How to build a gaming PC more powerful than the Xbox One X

How to build a gaming PC more powerful than the Xbox One X

The Xbox One X has been extremely popular for a while now, heralded as ‘the most powerful console that ever existed’. And, while that’s technically true, it’s not hard to build a PC that can put it to shame. And, if you want to play every game in native 4K, not just the ones developers release a ‘Xbox One X Enhanced’ patch for, building one of the best gaming PCs is absolutely necessary.

Where to go from there gets a little tricky. You could just try to imitate the specs of the Xbox One X, but because the console is designed first and foremost to play games, you need to give yourself some breathing room to get better performance. Luckily, that’s the approach we took with this guide.

Let's get one thing out of the way: building a gaming PC that can beat the Xbox One in games is going to be expensive, but thanks to the flexibility of PC gaming, it’s more than worth it. After all, you can boot up a game from 12 years ago and play it in 4K like it was brand new. Not to mention, thanks to the Xbox Play Anywhere program, you can still play all of your favorite Xbox One games with beefier hardware.

CPU: Intel Core i5 8400

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This is probably where the Xbox One X is easiest to beat. While you may note that the Xbox One X has an 8-core CPU compared to this 8th-generation Coffee Lake processor’s 6, the best PC games are usually single-threaded applications. 

And, when it comes to single-core performance, the Intel Core i5-8400 absolutely blows the Xbox’s AMD Jaguar-based CPU out of the water. And, if you want to overclock, you can pick up the Intel Core i5-8600K to push your CPU even further.

If you want to get something a bit more cost-effective, however, you can always pick up the AMD Ryzen 5 2600X to get similar performance in games.  

CPU cooler: Noctua NH-L9

The best CPU coolers come in every shape and size, but we’re going to try and keep things low-profile for this build. What’s the point of building a PC more powerful than the Xbox One X, if it takes up ten times as much space, right? The Noctua NH-L9 will deliver fantastic cooling performance without taking up much room, meaning you can use as small a case as you feel like. 

Graphics Card: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 Ti

This is where things get tricky. The Xbox One X features 6 Teraflops of Floating Point 32 (FP32) performance, but that’s split between the CPU and GPU. So, it’s kind of difficult to pin down exactly how much of that power is going towards graphics – so we just went overkill anyways. The Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 Ti is one of the best graphics cards you can buy today, and it will even let you play most games in native 4K no problem.

What’s better, now that the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 is on the way, you can expect the prices for the 1070 Ti to fall to a more affordable level. 

Motherboard: ASRock B360M Pro4 Micro ATX

When you’re shopping for the best motherboard for your build, you can go in one of two directions – you can get a full-sized ATX motherboard with all the bells and whistles, or you can go for something smaller. For this build, we recommend the latter. The ASRock B360M Pro4 has all the features you’d expect from a Coffee Lake-compatible motherboard, like M.2 support, Intel Optane and USB 3.1 Type C connections. It might not support multi-GPU configurations, but we don’t think you really need it. 

RAM: G.Skill Ripjaws V Series

If you’re a newcomer to the PC world, shopping for the best RAM can be a bit confusing. We recommend keeping one thing in mind: all that matters is that the RAM is reliable and fast, everything else is secondary. 

G.Skill has made a name for itself by making no-frills RAM kits that get the job done at a price that won’t make your wallet cry out in pain. While the bare minimum we’d recommend for this build is 8GB, picking up a 16GB kit is probably the best bet if you’re trying to do some high-end gaming.

Power Supply: Corsair RM550X

If there’s one component you really shouldn’t skimp out on, it’s the power supply. The best power supplies will ensure that your PC will live a long, fulfilled life. That’s why we recommend the Corsair RM550X. It rocks an 80+ Gold efficiency rating, has a capacity of 550W and a low price to boot. What more could you ask for?

Storage: WD Black NVMe SSD

When it comes to storage, the best SSDs for gaming will absolutely destroy the mechanical drive found in the Xbox One X. Sure, the Xbox’s drive is more capacious, but once you experience the lightning-fast load times that the WD Black affords, you will never want to go back to a mechanical drive. And, even if you want a ton of storage space, you can always pick up a mechanical drive on the cheap for archival purposes.

Case: Cooler Master MasterBox Q300L

Picking out the best PC case for your build is ultimately going to boil down to aesthetics. And, because we picked out a Micro-ATX motherboard, the Cooler Master MasterBox Q300L is the best pick when it comes to price and cooling performance. While it’s not as small as an Xbox One X, it’s not a large tower either, meaning it can fit comfortably in your living room without sticking out like a sore thumb.

Alternative options

We get it, not everyone is comfortable with building one of the best gaming PCs. Luckily, you don’t have to. There are plenty of prebuilt gaming PCs that are more powerful than the Xbox One X. 

If you’re just looking to match the Xbox One X, the Intel Hades Canyon Nuc is a great choice – and it’s even small enough to fit in your entertainment center. And, if you want something that will blow away the competition while being future proof, we’d heartily recommend the Corsair One Elite.

Bill Thomas

Bill Thomas (Twitter) is TechRadar's computing editor. They are fat, queer and extremely online. Computers are the devil, but they just happen to be a satanist. If you need to know anything about computing components, PC gaming or the best laptop on the market, don't be afraid to drop them a line on Twitter or through email.