Sony has finally moved tab with its new generation console. We already know all your keys, but what components should it have a PC to be at the PS5 level? It is an interesting question, and I am convinced that it has been around the head of many of our readers in recent days.
Last year, before the specific specifications of said console were confirmed, we dared to publish an article in which we saw precisely that question, that is, we analyzed what a PC should have to be at the PS5 level, and the truth is than we had enough aim, although we did not get to hit the bull’s eye at all.
We already have all the PS5 features on the table, although Sony has not confirmed what resources will be free for developers and what part of them will be reserved to the system. It is an important nuance, since it implies a reduction of the real hardware that is available for games. In the case of Xbox Series X we know that a processor core and 2.5 GB of GDDR6 in its variant at 336 GB / s for the system, which means that developers will have access to seven cores (14 threads) and 13, 5 GB of unified GDDR6 memory.
I do not think that PS5 will differ much from what we have seen in Xbox Series X, that is, most likely, Sony ends up also reserving between 2.5 GB and 3 GB of memory to the system, in addition to a CPU core . On Xbox One and PS4 developers only had, at first, access to six of the eight processor cores, and had 5 GB of unified memory of a total of 8 GB.
I wanted to start by making that clarification because when considering the hardware that a PC must have to be at the PS5 level, we do not have to start, strictly speaking, with its basic hardware, but of the hardware that is free after discounting that part of the same that is reserved to the system. This reality helps us understand why some new generation titles with 6 GB of RAM can be played so well, especially in the first stage of Xbox One and PS4, and why quad-core processors were a standard for so long. .
It is also important to note that we do not know the exact cache settings that it uses the Zen 2 processor of PS5, and that the improvement in terms of IPC that will bring the RDNA 2 architecture remains a mystery, as well as its performance with ray tracing. This means that we are still going a little blind when evaluating the necessary components of a PC to be at the PS5 level.
However, the first technical demos we’ve seen in both real games and technical demos (Minecraft RTX running on an Xbox Series X and the Unreal Engine 5 demo) leave us a fairly reliable base that serves as a starting point:
We already have the base, now let’s see the components that we would need to shape a PC that is at the PS5 level.
What components does a PC need to be at PS5 level?
We start with processor. We know that PS5 will use a CPU based on the Zen 2 architecture with 8 cores capable of reaching frequencies up to 3.5 GHz, but it is a semi-personalized design, which means that it will be able to move up to 16 threads reducing the working frequency, and which could have very limited cache settings.
We have already seen that Microsoft confirmed that the Xbox Series X CPU will operate at 3.8 GHz with 8 cores and 8 threads, and that will drop to 3.6 GHz with 16 active threads. Since PS5 uses the same type of chip we can expect a similar problem.
The cache theme is undefined, but if your processor is confirmed will have only 4MB of L3 cache the drop in terms of performance would be so great that even with a Ryzen 1000 series (first generation) we would have everything we need on our PC to be at the PS5 level when it comes to CPU. A lot of information has pointed in this direction, and I must say that for cost reasons I see it complicated that AMD was able to integrate a Zen 2 CPU with 8 cores and 16 threads with 32MB L3 cache and an RDNA 2 GPU with 2,304 shaders in an APU while maintaining a reasonable cost.
We have all the information we need to make a decision, and I think it is very simple. Since PS5 will have a processor with a minimum of 7 free cores at a relatively low frequency (up to 3.5 GHz) and an IPC lower than Zen 2 I think that from a Ryzen 5 1600 AF We would have everything a PC needs to be at the PS5 level. This processor has 6 cores and 12 threads at a frequency of 3.2 GHz-3.6 GHz, normal and turbo mode, has 16 MB of L3 cache and can be overclocked up to 3.8 GHz-4 GHz, according to how lucky we are with the silicon lottery.
We now jump to talk about the graphic unit. We know that it will have 2,304 shaders, 144 texturing units, 64 raster units and that it will communicate with the GDDR6 memory through a 256-bit bus. Its working frequency will reach maximum peaks of up to 2.23 GHz. We are not clear about the improvement in terms of IPC that the RDNA 2 architecture used in said graphics unit will bring, but we have substantial information that serves as a basis for making a decision:
AMD has focused on talking about a significant increase in terms of efficiency. This suggests that the improvement in terms of gross power may be less marked than expected.
PS5 was unable to move the Unreal Engine 5 demo at the level of an RTX 2070 Super, is what is deduced interpreting the words of the chief engineer of Epic Games without twisting or exaggerating them.
Xbox Series X was unable to move, despite having a more powerful GPU than that of PS5, Minecraft RTX smoothly in 1080p with ray tracing, an RTX 2060 can.
If we put together these three keys, and the specifications that we have given you in the previous paragraphs, I think the conclusion is clear, if we want to mount a PC to be at the level of a PS5, it should suffice for us an RTX 2060 Super, and at best, since basically something tells me that even with an RTX 2060 we could be at its level, or even a little above it.
Regarding the ray tracing I reiterate what I have said on other occasions, I have seen rumors that ensure that the RDNA 2 architecture not really above the 20 series RTX working with such technology, somewhat understandable since it is the first adventure of AMD with ray tracing, and that both PS5 and Xbox Series will use this technology in a very limited way, and with “tricks” to reduce its impact on performance , such as temporary accumulations and rescaling.
I must say that the demo that AMD published at the time clearly reinforces those rumors, since it is quite poor, it presents blurred reflections and little care and it also has very limited frame rate per second (Look at the jerks, they are more than evident).
We have a cheap but powerful processor and a mid-range graphics card with ray tracing acceleration and 8 GB of GDDR6, now it’s time to take a look at the RAM memory. It is clear that with 8 GB we would not have what a PC needs to be at the PS5 level, we must look for a configuration with 16 GB of RAM. From a frequency of 3,200 MHz and CL16 latencies, configured in dual channel, we would already have enough, and the Ryzen 5 1600 AF could develop its full potential without problems.
We now enter a tricky topic, the SSD. It is without a doubt the most complicated component to match, since the unit that mounts PS5 reaches the 5.5 GB / s in sequential operations uncompressed, and has a capacity of 825 GB. That speed is unattainable with a drive under the PCIE Gen3 x4 standard, which means we have to acquire a motherboard that supports the PCIE Gen4 x standard4, something that greatly increases the cost of the team, and look for a unit of enough capacity. The 1TB Corsair MP600 Force Series would be the closest option as it grazes at 5GB / s.
All in all, I am clear that any current PCIE Gen3 x4 SSD can offer an excellent experience in new generation games, since Xbox Series X mounts a unit that works at 2.4 GB / s, and in the end the developers will always prioritize the lowest common value, as has happened so far with the very slow hard drives of PS4 and Xbox One.
We already have the processor, the graphics card and the RAM, and we have talked about the topic of the motherboard and the storage unit, but we still have a couple of pending things that this PC would need to be at the PS5 level, the 4K Blu-ray optical drive and the sound solution. In the market There is no direct equivalent to the PS5 Tempest chip, since it is a customized solution, but a sound card like the Sound Blaster Z It will allow us to enjoy a first class sound making a reasonable investment.
We must also take into account that we need a chassis and a power supply. We would already have all the components that this PC needs to be at the PS5 level, at least on paper, since in the end the experience of using consoles is, as we know, much more polished and optimized, which means that it is very likely that the same games will end up working better on PS5 than on a PC with the configuration that we have mentioned.
Endnotes: the value of next-gen consoles
Assembling a PC with the components that we have indicated would be quite expensive. If we strictly follow all the components that we have indicated we would easily exceed the 1,000 euro band:
Ryzen 5 1600 AF: 119.99 euros.
Corsair MP600 Force Series 1TB: € 264.59.
Motherboard with X570 chipset: 115 euros.
16 GB of RAM at 3,200 MHz CL16: 89 euros.
Sound Blaster Z sound card: 72 euros.
RTX 2060 Super graphics card: from 379 euros.
Power supply: from 50 euros.
Chassis with fans: from 40 euros.
If we add a Blu-ray drive the cost would be even higher, that is evident. With this in mind it is clear that the idea that PS5 and Xbox Series X reach the market with a price of between 500 and 600 euros is not at all crazy, since the components that a PC needs to be at the PS5 level double those figures (1,129.58 euros the configuration that we have given, without Blu-ray drive).
I know what you are thinking, how is it possible to launch consoles with such hardware at such a low price (compared to its PC equivalent)? It is very simple, both Sony and Microsoft have agreements with the big ones in the sector to get components at very low prices, in fact the PS4 APU cost $ 100, and that only its GPU was equivalent to a graphics card that was around 250 dollars in the general consumer market.
I think that example perfectly illustrates the reality of console hardware. The PC world has many advantages, we have already talked about it on other occasions, but from a perspective limited to the cost of hardware consoles offer more interesting value, especially in the first half of its life cycle.