The PS5 and Xbox Series X have finally landed in Australia at $749 a piece — and they’re offering an awful lot for that price. So if you wanted to enjoy that same quality experience on PC, just how much would it cost?
Before we begin, there’s a few caveats we need to highlight. Games on aren’t built to take advantage of NVMe drives the same way they’re benefiting on consoles, so even on the fastest PCI-e 4.0 drive today you won’t get substantially better loading times than, say, a regular SSD. Price is also a major factor, so top-tier PC GPUs are totally out of the question.
I’m also going to discount the cost of a keyboard and a mouse in the PC build. Those are accessories the majority of people generally already have on hand — or can acquire from a friend for nothing in a pinch. Similarly, the cost of a monitor won’t be counted. This one’s pretty straightforward: we don’t factor in the cost of a TV when buying a console, and so it makes sense not to add the premium into a PC build either.
However, I will be adding the cost of Windows 10 Home into the mix. You could use a PC without it if you really wanted to, but that’s like saying you shouldn’t buy PlayStation Plus or Xbox Game Pass Ultimate/Xbox Live on the consoles — it’s really not the same experience without it. However, if you’re capable of bringing your Windows 10 license over to a new rig, that’s a factor that should be considered.
Speaking of the subscriptions, I’ll also be calculating them over the course of three years. I’ll explain why in the following sections. And games will be covered too, although I’m not incorporating them into the price of each individual build.
As a final note: for the portion of international readers on Kotaku Australia, please note that all prices below are in Australian dollars. This isn’t something I usually earmark up front, but components pricing in Australia is significantly different than what’s available in the United States. The Australia Tax is still very real.
Cost of the PS5, Xbox Series X in Australia
Both the Xbox Series X and PS5 cost $749 in Australia, but the total end price is different after their respective subscriptions are factored in.
For the PS5, PlayStation Plus costs or $11.95/month or $79.95/year. So over three years, if you don’t buy any additional games, you’re looking at an extra $239.85, or $989.80 with the console included.
For Xbox Series X, you’ll need Xbox Game Pass Ultimate — which costs $15.95/month. The first month is always $1, so over the course of one year you’ll pay $176.45, and $559.25 over three years ($15.95 * 35 months + $1).
In total, that brings the Xbox Series X cost over three years to $1308.25. And while that doesn’t include the cost of games, Xbox Game Pass has a lot more titles, EA Play access, and exclusives like Halo: Infinite and future Bethesda games will be added to the service for free. So that’s something.
Cost of building a PC in Australia
Building a PC that can accomplish the same as the PS5 and Xbox Series X is a bit complicated, and there’s a couple of reasons why.
Firstly, consoles are traditionally sold at a loss. That doesn’t mean retailers like JB Hi-Fi are losing money on the consoles, but Sony and Microsoft famously sell them at a loss to recoup more money on games, services and these days, microtransactions. That doesn’t happen in the PC world, so there’s a higher margin on every individual piece of tech.
So to do this fairly, I’m going to spec out a couple of systems. The first is a PC matching how much you would spend on the Xbox Series X or the PS5 over three years. You could just build a PC around the upfront cost, but part of the PC platform is bearing an upfront cost for a longer-term benefit, so I think it’s fairer and more realistic to build it out that way.
The second PC will be one that can match the current capabilities of the new consoles. For this, I’m targeting something that can hit 1440p/120FPS or 4K/120 FPS in esports titles (like Dota 2, League of Legends, Rainbow 6: Siege, Counter-Strike and so on). This also matches the reality for the PS5 and Xbox Series X: they don’t hit a locked 120 FPS at 4K anyway, but it’s also still very early days for developers.
Building a PC for the cost of an PS5 or Xbox Series X
When the PS5 and Xbox Series X first launched, you could build a decent little rig for around the $1000 mark. It certainly wouldn’t support real-time ray-tracing, and 4K gaming was absolutely out of the question, but you could absolutely build a serviceable rig.
Almost 12 months on, the market is substantially more expensive. Prices of everything have completely shot up, by virtue of the fact that supply of everything is restricted, seemingly for years. And if you’re trying to stay within a budget, especially one with limited room to play, having to drop another $129 on Windows definitely doesn’t help.
The best thing we can do is to start with a Ryzen 5 2600 CPU, an older-gen six-core Ryzen part that still represents great entry-level value. It ships with its own cooler, so that helps a lot. The MSI B450 Tomahawk gets us something to plug the CPU into, and it has a single M.2 slot for NVMe drives in the future. The Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB DDR4-3200 CL16 kit is cheap and performs well, and the Crucial BX500 provides a 1TB SSD that should be sufficient at this price point.
Video cards are the real problem. Back around Christmas you could buy a RX 580 for about $220, which would have been an ideal inclusion for a system like this. Now, you can’t even get a GTX 1050 Ti without spending at least $349. Even a last-generation RTX 2060 is selling for almost $1000 in today’s market, which shows just how ridiculous the situation is right now.
On the case front, the Deepcool Gamer Storm Earlkase RGB V2 Case Black is available for $49, so at least we’re not spending more on that front. And the Corsair CV450 should give us the power required at a low pricepoint.
Here’s the total price list so far:
- CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 2600 3.4 GHz 6-Core Processor ($249.00 @ Scorptec)
- Motherboard: MSI B450 TOMAHAWK MAX ATX AM4 Motherboard ($139.00 @ Amazon Australia)
- Memory: Corsair Vengeance LPX 16 GB (2 x 8 GB) DDR4-3200 CL16 Memory ($125.00 @ Amazon Australia)
- GPU: ASRock Phantom Gaming Radeon RX 580 OC ($549 @ Scorptec)
- Storage: Crucial BX500 1 TB 2.5″ Solid State Drive ($124.00 @ PLE Computers)
- Power Supply: Corsair CV 450 W 80+ Bronze Certified ATX Power Supply ($59.00 @ Mwave Australia)
- Case: Deepcool Gamer Storm Earlkase RGB V2 Case Black ($49.00 @ PC Case Gear)
- OS: Microsoft Windows 10 Home ($129 @ Amazon Australia)
Basically, the price of the system has jumped by a few hundred dollars since the consoles launched — and it’s a worse system.
There’s another kicker too: you’ll notice that the cost of the parts above is all from separate retailers, which means the price will skyrocket due to all the extra shipping fees. So to limit that, most people generally buy all their PC parts from the same retailer, or two retailers at most. And when you do that, the prices can wildly change. (One other caveat though: Windows 10 keys are digital, so there’s no need to pay extra for a Windows license from a certain store — just order it from the cheapest place possible.)
The lack of supply, however, means that a lot of places don’t have all parts in stock like they normally would. Only Umart has good prices on the RX 580 right now — the next best option would cost you $500 or more. Many stores have two or three parts. RAM and SSDs are in fairly good supply locally, but vendors might not have that particular power supply. Or the case. Or that specific motherboard.
And the problem with the system above is, clearly, it’s not going to accomplish any of the high frame rates that the next-gen consoles can do. Sure: most games on the PS5 or Xbox Series X will be running at 60 FPS or 30 FPS with ray tracing. But with the system above, forget about ray tracing. The GPUs literally can’t support it. Buying one that can would cost you more than double what the next-gen consoles cost in Australia. (Even cards that are great at 1440p and 4K gaming, like the RX 6800 XT, are now selling for over $2,000, while the RX 6800 is no longer being produced.)
Our RX 580 build above will get good frame rates in games like Counter-Strike or Dota 2, but not at 4K. And you’ll be able to get around 120 FPS in more modern games at something like 1080p, but you might have to sacrifice some image quality — using High or Medium instead of Highest/Ultra presets — to get there.
So what would it take to build a PC that can match the consoles in terms of image quality, has support for ray tracing (but only at 30 FPS — we’re not aiming for 4K/60 FPS with this) and has storage that better mirrors what the PS5 and Xbox Series X can do?
Let’s find out.
Building a PC that can match the PS5, Xbox Series X in Australia
The upgrades sure as hell won’t come cheap. Our best option today is the RTX 3070. That card was priced at an MSRP of $809 in Australia, but at the time of writing the best option I can find in stock was the $1399 ZOTAC Gaming GeForce Twin Edge from PLE Computers.
That should give you an idea of how rough this is going to be.
To properly match the consoles we’ll need at least an 8-core CPU, better NVMe storage that utilises PCIe 4.0 drives, a motherboard that supports it all, and a better power supply and case to house it all. We’ll also want a slightly more efficient CPU cooler so the 5600X isn’t forced to drop clock speeds to keep temperatures in check.
- CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 5600X 3.7 GHz 6-Core Processor ($398.77 @ JW Computers)
- CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 RGB Black Edition 57.3 CFM CPU Cooler ($59.00 @ PC Byte)
- GPU: ZOTAC Gaming GeForce Twin Edge RTX 3070 ($1399 @ PLE Computers)
- Motherboard: MSI MAG B550 TOMAHAWK ATX AM4 Motherboard ($199.00 @ Centre Com)
- Memory: Corsair Vengeance LPX 16 GB (2 x 8 GB) DDR4-3200 CL16 Memory ($125.00 @ Amazon Australia)
- Storage: Samsung 980 Pro 1 TB M.2-2280 NVME Solid State Drive ($265.00 @ Centre Com)
- Case: Corsair 4000D Airflow ATX Mid Tower Case ($129.00 @ JW Computers)
- Power Supply: Corsair RM (2019) 750 W 80+ Gold Certified Fully Modular ATX Power Supply ($159.00 @ Centre Com)
- OS: Windows 10 Home ($129 @ Amazon Australia)
As with the PC before, the price of this build has gone up by a few hundred dollars since the PS5 / Xbox Series X launch — and there’s more trade-offs. There’s less storage (our previous build had an NVMe drive and an SSD drive), and obviously we haven’t factored in the cost of a monitor. That said, you don’t factor in the cost of a TV when buying a console either.
Still, $2800+ is quite a bit away from $749. And if you are the kind of person who can’t extract the cost of a monitor from their PC, then you’ve got several hundred dollars to add on top of that, if not more.
Cost of games on PC vs. PS5, Xbox Series X
One area where PC has a longer-term advantage is that discounts generally tend to be much steeper and more frequent on the PC. That’s helped by healthier competition across platforms, and while there’s no automatic freebies as a result of owning a PC (given that we’re not factoring in, say, the cost of Game Pass on PC) you can access games that become free to own on Steam or Epic Games when they’re available. And generally, they’re pretty damn good.
AAA games — which are probably the easiest comparison point between PC and consoles — can vary a lot. Take Tales of Arise, probably the first major JRPG to drop on next-gen consoles so far. That’s $89.95 digitally through Steam for PC, and $99.95 on the PlayStation Store whether you want the PS4 or PS5 version. If you shop around, you can get Tales of Arise on console for $69. On PC, the price has dropped to as low as $67.
Another good example: Deathloop. It’s $89.95 if you have PS+ through the PlayStation Store, and $99.95 if you don’t. Retailers are selling the game for around $79.95, however. And while the digital price through Steam is pretty high, PC users have been able to get Deathloop for around $69.
So it’s really hard to say whether you’d save more in the long-term buying games on PC vs. the PS5 or Xbox Series X. It comes down to what games you’re actually buying, and whether you’re happy to wait to play a few months to play them. The PC can be a lot better for indie titles and AA games that are discounted more frequently than on the consoles, but the consoles also have the benefit of super aggressive discounting by the likes of JB Hi-Fi, Big W and so on. (There’s also the Xbox Game Pass factor: what happens to things like the next Fallout or Starfield when you can access them via a $1/month special deal?)
What the comparison really makes clear is just how much the consoles are sold at a loss. When you look at how much a lot of the individual components cost, it’s hard not to appreciate the upfront value for the customer when thinking about the availability of future technologies like ray tracing or the superfast SSDs.
This doesn’t mean all the platforms are equal or that the value is equivalent from a purely gaming perspective — because PCs, of course, are capable of doing much more than playing games. Some games just aren’t, and won’t be, accessible on consoles. A lot of good MMOs, free-to-play games and indie titles aren’t available on consoles, not to mention the many excellent mods that keep games alive long after their developers and publishers move on.
So there’s a lot of caveats and asterisks with all of this. But even factoring that in, if you’re wondering whether the consoles are worth the price — honestly? For what they can do, and the fact that PC upgrades come around a lot more frequently than console generations, $749 is a bloody good deal.
This article has been updated with new pricing to reflect the current state of the market.