How to build a gaming PC more powerful than PS5

The Playstation 5 and Xbox Series X have been out for nearly a year, but it’s still hard to find a device at retail. However, computer games are just as fun as console games, and most of us need a computer anyway. Except for graphics cards, computer parts are still abundant in the market, and you can customize your computer as you like. Want a small, powerful PC that beats the PS5 in looks and performance? It’s easier to build than you think.

Small form factor computers have boomed in the past few years, giving PC enthusiasts the freedom to fit massive graphics cards into cases that are hardly anything more than a shoebox. Most of us know when we need a computer rather than a console, but if you’re debating between the two, there are both pros and cons.

Console vs PC

Credit: Review / Lee Neikirk

The Xbox Series X takes design cues from popular compact computer cases, such as the NZXT H1 Mini.

Undoubtedly, the console is cheaper than similar powerful gaming PCs. For the cost of a budget PC, you can get a box that can run the latest big budget releases guaranteed for years to come. Playstation also has some of the best exclusive games in the industry, such as Questions and clankingAnd the Person 5And the Spider Man. Operating the consoles is also very easy – you just turn it on, log in, and run it. In comparison, a computer that can run games like Resident Evil: The Village At 4K and 60fps it could easily cost $2000 or more, especially with a semiconductor shortage in 2021.

However, the extra thousand dollars will give you more freedom. You can use any console, UI, or storefront you want. Most Playstation exclusives make their way to PC a few months after release – like Red Dead RedemptionAnd the Horizon: Zero DawnAnd the Ghosts of Tsushima—If you are OK to wait a little longer. Other than that, you can use Sony’s cloud gaming service, Playstation Now on your PC.

Meanwhile, Microsoft is proud to release multi-platform games on Xbox, PC, and Game Pass. There is also a lot you can do within games, such as more streaming software and hardware options, cloud gaming, modding, and even making your own games.

Of course, the biggest and most obvious benefits are the ability to upgrade parts of your PC with a new hardware release, and you can use your PC for things besides gaming (like work, for example). If you can afford it — and especially if you have strict computing needs outside of gaming — it makes more sense to build a gaming PC rather than a console.

PS5 and Xbox Series X specifications.

Playstation 5 and its controller on a table

Credit: Reviewed / TJ Donegan

Playstation 5 and Xbox Series X run on custom AMD hardware pulled straight from the PC world.

Playstation 5 and Xbox Series X can play games in 4K resolution at up to 120 frames per second. While there are slight differences in its architecture, it shares many similarities. Both run on custom AMD Zen 2 processors, custom RDNA 2 AMD graphics cards, 16GB of memory, and 825GB (PS5)/1TB (XSX) of dedicated NVMe SSD storage, and take advantage of new connectivity and interaction technology.

Shopping for memory and storage equivalent, and even a bag, is the easy part. But you’ll need to compare the processing power of the CPU and GPU from each console to figure out which desktop processor and graphics card you need — not to mention finding the right case that fits them all. Fortunately, the next section covers this scope.

PC equivalent specification for console

Mini PC and Xbox one controller on a table

Credit: Review / Adrien Ramirez

This small computer case may be the size of a shoebox, but it has enough room for an Nvidia RTX 3070 graphics card and water-cooled CPU.

If you want to build a PC that matches the size and performance of a PS5 or Xbox Series X, start with the case — specifically the ITX case. Most cases come in three sizes: ATX (full tower), mATX (medium tower), and ITX (small form factor), but the ITX case will be the closest in size to the new consoles.

The best ITX cases have a metal chassis, PCIe jacks, and plenty of cooling mounts and components for maximum flexibility. Cooler Master NR200P is a great option that is easy to find, and has a strong mod community. The SSUPD Meshlicious, Darkflash DLH21, and Louqe Ghost S1 are also great if you want something a little less trendy.

ITX tends to have trouble installing GPUs longer than 205mm. You may need a “mini” graphics card. It’s about half the size of a standard GPU and generally comes with one or two cooling fans. If you are looking to save as much money as possible, you are in luck. Not only do mini GPUs tend to be a bit cheaper than their full-size counterparts, but last-generation PC parts are the best equivalent of the new PS5 and Xbox Series X.

Combined with an AMD Ryzen 7 3700X processor and an AMD Radeon RX 5700XT graphics card or an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 graphics card, they are both great options to build a PS5 / Xbox Series X PC equivalent since they both have similar performance to console-specific chips.

However, the RX 5700XT doesn’t have ray tracing capabilities – which gives the graphics an extra level of polish – so you might be better off using the latest AMD Radeon RX 6700XT. Not only can the RX 6700 XT run games with ray tracing, but it’s also faster than the RX 5700 XT.

AMD graphics card above its package.

Credit: Review / Joanna Nelios

When you decide you want to upgrade your PC’s gaming capabilities, it’s easy to replace your graphics card with something better.

Next is the motherboard. Your motherboard chip must support your CPU and have features like (WiFi 6AX, Thunderbolt 4, PCIe 4.0, etc.). Keep in mind that ITX motherboards are not as feature-rich as their larger mATX and ATX counterparts due to size limitations – ITX motherboards typically have fewer PCIe lanes, fewer RAM channels, and fewer ports. If you’re looking for an AMD Ryzen-compatible ITX board, we like the ASRock B550 Phantom Gaming-ITX/AX, which strikes a good balance between value and features.

Some CPUs come with a stock cooler, but we recommend shopping for yourself. There are a lot of great water cooler and fan cooler combinations available these days, such as the Cooler Master MASTERLIQUID ML240L and Noctua’s NH-D9L CPU Cooler. No matter what you choose, make sure it fits your situation. In general, ITX cans fit coolers shorter than 150mm and radiators shorter than 240mm.

For an ITX build, consider choosing lower-level RAM, as some cases and CPU coolers dangle over RAM ports to save space. You should be fine if your RAM is 42mm or less. As for the RAM size, most games are not RAM dense so 16GB is enough for most of them. You also want to make sure that your RAM has adequate proper speeds, as this can also affect the performance of your computer. The best RAM frequency for most people is 3200MHz. You can find a 3600MHz RAM kit not much more than that, but most people probably won’t see many benefits from going above that speed.

When you first turn on your computer, make sure XMP (sometimes called DOCP) is enabled to reach the full speed of your RAM.

Computer memory lit with RGB lights

Credit: G.Skill

The best part about building PCs is buying parts as stylish – or ridiculously flashy – as you like. The G.Skill Trident Royal Elite RAM is ideal for those with the ultimate in style.

For storage, you need a PCIe 4.0 compatible NVMe SSD to match the X Series and PS5. Older PCIe 3.0 outperforms 3.4 Gbit/s, so a PCIe 4.0 storage solution is a better choice since some models have speeds up to 7.0 Gbit/s. Currently, only AMD Ryzen 5000-series CPUs, 11th generation Intel CPUs, and compatible motherboards have full PCIe 4.0 support.

Last but not least is the power source. To calculate how much power you’ll need, add the power consumption of the CPU, CPU cooler, GPU, motherboard, RAM, and storage together. Try to get a power supply unit (PSU) 150 to 250 watts more than that in case of power surges. As with all other parts, make sure the PSU fits your case as well.

The next generation or the last generation?

Many desktop processors put a dark surface

Credit: Review / Joanna Nelios

Intel and AMD have plenty of equivalent PS5/Xbox Series X processors to choose from.

You can save a little money by shopping for older parts as noted above, but one of the benefits of using newer hardware is PCIe 4.0 support for faster data transfer speeds. If you want a good mid-range gaming PC, the design below with the Cooler Master NR200P case is not only powerful but also puts your PS5 and Xbox Series X to shame. These are all parts of the current generation, similar to what you’d get if you bought a pre-built PC.

However, the upgrade path for this particular build is a bit tricky. Rumors suggest that AMD will use a new socket for the next generation of desktop processors, which means you’ll need a new motherboard as the processors won’t fit any of the current or older models. It may be worth waiting for the 6000 series if this is the case.

But if you want something more powerful now, you can use a build like this:

How do you actually find a GPU

Image of an Nvidia graphics card

Credit: Nvidia

Sadly, graphics cards are still in short supply, but a little patience goes a long way.

Shopping for a GPU in 2020 and 2021 was tough, to say the least. A global shortage of semiconductors has put a strain on GPU supply, and aftermarket prices can be more than twice the retail cost of even older models. But it is not impossible to find one at a reasonable price. It takes a lot of work and patience.

Microcenter holds lotteries every morning for local customers to buy a GPU, but if you don’t have one nearby, you’re not doomed. Monday through Friday, online retailer Newegg holds a similar sweepstakes called the Newegg Shuffle. Live streaming on YouTube, websites, discord channels and more Monitor online retailers 24/7 and alert you if there are any restockings.

You can also use what you’ve learned here to buy a great pre-built PC. Computer System Integrator (SI) companies have partnerships with manufacturers for a steady supply of parts, so you don’t have to track down the parts yourself. NZXT, Corsair, Maingear, iBuyPower, Cyberpower PC, and many others sell pre-built computers with ready-made parts that make it easy to upgrade your PC in the future as well.

Enjoy your Theseus ship

Pink computer on desk with pink mouse

Credit: Cooler Master

Cooler Master NR200P comes in this beautiful Sakura Edition, but you can always tweak any condition with the right tools!

If you take it step by step, building a computer is not so difficult. It’s also a lot of fun and offers a much more personalized experience than what you get from a store-bought PC or video game console. Beyond price to performance, there are increasingly few reasons to choose a console over a PC: like Sony exclusive Red Dead Redemption 2 It’s ported to Steam, you can multitask, you can run your own 3D programs, and much more. If you need a new PC and a new gaming console, consider building a gaming PC.

With the tips, tricks, and lists above, you should be able to put something together in no time. Your PC should last at least five years before it becomes slow, and enough time to wait for the next generation of console – but the nice thing is that you can upgrade your PC along the way.