Xbox One X vs. PC: Can a bare-bones rig beat out Microsoft's new console?
The Xbox One X was Microsoft's big announcement during their E3 2017 press conference. But teraflops and specs aside, most people are concerned about the impact it would have on their bank account. Unless you've already got your mind made up about pre-ordering Microsoft's latest console iteration, it's decision time.
We've already talked about the Xbox One X versus the PlayStation 4 Pro. Now we can dive into what the rest of want to know: how does the Xbox One X measure up to a budget gaming PC?
Xbox One X vs. PC: Budget gaming rigs you can buy for under $500
According to the official Xbox website, the Xbox One X has "6 Teraflops [and] 326GB/s of Memory Bandwidth," which Microsoft has said is the "most powerful console gaming processor." The Xbox One X also boasts 8GB flash memory, 1TB internal HDD storage, 12GB GDDR5 RAM at 326 GB/s and a 4K UHD Blu-Ray optical disc drive.
Part of the reason why gamers have strayed toward consoles is that PC gaming is notoriously frustrating to break into, especially if you're looking to build your own rig. But there are some pre-built PC options that aren't too bad.
There are four decent rigs, including a console-style setup, that you can get from Amazon for under $500, though the specs vary widely. Some builds rely on generic parts to keep the cost down, some may cut corners on quality and some have outdated parts. But the best is not only the most powerful, but the most stylish, too — and it even has options to upgrade, if you want a better video card.
Xbox One X vs. PC: How to build a budget gaming rig for under $500
While this isn't a definitive guide on how to assemble the parts of your PC (keep your eyes on Mic for more on that in the future), this is how you should structure your budget for your wallet-friendly gaming PC.
Start with the video card
This is where the biggest bang for your buck is going to be. Investing in a quality GPU will net you the biggest payoff when you put the rig together. The most important thing to pay attention to is video memory (or V-RAM).
Both AMD and Nvidia have great budget options, but Ars Technica did a great comparison study in January that found AMD to be the better budget option.
Be prepared to blow half your budget on a video card. And no, we don't measure standard GPUs in teraflops; let's leave that to Sony and Microsoft.
Next: the CPU
This is another large expenditure in your budget, because this is where PCs shine or fall apart. It's easy to replace a GPU. It's not so easy to replace a CPU without replacing the motherboard; thermal paste is the real deal, friends. AMD's budget options are fairly good, as are Intel's.
If you're going Intel, check out their Pentium G4600 processor, which is under $90 and runs at 3.9 GHz. If you prefer AMD, their Athlon x4-860K is under $100 and runs at 3.7 GHz.
Then comes the motherboard, memory, hard drive and case
The rest of your budget is going to get eaten up by a decent motherboard, at least 8GB of DDR4 RAM, a hard drive and a case that ideally comes with its own fans and a power supply. The extras, like a monitor or a wireless network card, will run you over budget, so make sure you pay attention to that.
Xbox One X vs. PC: It takes more than $500 to build a great gaming rig
It's not impossible to build a decent gaming rig for under $500, but it's really difficult to get good parts for that kind of money. PC gaming will always be where I'm at, but I can't recommend you start a build unless you're willing to sink at least $800-$1,000. If you can't invest that kind of scratch, you're stuck with a pre-built option, and those are kind of touch and go.
If you're looking to get a gaming PC for Xbox cross play, skip the budget-friendly options and get the Xbox One X. If you want a gaming PC for access to Steam games, do yourself a favor and save your pennies. The best sales come during Cyber Monday anyway, scant weeks after the Xbox One X's Nov. 7 release date.
In my experience, PC gaming always ends up costing more than you originally anticipate. Even if you go into the process with $500, you'll likely end up sinking closer to $700 or $800 once you factor in the peripherals, accessories and operating system.
If you're worried about budget, stick with the console. Your PC -gaming buds can still cross play with you.
More news from Microsoft E3 2017
Check out more of our coverage from the Microsoft E3 2017 press conference, including info on the new Xbox One X, Playerunknown’s Battleground Xbox reveal, Forza Motorsports 7’s gorgeous new trailer and the Metro Exodus announcement. BioWare’s Anthem reveal definitely stole the show. But don’t miss out on Sea of Thieves, State of Decay 2, Crackdown 3 and Tacoma, either.