The Sony PS5 release date is reportedly November 20, 2020. That’s in exactly one year’s time with a launch price of $499. Now, that’s a lot of money for a console, but not a lot of cash with which to build a gaming PC. How close can we get to the specs of the new PlayStation 5 with today’s PC parts or the unreleased components set to arrive in our machines by this time next year?
That’s going to be a tall order, considering that Sony will be working on tight margins and high volumes with AMD in terms of the custom CPU and GPU pairing, and it might be tough to bag a set of PC silicon with the same grunt, but we’ll see how close we can get…
It’s also worth mentioning that Microsoft will have its own next-gen console out for the holidays next year, with the Xbox Scarlett (or whatever its final name will be) also expected to be priced around the $500 mark too. Both consoles are powered by the same AMD hardware, so will it be possible to spec out a PC to take on both of the next-gen consoles without breaking the bank?
The first thing that we need to figure out is what exactly we’re looking at in terms of the specs of the new PlayStation game box. We know it’s going to be powered by AMD custom silicon, but what will the equivalent PC hardware be?
What are the Sony PS5 specs?
The PS5 is set to come with an eight-core CPU rocking the latest AMD Zen 2 processor architecture, the same as you’ll find in today’s Ryzen 7 3700X. Paired with that is a GPU part that sports the Navi GPU architecture, but I guess we’re expecting it to be utilising the RDNA 2.0 update because it’s graphics silicon is supposed to offer ray tracing support based in the hardware.
Well, it ought to be hardware-accelerate ray tracing, because if Sony tries to do it in software it’s going to end up a hot mess.
With that Navi-based GPU I’d expect to see around 8GB of GDDR6 being used for the system memory, the same level as the PS4 Pro, but with the new memory architecture for XTREME BANDWIDTHZ.
We don’t know what sort of spec the graphics silicon is going to have, but given the PS4 Pro’s AMD GPU runs to 4.2TFLOPS of graphical compute power, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to expect around double that with the PS5. The Navi-powered RX 5700, with its 36 compute units, comes in at a shade under 8TFLOPS at its boost frequency, while the RX 5700 XT, with 40 CUs, offers 8.2TFLOPs at its base clock speed.
The PS5 is also going to come rocking an SSD for the first time in a console, that what has led to some excitable claims about it offering “raw bandwidth higher than any SSD available for PCs.” To be fair that claim was made before the Ryzen 3000 chips launched with a platform capable of running PCIe 4.0 solid state drives, so it’s likely not a claim it can make anymore.
I think it might be a stretch to expect a 1TB PCIe 4.0 SSD to go into the $499 PS5, but a 500GB drive might be a possibility.
So, how do we get close to that on PC? The closest you’ll be able to get in terms of the straight Gonzalo system-on-a-chip (SoC) that’s going to feature in either the PS4 or the Xbox Scarlett will be the upcoming Zen 2-based APUs. The Ryzen 4000 series will kick off with these APUs “coming in early 2020,” so sayeth Dr. Su.
Sadly, even though the Ryzen 4000-series APUs will feature more compute units in their GPU components than in previous generations, that’s still likely to be limited to around 12 CUs. And that will barely net you the same sort of GPU performance as the OG PS4. There’s also the fact that the graphics architecture is only going to have a scant few Navi features, with the actual chip being more closely linked to Vega.
So, we can forget that… we’re going to need both a graphics card and a processor to match the PS5. Luckily the Ryzen 7 3700X, AMD’s current eight-core, 16-thread Zen 2 chip will be out-dated by the new, supposedly seriously faster, Zen 3 design by the time the new PlayStation rolls around this time next year.
That should mean the 3000-series will have some serious discounts, so you might end up finding the $330 3700X for the same $190 the Ryzen 7 2700X is today. Though that price could still drop as we edge closer to Black Friday…
That will be an overkill CPU in comparison with the PS5, which will have the same essential core configuration but will necessarily run at a lower clock speed. That fat development chassis isn’t what the eventual PlayStation 5 is going to sit inside, so it’s going to need to be happy chilling inside more thermally constrained environs.
The six-core, 12-thread Ryzen 5 3600 would still give you equivalent gaming performance because of its higher clock speed, and by next year that could be a $100 chip like the 2600 is today. We’re shaving some cash off the build… but not enough, because getting a GPU that the PS5 is seemingly promising will be tough.
We are working on rumours and speculation here, but if we take the RX 5700 as an equivalent GPU then that’s a $300 card today. Come next year there’s a chance RDNA 2.0 will be available on the PC too in some form, and hopefully the gen-on-gen performance uplift would have an RX 5700 equivalent on the new ray tracing-capable architecture sitting lower down the GPU price ladder.
Let’s be hugely optimistic and call that a $200 card. Hell, if Nvidia’s Ampere comes out around Gamescom next year with stellar ray tracing and rasterising performance, and is a better value prospect than the RTX 2000-series cards, then AMD might have to be that aggressive on pricing.
Okay, so we have a powerful GPU and CPU combo that optimistically costs us $300.
That leaves us $200 to grab a chassis, PSU, 4K Blu-ray player, a 500GB PCIe 4.0 SSD, 8GB of DDR4 memory, and an AM4 motherboard. We can forget spending on a Windows license cos the PS5 runs on Linux so we can get that for free, all it’ll cost us is our sanity as we try and manage the vagaries of the terminal and getting Proton to work okay.
Still, even saving on the OS getting all that under $200 is impossible. But, you can forget the 4K Blu-ray player – ‘cos optical media is dead, man – and a PCIe 4.0 SSD is just phallus-waving stuff right now, which means you can get everything else for around the $280 mark, which ain’t bad.
You can grab an Asus B450 for $80, a Corsair 100R chassis for $50, 8GB of Crucial DDR4 for $39, a 500W EVGA PSU for $47, and a 512GB PCIe 3.0 Addlink S70 SSD for just $62.
|PlayStation 5||PCStation 5|
|CPU||Custom AMD Zen 2 (8-core)||AMD Ryzen 5 3600 (6-core)|
|GPU||Custom Navi-based GPU||AMD RX 5700 (or equivalent)|
|Memory||8GB GDDR6||8GB DDR4|
|Motherboard||Some Foxconn crap||Asus B450M-A|
|Chassis||Some cheap black slab||Corsair 100R (w/ peep hole)|
|PSU||Some basic external brick||EVGA 500W|
|SSD||Some 500GB WD PCIe 4.0 thing||512GB Addlink S70 PCIe 3.0|
Okay, even with my super optimistic future pricing calculations we’re looking at a nearly $600 PC build, with fewer cores than the PS5 and no (pointless) optical disk drive. That does go to show the level of buying power Sony has with the level of sales it can guarantee with a new console. Sony can buy components for a lot less than we can… damn those economies of scale.
The sort of PC that would offer would easily match the PS5 in terms of straight performance, and smash it in terms of super versatility too, but putting together that build would be a lot more effort than dropping some cash on a next-gen console. And you wouldn’t have to drive your blood pressure through the roof trying to learn Linux, either.
Hmm, so basically what I’m saying is that if you need a new gaming machine this time next year and only have $500 to spend, then you best buy a PS5. Jeez, I am so sacked…
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