PC vs PS5 in 2021: Where Should You Spend Your Money?

While a costly endeavor, building a gaming PC does have many advantages over buying just a PlayStation 5 outright.
While a costly endeavor, building a gaming PC does have many advantages over buying just a PlayStation 5 outright.

Everyone knows that you can't just compare a custom-build desktop or PC to any console, even if it's the PlayStation 5.

It's like comparing apples to oranges - they're just not the same.

Of course, even though that's the case, it doesn't mean that people haven't and will not try to do so, like what we're about to do today.

While it is indeed true that a PC and a PlayStation 5 are very different, it's still interesting to discuss whether or not Sony's latest flagship console can go toe-to-toe with a PC.

Is There A Way To Do A Fair Comparison of PC vs PS5?

First things first, it's important to keep in mind that the difference in architecture between a PC and a PlayStation 5 means that a fair direct comparison will never happen.

Even if the latest PlayStation 5 does indeed sport a Zen 2 processor and an RDNA2-based Navi graphics card, which do have PC hardware counterparts, both have been heavily customized by Sony in more ways than we can imagine.

Besides, unlike the PC, the memory is shared between the graphics card and processor in the PlayStation 5.

So, yeah, it's the perfect example of the popular Thai phrase, "same same but different".

With that said, we are still going to try and build a PC that's competitive with the PlayStation 5 specs at the same price point.

For reference, here is a video from Sony themselves revealing the insides of the PlayStation 5.

Building a PC to Compete Against the PlayStation 5

With an average price of around 9, a good motherboard for a proper PC build won't come cheap.
With an average price of around $199, a good motherboard for a proper PC build won't come cheap.

The PlayStation 5 has an SRP of $399 and $499 for the diskless and standard versions, respectively.

There's only one difference between the two console editions - it's that the standard PlayStation 5 has a 4K Blu-ray drive. You can use this disc drive to read PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 discs, as well as Blu-ray movies. However, everything else is the same.

Now, if you're going to build a PC to match the PlayStation 5, you'll need to consider the processor and graphics card first.

In terms of performance, the most logical PC counterpart is the AMD Ryzen 7 3700x. It's got the same 8-core and 16-thread Zen 2 processor that the PlayStation 5 has. Although it runs at a max speed of 4.4Ghz, both have the same core- and thread-count.

Meanwhile, for the graphics card, you'll have to be a bit more flexible as there's only a handful of video cards on the market based on the RDNA 2 architecture.

The fastest among them is the RX 6900XT. It's the fastest AMD graphics card today. It has 80 compute units all running at a 2015 base frequency and maxes out at around 2250 MHz. It also has 16GB of GDDR6 memory. However, it's far too powerful.

The RX 6800XT and the 6800 are both cheaper and less powerful than the 6900XT, but both are still noticeably more powerful than the GPU on the PlayStation 5. This. then, leaves us with the RX 6700 and the 6700XT. Both have yet to release but are expected to launch sometime in March with better availability (more on this later on).

With that said, we're going with the RX 5700 XT for now.

Even though the RX 5700XT0 is based on older RDNA architecture, it has roughly around the same compute units (40 compute units to the PS5's 36 compute units) and peaks at 9.8 teraflops (against the 10.28 teraflops of the PlayStation 5).

Then, to balance the system out, you'll need to put, at minimum, 16GB of DDR4 memory. This is so that the PC can keep up with the most demanding games available today.

How Much Will a PC-Equivalent to the PlayStation 5 Cost?

So far, we've recommended the AMD Ryzen 3700x ($329), the AMD RX 5700XT ($399), and lastly, 16GB of DDR4 memory ($80). However, you'll need to remember that these three components alone do not make a gaming PC.

In addition to the processor, graphics card, and memory, you'll need to purchase a power supply (roughly around $100 to $150) and a mid-end motherboard with enough features ($150 to $200), as well as a storage drive ($100) and a PC case ($100).

This brings the total to around $1250, which is far higher than you'd pay for a PlayStation 5.

Even if you bought a PlayStation 5 from a scalper or a re-seller, which reportedly costs anywhere between $800 to $1,000, you still would've saved money compared to building a PC that's as powerful as a PlayStation 5.

This makes building a gaming PC that rivals the PlayStation 5 far from cheap. Even worse, there's no guarantee that the PC will be faster than the PlayStation 5.

Case in point, the storage drive of the PlayStation 5 has been tweaked by Sony. It's more efficient and faster even when you compare it to a storage drive with similar specs used on a PC and even on an Xbox Series X.

It's also no secret that most games are optimized to perform better on consoles first, so even if the PC ends up being more powerful on paper, that doesn't necessarily mean that it'll perform better.

Is There a Reason To Buy a PC vs PS5?

Of course. Not only would our proposed build be faster or just as fast as the PlayStation 5 in many aspects, but it's also far more versatile.

Unlike the PlayStation 5 that can only be used mostly for gaming, a similarly-specced PC will be able to do a whole lot more. The said components are enough to make the PC a capable machine for graphic artists, video editors, and even streamers. You can also upgrade your PC down the line once your needs grow in the future.

There is also a growing number of former console exclusives making their way to the PC. This includes Days Gone. Sure, you'll have to wait a while, but games are generally also cheaper on the PC. This means that you'll have more games to play anyway, so the wait won't be as long.

PC vs PS5 - Who's The Winner?

At its price and if simply for gaming, it's hard to beat the PlayStation 5 in terms of value.
At its price and if simply for gaming, it's hard to beat the PlayStation 5 in terms of value.

From a gaming standpoint, the PlayStation 5 wins.

There's a reason why the PlayStation 5 is the gaming console and not the PC. It's built and manufactured specifically for gaming. Sony keeps the costs relatively low compared to a similarly-specced PC due to a combination of volume and selling at a loss to profit from extra services that they provide for PlayStation users.

Then there's the problem of availability. Manufacturers are currently having a hard time meeting the demand for high-performance graphics cards.

Although the PlayStation 5 is partly affected by this, Sony will be able to keep up with the demand eventually. However, there's no telling when that'll happen with graphics cards. This is because, aside from the chip shortage, bitcoin miners and scalpers are currently driving graphics cards prices up by buying them in bulk.

Nvidia has already taken a step to make their own line of graphics cards less desirable in the eyes of miners. However, it's a temporary measure at best.

Not that we condone scalpers, but if that's the only way you can get one and you have the money, then, by all means, do it. But, if you can't afford a PlayStation 5 right now, a good alternative is to get a PlayStation 4 Pro.

Although the PlayStation 4 Pro isn't as good or powerful, it's much more readily available.

Sure, our proposed PC might be powerful enough to contend with the next-gen console. The only problem is that the graphics card alone costs just as much as the console itself and that's if you can get your hands on one.

At the end of the day, the choice is completely up to you.

There's really no better choice when comparing a PC to the PlayStation 5 because they're not exactly meant to compete against each other. Also, each purchase comes with its own set of disadvantages and advantages, so it's important that you think your decision through first before building your own PC or buying a PlayStation 5.

Just keep in mind that a PlayStation 5, at most, can cost you around $500 (or $800 from scalpers), while a similarly-specced PC can set you back by $1,600 to $2,000.

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Ray Ampoloquio

Ray Ampoloquio // Articles: 5880

Ray is a lifelong gamer with a nose for keeping up with the latest news in and out of the gaming industry. When he's not reading, writing, editing, and playing video games, he builds and repairs computers in his spare time. You can find Ray on Twitter and LinkedIn.
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