There are a lot of ways to build a gaming PC not only in terms of budget and components but also in terms of format and design. Usually, we always stick to a range division (low, mid and high ranges) to make it easier for us to identify each type of configuration.
After the Xbox 360 and the PS3 arrived and grew strong, there was a total tendency for development studios to prioritize consoles as development engines in order to create games. It has been like this up until now, and it shows in terms of graphics quality, tech specs and hardware refresh cycles, which have been lengthened notably.
To understand this better, we just have to provide a simple example: users who built a mid-end gaming PC in 2013 can still play any current game at 1080p after adjusting graphics settings. In case you are wondering, the usual setup for that time had at least the following components:
- Core i5 2500
- 8 GB of DDR3
- GTX 760 or Radeon R9 270X
We hope this tendency remains the same after the PS5 and Xbox Two are launched. These are two next-gen consoles that should arrive in a couple of years approximately (during 2020 if it all goes as planned).
In this article, we already talked about the basic specs that we think the PS5 will have in terms of hardware. In this other article, we talked about Microsoft’s next-gen console. That being said, we wanted to write this special article to tell you the hardware requirements a PC should meet in order to endure the transition prompted by those consoles.
Before we begin, we have to make something clear: when we say “endure the transition,” we mean that a PC has to keep delivering a performance as good as to be able to play next-gen games in acceptable conditions.
We are convinced that the arrival of the next generation will propel Windows 10 to new heights. Said OS will not be essential for running every next-gen game, as some games will still support DirectX 11 and Vulkan, which work from Windows 7 onward. However, we still expect DirectX 12 to be supported notably more.
In order for each and every game to avoid issues and be totally compatible, it is essential to have Windows 10. In fact, there currently are some games that can only be run with that OS.
Those of you who read our articles daily already know that DirectX 12 manages the OS’ resources better thanks to advanced features that are not present in DirectX 11, so widely implementing DirectX 12 would benefit users.
As of now, it is possible to play almost any game optimally with processors as modest as the Pentium G4560, which has 2 cores and 4 threads, although the ideal minimum requirement is to have a 4-core processor.
The arrival of the PS4 and Xbox One prompted the change from processors with 2 cores and 2 threads to processors with 4 cores as a minimum requirement. This is happening again due to the launch of the Xbox Two and PS5.
In theory, both consoles will have an 8-core processor based on AMD’s Zen architecture. At least 2 of those cores will be used for the system, so developers will only have access to 6 cores.
Having said this, we know that processors like the Core i5 8400 or the Ryzen 5 1600 should be able to handle the transition prompted by both consoles seamlessly.
RAM memory also experienced a major shift when the Xbox 360 and PS3 were launched. Most games started requiring 2-4 GB of RAM memory to run optimally.
With the Xbox One and PS4, games started requiring 8 GB, although some games already consume 10 GB of RAM. We are convinced that it will be mandatory to have at least 16 GB of RAM to run games once Sony and Microsoft’s next-gen consoles hit the market.
Bear in mind that RAM frequency matters. Slower DDR3 memories could pose a problem even with 16 GB (speeds below 1.6 GHz, probably).
This is one of the most important components that raises a lot of questions. Once again, we go back in time to explain everything as best as possible. When the Xbox 360 and PS3 were launched, the recommended graphics cards so gaming PCs could run games smoothly were the GeForce 9600 GT/8800 GTS or the Radeon HD 3850-3870, all of them with 512 MB.
The arrival of the Xbox One and PS4 raised the bar in that regard to the point where the minimum requirement for an acceptable experience was either a 2 GB GTX 660 or a 2 GB Radeon HD 7850, although it is possible to use 1 GB models if we reduce texture quality and resolution.
We still have no clear information as to the exact GPU that the next-gen consoles will have, but everything points to a semicustom GPU based on Navi that would perform like the Radeon RX Vega 56-64. Having that in mind, we think gaming PCs should have a GTX 1070 Ti or a Radeon RX Vega 56 as the minimum requirement in order to face the transition seamlessly.
SSDs have become the norm, and they are replacing HDDs at an outstanding pace in both casual and professional environments. However, it is true that HDDs have a better price-GB ratio, so they are still being used in a lot of configurations.
In terms of performance, we have already seen how SSDs can notably improve the user experience on a gaming PC, as they improve texture loading and reduce load times and popping. However, SSDs are more expensive than HDDs, and most SSDs have a storage capacity of 240-500 GB.
Given that current games take up around 60-100 GB, we know that it is best to have at least a 2 TB drive if we want to install several games or if we want to avoid having to uninstall games to install new ones.
We hope that the arrival of the Xbox Two and PS5 means we can get higher-quality textures. But it also means that games will be heavier, so having a 2 TB drive will be essential. We can forgo SSDs, but if you decide to buy an HDD, it should be at least a 7,200 RPM one.
After all we have talked about, we can now give you some examples of current configurations, which should face the transition prompted by the next-gen consoles seamlessly. We will give you 3 examples of gaming PCs so you can have a basis to work with based on you budget.
Minimum for an acceptable experience:
- Core i5 8400 or Ryzen 5 1600
- 12 GB of RAM
- Radeon RX Vega 56 or GTX 1070 Ti
Minimum for a good experience:
- Core i5 8700 or Ryzen 5 2600
- 16 GB of RAM
- Radeon RX Vega 64 or GTX 1080
Recommended configuration for an optimum transition:
- Core i7 7820X or Ryzen 7 2700
- 16 GB of RAM
- GeForce GTX 1080 Ti