Can you build a PC to match the new PS4 Pro's price and performance?

PC vs PS4 Pro

Sony have officially struck a precedent making the PlayStation 4 even more of a PC than it originally was - incremental, mutually-compatible hardware updates. With the new PS4 Pro they're providing a fractured ecosystem which requires developers to think a lot harder about the hardware they’re creating games for. Hands off, Sony. That’s our department...

Read more: check out our take on the best graphics cards.

The arguments for console gaming have long been about the benefits of a closed platform, of a single hardware standard for game developers to be working towards. That’s enabled them to produce impressive feats of coding, wringing every last drop of processing power out of increasingly outdated systems. That was especially true of the previous generation of console hardware - the visuals we saw from the last days of the Xbox 360 and PS3 were incredible considering the laggardly hardware they were both running.

But now both Sony and Microsoft are introducing updated hardware to sit alongside their existing machines with a view to providing a premium-tier gaming experience for the elite console gamer. 

Now we know what’s going to be propping up the next level of PlayStation gaming, what will it take to create a PC with the equivalent hardware? While we can dig out mostly equivalent components to the new PS4 Pro there is no way we, as individuals, can match the buying power of the multinational Sony corp. That means we’re never going to be able to manage a build with the PS4 Pro's impressive $399 (£349) price tag. For an equivalent PC you’re looking at around $100 (£100) more than that.

 

PC vs. PS4 Pro - Processor

PC vs PS4 Pro CPU

The original PS4 came with a custom-built system-on-a-chip (SoC) designed by AMD. The processor part was made of eight 28nm AMD Jaguar cores, running at 1.6GHz. The new updated design is retaining the same core architecture, but with a slight clockspeed bump up to 2.1GHz.

You can’t actually buy an eight-core Jaguar part for your PC. The closest you can get is the AMD Athlon 5350, a quad-core Kabini chip running four Jaguar cores at its heart. And all four run at 2.05GHz out of the box, just a shade behind the PS4 Pro's new clockspeed.

PC vs PS4 Pro motherboard

The trouble is that while compatible mini-ITX AM1 motherboards are available for an insanely cheap price they only come with PCIe 2.0 slots, and even if they look like a full-sized connection they only run at x4 speeds. With a full-size x16 slot it would be running at half the bandwidth of a PCIe 3.0, so at x4 they’re a long way off the pace. 

PC vs. PS4 Pro - Graphics

PC vs PS4 Pro graphics card

This is where there’s been the biggest update to the PS4 Pro, and that’s because Sony are desperately trying to make their new console relevant to the burgeoning numbers of people rocking a 4K TV. Expensive Ultra HD TVs (especially those from Sony) are pretty adept at upscaling content onto their high-res panels, but the cheaper sets - which make up the vast majority of 4K TVs - will only deliver a decent image at their native resolution.

When they're upscaling 1080p content or worse the results are often very disappointing. The standard PS4 then looks pretty ropey on most 4K TVs, but with the PS4 Pro outputting at 4K - even if it’s using some techy, rendering wizardry to get there - it’s going to look good even on a budget Ultra HD screen.

The AMD GPU inside the PS4 Pro is reportedly twice as powerful as the original, with the leaked specs suggesting a Polaris 10-based GPU with 36 Compute Units. That sounds an awful lot like AMD’s RX 480 and the officially-released details (4.2 TFLOPS of power) seem to support that. The full RX 480 runs at just under 5.2 TFLOPS and that disparity is probably accounted for by the lower clockspeed of the PlayStation version of the GPU.

It’s still not really a 4K-capable slice of graphics silicon, but both AMD at launch and Sony at last night’s reveal have acknowledged this. But with some advanced rendering and upscaling techniques baked into the Sony silicon the PS4 Pro will be able to display games on a 4K screen with increased fidelity over the original machine’s 1080p delivery. It will be interesting to see more details of exactly what those tricks are and whether they'll be able to deliver any visual improvements to PCs with AMD hardware inside them.

PC vs. PS4 Pro - Storage

PC vs PS4 Pro storage

The 1TB of spinning disk storage inside the new PlayStation 4 Pro isn’t tough to match. The Hitachi TravelStar 5K1000 will give you the same capacity, as well as a 7,200RPM spin speed, to give you a decent level of storage and performance.

If you crave a little extra speed though you could go for the hybrid Seagate drive which gives you the same capacity but has a small amount of solid state storage inside to speed up your most oft-used programs to almost SSD speeds.

PC vs. PS4 Pro - Chassis and power

PC vs PS4 Pro chassis

This is where things get really tricky. We can’t build a machine that’s anywhere near the same scale as even the larger, club sandwich-looking PS4 Pro. And it’s all that beefy GPU’s fault. It’s possible to fit a mini-ITX AMD board into a chassis with a similar footprint to the PlayStation, but trying to get a full-scale graphics card in there too is a lot tougher.

We can though still get a small form factor tower with a 400W PSU installed for an impressively low price. It’s not going to be the most advanced or efficient of power supplies but I’d wager neither is the mini option inside the PS4 Pro.

PC vs. PS4 Pro - The alternative…

PC vs PS4 Pro alternatives

As much as the machine I’ve described above matches the components inside the new Sony PlayStation 4 Pro it’s not a PC I’d ever recommend building. I’m a stickler for balancing your builds and pairing the RX 480 with such a weak CPU component makes little or no sense for a gaming PC. In the PS4 Pro the fact the software can be tied into the closed platform means it’s more able to cope with the disparity in performance; on a PC though you’re needlessly hobbling your GPU speed.

Stepping up to the FX series of AMD CPUs then makes more sense. You can pick up multi-core AMD CPUs for much less than the price of an Intel chip. I’d suggest a six-core FX-6300 could out-calculate the PS4 Pro’s silicon with one core tied behind its back. 

But you’re going to have to spend a lot more than the price of the PS4 Pro to put such a machine together; probably around the $600 (£500) mark instead. With that sort of rig sporting an Nvidia GTX 1060 you would likely be able to get around the same 30fps mark at 4K that Sony is touting for its top-end Pro-level titles.

In the end then, yes, you can put a machine together with similar components to the PS4 Pro, but you probably wouldn't want to. If you want to put a cheap build together that will net you similar levels of 4K performance though it's going to cost you a lot more than the ticket price of the new PlayStation. But then if you wanted to be a console gamer you'd already be sat there with a DualShock cradled in your claws and be missing out on all that makes PC gaming great.

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Belimawr avatarDr0s4n avatarBandit123 avatarAever avatarstanscut avatarApeman-san avatar+15
Aever Avatar
636
1 Year ago

No surprises there. Anyways, to point out the obvious, consoles aren't sold because they make money on the hardware. Most likely, they lose a lot of money on the hardware, to be able to come up with the performance they do for the amount of money spent.

Anyone looking at consoles and their performance/price ratio should however ask themselves a couple of additional questions.

1. How long will this performance be sufficient?

Answer, not for very long. Since console hardware is always on the lower end of the available PC hardware and games/media push that lower limit up all the time your OK-ish initial performance will lag more and more behind a PC.

2. Can I upgrade my console?

Answer, no. You need to buy a new one. A PC you can upgrade, a console you need to replace. Honestly, that's the price comparison you should make. How many consoles do you need to buy over the period a decent PC can be kept relevant with upgrades.

3
Game of Moans Avatar
1
1 Year ago

I'm curious about number 2. I've always played on a console (since NES days) and I have a PC as well but not powerful to perform better than current-gen consoles. Just enough to play some last-gen (PS3/XBOX360) games.

Let's say PS5 gets released on a $400 price tag on year 2020 for example. Will the PC upgrade that I will have to do to play PS5 games (or whatever games on that generation) cost me less than or equal to $400?

That's always the question that I have.

If within 10 years, 3 consoles get released for $400 each. Total cost is $1200 on consoles alone. Meanwhile, in 10 years as well, how much do I have to spend on PC plus the upgrades?

I'm not counting the cost of games (steam sales) since I've always purchased physical copies whether PC or console, not digital (Internet sucks here in our country).

P.S.

I know PC can do much more things other than playing games but I'm talking about gaming only here. Other tasks that require me to use PC, I only have a mid-end PC for that. Just wanna know if I'm gonna get a new console or a PC for my gaming needs.

1
Aever Avatar
636
1 Year ago

That's not an easy question to answer, because I have no idea how the hardware will evolve over so many years. It's still likely that you will spend less on consoles than you would on a PC, but not by as much as the article seems to indicate.

In theory, you will need to upgrade your PC when some massive happens. What I mean is that there are some milestones in the evolution of technology which usually require new hardware. 4K or VR for example. While nothing like that happens, you should be fine and not have to change anything in your PC. If you have to make changes, most likely you would have to change your GPU, which is nowhere near 400$, unless you go for the high end card, in which case you should be fine for years to come.

I don't know, the equation is massive. It involves money, performance, what games you get on each platform, how comfortable you are with it, mods, the fact that you can do so much more with a PC than you can with a console (as indicated by the fact that you do have a PC next to your console) and many, many other factors. Only you can work out the result of the equation. I will *always* recommend a PC, but that's just my preference, which is most likely irrelevant to you.

1
Diluted | kickback.com Avatar
1

You spend as you said 1200 for each console upgrade wereas over here we spend 300 on a good upgrade. Personally i like to ride things out until they legit dont work on the things i want them to or break for example ive had my 760 for quite a while now and it can max out a game like Dayz on 1080p 60fps and i intend to keep it that way until the thing literally HAS to go. I am turning into a bit of a PC enthusiast though so that might change.

1
NihlusGreen Avatar
640
1 Year ago

Something else to consider, can you comfortably browse the web / youtube / email / social media / study etc with a console - emphasis on comfortably

1
NihlusGreen Avatar
640
1 Year ago

Also Sony / MS take a cut on games to offset hardware loss. A new release title in my country on PS4 is $99 or 109 which is $20-30 higher than PC. Console sales don't happen often or are that great where I live either, I can spend $200-300 on PC at end of year / xmas time and end up with more games to play than I could for the next year .

And then there's the subscription to play MP at $70 for 12 months.

1
Aever Avatar
636
1 Year ago

Good point.

1
stanscut Avatar
61
1 Year ago

Even if a console and a PC had 1:1 the same price and performance. PC's will always have at least one advantage: Options

3
Kicked By Noobs Avatar
3
1 Year ago

I do not understand why these comparisons never include paying for online every year. You might as well double the cost to $800 and build a good PC.

3
Apeman-san Avatar
9
1 Year ago

I do agree that a closed system like a console can squeeze a bit more out of equivalent PC hardware, but of course anyone semi serious about PC gaming usually wouldn't skimp on cheaper components anyway.

So at the point you get to running a mid/high end system that might cost 1.5x or 2x more than the console, it will run circles around the console in performance. And if you wanted to save money that much you could just use your TV as your monitor, even doing that would give you a beastly PC for under £1,000 that could do a lot more than just gaming.

I can already hear the console guys whine about that price, but people usually well exaggerate and say stuff like "it costs thousands to build a good gaming PC" Well no, you can do it for under a thousand, but IMO the sweet spot for longevity is that or a tad over.. but still not "thousands"

I mean these days the base of the PC lasts years, it's only really the GPU that could do with switching out say every 2 years if you want to keep up with great performance in new titles.

As a hobby, it's not cheap if you take it seriously no, but it's also not a massive cost compared to some things.

2
Blightious Avatar
2
1 Year ago

dude you obviously didn't do your homework, the tflops of a rx 470 are higher than the pro's by .7 meaning it's basically a low power, downclocked 470 with shared memory, not a 480.

I would probably say at or around the performance of a gtx 770 or 380x which can easily hit 60fps 1080p in today's games with console settings.

2
Fauvel Avatar
2
1 Year ago

I think we may be looking at a different price delta.

Considering the RX 470 and the RX 480 have similar performance and they are from the same family and have same architectures, it might be fair to say that the RX 470 (4.9 TFlopd) has a performance similar to the GPU of the PS4 Pro, which would put the price down by $50.

It's also worth noting that the Athlon 880k has performance very similar to the FX6300, which might put it toe to toe with the CPU on the Pro. Again, this would reduce the price by about $20.

2
Over Avatar
2
1 Year ago

I just want to remember that the consoles won't run games @4K. Games that will support that resolution will be through upscaling, not real native 4K. So...

2
theblackrain Avatar
4
1 Year ago

Playstation 4 Pro + one year of PS+ = £388.99

More powerful PC with free online functionality (inc OS and KB&M) = £ 397.01 (accurate as of 26/09/16)

http://uk.pcpartpicker.com/list/cYJBqk

2
LemonScampi Avatar
12
1 Year ago

Why even choose that cpu?

The Athlon 4 is a much more powerful quadcore option at 3.7ghz

http://uk.pcpartpicker.com/list/WyKcHN

1
pschwaab Avatar
1
1 Year ago

So here's my question, if you have a 4k tv and you want the best visual experience, do you go with the PS4 Pro? Or the similarly priced PC that runs you 500-600 dollars? Because with the PC you aren't getting the same upscaling techniques as the PS4 Pro are you? Putting all other benefits of owning a PC aside for just a moment(I own a 900 dollar gaming PC myself, I get it) which one will do better on a 4k tv?

1
theblackrain Avatar
4
1 Year ago

Playstation 4 Pro + one year of PS+ = 449.98

More powerful PC with free online functionality = 449.33 (accurate as of 26/09/16)

http://pcpartpicker.com/list/HHfxgL

1
juez Avatar
1
1 Year ago

dualshock 4 $49 + win10 $99 + wifi/bluetooth $9 + bluray drive $39 = $196 + 449,33 = $645

0
maxvgc Avatar
1
9 Months ago

It's difficult to go apple-to-apples, because the Jaguar APU is not available directly to consumers. In your build, you're buying a separate CPU and GPU. It's not surprising those would be more expensive than a single, combined unit. If an comparable APU existed in the consumer market, I think the prices would be about the same.

1
VickyDicky Avatar
2
1 Year ago

what a load of bullshit article. and misinformed one.

first thing you didnt even price the pc properly. the parts you mentioned cost 900$ and the cpu cant even run games and cabinet is terrible. second you gave a list of 5 parts that cant even be used to play games. where is the OS? where is keyboard/mouse? where is dualshock controller? where is the blu ray reader? all those will add up extra 600$

first things first a rx 480 is completely weak compared to ps4 neo. a pc cant even use half of its hardware for gaming like a console does. so you need a 8 tflops gtx 1080 to compete with a ps4 neo.

so taking quality a gtx 1080 rig from alienware costs around 5600$. and extra keyboard mouse, controller, UPS,monitor will run you around 6400$. and the funny part is a gtx 1080 rig cant handle 4k and struggles to do 1440p and 60 fps. whereas a ps4 pro does 4k and 1440p 60 fps.

so why would anyone even want to play or game on PCs anymore?

i am thinking of selling my rig to get a 4k tv and a ps4 pro to get the best gaming experience that even a 6400$ pc fails to achieve

0
ethanjculp Avatar
1
1 Year ago

Unless you live in a country outside of the US, a PC that will output a stable [email protected] or [email protected] will only cost around $910-1020 USD with all the gaming peripherals assuming you will be gaming on your TV. Even with a monitor, it could only be around $1500. Wildly inaccurate to say you need a GTX 1080 and a $6400 rig to match a PS4 Pro. An overclocked RX 480 will do the job just fine if not give you better performance matched with the FX 6300 mentioned in the article.

Source: Own an FX 8350 with a GTX 1080. Have built and tested rigs with RX 480 and GTX 1070. http ://pcpartpicker .com/list/ssRwYr

1
VickyDicky Avatar
2
1 Year ago

also a the original ps4 with optimized power outperforms a 2400$ pc with gtx 780.

and all pc games are runnnable and are on parity with low end 800$ PCs which makes pc gaming pointless to own now.

cause the best graphic games are exclusive to ps4 that use ps4s power. PC gamers will miss out on the superior features of consoles now. with ps4 pro and ps4 console gaming is the best choice with best graphics and cheapest.

0
Bandit123 Avatar
1
1 Year ago

I have had many consoles and a few PCs throughout my life. Ever since I got my first PC, I basically preferred the PC and felt that the superior power and cheaper titles meant it was a no brainer. PC wins hands down every time.

Two things have changed which have significantly altered my calculus. One is that this Pro version of the PS4 has been released meaning that there is no real significant advantage as far I can tell from a PC I would build right now compared to a PS4 Pro. Right now I am happy with the level of power that PS4 Pro would be able to provide. That was not the case with the PS4. It was underpowered and you would play games on lower image quality.

The second thing which has changed is the fact that I have played a lot more games on the PC which I REALLY LOVE which have been TOTALLY RUINED by aimbot/esp type game hacks. Games like Rust. Do you have any idea what its like to spend so many hours building a base over a week or so and then to have it ruined by people who are cheating? Maybe some of you do !!

Also you would have to consider the price of the games and the fact the PS4 Pro is cheaper than equivalent PC builds. You would also have to consider that the PS4 doesn't have many of these survival games that I like as well.

Conclusion: The new PS4 Pro would be a serious option if I was buying again. The first time a console has been a serious option for a long time.

-1
Yodaloo Avatar
1
1 Year ago

But then again, you won't be able to upgrade the PS4 Pro, you wouldn't be able to play on the internet until you bought PSN. You would probably have to pay higher prices for games considering Sony has a complete monopoly on what does go on the PS4 and what doesn't. And did I mention that the Keyboard and Mouse have been PROVEN to be far more precise than a controller (*cough cough* Auto-aim *cough cough*)

1
Belimawr Avatar
1241
1 Year ago

still comparing apples to oranges, I find these comparisons comical as they try to compare hardware to hardware ignoring the fact that the single embedded OS and single system setup optimisation will compensate for a lot of power.

basically it's comparing iPhone to Android and any developer will tell you it is easier and you can leverage more from the iphone due to the limited system and hardware setups, while quite a few developers find Android hell as the sheer diversity in both software and hardware makes it a lot harder to leverage the same power.

so if all PC's were one of maybe 2 or 3 hardware setups this comparison would work, but while PC's are like snowflakes you can never get the same level of optimisation so as a rule you would need considerably more power to achieve the same outcome.

-3
Dr0s4n Avatar
24
1 Year ago

Optimisation WHAT ?

PS4 only have 4,5GB for Games Shared into DRAM/VRAM [3,5GB used Exclusive by System]

PS4 only have 7 Cores for Games [1 Core used Exclusive by System]

PS4 500GB Model only have 400GB Free [100GB used Exclusive by System]

Meanwhile on the PC.

- 8GB VRAM memory dedicated

- 8GB/16GB/32GB DRAM memory dedicated

- Windows and Process use less than 1% of CPU

- Windows and Process use less than 2GB DRAM

- Windows use less than 15GB of Hard Drive

Optimisation on Console = Downgrade. These Downgrade is made by the developer itself.

Unlike the PC, this Optimisation it is the responsibility of the player, which can adjust the graphics parameters for Low / Medium / High / Ultra

3