PlayStation 4, Xbox One… or a new PC?

With the PlayStation 4′s specs now out in the open and the console supposedly heading for a release before the end of 2013, the gaming world has been abuzz over how Sony Computer Entertainment’s new machine will match up to Microsoft’s forthcoming Xbox One. However, […]
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Electronic Theatre ImageWith the PlayStation 4′s specs now out in the open and the console supposedly heading for a release before the end of 2013, the gaming world has been abuzz over how Sony Computer Entertainment’s new machine will match up to Microsoft’s forthcoming Xbox One. However, there’s another side to this story that hasn’t been discussed quite as hotly: how does the new console match up to a custom-made gaming PC, in terms of price and performance?

Speaking to TechRadar recently, Nvidia’s senior vice-president of content and development Tony Tamasi was rather snippy about the PlayStation 4, saying the specs are “in the neighbourhood of a low-end CPU, and a low- to mid-range GPU”. Of course, this could have something to do with the factElectronic Theatre Image the PlayStation 4 is packing rival AMD Radeon’s hardware.

Sony has revealed that the PlayStation 4 will run on a single-chip custom processor utilising eight x86-64 Jaguar CPU cores – not a bad setup but hardly cutting-edge either, and lagging considerably behind the best Intel currently offers. Meanwhile, the GPU is similar to a Radeon 7850 card but has 18 GCN units, providing significant parallel processing capability. This is all backed up by 8GB of GDDR5 memory.

So far, the PlayStation 4′s specs look pretty impressive for a next-generation console, but how much would it cost to build your own PC of comparable or even greater power? Buying components separately from a store like Ebuyer, it may not be as much as you think. PC Gamer recently tried out this exercise for themselves, coming to the conclusion that it would cost around £430 GBP to have a machine that rivals the new Sony console’s specs.

Granted, the PlayStation 4′s price has not yet been announced so it’s hard to speculate on whether this represents a better deal hardware-wise. Rumours so far suggest it may be somewhere in the region of £299, making it considerably cheaper thanElectronic Theatre Image a comparable custom PC – but that would be to overlook the desktop platform’s extra functionality that allows for easy internet browsing, office applications and all the rest of it – not to mention unlimited upgradeability and access to the world’s biggest library of videogame titles.

Really, the situation is the same as it has always been: consoles for convenience, PCs for power. Those who don’t mind spending a little extra and doing a bit of tinkering will always have PCs that outshine the latest-generation consoles. And as with every new generation of consoles, videogame developers will flock to the new machines until they start to show their age; at which point, like salmon returning to their birthplace, they’ll start showing the PC some love again.

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