The PC vs Console Gaming Debate in 2019
In 2019 the PC vs console debate is as hot as ever. Can a $500 PC rival the performance of a standard Xbox One or PS4? Absolutely. And that performance gap continues to grow while these platforms age. However, at the same time, console prices have come down substantially.
Perhaps a more interesting comparison is a $500 PC against the $400 PS4 Pro and Xbox One X.
The argument for the PC is that it gives you more flexibility. It's a computer that can be used for daily tasks, has a graphics card that can easily be upgraded, and has a myriad of popular online games unavailable on the console.
On the other hand exclusive games, multiplayer gameplay, joysticks, and ease-of-use still make consoles attractive to many gamers. Performance is a bit of an enigma. I'll dedicate more to that discussion below.
Graphical Equivalents (Best Comparison)
|PS4||Xbox One X||PS4||Xbox|
RX 470 4GB
RX 580 or GTX 1060
Looking at the chart above and understanding the GPU market in 2019, you should be able to get a graphics card as good or better than the Xbox One X is offering into this $500 PC build.
Spend a $100 more and you get something far superior in the GTX 1660Ti. That's the nice part about PC building. An upgrade doesn't need to wait on when Sony, Microsoft, or Nintendo decide to release a new console.
That being said, our budget of $500 is already over the $400 cost of the Xbox One X and PS4 Pro. Plus, it doesn't come with any peripherals. Yet, you may find the price you pay for games on the PC to be a little more forgiving.
In the end, I felt that the $500 budget allowed you to get something really worth building that could last you a long time and play today's AAA titles. This PC does that and allows some flexibility in upgrading down the road.
Staying Within the $500 Budget of this Build:
If you want to stick to the $500 budget, you likely can't afford more than a RX 580. As the PS4 Pro has the performance of a low-end RX 470 this will put you well over that performance. As I mentioned above, you'll be matching the performance of the Xbox One X while having a superior processor.
The i3-9100F requires a dedicated graphics card and can certainly handle the RX 580 we're throwing at it. Take a look at our post on the best graphics cards for the money for additional information.
RX 580 vs GTX 1660Ti - $600 Version of this Build
If you want to exceed the performance of the Xbox One X or PS4 Pro, you'll need to be in the $600 range. The 1660Ti should give you an additional 15-35% performance increase vs the RX 580 (depending on the game you're playing).
The RX 580 can be used in a dual card configuration while SLI is not an option for the GTX 1660Ti. For energy efficiency and overclocking, the GTX 1660Ti is definitely my choice if you have the extra budget.
Either one of these cards is a good option moving forward and your choice may be influenced by whether you're planning on using AMD's FreeSync, NVIDIA's G-Sync, or whether you plan on upgrading a few years down the road with another card. The current pricing in your area may also be a big factor.
If you want our pick for a single card, it would be the GTX 1660 Ti here. The better performance across DX11 games is simply a bigger deal in 2019.
The Intel i3-9100F is Ideal for Budget Builds
A 4 core processor at around $90 that performs as well as previous generation i5's? What more could you ask for?
CPU PC vs Console Comparison
I've heard a lot of gamers talk about how you're getting a much better processor out of the PC here. It's true. However, at some level, it doesn't matter to the console player.
As long as the console plays the game no one really seems to cares. Framerate, resolution, smoothness, and detail all matter. However, consoles are built for these types of solutions. So, in my opinion, the CPU performance matters more on the PC side than the console as it's likely you'll use your PC for more than just gaming.
What CPU Should You Choose for a $500 PC Build?
The CPU releases from Intel and AMD over the past year have been stellar. With the Ryzen 3 3200G priced at around $80 and the i3-9100 at just $90, PC gamers have much more capable low-priced options than ever before.
The i3-9100F is the better performing gaming CPU and thus our choice. However, if you have a low budget and can't currently afford a GPU going with the 3200G will still allow you to play popular games like Fortnite.
Intel Coffee Lake i3-9100F vs Ryzen 3 3200G
While both of these processors have four cores, the i3-9100F is significantly faster in IPC. This leads to increased gaming performance. The Ryzen 3 3200G can be overclocked, however, the performance gap is still enough that I'm recommending the i3-9100 in most situations.
High-end performance users can spend as much on their motherboard as you may spend on an entire rig. That being said you don't need a super expensive motherboard in order to get a good performing gaming computer for $500.
A solid option in the $75 price range would be something like the ASRock A320M-DGS motherboard. This would be used with the Intel version of this build. You'll find that in today's market a Micro ATX motherboard like this one has very few limitations.
An 80+ Power Supply Around $30
With a $500 budget, we're trying to go max performance while still trying to maintain quality parts. While it may seem difficult to find a decent Power supply in the under or around $30 category there are a couple I'd recommend.
First and foremost are the EVGA 430W and 500W Bronze certified power supplies. I wouldn't rank these in the top tier; however, they're perfect for a budget and offer decent energy efficiency.
Finding a Cheap Case
For this build we've reserved about $30 for our mid tower gaming case.With current prices on the Rosewill Ranger, the Xion mATX (pictured), and Rosewill FBM-01, you should be able to find a decent case for that price.
Better yet, if you can find a case that's normally in the $50 range on rebate, you can typically get amazing value here.
While this case is more than you need if you're using a low profile card, it's better to err on the larger side for your case in the chance that you upgrade in the future and need to fit a larger card.
Here we're going with a 4x2GB configuration of DDR4. We're going with a Corsair Vengeance LPX 8GB configuration that goes up to 3000MHz. The price difference between the cheaper options and this is minimal right now. So, we feel the additional performance is worth it. Here's a comparison of DDR4 kits for those trying to get the best value for their money.
Solid State Drive:
With around $75 budget for our hard drive we're looking for a 500GB option. Western Digital's Blue 500GB M.2 model has good reliability and speed for a cheap price.
If you need more capacity than this, I recommend finding a traditional hard drive with a lot of capacity for storing files you don't use regularly.
PS4 Pro, Xbox One, and PS4 Performance vs Our $500 Machine
|*$500 to $600 PC Build|
Intel Core i3-9100F
ASRock B365M Pro4
G. Skill Ripjaws V 1x8GB
WD Blue 500GB M.2 SSD
EVGA 500W 80+or equivalent
DIYPC MA01 mATX
RX 580 or GTX 1660 Ti ($100 more)
First of all, the performance of the Xbox One and PS4 really aren't on par with what you'll get from our $500 build. I'd compare the PS4 to an HD 7850 and the Xbox One's graphical performance to an HD 7790. Yet, building a PC that would work that well for AAA titles for $300 would be very difficult.
PS4 Pro and Xbox One X Comparison
For the PS4 Pro, a good comparison would be low-end RX 470 on the low-end and the Xbox One X an RX 580 or the GTX 1060.
So, Who Wins?
Graphically, the PC and Xbox One X are similar while the PS4 Pro falls a bit behind. As the Xbox One X costs $100 less than our PC some may decide to go that route.
However, it's more complicated than that.
PC games you purchase are kept with you forever. In addition, cheap audio, and peripheral solutions certainly allow you to save money. Purchasing AAA titles on the cheap after they've been out for a while is also much more likely on the PC.
In addition, you don't pay for an online service with the PC. Over time this is a very big deal. What's more, you can upgrade your PC's graphics card over time as you'd like. That flexibility is worth a lot.
So, who truly wins? That's truly up to you. If you like to play on the PC, then likely you'll stay there. The same goes for the console.
However, much of the arguments that had plagued the console market certainly aren't present in 2019. High resolutions and details are available at an affordable price.
Here's a previous poll we did with the PS4 and Xbox One and a $500 PC when they were a similar price. It's not as relevant today, but we'll leave it open so you can see how far we've come.
Performance of a PS4 or Xbox One vs. a $500 Gaming PC
I was a console gamer as a kid and grew into a PC gamer exclusively. That sentence describes many of us.
It certainly describes my kids.
My son loves to play Xbox and PS4 because his friends do. It's the platform that makes the most sense for him. As he's gotten older, he's playing more and more on the PC. Games like Overwatch, Civ 6, and using an emulator for his phone apps are what he likes to do.
Ultimately, I feel that consoles have come a long way in the past year. When a PC and a console are similar in price, I'd always give the win to the PC. However, with unstable GPU prices and better graphical solutions available for the console at a fixed and cheaper price, it's definitely up for debate. What are your thoughts?
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2013 Brandon Hart
Speak Your Mind
S.Knight on June 23, 2018:
Can you use an HTC Vive or Oculus with this build? If so, does it lag or have issues?
Jason C on May 14, 2018:
The rx470 is more powerful than the ps4 pro (4.9 tflops vs 4.2). Also, you arn't taking overclocking into account at all. Anyone who is looking to get the best price to performance should be looking to overclock. When you factor that into the equation, the consoles arent even close in terms of price/performance. Factor in the amount of customization you have to play the games you want with much higher performance while only losing a tiny bit of graphical fidelity. You can easily build a system for $550 that has a rx570 (which can bios flash to an rx580). This would give you performance in line with an XBOX one X for right around the same price. When you factor in thermals to the equation, the value proposition goes right out the window. Both consoles thermal throttle like crazy especially under load from AAA titles, but the components in this pc will stay within thermal limits due to being able to adjust fan curves. This means that while in an ideal lab-controlled scenario, the console may initially beat the budget pc in performance on a few scattered titles, once you factor in the throttling its not even a fair contest. In conclusion, I think you're taking far too many liberties, and underestimating what people are willing to do to achieve better performance.
Brandon Hart (author) from The Game on September 27, 2016:
Yes, even the 1060 should work as long as you have a power supply that can support it. It's hard to know exactly what to recommend without knowing the rest of your parts.
Conan Edogawa on September 20, 2016:
Hello sir I have DH61WW 2.0*16 intel motherboard will it support gtx 1060 6gb or gtx 750ti 2gb or gtx 970 4gb.Please tell me now because I have the motherboard but I don't have graphics card I want to buy any one out of these 3 VRAM.
Brandon Hart (author) from The Game on June 03, 2016:
The case comes with fans and the CPU won't be overclocked so should be able to use the stock cooler.
Hungry Hippo on May 29, 2016:
Are any fans necessary? Wouldn't the computer overheat?
Derp Herpson on October 27, 2014:
what type of ram do you recommend?
1st build guy on September 01, 2014:
Could I use any sound card with this build and any speakers. Could I use any network interface card. Which OS should I use
Brandon Hart (author) from The Game on June 30, 2014:
Robin, You'll have to purchase the ram apart from the motherboard.
robin on June 28, 2014:
I'm sorry if I'm being a noob , but does that motherboard include ram?
This is my first built
Ronnie on June 04, 2014:
Would this computer run minecraft on full settings without lag?
Or what settings could it easily do?
Adam on January 06, 2014:
Can we assemble it ourselves or can we just get someone professional to assemble it for us?
Steven on December 27, 2013:
So inv been trying to find an answer but I wanna build a gaming pc, so here's my question can you start with cheap parts and gradually work your way up to better more expensive parts. I really knew nothing about computers do I'd like a little help cause eventually I wanna get skyrim and Ik I'll need a good pc for that that's why I said eventually but yea Ik the mother board is something I won't want to start cheap with so just name the posts I can start cheap with and then I'll gradually upgrade. I don't have a budget so it'll probably be a post or two every month until I have enough to start building. Thanks in advance guys.
Brandon Hart (author) from The Game on December 17, 2013:
You'd probably just want to upgrade to something in the $40 range. It would take you over budget, but that's the difference between reality and builds. Getting something that is 80 Plus would be ideal.
joe on December 16, 2013:
Would this run bf4 on high or ultra
Brandon Hart (author) from The Game on December 09, 2013:
Most reviewers leave off the OS when coming up with a build. Optional Linux builds, the Steam Linux release this next year, as well as already having a copy of Windows are scenarios for many reading this post.
Josh on December 07, 2013:
As usual, the windows license was totally left off. That makes this a $600 pc at best.
John on December 01, 2013:
Would a PCI modem work with this setup to add internet access?
Brandon Hart (author) from The Game on November 29, 2013:
This PC would do the trick
Joey on November 27, 2013:
I primarily play league of legends, which is not a very graphically demanding game. Would this a computer of this caliber be able to run LoL well?
Brandon Hart (author) from The Game on November 21, 2013:
It comes with a front 120mm - if it gets too hot you can always add one, but it's not absolutely crucial
Bean on November 20, 2013:
What about fans and stuff? Don't you need them for the computer to not overheat
Caleb on November 13, 2013:
How good could this run and record minecraft at max settings?
Ryan Lit on November 10, 2013:
Ok thanks heaps
Brandon Hart (author) from The Game on November 04, 2013:
You'll be good with what it comes with unless you are planning on doing a lot of Ocing
Ryan on November 03, 2013:
Thanks just one more what type of heatsink should i buy for the i3 Core? sorry if im asking a lot this is my first PC build =P
Brandon Hart (author) from The Game on November 01, 2013:
Ryan on November 01, 2013:
So will i need an ethernet cord if i want internet on this PC?
BlocksNGuns from The Netherlands on October 04, 2013:
@ Tommy, this is true. But have you seen the prices for the games on the consoles? +- 60 euro's per game. The pc games are about 10/20 euro's. Also, the pc has a lot of free games, on the console you have to buy every game (or download a demo...). In the long run, a pc will probably be cheaper.
brandon on October 02, 2013:
would this work for dayz
montanasoldier on September 20, 2013:
You can't play league of legends on a console:(
David Gorodetskiy on September 17, 2013:
I don't think its about the performance of the consoles vs the worth of the computer. I just like PC better because of the experience
starvin marvin on September 11, 2013:
Ethernet port included as well right? (Stupid question lol)
Brandon Hart (author) from The Game on August 23, 2013:
Makai Just go with a solid Wi-Fi motherboard like the GA-H77N-WIFI from Gigabyte and you'll be good.
Makai on August 23, 2013:
Will I need to buy a separate component to make this PC wifi enabled? If so, can you tell me which one to buy? Thank you.
Malik on August 11, 2013:
Ps4 tflops 1.84 = HD 7850 , and pc you are at advantage of upgrading, while in ps4 just l0w fps after every release of new game.. Like in ps3 n0w people enjoying 20fps :D
Tommy on July 28, 2013:
You've got to be kidding me! 66% of people are dumb enough to think a $500 PC with a *650 Ti* would beat a $400 PS4, roughly equivalent to a 7870? This is one case where PC gamers (myself included) need to be honest with ourselves. At this moment, a $400 console can out preform a $500 computer ($600 if you include the required OS, I hate when people leave this out!). Purely in gaming performance, though. But hey, I'd still take the computer.