The Xbox One X has been announced, and with a price of $499/£449, my first reaction was very positive. It’s a great price point that offers very good value for money, despite being targeted at premium gamers.

As a PC gamer though, it naturally got me thinking: “Can I make a PC that achieves the same perceived level of quality for the same price or less?”. PC gamers regularly pride themselves on being able to cobble together a system that matches consoles in terms of power output, but also affords other uses for multimedia consumption and creation. For a native 4K gaming system though? Well, things get interesting…

There are plenty of reasons why consoles are good; PCs aren’t just automatically better by sheer virtue of power and flexibility in terms of doing more stuff. Besides the obvious points like how console games can be optimised in terms of performance and are designed to take advantage of specific features and functionalities of the console such as Xbox Live, you also have the benefit of having reduced price points for hardware due to mass/bulk production and manufacturing, as well as other price/performance related benefits.

So let’s dive in. Can I theoretically build a gaming PC for around the same price as the Xbox One X?

The short answer? Not really.

The long answer? Yes – kind of – and what follows below is my attempt to do so. With the Xbox One X priced at £449, I’ll be working towards keeping costs under that. The Xbox One X is a self-contained product that includes all the hardware necessary to play games including a controller, so we’ll account for that in the budget as well.

If you take a demanding large, open-world game like GTA V that has tons of assets and textures you’ll need at least 4GB of VRAM (graphics card on-board memory). Most games running in 4K will use at least 3gb of VRAM such as Battlefield 4, with more demanding AAA titles pushing at over 4gb with higher settings, easily jumping over 8gb if you turn everything up to Ultra. So that’s where our journey begins: a graphics card capable of produceing good results with at least 4gb of VRAM. We can always turn down the graphics to match what we’d expect from the Xbox One X, thus lowering the VRAM requirement even further. There’s also no need for anti-aliasing, because who would see jaggies on such a high pixel density anyway?

We’re also going to opt for 8gb of DDR4 RAM, because that should be enough to run most games at high settings. The CPU on the Xbox One X is an octo-core (8) clocked at 2.3ghz. Since most affordable gaming PC CPUs are quad-core (4) and clocked higher at 3.2ghz+, we’ll look for a quad-core that sits above 3.2ghz as an equivalent contender.

So what do we end up with?

Here’s the system I would build to match or beat an Xbox One X:

  • Nvidia GTX 1050ti: 4gb ram ~1300mhz clock speed [~£130]
  • AMD Ryzen 1400: quad-core (4) 3.2ghz CPU [~£150]
  • 8Gb DDR4 Memory 2400mhz (Unbranded/non-gaming themed) [~£50]
  • 1Tb 7200rpm SATA Hard Drive [~£40]
  • 450w Power Supply 80 Plus Rated [~£35]
  • Case [~£20]
  • Motherboard AM4 Socket with USB 3.1 support [~£50]
  • CPU Air/Fan Cooler [~£20]
  • Mouse and keyboard (Generic Gaming Double Bundles) [~£20]
  • Xbox-equivalent PC controller [~£25]

Total Cost: £540

As you can see, I’ve had to overshoot my budget by almost £100 to reach a similar performing machine. The GTX 1050ti has a good clock speed that’s higher than the Xbox One X’s GPU, and has 4gb of VRAM which we can expect to deliver the same graphical settings as the Xbox One X, and still be high enough for 4k gaming..

The AMD CPU has 4 less cores, but the clock speeds are much higher. There’s the potential to overclock a little as well apparently with a 1400, so we can expect perhaps 3.8ghz comfortably on air cooling. There’s less RAM, with 8gb compared to the Xbox One X’s 12gb, but the Xbox One X’s RAM is shared across both GPU and the system itself, so this equates to around 8gb of system ram anyway.

A 1Tb hard drive seems ample for gaming and matches the Xbox One X’s hard drive. 7200rpm drives are only around £5-£10 more expensive than a 5400rpm, but the loading times will increase noticeably, so a 7200rpm is needed for decent speeds. Worth the extra £s. A 450w power supply and a cheap PC case are fine for our needs; in this case we don’t want flashy because we’re after performance, not design. A cheap mini-atx motherboard for an AM4 socket CPU can go as low as £40, but I’ve gone for a reputable brand for £50. Generic air cooling is necessary to enable us to keep the system running at good temperatures as well as giving us a little bit of overclocking headroom. Finally, we need a basic mouse and keyboard to be able to operate the system, as well as a gaming controller to contend with the Xbox One X.

For that extra £100 though, you get all of the features and capabilities a PC brings, which doesn’t restrict you to just gaming. Besides being a great work station for other creative and professional endeavours, you’re also able to achieve a better quality of web browsing, and upgrade your system in increments in the future. You’re getting way more value for your money here.

The advantage the Xbox One X has, as I eluded to in the opening paragraph, is its mass hardware production. It means that prices can be driven down by striking deals with hardware manufacturers. Of course, as a system designed solely for gaming, all of the Xbox One X’s resources are designed for that purpose, meaning it can be incredibly efficient in terms of performance compared to a PC with similar specs, that’s always going to be laboured with additional tasks such as running the Windows operating system and all the processes that go along with that.

PC vendors are offering systems almost identical to what I’ve specified above, but with various parts receiving tiny upgrades (better brands or slightly better specs/speeds) for around £550, which is an option should you not want to build a PC yourself.  All of the parts I mentioned above too will be cheaper to buy from the likes of eBay or Amazon Warehouse, so you may be able to shave off ££s that way. You can also buy ‘barebone bundles’, which give you a motherboard, CPU, RAM, and power supply all together, saving you anywhere around 20% of the costs than if you had bought them individually.

So that’s it. You can technically build a 4K system that should theoretically match the Xbox One X, for only a fraction more of the price. The beauty of PC is you can tweak your settings to your liking, so whilst a developer for the Xbox One X version of a game might think that shadow quality is less important than texture quality, you can opt to reverse things and set the graphics to your preferences, and not what you’re forced to play with. You’ve also got the option of going down to 1440p if you want to turn up some graphical settings, as 1440p is still a big upgrade from 1080p.

The bottom line is, however, a PC will give you more freedom and control, but the Xbox One X will be the easiest, most reliable, efficient and cost-effective way to game at 4K. For that, I commend Microsoft for doing a great job with the console, and delivering an attractive gaming experience for a fantastic price point. If I was a gamer on a budget, and I wanted 4K gaming, I would probably be looking at pre-ordering an Xbox One X.

  • RedGreen

    Total BS. No 4k blue ray player, you have to build it yourself. Garbage case compared to XoneX

    • chitown

      And a cheap power supply that will probably burn out within months. And no Windows license. The list is long.

      • DavidStrife7

        I very much doubt a corsair 450w would burn out in a few months.
        Windows license is technically optional as Windows 10 runs without a key.
        Even if you equate for that, there’s genuine OEM keys for sale for £20 or even £10 in places. I bought mine for £21 a year ago. You can interchange the Xbox Controller which is optional to pay for that OEM key if you wanted to.

        As for the blu-ray player, I concede you won’t be able to watch movies or do anything similar on a PC, but a lot of PC gamers go drive-less since the likes of Steam/GOG/Greenman etc. are around. For movies and TV, remember this is a gaming case use comparison, we’re talking about how to achieve similar results for 4K gaming, not media consumption. If you throw in movie usage into the mix as well, then you’re getting a better deal yet again on the Xbox since you’re mileage is increasing.

  • GamesSlayer

    Let’s see a benchmark and add a 4k blu in there.

    • DavidStrife7

      Without benchmarking and hard FPS values, all of this is just theoretical.

      Not everyone wants optical though, which is why I haven’t included it in the debate. Remember the article opens with the short answer being no, and the long answer being yes, if you’re prepared to make realistic concessions like forgoing a bluray player 🙂

  • spideynut71

    Um…you forgot Windows 10 and 4K BD drive. In fact, you didn’t list a disk drive at all. The 4KBD adds AT LEAST $150 in value to the XB1…as well as to your build, all things being fair and equal. And good luck getting the “XBOX experience”, including XBOX Live functionality, without Windows. I know you PC-only guys are used to downloading all of your software (often from torrent sites), so you instinctively ignore the need for a disc drive or a legit Windows OS, but you can’t just pretend those things aren’t necessary for your build, when they’re definitely a part of the cost, and the overall package in the X1X.

    Bottom line, you can’t build a PC that does everything the X1X does for less than $800. PERIOD.

    • herreraml

      Yep, also put all componentes on such small size as Xbox one X

      • DavidStrife7

        Now here’s where the Xbox One X begins to shine even more. I was in the market for a small gaming PC to take with me abroad to Japan when I moved in a few months. I wanted something powerful that I could take on a plane with me.

        Turns out there’s the zotac en1070 which is way smaller than an Xbox One X, but costs nearly £1300. It would definitely perform better than an Xbox One X, but you’re also paying nearly triple the price.

        Can you get a miniPC that matches the size, price, and performance of an Xbox One X? Unless I missed something at Computex this year, then no there’s nothing on offer that comes close. The Xbox One X benefits from a custom design, and mass produced discount bulk parts to create something really tight and expertly designed. To stay within even a generous £200 range of £449 to achieve a similar mini PC build, you couldn’t. Which is why the short answer to the article is no :P!

    • chitown

      I build my own PC rigs.

      And I agree 100%. Article is absurd.

      • spideynut71

        I build my own as well….rarely turn my X1S on in fact. I’m just not one of these ignorant PC elitists.

        • DavidStrife7

          It’s worth noting that I’ve owned every console since the Mega Drive, except for the Sega Saturn and Nintendo 3DS. Whilst I’ve gamed mostly on a PC, I’ve never taken sides; neither between Sony and Microsoft.

          It’s not about being a PC elitist, it’s about asking the user what they want, and whether an alternative exists in building a PC. Once again, the answer is no, there is no alternative if pure gaming is your concern. The answer is potentially yes, depending on how much higher your budget can go, and what aspects of the Xbox are important to you, and what extra you hope to gain through opting for a PC.

    • DavidStrife7

      As I mentioned in response to another comment, the Windows Key OEM is optional since Microsoft doesn’t stop you using W10 without one. Even if you wanted to be above board and include it (£20) then you can just swap the price of the optional controller, which isn’t essential as you would be using a mouse and keyboard as your input (save the debate on which is better!).

      If we assume you NEED a bluray drive for £50 for the PC, do we assume you NEED a Kinect for the Xbox for £70? Am I not getting the full Xbox experience if we don’t include the Kinect? Do we not get the full PC 4k Gaming Experience if we don’t include a Bluray player and download our media from Netflix and Google Play etc.? I wrote the article believing a lot of gamers will be able going download only, as gaming is the priority here.

      • spideynut71

        You’re just dancing around the facts dude…just stop.

        • DavidStrife7

          They’re all things to consider on both sides, and remember that I don’t say I succeed in the challenge, and I end by saying that the Xbox One X is the smarter purchase if I was a budget gamer looking for the best 4K gaming experience at the best price. All I present in the article is the longer and more interesting answer, that if you’re prepared to go a little higher, you can achieve something comparable if you’re looking for something that does a little more in terms of media creation and applications.

          If all you want to do is game and watch movies, there’s no competition; Xbox wins hands down. If you’re interested in doing more with your system or don’t value watching bluray movies, then I’m providing an interesting alternative to look at.

          End of the article is simple and doesn’t dance around the facts, Xbox One X wins, the challenge isn’t a success.

  • Edonus

    You forgot the UHD blu ray player and OS. If you build it yourself you have to buy the operating system. Also How does the HDMI in port situation fit in. You get maybe close it as a gaming system which I am not sold on considering the RAM situation. But as an overall system the X1X kills it in value.

    • DavidStrife7

      That’s what the article gets across hopefully. The short answer is no, you’d need an extra £100-£150 on top of what I quoted for 100% every little tiny feature and capability the Xbox One X has. The long answer as I said though, is a “maybe”, depending on how much tolerance you give yourself, and whether we focus hard on 4K gaming and using applications.

      Whilst it can be argued Bluray inclusion is important, maybe it’s more important to you that you can edit movies, write word documents, create 3D models or music? From a practical standpoint, the positives/negatives of a console vs PC should cancel each other out, and if we focus solely on gaming, the answer is a “maybe” if you go slightly over budget.

      If we covered things like “I can watch BluRays on my Xbox”, then I might as well defend PC users and start throwing in “Well I can make Games on my PC” :S

      What I haven’t debated in the article at any point is how much value you’re getting with the Xbox One X. My reaction was overwhelmingly positive in favour of the Xbox One X (I won’t be buying one though!), but I knew that depending on one’s priorities and expectations, you could probably get something just as good but more flexible in a PC build. Theoretically of course! Until I see someone like Digital Foundry or one of the many PC enthusiasts on YouTube do their usual “Console-killer” build post-XboxOneX release, it’s all numbers on paper.

  • Lightning

    Xbone x is a failure

    Crackdown 3 = 30 fps & ugly graphics
    State of Decay 2 = fps drops & poor graphics

    +Jaguar bottleneck, no exclusives

    • Premature Procrastinator

      It doesn’t have a jaguar, that was the starting point and they customised it to remove bottlenecks. Even digital foundry call it simply a “custom CPU”. No jaguar has that bandwidth. It will be THE best place to play 3rd party games in 4k for anywhere near that price for some time.

      • DavidStrife7

        Definitely. Until DF can get their hands on one, and compare frame rates at similar graphical settings, we can only theoretically discuss this and go based on what 4K results PC gamers are getting off a 1050ti or RX 470, along with a decent Ryzen CPU.

        If we tried to build this PC without Ryzen in the equation, you’d be looking at an extra £150 to get a z170 board and a Skylake i5 equivalent perfomant CPU. This article only exists purely because of Ryzen.

      • grimrook

        lol no try again fanboy

    • DavidStrife7

      Xbox One X isn’t a failure by a long shot. I know what you’re trying to say, the graphical options of the Xbox One X games are likely that of a PC preset at Medium/High, and 30fps will likely be the target for most 3rd party games.

      However, even if we consider a 4K gaming PC trying to achieve those results, you’d have to start at where my build begins, and possibly go higher depending on whether you want things such as a BluRay drive as people in the comments have mentioned, or whether size is an important factor for you etc.

      All things taking into account like size, value, accessories (controller), and ease-of-use, the Xbox One X delivers fantastic value for people who just want to play games, and throw in a bluray movie to watch, and fits into a small space on their desk/table.

  • chitown

    This rig would get completely obliterated by the One X specs. Even superficially on paper, it would be a slaughter. Check out the relative memory performance.

    • DavidStrife7

      GDDR5 is a huge step up as the 10 series has shown us in its bandwidth.

      Remember though, that the 12gb in the Xbox One X is shared across System and GPU.
      Until we start seeing games played, tested, and compared to PC equivalent setups, all of this is theoretical and taking a few liberties.

      Remember the short answer is “no you can’t”, and the long answer exists depending on how much extra wiggle room you’re prepared to give 🙂

  • incendy

    4k gaming on that build? Good luck with that lol. Also the shared memory is a big plus, on your build any shared compute code would run slower on the CPU due to the lesser bandwidth.

    • DavidStrife7

      The custom design of the Xbox One X and all the little tricks they mentioned makes it much more efficient on similar hardware as I mentioned. It really is theoretical until we get hard numbers, and we can play the games in front of us to try and guess where the graphical settings match on a PC. Personally from the presentation shown, taking into account games look SLIGHTLY better than what is going to make it into the final product, I’d say we’re looking at medium/high PC-style presets on the Xbox One X titles shown, at native 4K.

      With a 1050ti, you can play games like BF1 at medium settings and 4K, and reach 30-60fps.

      • incendy

        BF1? Not sure that is a good example. Try to play Gears of War at 4K on that build. Go for it, I will wait.

        • DavidStrife7

          Gears of War 4 benchmarks on a 1050ti at 1440p medium settings at 60-70fps, and 1.5gb-2gb Vram usage.

          The Xbox One version of GoW4 uses a mixture of medium settings and low settings found on the PC version, with most effects and small features turned to low, and with important/noticeable things turned to medium (and actually has better texture resolutions than the PC at medium which is a nice touch).

          Again, I don’t argue the Xbox One X’s value and I don’t say that I succeed in the challenge, the short answer is no you can’t. The article would be short and boring had I just stopped at no however, so we take things further and over-extend the budget to see what it takes to be in the same ballpark.

          I say let’s wait for the Xbox One X to release, see whether games target 30fps or 60fps at native 4k (or whether they end up using dynamic resolution scaling), and what graphical presets they end up using, before we make any decisive statements (Forza 7 at 4k 60fps, doesn’t mean every game will follow suit). Remember that E3 always shows things better than they are, and many games release with inconsistent frame rates and other frame latency issues, never mind turning down graphical settings in the final product. E3 is everything at its very best, and in a controlled situation where they script and choreograph the entire demo to make sure it runs smoothly without any dips. In the real world, I’m expecting for most games to target 30fps at native 4K, unless they’re prepared to do the 900p trick that the original Xbox One and PS4 used to maintain a 60fps lock, and opt for 1440p or some other lesser resolution.

          • incendy

            I didn’t ask for that? Show me the 1050ti at 4k on Gears of War 4?

          • incendy

            And don’t cheat and show some benchmark using an i5 with an SSD and tons of RAM. Use your specs. Prove your article isn’t total BS.

          • DavidStrife7

            I don’t own the hardware, so I can’t. I’m running a GTX1080 and 6700k, even if I underclock my hardware and remove an 8gb stick of ram, it wouldn’t be a fair test. Hence the title “Mockup Build Theory”. That’s why I only ever present the possibility of achieving something ‘similar’ in the article, and never going so far as to say “Yes, this will be an Xbox One X Killer!” as many arrogant PC gamers online claim too often.

            I have no problem defending my position, because I’ve not made any unreasonable claims or statements. Once again, Xbox One X is the clear winner, and I don’t contest that. The article concludes the Xbox One X is fantastic and the choice I would make in that position, yet everyone is intent on arguing that? I’m in agreement, why is there debate on this? I clearly say that you have to spend more money to get something ‘similar’ in a PC, and only in theory. You can’t match the Xbox One X in terms of value.

            Are you so intent on using Gears Of War 4 because it’s an Xbox pedigree-based title and you expect the advantage? There’s plenty of better looking games that demand more power that can be used, why Gears specifically?

          • grimrook

            dont bother man these xbots wont ever listen and they sure as hell dont know pc hardware

          • incendy

            No, you argue that your POS setup can run 4k. Which is total BS unless it is an old game or a game optimized for old computers. It isn’t even in the same realm of what MS is trying to do with Xbox One X.

      • grimrook

        you do know they are not doing native 4k on even half of the games they have coming right they are using a form of checkerboard stop buying into the hype

        • DavidStrife7

          I was under the impression that the Xbox One X was going to target native 4K and not checkerboard like the PS4 Pro? (Microsoft’s vague and clever marketing emulating Sony’s PS4 Pro claims?)

          If that’s the case, then the PC build I mentioned becomes more reasonable and less of a leap in the imagination.

          As I’ve said in defence of my article in other comments, until we see what we actually end up getting (with promises of the Xbox One and PS4 being native 1080p and 60fps turning out to be false), then all of this is just typical E3 hype, and we have no idea what the end product is.

  • DavidStrife7

    Let’s remember everyone, the short answer is “no you can’t”, and the long answer is more complicated and a “maybe” depending on what your usage and needs are!

    Also take into account games will be tailored to work specifically on the console and take advantage of every little piece of silicon to squeeze every frame it can. The Xbox One X is definitely the easiest, most convenient, and cheapest way to start gaming in 4k!

  • Robert Severson

    1050ti, 4k gaming, uhhhhhh wtf? I have a 1070, it won’t do true 4k gaming at 60fps…… you done gone bonked your knackers if you think a 1050ti is 4k ready.

    • DavidStrife7

      Benchmarks online show it’s possible. You’re not going to be gaming on anything above medium unless it’s a MOBA or CS:GO, but we’ve yet to see what kind of graphical settings the Xbox One X titles will be having.

      Again, it’s all theory, but if we go on the assumption that Xbox One X titles will target PC medium presets (as the case has been with the regular PS4 and Xbox One), then a GTX 1050ti is capable of at least 30fps. In the same way the Xbox One X says Forza 7 runs at 4k 60fps, we were given claims that PS4 and Xbox One would run games at native 1080p at 60fps, and we ended up with 900p (or dynamic downscaling), alongside titles regularly defaulting to 30fps locks.

      Worth noting that going £20 higher gets you an rx470, which will do a fair amount better than a 1050ti. Wait for the E3 hype to end, see what we actually end up getting on release, and in the titles released afterwards.

    • grimrook

      as crazy as these fucktards who think the xonex can do it

  • DavidStrife7

    A reader pointed out this article to me where the $’s value is able to produce something better for U.S gamers. Someone manages to achieve a GTX1060 rig (though note, 3gb of Vram!) for $600 with a more or less identical setup to mine. Nice find!

    The GTX1060 is a good step up however, and you may want to consider the upgrade, despite losing 1gb of Vram. You compensate for the Vram drop by tweaking settings further, or add another $50 for a 6gb edition card:

    This still doesn’t change the fact that we’re still $100-$150 over budget, so the conclusion remains the same; The Xbox One X offers the most monetary value, and convenience/ease-of-use.

  • Lee

    Wow, settle down people. This was not an exact challenge. Purely hypothetical.
    I mean, forgot to include the cost of actually putting your rig together, assuming you pay yourself minimum wage that surely adds $5 to the price too… amirite?

    • DavidStrife7

      That’s what I think the discussion has devolved itself into. The aim was to point out that the Xbox One X is an incredible amount of power for a small price, and that building a PC that’s within range of it is a hard task without going considerably higher in price.

      Somehow everyone thinks the article was trying to do the opposite, and has taken liberties in reading between the lines and finding statements that aren’t there…

  • Kim

    Guys, I’m closing comments here – things seem to be getting a bit heated! Dave’s point here was to *try* to see how close a PC build could get. He made a hypothetical machine that was as close as the budget would allow. His own closing line was that the Xbox One X is unbeatable:

    “…the Xbox One X will be the easiest, most reliable, efficient and cost-effective way to game at 4K… If I was a gamer on a budget, and I wanted 4K gaming, I would probably be looking at pre-ordering an Xbox One X.”