Dreams of a $1,000 Console

While the rumor mill stirs with so many different reports stating that the next console generation is on the cusp of release, I became immediately interested. Especially since last week Windows Central’s Jez Cordon presented the question, would you buy a powerful console that gives you ultimate settings for the sum of $1,000? A reasonable writing prompt that threw me through all the ups and downs within mere seconds.

There is a problem with this question though; there is so much nuance behind it. The only reason why we have $500 consoles that boast immense power for their form factor is because PC technology has excelled to a level that makes the console price a steal. This made me wonder, what would a $1,000 console even look like in today’s market? If you are wondering the same thing, then join me in this tech filled adventure of what the future of console generations could look like.

Examining the Past

Let’s examine the current generation of consoles: the Xbox Series X and the PlayStation 5. In good conscious, I can’t include the Series S, but that console is not designed to be the top of its class so we can safely ignore it for now. 

Xbox Series X

PlayStation 5


Custom 3.8 GHz AMD 8-Core Zen 2 Processor 

Custom 3.5 GHz AMD 8-Core Zen 2 Processor


16GB DDR6 

16GB DDR6 / 512MB DDR4 for Background Tasks


1TB NVMe SSD (PCIe 3.0 x4)

825GB PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSD


Custom RDNA 2 GPU = 12 TFLOPS

Custom RDNA 2 GPU = 10.3 TFLOPS 

Perhaps the biggest situation we need to recognize is the massive amount of custom components here with the CPU and GPU both featuring fine-tuned platforms designed to adhere to the nature of gaming. With standard computers, processors and GPUs tend to feature robust options because their nature dictates multiple uses. A PC allows you to do a lot more than just play games, so these components are adjusted to fit the needs of the modern gamer. On an architectural level, the respective operating systems are relatively basic and simple to streamline performance, giving us a machine dedicated to play games and occasionally watch Netflix.

That is it, but with every new application or advancement in system architecture, the more resources the console will pull especially when multitasking. Make sense? The challenge becomes how do you do multiple tasks without overloading the system? Well, that goes into components beyond the CPU and GPU; when it comes to render speeds and that good ole multitasking capabilities, we look at memory and also storage. While at one point they were separated, today they work together cohesively in ways we never imagined before.

How some PC players feel

Memory and storage are both fairly standard here but the complications arise when we talk about throughput. Equipped with 16GB of DDR6 RAM enables quick multitasking capabilities, which is strange with these consoles only really having one or two tasks operating simultaneously. Overarching operating systems need to juggle multiple system tasks but also need to summon menus and options at the press of a button. The game or program that is running on the foreground becomes background and then going back to the game takes resources. DDR6 RAM is a solid foundation and for our future $1K console, I think this is one of the few things that can stay but with a caveat which we will get to later.

Storage wise, Xbox’s specs don’t outright state if it is PCIe 3.0 or 4.0, but the throughput aligns more with PCIe 3.0 standards while the PlayStation 5 outright states that it is PCIe 4.0. Currently, PCIe 4.0 is double the performance of its predecessor, leading me to believe that a $1K console should, at the very least, be giving us PCIe 5.0 speeds, but we are jumping the gun here. Both the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 use compression/decompression rates that are quite fast, with the Series X showing 2.4 GB/s raw and 4.8 GB/s compressed file transfer (with a custom decompression engine). The PlayStation 5 has a custom compression and decompression engine as well with a read/write speed that achieves up to 5.5 GB/s on raw and up to 9.9 GB/s with compressed data. Both could use some improvements but both are much quicker than even standard 2.5” SSDs.

Now that we understand the past, or current gen, we can move on with our respective changes.

The New Hotness

As mentioned, consoles can only evolve when the PC market evolves. So if we were to create a console that would hit the $1,000 mark but still features robust functionality equal to what a PC can drive, it is going to take a bit of work and a ton of wiggle room and custom parts starting with the processor.

AMD finally brought us Zen 3 technology with the 7000 series processors and that is what this new console should run on. With the new AM5 socket sticking with a standard core design (as opposed to Intel’s hybrid design), it is safe to say that we could throw the equivalent of an AMD Ryzen 7 processor into the console. This would set the foundation and allow us to utilize faster speeds across the board with DDR6 RAM and PCIe 5.0 speeds. Consoles don’t do a ton of heavy lifting and could get away with a Ryzen 5, but it is always good to have a decent amount of headroom for future tasks. If we ever see World of Warcraft hit consoles, we might need some extra room for various add-ons, which take up extra resources. Also, we are not performing high-end or demanding work such as running CAD software, so a Ryzen 9 would be a waste and not great for price-to-performance and sticking with that $1,000 price point.

For RAM, we can keep DDR6. PCs have been slowly aligning themselves more towards the DDR5 platform, with companies like Intel supporting both DDR4 and DDR5 with their 12th and 13th Gen processors. Meanwhile, AMD is focusing on just the DDR5 platform. That being said, DDR6 RAM is still faster due to the design of the entire system as a whole. System-on-Chip (SOC) design has become more popularized because it yields higher bandwidth, data transfer rates, and a more direct connection between components. 

If you are wondering why games like Spider-Man or Returnal require 32GB of RAM for maximum settings, it is because of the technical design of PCs and players wanting 4K at 120 fps. 16GB is enough to get by for most games but 32GB is slowly becoming the standard, and DDR5 RAM tends to start in packs of 16GB sticks because it is “go big or go home.” So if we were to have any sort of high-speed upgrade in terms of RAM, we need 32GB minimum. It can be seen as a bit controversial because as I have stated, PCs require more RAM because it is running more processes compared to a console. Do we really need the 32GB of RAM in a console? Yes. Remember, if you are spending $1,000 on a console, we want longevity, and sticking with only 16GB will not help years from now when some of these bigger titles start releasing.

Having high frequencies up to 6000 MHz is just not going to be enough because that is how fast information exchanges. We also have to consider latency and the actual space available for information to transfer information to and from the other components. RAM is super important when you are trying to deliver faster load times, and as of recently, storage has become equally as important. 

AMD has been using Lies of P as their flagship example

For storage, I need to state first that we need more than 1TB please, for the love of God of War. While many people will not agree with me in many cases, we all know that the modern consoles need more than 1TB or 800GB of space. Call of Duty by itself takes up about a quarter of the space of these drives. PlayStation 5 exclusive titles are often smaller in size because of the compression and decompression technology. Godfall is around 25GB and graphically, the game is quite intense. Ghost of Tsushima’s load times are so fast that I firmly believe all the devs at Sucker Punch are mages from an alternate reality. 

ADATA, a well known storage manufacturer, presented their latest PCIe 5.0 SSD with data transfer speeds up to 14 GB/s at peak performance! That is double the speed of PCIe 4.0, meaning you could load a ton of information quickly. For a no-compromises machine, PCIe 5.0 isn’t a suggestion, it is a necessity, and so is 2TB of space. 

As for GPU performance, this gets tricky because there are many variables that goes into graphics processing. On PC, it is simplified into the GPU. You can swap these units out for faster and overall better performance. Consoles use the CPU to help produce graphics but with a different architecture. On the Series X, the GPU leverages a custom AMD RDNA 2 platform. It is easy to say that we can upgrade that to RDNA 3 which could give us 2nd Gen Ray Tracing, as well as AMD’s proprietary Infinity Cache, Radiance Display Engine, AI Acceleration, and lower wattage, which is good for your energy bill. Not to mention, it should support higher 8K resolutions for those looking for more graphically intense visuals, just don’t plan many games to support this resolution right away, but you can count on it coming eventually. 

As more programs are integrated into systems, more headroom is needed

A Sorted Conclusion

If you sit down and build out this system in a program like PC Part Picker, you’re going to see a bill at around the $1,700 range minimum; no bells and whistles. This is due to inflation and NVIDIA’s GPU greed, but besides that it is because you are buying parts piecemeal. Motherboards are going to have a higher cost because manufacturers need to make money off that item somehow, and the margin is rather slim. A $200 motherboard will not have the features that a console will have either. That being said, Microsoft and Sony would both most likely develop some components in-house while receiving massive discounts for the rest of the components. That is what will drive the price downward, putting this technology at that $1,000 price point that we are looking for. 

Still, will this level of performance be fully utilized? Will my experience be truly unique and a step above what consoles can currently output? Well, yes, the performance would be boosted but is it worth an additional $500 on top of the $500 you already spent? No, I can’t say that it is worth it simply because consoles are normalizing the 4K60 with the bar inching up to 120 Hz performance but leaving 4K resolution behind for 1440p or even lower in some cases. 

This is the unfortunate technical side of the story here, no matter how powerful a console is going to be, PC will always be more powerful. Is it the answer for everyone though? No. Some folks prefer the plug-and-play design of consoles. Simplicity is always paramount to gamers. Logistically, there will always be this gap between the two platforms and while developers are looking to implement a yearly or bi-yearly release of GPUs, that gap will become more difficult to close. You could buy an expensive console now, but the price for performance will drastically dip, making your $1,000 machine cost more like $500. Oh hey, that is what the current generation consoles cost! 

Will we ever see a true lateral implementation between the PC and console gaming platforms? Honestly, we will see faster and reliable cloud gaming long before we ever see the two on equal footing.

By Steve Esposito

Steve Esposito is a dedicated content creator with a focus on his love for technology, video games, and the very industry that oversees it all. He also takes part in organizing the Long Island Retro and Tabletop Gaming Expo as well as a Dungeons and Dragons podcast: Copper Piece. You can find him on twitter @AgitatedStove

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