How to build a gaming PC more powerful than Xbox Project Scorpio

Make your own super-powerful gaming machine

While Microsoft got us to sit up and take notice at this year's E3 with its announcement of the incredibly powerful Project Scorpio console, our excitement was deflated somewhat with the news that it won't be coming out for at least a year and a half.

Fortunately, you can get a gaming machine that's even more powerful than the Xbox Scorpio right now – by building your very own gaming PC.

We've taken a look at the projected specifications for the Xbox Scorpio, and used PC components of equal or greater power to create a gaming machine that will blow the new Xbox out of the water.

And thanks to Microsoft's commitment to bringing all (or almost all) of its games to both PC and Xbox One, you'll be able to enjoy stunning 4K games right now.

Buying the graphics card

Microsoft has unsurprisingly been rather coy about the exact specifications of Project Scorpio, but we do know a few things that can help us determine what kind of graphical power it will have.

According to Microsoft, Project Scorpio will have six teraflops of graphical performance power. To put this jargon into perspective, the Xbox One has 1.32 teraflops, and the PlayStation 4 has 1.84.

While comparing the teraflop rating of a closed console (that hasn't even been released) with that of a graphics card is a bit like comparing apples and oranges, it can at least give us an idea of what sort of GPU power level we need to aim for.

To completely dominate the Xbox Scorpio over a year from its release, you'll want the most powerful graphics card in the world: the Nvidia GTX 1080. The GTX 1080 comes with 8GB of G5X memory, 2560 CUDA cores and an incredible nine teraflops of performance.

We've been provided with the Zotac GeForce GTX 1080 Founders Edition from Overclockers UK, and in our tests it's clear that this is one hell of a beast, able to run graphically-demanding games such as Witcher III at 4K resolution.

Nvidia has also been making a big deal of the GTX 1080's VR Ready certification, which makes it the ideal graphics card for virtual reality. Our review machine running the GTX 1080 passed both Steam's virtual reality benchmark and the Heaven benchmark, so notwithstanding Project Scorpio's rumoured adoption of Oculus Rift-powered virtual reality, with the GTX 1080 you can build a VR-ready box right now.

How to build a gaming PC more powerful than Xbox Project Scorpio

Buying the processor

How to build a gaming PC more powerful than Xbox Project Scorpio

It's widely assumed that Project Scorpio will ship with an eight-core CPU based on an AMD Jaguar, although we don't know what the clock speed will be. It's likely that the CPU in the Scorpio will be based on AMD's upcoming Zen architecture.

While getting an eight core CPU for a desktop machine isn't that easy or cost-effective, you can go with the Intel i7-5820K, which comes with six cores and, while it's showing its age a bit, can still go toe-to-toe with the Scorpio's CPU.

However, the ageing architecture of the i7-5820K means you need an older motherboard – and those are quite expensive these days.

That's why we'd actually recommend the Intel i7-6700K. Although this is 'only' a quad-core processor, in our benchmarks it actually runs faster than the i7-5820K with certain games. What's more, it's cheaper, and because it's running newer technology you have more choice when buying motherboards – and it will be more future-proof as well.

Buying the memory

How to build a gaming PC more powerful than Xbox Project Scorpio

Rumours abound that Microsoft will fit Project Scorpio with either 8GB or 12GB of GDDR5 memory, which comes with a bandwidth of over 320GB/s. This is an area where it's tricky to do a complete like-for-like replacement for our Project Scorpio-beating PC, as desktop PCs don't use GDDR5 memory for standard RAM – it's usually reserved for graphics card memory.

The GeForce GTX 1080 comes with 8GB of G5X memory, which is faster than standard GDDR5 and has a memory bandwidth of 320GB/s, which on paper looks similar to Project Scorpio's memory.

However, as we can't use that G5X memory as RAM we'll want some DDR4 memory, which is the latest and fastest desktop memory.

We've gone for 16GB of Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4 memory, which offers amazing performance and will keep this PC running extremely fast.

Buying the motherboard

Project Scorpio Gaming PC

With the CPU and RAM sorted we can narrow down our choices for a motherboard. We've gone for the Asus Pro Gaming Z170I Mini ITX motherboard. Asus makes brilliant gaming PC motherboards, and this one is no exception.

Best of all, it fits all the technology and features we've come to expect from an Asus mobo into a mini ITX-sized board. This is a smaller size than usual motherboards, and means we'll be able to fit our PC into a more compact space – ideal for living room gaming.

Buying the case and PSU

As we want our gaming PC to be a replacement for Project Scorpio (not to mention the Xbox One and PS4), we want a case that's small and attractive enough to slot under a TV. Because the motherboard we've chosen is Mini ITX size, we've gone for the Silverstone SST-RVZ01 Raven Mini-ITX, which is small, attractive and can accommodate all the components we need, including the GTX 1080 graphics card.

With dimensions of 382 x 105 x 350mm, the PC we're building is around the same size as an Xbox One. Of course, if you think that such a svelte chassis will make the job of installing the PC components too fiddly, there are plenty of larger alternatives.

How to build a gaming PC more powerful than Xbox Project Scorpio

The case needs an SFX power supply, which will fit the small form factor of the PC we're building, so we suggest the Silverstone Strider 600W Modular SFX Power Supply. It's small enough to fit the chassis, and at 600W it's powerful enough to power the PC and all its components.

It's also a modular design, which means you only add the cables you need, and this will make installing and connecting the cables inside the smaller case much easier.

Buying the hard drive and Blu-ray

We don't know how much storage space Project Scorpio will come with, but it's a safe bet that it will be at least 1TB. For the best possible performance we'll want a solid state drive (SSD), so we've gone for the Samsung 850 EVO 1TB 2.5-inch SSD.

As this drive is 2.5-inch it'll easily fit in the chassis we've selected, and the 1TB storage space should be plenty for holding loads of games. If you need more space, the Silverstone SST-RVZ01 Raven Mini-ITX case can handle two more 2.5-inch drives, and a single 3.5-inch drive.

How to build a gaming PC more powerful than Xbox Project Scorpio

You rarely need to use an optical drive these days with PCs, but Project Scorpio is slated to have a UHD Blu-ray drive, so if we want our machine to match its capabilities then we need to look at including a Blu-ray drive as well.

The Raven Mini case has room for a slim Blu-ray drive, and although there aren't any official UHD drives available to install in PCs, it's believed that BDXL-enabled Blu-ray drives will be able to play 4K Blu-rays. This hasn't been confirmed, so although BDXL drives have the ability to read Blu-rays with large capacities, they may not be able to decode the DRM and encryption of UHD Blu-rays.

If you want to include a Blu-ray player we'd recommend the HP BDXL drive, which will fit in nicely.

Everything else you'll need

How to build a gaming PC more powerful than Xbox Project Scorpio

For the full console experience you'll want a game controller so that you can play from your couch, and it's easy to use an Xbox One Controller with a PC. Most games will also display button prompts for the Xbox One controller when it's connected to the PC, which makes playing PC games in your living room even more of a joy.

One of the best things about building a Project Scorpio-beating gaming PC is that you're not just confined to console games – you also have access to a huge range of PC games, both old and new. Some genres, such as Real Time Strategy and, some would argue, First Person Shooters, work much better with a keyboard and mouse than a controller – and just because you're playing from the couch that doesn't mean you have to make compromises.

The brilliant Roccat Sova gaming lapboard includes a keyboard and space for your mouse, enabling you to game in comfort. You can plug your mouse of choice into the lapboard via USB, and the lapboard itself can connect to your gaming PC via a 4-metre break-away cable.

The Roccat Sova is currently available for pre-order, and will be released on August 17. If you pre-order from Amazon, you'll get a free Roccat gaming mouse as well.