It’s the age-old question; which is better – a gaming PC or a games console? It’s a question that has several answers with those answers certainly changing over the past two decades or so. There are many people that are more passionate about the PC vs console gaming wars than others. Everyone has their own opinions on the matter.
In this article, we will be looking at the facts and trying to determine once and for all, which is the best form of gaming (both in general and as a beginner looking to start gaming properly) – gaming PCs or games consoles? The consoles in question will be Xbox and PlayStation as they are the main rivals rather than Nintendo consoles.
First, we should look at the differences between PC and Console gaming; from budget and graphics to games and controllers. Then we can look at PC vs consoles in more detail.
Gaming PCs can be split into five main categories when considering and categorising everything from price to performance.
The cheapest and most basic of PC options. They aren’t designed for gaming in this day and age and would struggle to run anything even remotely demanding. The price may be appealing at first, but it generally isn’t worth the time and hassle.
Budget PCs are miles better than entry-level PCs, offering standard and generally reliable performance for a reasonable price. They should be able to run most games, even some of the more demanding titles, but with restricted settings. This is another option that may cause more hassle than it’s worth, with them needing upgrades every few years.
As the name suggests, mid-range will offer the best balance and coverage of cost, performance, and longevity.
High-end PCs are probably the most sought-after of all the PC groups, as you know that you’ll be getting premium quality and performance. You’ll also be able to play any and all of the latest releases, regardless of how demanding they may be.
Sure, they’re expensive, but they are an investment that should last a long time. They shouldn’t require any form of update, and the service they provide is the best.
Take the high-end PCs but with the maximum of everything, performance, cutting-edge hardware but naturally, the price is extortionate, making these rarely purchased.
Consoles are cheaper in general, with the PS4 initially launching at £350 and Xbox One between £300 and £400 depending on whether it had the Kinect feature added, essentially the price of a budget PC.
The newest generations of consoles however are slightly more expensive. The PS5 is £450 and Xbox Series X is £449 on release. With everything they have to offer, the increase seems fair enough.
Upgrades can be looked at in two ways; they are necessary to keep your PC from becoming obsolete, but they can also allow for a more personalized experience. PCs can offer and require more extensive upgrades than consoles.
It is tough to predict when newer models of gaming PCs will be introduced and pressure your own gaming PC to require updating. The same can be said to an extent about games consoles, albeit with new generations generally coming around every 7-8 years.
As an example, despite the original Xbox debuting in 2001 and the 360 in 2005, the Xbox One was released in 2013 and Xbox Series X in 2020.
This is a very important factor when it comes to PC vs console gaming. Higher-end gaming PCs can typically run games at 4k resolution from 60 frames-per-second (FPS) up to 240 FPS. This is so far away from what the last generation of consoles could do.
While entry-level and basic builds will barely be on par with those consoles, the more expensive PCs are definitely worth their weight in gold, in terms of incredible graphics. The newest generation of consoles, however, have certainly upped their game, with the PS5 now capable of doing 120 FPS.
Subscription services for Xbox Live and PS Network are an extra compulsory requirement for the usage of multiplayer functions.
PC gaming, however, generally requires no such additional payment. This can be a big selling point when it comes to PC gaming vs console gaming.
Now we get to the means of actually playing the games. Each console has its own controllers with different shapes, grips, and buttons to be configured. This is a battle however that PCs, in general, win hands down. The standard setup for a PC is to use a mouse and keyboard. This may not seem too appealing for gaming from the point of view of a non-PC-gamer.
Nonetheless, when you get used to it, it’s arguably better than using a controller. Not only does the combination of mouse and keyboard narrowly beat the controller, but you can easily configure controllers to work on a PC.
PlayStation and Xbox have done their best over the years to not only offer the best games but also have their own exclusive games.
PlayStation has arguably done it better than Xbox in that regard, with the likes of God Of War, The Last Of Us, and Uncharted, among many others, being PlayStation exclusives on release.
Xbox has also tried to keep up with exclusives of their own such as Halo and Fable, but it doesn’t quite compare. However, in terms of the sheer volume of games, PC wins by a landslide.
Although buying disc copies of games is still a thing for consoles, PC gaming is always moving further away from discs and closer to just using digital versions of games. It’s certainly a way of avoiding disc tray or disc malfunctions whilst tying the game to an account or hard drive. Not to mention it is also perfect for impatient gamers.
Video game prices in general have been increasing gradually for years. The retail prices for the newest generation of console games being in excess of £60, providing the game meets certain criteria justifying that pricing on release.
Now to layout the main pros and cons of PC vs consoles. Let’s dive in to the advantages first!
Now that we’ve discussed the main differences between PC and console gaming, it’s time to take a closer look at the advantages of PC gaming to better understand PC gaming vs console gaming.
As mentioned before, having the choice of using a mouse and keyboard or a controller is actually a blessing.
There are some games that have their necessary controls assigned to buttons that are easier for players to operate.
While it could be argued that anything can be configured to change the controls, a lot of people would perhaps be too lazy for this, just wishing to pick up a controller and play.
Having to resist playing a game on a console because someone else is watching or using the TV is frustrating.
While there are ways around this with monitors etc, consoles are meant to be used with TVs and gaming PCs with monitors.
It might seem like a daunting prospect, but building your own gaming PC is actually fun for some people. To some, it may seem like too much pressure and an accident waiting to happen, but there are enough guides out there to help you get it done.
It’s also a way to add a personal touch to your new gaming PC, not to mention the bragging rights when showing off to your friends.
Most of the streamers that you watch on Twitch will use top-notch gaming PCs, as it’s generally better for graphics and performance. This was a better argument when comparing with the last generation of consoles.
Now, however, the newest generations of PS5 and Xbox Series X consoles have seriously upped their game in terms of graphics.
One of the main positives of having a gaming PC over a console is that the games are generally cheaper.
Despite this, it’s easy to get carried away buying games with a Steam account. There are generally more games on offer for the PC too.
We’ve looked at the advantages, so it’s time to look at some disadvantages. The disadvantages are of course important when considering PC gaming vs console gaming.
You get a lot for your money with gaming PCs but the initial purchase is very expensive.
Making sure the CPU, motherboard, RAM, system unit and power supply are all of good quality can cost up to £1000!
While you can get Gaming PCs for closer to £500, you need to be careful and aware that you may not be getting the best value for money with it. The best parts of having a gaming PC are generally performance-related. This is what you need to pay the bigger bucks for.
A gaming computer as opposed to a gaming laptop is always going to be pretty bulky. Even the lighter models are still rather big in size.
Meaning that more often than not, gamers have to accept that it shouldn’t be moved around too much. A PC setup in general will take up a lot of space, including the monitor(s) and keyboard.
As gaming PCs are considered more of a substantial investment, it makes the fact that upgrades coming around and rendering models obsolete, a serious threat that’s worth considering.
Technology is always changing, so it’s only natural that newer games will eventually be supported by the newest models.
Those’s were the advantages and disadvantages of PC gaming. Now, let’s get into the advantages of consoles.
When you buy a console, you normally just buy it with the expectation that you will upgrade to a newer and better one in 5-10 years time.
You might find yourself buying an external hard drive for storage reasons but for the most part, the only extra costs to you will be games, online services, and accessories.
A games console is as simple as turning it on and loading a game, with no particularly long waiting times for everything to boot up. As it’s designed to play games, that’s something it focuses on and does well.
A PC may offer more but in terms of how everything is laid out, it could be a bit more convoluted and cluttered.
The newest generation of consoles is admittedly more expensive upon release than their counterparts from the previous generation. Being around £400-£450, they are still cheaper than most gaming PCs, and definitely cheaper than gaming PCs that are worth their price.
Console designs seem to vary from generation to generation but in general, consoles don’t take up too much space. They can fit on a shelf, sit behind a TV, or even next to one on a desk without really getting in the way, while simultaneously being light enough to move around easily.
Consoles tend to get some huge exclusive games that PCs can’t get their hands on. Halo for Xbox and Uncharted for PlayStation being two of many examples to choose from.
There are some games like Sea of Thieves however, that will start as an exclusive but then eventually make their way over to PC. However, this sort of thing doesn’t happen for a while after its initial release.
Like with the PC section, we’ll now look at some of the disadvantages of consoles.
With the price of the newest and biggest console games now being at £60 and showing signs of going up even more with every new generation or advancement in technology, it’s starting to become a bit extortionate.
Back in the days of PlayStation 2s, 3s and Xbox 360s, games would be released at £40-45, and that’s at the absolute maximum. There can be no denying that a hike in price is definitely necessary considering how much money is poured into these games, but it also risks putting off some potential customers.
Having to pay a subscription fee just for the rights to play games on a console you shelled out a lot of money on seems rather unfair but it’s essentially what happens with consoles.
The Xbox Live subscription can cost between £30-100 a year depending on the subscription schedule you opt for. While single players used to be good enough to justify having a console but not paying the extra for online, nowadays multiplayer games are thriving and are at the heart of any console and its community.
PCs have a mouse and keyboard, controllers, VR, but console players are somewhat limited in comparison.
Sometimes, it’s just nice to have the choice to fit the mood you’re in, rather than being constricted to the same setup.
Mods are a huge part of the PC gaming community, allowing users to improve graphics, add textures and new gameplay elements.
This can add new life to games and experiences, with Pixelmon for Minecraft and mods for Among Us, being great examples of this.
When a new generation of console is introduced, players that have bought a new one but want to play an old game, have to make sure that the specific game is backwards compatible.
This isn’t really an issue with PCs. Specs and requirements may change over time, but it is still a PC, and even if it is too old to run, there are emulators and additional programs that can support them.
This brings us to the question; what should a beginner buy? This really comes down to personal preference.
A games console would probably be best for a casual gamer, possibly one of the past generations in terms of price and easing into it.
A basic or low-end PC is less likely to impress, although it would get you craving for a much better and faster PC.
With everything covered in this article, you should have the basic differences between PC and console gaming, the pros and cons, and what to go for if you’re a beginner. When contemplating PC vs console gaming, it all comes down to preference.
Consoles always appear to be the best gaming option but nowadays it all seems to be up to individual preferences or the amount of money at disposal. If you’re willing to spend a lot of money on a high-end, high-performance PC, then a gaming PC is probably better. Whatever you choose – good luck, happy gaming, and join the debate! Which is better? Is a gaming PC better than a console?
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