Ever wondered what PS5 equivalent PC parts would look like, and how much the resulting PC build would actually cost you in comparison to the PlayStation 5? Let’s dive into that together today, and help break down the PlayStation 5’s hardware and how it stands compared to current-generation PC hardware.
Understanding The PlayStation 5’s Hardware Architecture
PlayStation 5 Cost: $499 ($399 Digital Only; Digital not recommended for long-term savings or physical game ownership)
First, it’s important to understand that everything on the PlayStation 5 is built around a central SoC, or System on a Chip. The PS5’s SoC holds pretty much every core piece of hardware: the CPU, the GPU, and even the 16 GB of GDDR6 VRAM used by them both for system and graphics memory. (There’s also a small 512 MB DDR4 cache.)
Like the rival Xbox consoles, the PlayStation 5 is also based on AMD’s recent Zen 2 CPU architecture and RDNA 2 GPU architecture. This is in line with the previous generation of the Xbox One and PS4, where both consoles were based on AMD’s Jaguar APU architecture instead, to…mixed results, I’ll say. Even when those consoles first launched, Jaguar was starting to show its age.
However, Zen 2 and RDNA 2 are still relatively new and cutting-edge for the market. There was a supply shortage that contributed to that still being the case a few years down the line, but the fact of the matter is, Microsoft and Sony invested in much better hardware from day one this time than they did last time. It pays off pretty well, I’d say.
With that all established, let’s dive into the PlayStation 5’s next generation gaming hardware and see how much we can expect to spend at retail to match it with a PC.
Matching The PS5’s CPU
So, first up, we need to find a match for 8 AMD Zen 2 backed CPU cores. How about…8 AMD Zen 2-backed CPU cores with the Ryzen 7 3700X? Better yet, the Ryzen 5 5700X offers the same core count on an even better architecture for about the same ~$300-ish price point.
Estimated CPU Cost (Ryzen 7 3700X or newer/better 8 core equivalent): ~$300
Matching The PS5’s RAM and VRAM
As outlined earlier, the PlayStation 5 has 16GB of GDDR6 VRAM that is used by both CPU and GPU as system and graphics memory, respectively. Since they’re all close by on the same SoC, this doesn’t introduce any real problems, though there’s still a small 512 MB DDR4 cache onboard, and you definitely can’t use GDDR6 VRAM as system memory on a PC.
With that in mind, we’ll have to just focus on matching system memory to the best of our ability. For modern gaming experiences, I prefer to stick with recommending 16GB of DDR4 or DRR5 RAM wherever possible. Very very few games actually require more than 8GB of system RAM, and the ones that do are very well taken care of with 16GB to spare.
Estimated 16 GB DDR4 or DDR5 RAM Cost: ~$50-80
Matching The PS5’s SSD Storage
So, the PlayStation 5 actually has a unique thing going on with its storage. It’s still using NVMe Gen 4 storage, like one would expect from a current-generation console, but its drive is actually specced for 825 Gigabytes instead of 1 Terabyte.
While I suspect that this has given Sony some cost savings, I’m not sure how well this passes on to a consumer trying to build a competing PC, since…I can’t actually find any 800 GB Gen 4 NVMe drives. The market is largely dominated by 512 GB and 1 TB drives, at least at the time of writing.
Honestly, I’d say spending the extra money on the 1 TB NVMe drive is worth it, especially from a consumer-building-a-PC side of things. Just make sure that it’s a high-speed Gen 4 NVMe drive, since many PS5 games are built explicitly around that faster storage and multi-platform games are bound to follow with time.
Plus, SSDs are generally just…really good for gaming, especially when accompanied by powerful hardware.
Estimated 825GB-1TB NVMe Gen4 SSD Cost: ~$80-120
Matching The PS5’s GPU
The closest analog to the PS5’s custom AMD RDNA 2 GPU with 36 Compute Units is actually the AMD RX 6700, which has the exact same number of compute units. Despite this, I’d still recommend opting for the AMD RX 6700 XT or the Nvidia RTX 3070 if you’re looking to duplicate the graphics performance of the PS5 as closely as possible, leaning toward the RTX card if you want to use real-time ray-tracing in your games.
A benchmark run showcasing the PS5 against the RX 6700 XT. The 6700 XT maintains a healthy lead in most games, but (not shown in this benchmark), won’t perform nearly as well with ray-tracing games as the console or an RTX card will.
While the 6700 XT and RTX 3070 are both admittedly a little better than what the PS5 has to offer, it’s important to remember that the PS5 will be optimized for as a target platform for years to come. Over time, the 6700-esque chip inside the PS5 will get more performance squeezed out of it than an actual RX 6700, so having some leeway will go a long way here.
Estimated AMD RX 6700 XT/Nvidia RTX 3070 Cost: ~$500
Estimated Total PC Cost (Adding $200 for Case, PSU, Misc): ~$1150+
When You Should Consider Just Getting a PS5
So if you’ve made it this far, you’ve probably realized by now that the PlayStation 5 is the far less expensive option. It’s pretty difficult to argue with a 5-600 dollar price discrepancy for roughly the same level of performance. Even if there’s a performance advantage for the PC here, it comes at a disproportionately high cost compared to the economics of gaming console pricing.
Honestly, if you just can’t afford to build a competitive PC and aren’t already invested in PC gaming and what it has to offer, I wouldn’t fault you for buying a PS5. Many PS exclusives are getting ported to PC over time, but they still stay on PlayStation for quite a while, and PlayStation exclusive games are generally pretty good. I’m personally still waiting for a Ghost of Tsushima PC port, because even on PS4 that is one of the most beautiful games I have seen in my entire life.
The one thing I want to say if PS5 is clearly the better option for you is to stick with the $500 Edition. While saving even more money for a Digital-only version might sound nice, the long-term implications for game ownership and access don’t sit well with me. Plus, you have to understand the reason why that version is cheaper: a disc drive doesn’t cost Sony $100 to give you, but removing one means that you can only buy games from their online storefront.
Don’t fall for it. Keep yourself open to physical game ownership and competitive physical game prices with the disc drive model. That’s, like, half the point of getting a console instead of a PC.
Why a Gaming PC Is Better Than a PS5
Now, I’ll admit: this is not a pricing argument. Pricing-wise, the current-generation consoles are kind of devastating PC builds right now. And honestly, they should. The PlayStation 4 and Xbox One were not competitive with budget PC performance for more than like a year or two after their launch, so having gaming consoles release that are actually really solid compared to current-gen PC hardware is a very good thing.
However, game pricing doesn’t tell the whole story. How many games do you like to buy in a year? While PC is a mainly-digital platform these days, you have many more storefronts to choose from than on console, and with it some pretty extreme discounts on games. Competition between storefronts on PC breeds killer sale prices, especially during the Summer and Winter.
Beyond game pricing, there’s also all the other benefits of a PC. You can use any controller you want without having to buy adapters. You can play across multiple generations of games, even past consoles through emulation, pretty seamlessly. And you can personally tweak and configure your PC and game settings in order to achieve the best balance for your preferences in your games of choice.
Me personally? I love turning off extraneous graphical features and visual clutter in favor of maximizing in-game FPS and fluidity. I’ve been playing games at 100+ FPS on PC for years before the Xbox Series or PlayStation 5 consoles came out, and PC is still the best place for experimenting and pushing experiences like that.
All I need now is for Ghost of Tsushima to get a PC port. We got God of War, so that can’t be too far behind…right?