The Xbox One S might seem like an expensive console, or perhaps a waste of money compared to a more powerful PC. But with a starting price of $300 it can be difficult to cobble together a gaming PC that can match Microsoft's console at that same price point. But we like a challenge, so we decided to take a look at just how affordable and capable of a gaming machine you can put together.

Under $400

AMD GPU

It's possible to collect various components into a shopping basket for just over $300 that should run games at decent quality settings, especially if you're able to grab a processor or graphics card from wholesale. However, looking at just the online retail giant, Amazon, we were able to put together a capable machine for just shy of $400, which isn't such a leap from the price of an Xbox One S.

Component Ideal Pick Price
Case Fractal Design Core 1000 $27
PSU EVGA 500 W1 $35.98
Motherboard MSI Intel H81M-E33 $44.99
CPU Intel G3258 Pentium (3.20GHz) $66.99
CPU Cooler Cooler Master Hyper T2 $16.99
RAM Kingston HyperX FURY 8GB $37.99
Storage WD Blue 1TB $49.99
GPU ASUS AMD Radeon R7 250 $79.99
Total $359.92

Grand total of $359.92. Unfortunately, we don't have support for 1440p gaming, let alone 4K and HDR. Also, one has to take into account Windows 10 license and peripheral costs. That said, you have room for improvements to be added, be it a new CPU or GPU which would boost performance considerably. And you get to use it as a desktop PC too.

Under $450

GTX 1050

We're keeping most of the components from the above listing, but are switching out the R7 250 GPU for a new NVIDIA GTX 1050 Ti from EVGA.

Component Ideal Pick Price
Case Fractal Design Core 1000 $27
PSU EVGA 500 W1 $35.98
Motherboard MSI Intel H81M-E33 $44.99
CPU Intel G3258 Pentium (3.20GHz) $66.99
CPU Cooler Cooler Master Hyper T2 $16.99
RAM Kingston HyperX FURY 8GB $37.99
Storage WD Blue 1TB $49.99
GPU EVGA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti $149.99
Total $429.92

That upgrade alone brings us up to $429.92, a slight increase in investment, but the returns are huge. The GTX 1050 is part of NVIDIA's latest line-up of GPUs and is a substantial upgrade over the R7 250. Gaming at 1080p should be far more fluid and responsive.

Under $500

RX 480

Most of this rig remains the same as before — it's plenty capable already, but a GPU upgrade is again in order, this time to an RX 480 by AMD. This brings us up to VR-capable territory. It's worth nothing that at this stage you'll absolutely need to be overclocking the Pentium 4 processor to get the most out of any powerful GPU like this one.

Component Ideal Pick Price
Case Fractal Design Core 1000 $27
PSU EVGA 500 W1 $35.98
Motherboard MSI Intel H81M-E33 $44.99
CPU Intel G3258 Pentium (3.20GHz) $66.99
CPU Cooler Cooler Master Hyper T2 $16.99
RAM Kingston HyperX FURY 8GB $37.99
Storage WD Blue 1TB $49.99
GPU XFX AMD RX480 $209.99
Total $489.02

This build hits $489.02, just under our $500 limit. Gaming should be vastly improved at this point. The next component to upgrade would be a boost to 16GB of RAM. If you have some $50 more to spend, I would actually recommend stripping out the Intel CPU with an AMD FX- CPU (along with compatible RAM and motherboard) with the extra 8GB of RAM that should provide yet more improvements to experiences in-game.

More builds

Have you put together your own build at similar price points? Think we need to switch some components out? Sound off in the comments!