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PC Gaming vs Console Gaming: Which is the Ultimate Winner?
July 21, 2018
Reading time: 9 minutes
Whether you have been gaming for years or are just getting into it, it’s likely you have heard about the competition between PC gamers and console gamers.
Each side has its unique positives and negatives, and these differences can sometimes divide the gaming community leading to some colorful arguments. While each side can certainly defend their choices, the better option can depend on the type of PC or console you’re using and your own personal preferences.
There are a number of factors that can determine the quality of gameplay and the overall experience, and much of that is determined by what parts of gaming are important to you.
Here are some considerations you may want to keep in mind when choosing how you game and, ultimately, which side is the true winner for you.
Are you playing online?
The popularity of online games has exploded over the past few years, and most gamers like to have a connection so they can work with team members from around the world. However, the quality of performance and how players interact can vary depending on whether you choose a console or a PC.
For years, PC was the only option for online games. Gradually, though, all the major consoles made it possible to play against and with other people online. And in terms of compatibility and ease of use, consoles tend to win out here.
While there are fewer choices for online games on the most well-known consoles, you at least don’t have to worry about purchasing a game and finding out it won’t run - something that can more easily happen on a PC if you’re not careful. That being said, downloadable updates to games on both platforms are often automatic and allow users to start playing within a few minutes.
Multiplayer games like Fortnite are often easier to get started on PC, though, because you won’t have to pay an additional fee to play online for most games, which we’ll discuss a bit later.
Also, a PC can provide a much more enhanced experience for gamers and can give an extra advantage to players over console. PCs allow for some updates that consoles do not, and certain components can be replaced instead of having to get an entirely new machine.
While both PCs and consoles can also be used for other tasks related to gaming, like live streaming, it’s much easier to accomplish this with a PC. Streaming on a console is doable, but it can be a bit clunky and less intuitive.
An even bigger problem with consoles is the level of crossplay that’s allowed, which typically means they only allow users to compete with other gamers in their networks. This is a particularly glaring issue with the popular Epic Games title Fortnite, wherein PlayStation 4 users are unable to compete against Xbox One or Nintendo Switch players.
For more advanced gamers, PCs can allow them to play against a higher level of competition, whereas console gamers are more limited, though some games do allow for PC-console crossplay.
Wide variety of games available
PCs are a good option for the gamer who likes to try a number of different types of games, while console players are often limited to what has been newly released, remastered, or re-released for that specific system.
Also, some developers create their games specifically for high-end PCs first and then scale back for consoles, which means their graphics and gameplay will be better optimized for PCs .
PC games are also often more affordable than their console counterparts, partially because of how many sales occur within the marketplace. This is particularly true with older titles and indie games created by smaller developers, who can more easily upload their games to stores like Steam for purchase.
You can also play pretty much any older PC title if you can find a copy of it, unlike with modern consoles that have far more limited options for backwards compatibility.
Additionally, consoles don’t allow users to make modifications to games, while certain PC games encourage users to go in and edit various elements. Sometimes, this even leads to entirely new spinoff titles.
Finally, there is the concept of exclusivity, which actually impacts gamers across the spectrum. Whether you’re a console or PC gamer, you’re going to run into the issue of not being able to play a certain game because it only appears on a specific platform. This actually just makes comprehensive gaming more expensive in general, and really doesn’t set either side apart.
That being said, PC gamers are now getting a leg up thanks to streaming services. For example, Sony’s PlayStation Now allows you to stream and play exclusive PlayStation 3 and 4 titles on a PC.
Console technology vs PC technology
Beginning gamers may not notice the quality of graphics or be concerned with the smoothness of the gameplay, but for more advanced players, this can greatly affect their experience.
A high-end gaming PC with the best components will run better and more smoothly than the latest console, which means there’s bound to be a gap in performance.
Also, many of the best TVs available don’t offer the same visual quality of many computer monitors. Along with fine-tuned graphics cards and high-resolution monitors, the experience of using a PC can be much more immersive and provide a higher-quality experience.
The hardware updates offered with PCs allow for better performance on a regular basis, too. And again, you can simply add new components to upgrade your PC and extend its life, whereas with consoles you’ll need to buy the latest version.
This more complex technology can be a problem for those who don’t know how to make changes to software, though. While the complications associated with PC gaming can make a game better and provide deeper gameplay, it can also make it difficult for those with limited knowledge to install updates or make modifications. Improperly installed games on a PC can also crash and conflict with other applications.
However, if you’re willing to do the research and spend the time making repairs if problems crop up, your gaming experience will tend to be more engaging on a PC.
Cost of entry
One of the biggest concerns gamers have is how much they should pay for a quality gaming system. Consoles are package deals that are less expensive initially. However, games are typically more expensive to purchase for consoles, and you’ll need to pay for an online gaming subscription like Xbox Live or PlayStation Plus to play most of those games online.
Also, you may need to purchase a brand-new video game console altogether in order to play a particular game, like one of the exclusives we talked about earlier. This can all begin to add up.
Gaming PCs cost more upfront, especially if you are choosing to invest in a high-quality graphics card, monitor, and processor. Over time, though, some of upgrades you need to make can end up costing you less than buying the latest console.
If you are willing to spend a little more at the outset, a PC can actually be the less costly option. That’s particularly true when you consider that you do much more than simply game on a PC, but we’ll talk about that more later.
You can also keep your gaming PC’s overall cost on the lower side by starting with certain hardware specs and upgrading over time. This is particularly true for someone just getting started with PC gaming. As your needs grow, you can add parts in order to increase the quality of gameplay.
While it may seem daunting to open up your PC and install a new graphics card, this ability to upgrade allows novices to create a better system down the line if they want to start small.
Controls, multiplayer, and perspective
Playing from a couch can be a more much relaxed and comfortable experience overall, which is why console play is common among casual players. The controllers provided by consoles are also much easier to transport and make it easier to play with other people in person (commonly referred to as “couch co-op” or local multiplayer).
While it’s true that fewer of these games are being released nowadays, they typically appear on consoles. If you’re planning to get a group of friends together to play, consoles are often the better option because they’re still designed with local multiplayer in mind. Some PC games do offer local multiplayer, but it’s not as easy to set up as on console.
A gaming mouse and keyboard setup has a faster response time and is more sensitive than a hand-held controller, which is why pro gamers play almost exclusively on PC with the mouse and keyboard. Also, you can bind certain actions to keys, which is something you simply can’t do with a standard console controller.
While the mouse-and-keyboard setup can be more complicated to use at first, it can provide an edge that a console controller cannot.
PCs are more comprehensive
As smart TVs become more prevalent, the need to use a console as an all-around media center has decreased.
For several years, it was common to use a PlayStation or Xbox as a way to access streaming services, but smart TVs have all but eliminated this need. Your TV can now serve as a media center, while your PC is tailored to your gaming needs.
Of course, PCs aren’t limited to gaming. In fact, a quality computer built for gaming usually has incredibly high performance, making almost every task easier. And that includes any repairs or changes you may need to make.
You can often perform a simple search to find a solution for whatever issue you’re having. This may not necessarily help you if you don’t have the knowledge to fix it, but it can be helpful for those who need to install patches or make changes to a game’s code.
While most modern consoles include ways to perform many functions of a PC, they’re still not as intuitive as simply using your computer. This goes for tasks like using email, listening to music, video chats, and a host of other activities.
While it may seem that a gaming PC is an expensive way to access entertainment, it’s important to remember that you’re doing much more than gaming on your rig.
Knowing exactly what gaming system works for everyone is impossible, and there’s no universal answer because individual gamers have their own various wants and needs. Not only that, but cost is a major determining factor when it comes down to making a purchase.
When a gaming console is best for you:
If you would like a system that offers straightforward access and is easy to set up, then a gaming console may be the best option for you. This is also a great place to start for kids or those who haven’t played games that much and are just getting started.
Many consoles also come with package deals that include a big, new game right out of the box. Consoles tend to only set you back a few hundred dollars, too, so it’s not as big of an investment compared to a gaming PC.
When a gaming PC is best for you:
However, if you would like any customization down the line, a wider variety of games, and better overall graphics and performance, then a PC is your best choice.
It allows for more flexibility and the chance to grow as your skills and needs change. You can also use it for a variety of other tasks that will run better on a gaming PC than they would on a lower-end model because of the superior hardware in your gaming system.
If you’re considering making the leap into PC gaming or simply need an upgrade, read our complete HP OMEN review and consider our own line of gaming PCs.
Daniel Horowitz is a contributing writer for HP® Tech Takes. Daniel is a New York-based author and has written for publications such as USA Today, Digital Trends, Unwinnable Magazine, and many other media outlets.
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