Yes, I Replaced My $4000 Gaming PC With An Xbox Series X

Xbox Series X, photographed by Jason Evangelho
Xbox Series X Photo by Jason Evangelho

Sorry to leave you hanging like that. I ended that Xbox versus PC article by throwing a couple giant question marks into the air. Those weren’t meant as cliffhangers. To briefly catch you up, I pondered if having an Xbox Series X could save me valuable time in the long run. I was curious whether it would also save me the typical cascade of technical headaches I’d been experiencing on PC.

Genuine questions! I was able to answer them conclusively. I’m now a proud Xbox Series X owner. Furthermore, I’m not planning to boot up my $4000 Falcon Northwest PC for my gaming sessions any time soon.

Many PC gamers will view this as blasphemous considering the hardware at my disposal. Especially considering the press accounts I’m fortunate enough to have (more on that later).

I view it as a welcome relief.


Story Timeline:

🕹My Gaming Roots: A Brief History

Story time!

I’m in my mid-40s, so I didn’t grow up with consoles (unless you count Pong). I cut my teeth on a 1984 IBM PC. My first networked multiplayer game? Snipes, circa 1986 on DOS. My first shooter was Wolfenstein.

But the multiplayer shooter experience that left an indelible mark on my nostalgia? That happened in 2002, with a little game called Halo: Combat Evolved on the original Xbox. My friends and I sat gleefully on the floor with our heavy-ass TVs, ethernet cables snaking everywhere, slurping Dr. Pepper, and enjoying some heated Free For All matches.

For about 10 hours straight, spanning what felt like every weekend for 2 years.

Those Halo LAN parties looked something like this. Credit: TheLegendary117

In 2004, however, my love for PC gaming swung back around with a vengeance when Valve dropped Half-Life 2 onto the world. At the time I was working at Starbucks, and one of our regular customers (Jim, in his late 40s at the time) was obsessed with PC gaming.

He was so obsessed that he had a dedicated room for LAN parties with at least 6 high-end PCs. Every other week we’d go to his house and lose ourselves in endless Half-Life 2 multiplayer mayhem.

A year later I bought my own PC (a Dell Dimension 4600C) and got hooked on RTS titles like Rise of Nations, Age of Empires, and Warcraft III.

I still had my original Xbox. And a Dreamcast. At random points across the timeline, I owned an Xbox 360, Xbox One, Nintendo Wii and every PlayStation console (including PSP and Vita).

Until about 2013, I preferred my consoles because the graphics looked better and I vastly enjoyed some of the exclusive first-party experiences that never came to PC.

The DIY PC Builder Phase

In 2013 something unusual happened. Perhaps it happened before this, but 2013 is when I noticed it: suddenly it was cheaper to build your own PC that, dollar-for-dollar, would blow away game console performance.

You could safely spend $500 on a solid build and enjoy better graphical fidelity, higher frame rates, and the ridiculously behemoth size of the PC gaming library. The customization, the infinite possibilities, the easy upgrades, it was all so addicting!

Fast-forward to the present tense. You can’t even obtain a decent graphics card for $500.

A custom PC featuring Cooler Master, Intel i5 CPU and GTX 750 Ti.
One of my favorite PC builds, circa 2013. Photo by Jason Evangelho

A few years later during my 8-year stint writing about PC technology at Forbes, I was incredibly fortunate to have one of PC gaming’s greatest gifts bestowed upon me: A Steam “master account.”

Yes, this mythical account exists, and I still have it. A master account is basically a press account, giving you access to the entire Steam library of games and software.

I used it mostly for benchmarking GPUs as part of my review process. More recently I’ve utilized it to assist Linux graphics driver developers in testing new releases on Proton.

I have the same type of account with Epic Games.

I mean come on, who in their right mind would abandon that for a console?

Me, apparently.

A Question Of Time

One of our most precious resources is time. And the personal value we place on our time seems to sync right up with more trips around the sun.

We get older, we have less time remaining, so of course we crave more.

And no amount of luxuries can can help you regain the time you’ve lost. So, what’s more important to me? High framerates in my games, or playing more of my games? You probably know the answer.

My gaming PC is gorgeous, powerful, and instills me with a sense of pride every time I power it up. Among other things, it rocks a Ryzen 3900X, AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT and drives a stunning ASUS ROG 4K HDR display.

Combined with those Steam and Epic Games master accounts, it’s an absurdly compelling proposition.

The catalyst (or) The straw that broke this camel’s back

But speaking of absurd, so are the constant graphic driver and Windows updates, the struggle with flaky HDR in Halo Infinite, all the various tweaking involved with getting graphics settings just right. The chaos of multiple game clients, multiple overlays, multiple audio settings, and a thousand possible failure points.

And the heat output of this rig during the summer? It turns my office into a sweatbox!

One Week In

After one week with Xbox Series X, I’m in awe of its simplicity. Zero configuration was needed out of the box to have a dazzling 4K HDR picture. Recording 4K footage is literally one button press, and sharing it to social media or uploading to my OneDrive account is a snap. Connecting with friends and chatting in-game is effortless. Games like Forza Horizon 5 and Halo Infinite look fantastic with fluid frame rates, and I don’t have to mess with any settings to achieve that.

So despite my roots, despite all those luxuries I have, I’m embracing life as a console gamer again.

I plan to put my resolve to the test with a challenge that may prove to be very, very difficult, considering what I’m giving up on the PC side of the ecosystem. Stay tuned for that, and thanks for reading!

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2 Responses

  1. I started gaming on a NES. I loved duck hunt and Mario. My first PC adventures were Rise Of Nations and Age of Empires on a Pentium III desktop. Good times. I agree the mess of adjusting settings is a massive pain. I just upgraded to my first 4K monitor. And having to spend all that extra time dialing everything down and trying to get that 60PFS is a pain. My RTX 2060 went from everything max settings at 1080P to screaming at me. I’m eyeing an Xbox Series X. I may be joining you soon.

    Best,
    OptiplexPrime

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