the more of an advantage this PC will have over the Xbone X while in GPU-bound games it will be effectively the same, unless you decide to overclock your GPU, in which case the 1060 will usually pull ahead.
It can play most modern games at 4k and 30 FPS. It will only do it at max settings in very rare cases, so you will have to either lower your graphics preset until it works, or tweak individual settings that are known to hit performance hard (anti-aliasing should be first to go) but it’s worth noting that console versions of games tend to run at the equivalent of medium/high PC settings, with the most demanding settings turned down even farther. It’s worth noting that I don’t actually think this will be worth doing in most games (or on the Xbone X/PS4 Pro for that matter) as I feel the game will look and play better at 1080p or 1440p with the settings maxed out. If you don’t agree then 4k/30 will usually be an option. Digital Foundry is currently doing a series of Youtube videos called 4k on a budget if you need more detailed information on the types of settings to change to get the best possible experience at 4k on this type of setup.
On the other side of things, it will be a fantastic 1080p machine, with only the most demanding (or least optimized) games seeing significant drops below 60 FPS with high/ultra settings, while less demanding games like DOOM, and most AA stuff like Pillars of Eternity will manage a fairly consistent 1440p at 60 FPS.
If you decide to stick with PC gaming in the future, I’ve even done you a few favors. Everything is brand new, both in terms of release date and that none of the parts are used. This could cut costs even further if you’re comfortable with used parts; with a bit of luck you can get a 970, which is almost exactly the same in terms of performance as the 1060, for ~150 off ebay, bringing the price totals down to 506 and 545 respectively. The CPU and motherboard are current generation, which means if you decide to upgrade the CPU to something like an i5 7400 or an i5 7600k you don’t need a new motherboard unless you want to overclock which is entirely unnecessary. I’ve also given you a big enough power supply that even if you upgrade to something ridiculous like an i5 6700k and a GTX 1080, you won’t need a new one to compensate.
In the interest of complete transparency, I do not own this PC. I currently have or have previously used each of those parts or their performance rivals (the RX480, RX 580, GTX 970 and GTx 780 for the GPU and the I3 6100 and i5 2500k for the CPU) and benchmarks for all of the relevant parts are readily available, so I am very confident it will perform exactly as I describe, but I strongly encourage you to do your own research to confirm it for yourself. The point of this building exercise is to show how through a little bit of research and work, you can stay ahead of console hardware trends and have the tech in your hands before console manufacturers release it. With the architecture of consoles getting closer and closer to high end PCs, it’s increasingly more feasible and appealing to build your own to stay ahead of the curve, especially in the case of the Xbox One X as many of Microsoft’s games make their way to the PC platform. Rather than get caught in the hype, why not try your hand at making your own?
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