Building a Budget $500 Gaming PC Vs. a Console Late 2014
When the Xbox One and PS4 were released late last year many gamers praised them for their performance. That being said many felt that inexpensive gaming PC and Steambox options would quickly offer more for the same amount of money. So, now that we're nearly halfway through 2014, how does this matchup look now and what kind of gaming PC can we build for just around $500?
Also as the console moves closer to this PC, is this their last generation or are there still some intangibles that make them stand out? Here are my thoughts.
PC Vs. Xbox One Vs. Vs. Playstation 4
Even if you could build a PC that is as good or better than a console there are some inherent benefits to consoles that make them attractive to certain types of gamers.
1. Exclusive Games
AAA titles are one reason that console gamers purchase the console itself. Keeping consoles cheap means that Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo can charge full price for their exclusive titles later. Games like Forza 5, Halo Spartan Assault, Drive Club, and Knack are just a few examples.
There are also many games which have an exclusive deal with a particular console that are still found on PC. An example of a game like this would be Titanfall which was found on PC and a console exclusive to the Xbox One.
2. Kid-Friendly Material
As a parent I don't mind if my kids play video games, but younger kids are better off away from the online communities that develop with many of the PC games. The Wii U is especially attractive here with exclusive games like Super Smash Bros, Mario Kart, and Mario 3D world. It can also play most of the games geared towards kids including lego games, Skylanders, and some that both adults and children like such as Legend of Zelda.
3. Optimization / Plug-and-Play
Console games come optimized and playable. This may not mean a lot to you if you're tech-savvy, but for the technically challenged it's good to know that every game released for a console can be played on it. Whether it's 720p and upscaled to 1080p or not many that fall into this category don't seem to mind.
4. Split Screen and Multiplayer Options
Consoles often times have good multiplayer options that include split screen or even a single screen that up to 4 of your friends can play on. This differs from the PC where you most often will end up playing on a single monitor in different locations and using options like Teamspeak and Mumble to communicate.
5. Standardization of Performance and Controllers
When it comes to competitive gaming consoles have the advantage in that players share similar controls and have the same performance.
While controllers are widely available for PC gamers most prefer to use a mouse. A specialized controller, to some, is simply a more relaxing way to play. That being said on a PC you'll most likely be at a disadvantage vs. friends who use a mouse because of its inherent advantages.
1. Games Last a Lifetime
Buy a Game on PC and you don't have to worry about the next generation console not being compatible. In addition you can carry your entire library online through online retailers like Steam and Origin.
2. Higher Resolutions and Frame Rates
1920p and 60Hz is old hat. PC gamers are commonly playing at higher resolutions like 1440p and 4k, higher refresh rates up to 144Hz, and taking advantage of new game changing technologies like G-Sync from NVIDIA.
3. Cheaper Games
While consoles occasionally have the free trial or free game PC games are cheaper in general with many of them being free.
4. PC Exclusive Games
Many MOBAs and MMORPGs are PC-only. There's also a ton of other exclusive titles in just about any genre you can think of.
5. Free Online Gameplay
Internet is something you have to pay for when playing online for consoles or PC games. That being said the PS4 and Xbox One also charge a monthly fee of around $5 a month for online gaming. That may not seem like a lot but if you use your console online, then over the next 5 years that amounts to around $300.
A Good Budget $500 Gaming PC Build for 2014
Best Processors For Gaming Under $150
While consoles may be better optimized they don't really compare to a PC when it comes to pure performance. Below I've listed a build that, depending on current rebates and what you choose, should cost anywhere from $475 to $600.
In this price range we're somewhat limited by the CPU options that are available. That being said you still want to contribute a substantial portion of your overall budget to your processor as that's probably something you won't want to upgrade down the road. For that reason we're allocating as much as 30% of the overall budget to the processor. This puts us in line with a few different options including; the FX 8320, 6300, and the i3-4130.
If you go with the FX 6300 or the i3-4130, then you should be able to find these two starting around $119. That budget will allow you to allocate slightly more to your GPU right now. This will allow you to get more in-game FPS performance right now. That being said down the road the FX 8320 should have more longevity.
Good Graphics Card Options Under $150
If you're going for max performance here, then there's four graphics cards in the $120 to $150 range that should be on your list. This includes the GTX 750 TI, the GTX 750, R7 265, and the R7 260X with the better performance cards being the 750 TI and R7 265.
Ultimately, if you can find a good price on it the R7 265 will give you the best bang for your buck. That being said there is a case for the 750 TI including it's overclocking potential, it's low output, and it's G-Sync compatibility.
If you're trying to stick to the budget and chose the 8320 above, then go with the R7 260X for better performance or the 750 for G-sync compatibility.
Good Gaming Ram Under $80
In this price range our target for ram is 8GB. This should give you enough for your system to play today's latest games. RAM can be a little tricky to price shop for simply because the prices go up and down so much.
Two brands I trust are Kingston with their Hyper-X series and G.Skill with their Ripjaws series. I've listed a couple models below that are a good value this month.
Power Supply Options and What to Look For
This build should regularly use at its max 365 watts. That being said a Look for something that's inexpensive, around 500 watts, and at least 80 PLUS certified. One power supply that's drawn my attention for this month is Corsair's CX 500M which is regularly available for around $50 and with rebates as low as $35.
The Rest of the $500 Build
Look for a rebate when you go with this power supply to find it under $50.
A bonus to this particular PSU is that it also comes with modularity which should work well with your Mid Tower or Micro ATX case.
It doesn't fit in the budget, but the 1TB version only costs around $7 more.
This case is available for as low as $39,99 on a regular basis. It's a good option here, but other good choices include the Thermaltake V3 and the Rosewill Line-M as a Micro Option.
You can generally find this board on sale for around $50. You're getting the quality and durability of an Asus board with quite a few features in this price range as well.
My Most Recent PC Builds on YouTube
Want more PC Builds? Here's a look at 10 PC builds I put together for my YouTube channel.
Performance wise at this point it doesn't seem to be much of a competition when you compare a PC to the console. That being said the intangibles are what really make the console shine. Which would you rather have at this price point? Let me know by voting and commenting below. You can also find me on my YouTube Channel or for question on my facebook page.