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

Make your own super-powerful gaming machine

Updated: Microsoft has now released the specifications for Project Scorpio, so we've updated this guide with the PC components that most closely resemble the tech that will feature in Microsoft's upcoming console.

Although we are inching ever closer to the release of Microsoft's super-powered Xbox One, known as Project Scorpio, there's still a good few months left until we get to see if it really does live up to Microsoft's promises.

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 recently revealed 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

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.

As with the Xbox One, Microsoft is using custom parts made by AMD, with 40 customised compute units at 1172MHz. While you can't get an exact match, the closest graphics card available on the PC is the AMD RX 480. The good news is that this GPU still uses AMD's older Polaris technology, rather than it's cutting edge Vega tech, so prices are pretty affordable.

The AMD RX 480 comes with 4GB or 8GB of GDDR5 memory, and if your budget allows, we'd recommend going with the higher amount. The Xbox Scorpio's GPU runs at a very impressive 1172MHz, which the AMD RX 480 can beat. If you've got a decent cooling solution, you can also overclock it as well - check out our guide on how to overclock your graphics card.

The AMD RX 480 is also ideal for virtual reality, so you can match Project Scorpio's rumoured adoption of Oculus Rift-powered virtual reality, and build a VR-ready box right now.

Of course if you want to completely dominate the Xbox Scorpio in the graphics department, you'll want one of the most powerful graphics card in the world: the Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti. The GTX 1080 Ti comes with 11GB of GDDR5X memory, 3584 CUDA cores and an incredible 11.3 teraflops of performance.

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

Buying the processor

Project Scorpio will ship with an eight-core CPU based on an AMD Jaguar, with clock speeds of 2.3GHz. The x86 cores in Scorpio will be 31% faster than the ones found in the Xbox One, and again will feature a number of customizations which makes finding a direct PC alternative tricky.

However, the new line of AMD Ryzen 7 CPUs has made getting an 8-core processor more affordable than ever, and they are based on newer architecture than the Scorpio's CPU - though Microsoft would argue that the customizations and unique features found in Project Scorpio's processor.

The AMD Ryzen 7 1700 is an excellent CPU that balances performance with affordability, giving you eight cores clocked at 3.7GHz. If you want more raw power, or overclocking capabilities, then the pricier (but still competitive) AMD Ryzen 7 1700X and AMD Ryzen 7 1800X processors are well worth considering.

Buying the memory

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

Microsoft will fit Project Scorpio with 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.

We'll want some DDR4 memory, which is the latest and fastest desktop memory, and have 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 MSI B350M Gaming Pro AMD B350 Micro ATX motherboard motherboard. MSI 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 a gaming mobo into a micro ATX-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 Micro ATX size, we've gone for the BitFenix Prodigy M MATX Cube Case, which is small, attractive and can accommodate all the components we need, including the GTX 1080 graphics card, as well as enough cooling fans to keep our rig running well.

With dimensions of 250 x 404 x 359mm, the PC we're building is not much bigger than an original 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

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. While we'd love to go SSD for our hard drive, that adds a lot of money, so we're going to compromise with an SSHD, which blends the best of SSD and traditional hard drives. That's why we've chosen the Seagate FireCuda 1 TB 2.5 inch Internal SSHD.

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.

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

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.

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