Give up on PC gaming for now and buy an Xbox

Xbox Series S
Xbox Series S (Image credit: Matt Brown | Windows Central)

The global semiconductor crisis has put PC gaming in a tough spot. Components, especially graphics cards, have seen exponential price hikes and shortages spanning entire years at this point. Even though analysts predict the worst of said shortages will wrap up for consumer tech by the end of 2022, there's no guarantee that'll pan out. And every day you wait is another day great games pass you by, going unplayed. In short, it's time to cut your losses, buy a cheap (relative to other tech) console like the Xbox Series S, and get playing.

That's not to say you should give up on PC gaming entirely. It's just not worth missing out on modern games in an attempt to outlast an unpredictable, ongoing situation.

The phantom of NVIDIA's opera

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 reviewNVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 review

Source: Harish Jonnalagadda / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Harish Jonnalagadda / Windows Central)

The original impetus for this article was the news that, supposedly, the RTX 3090 Ti launch is nigh. Here's the issue: Virtually every single GPU launch in recent memory has been a case of "if a graphics card launches but no units exist anywhere on planet Earth, did it really release?" For examples of this, look no further than the RTX 3080 12GB, RTX 2060 12GB, or if you're feeling really masochistic, just go to any major retailer (Newegg, Best Buy, etc.) and try to buy a GPU. You'll either be confronted with "out of stock" or see MSRPs so inflated they could power an armada of blimps.

And that's not even the worst part for PC gamers. While every facet of the tech industry is getting hit by the chip shortage, DIY PC builders have it the toughest since they don't get component priority (unlike, say, a major corporation such as Microsoft), and they have to compete with PC-specific issues like cryptocurrency miners exacerbating supply problems. These factors have combined to produce an environment where ancient GPUs barely capable of outclassing an Xbox 360's processing power are still managing to command substantial sums on sites like eBay. The market's out of control.

Meanwhile, friendlier options such as the Xbox Series S are trickling onto shelves more and more regularly. Sure, getting a PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X is still a tall order, but the Series S? That's a $300 temporary solution to keep you playing modern games while you wait for the PC market to stabilize. Time is money, and waiting months, if not years, for the best graphics cards, CPUs, and memory to return to normalcy in the marketplace is likely to cost you more than $300 worth of fun in the long run.

Alternatives to consoles

Steam Deck Vs Pug

Source: Windows Central/Miles Dompier (Image credit: Source: Windows Central/Miles Dompier)

In the event you absolutely cannot stomach consoles under any circumstance, there are still options — sort of. One is going the prebuilt PC route. This used to be more expensive than buying your own parts and doing the hard work firsthand, but now, what used to be the "premium expense" option is typically a lot cheaper than trying to procure parts a la carte. Not to mention, sites like Newegg have taken to giving component priority to those going the prebuilt route.

In other words, even if you don't want a whole system's worth of spare parts and a machine that comes preassembled in the mail, it may actually be as (or less) expensive as buying the one part you care about by itself. Even then, prebuilts aren't avoiding the realities of the chip shortage, meaning PC gaming as a whole is just a bit more expensive than usual at present. Consoles could still be the cheapest route for those with an outdated rig who are desperate to get back in the game.

But wait, there is one more option on tap: Steam Deck. Sure, this product is suffering from massive demand and limited supply, but at least it has the power of Valve behind it, just like how Xboxes are able to power through the shortage thanks to Microsoft's industry weight. If you're fine with a Switch-like setup for your PC gaming endeavors, this is a wallet-friendly option that may even be your ticket to a handheld Windows experience.

You can also go with less orthodox solutions such as GeForce Now if you're not hesitant about harnessing the power of the cloud to power your PC gaming goals, Just note that any non-local solution comes with potential networking drawbacks that many would say make for an unacceptable substitute to proper hardware ownership.

PC gaming will rise again, someday, hopefully

Rich's Gaming PC

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

It's time to stop the suffering. Ignore those "NVIDIA launches new GPU that no one can actually procure" posts. Tune out the sour news that crypto miners are hogging all the best parts for themselves and scalping online marketplaces dry.

Even I, as a PC diehard who will probably never buy an Xbox again, have to admit that for those who missed the cutoff to get into PC gaming at a decent price, it may be time to consider alternatives. Especially when you consider a scary hypothetical: What if NVIDIA, AMD, Intel, and co. decide to keep prices permanently spiked going forward since consumers have proven they're willing to pay through the roof? There's no guarantee the sky-high prices are going to come down in the near future, even if shortages taper off by the end of 2022.

Don't wait for a better tomorrow that may never come, just make the best of today. The PC waiting game has proven to be one of diminishing returns, and you deserve better than that.

Robert Carnevale is the News Editor for Windows Central. He's a big fan of Kinect (it lives on in his heart), Sonic the Hedgehog, and the legendary intersection of those two titans, Sonic Free Riders. He is the author of Cold War 2395. Have a useful tip? Send it to robert.carnevale@futurenet.com.

14 Comments
  • Back in the summer of 2020, my 10 year old AMD Phenom II X3 720BE died. I got lucky. I was able to rebuild a new machine using the Ryzen 5 3600 and a GTX 1660, new memory, new motherboard, new case for $600. I got it built just in time. I feel for those that didn't get as lucky as I did.
  • Or... both. Both is good.
  • So very true!
  • Yeah, especially if you can afford that.
  • What ya smoking Bro...A true Pc gamer just laughed at this article.
  • Ah, what an asinine term. Almost as bad as evoking the master race card. How about just let people have their opinions? Especially now the the consoles actually are about as good as mid range PCs.
  • Wow some people (Nablor). I'm 54, been gaming since dos, stayed with PC when people around got into ps1 for gaming. Hate gamepads, controllers but realise they have there uses. Built PC last year, 64 gig, amd, solid state etc. Currently own 1070. There is no way I'm paying more for a video card what costs more that my entire PC. So I bought an Xbox series x for gamepass, ray tracing. Now myself and my 9 year old kid can game together for a fraction of the price of a $2500 card required to replace current card. So yet am I true pc gamer and probably have been before you were born. So get over yourself. Good article, my sentiments exactly.
  • The thing is I own a 1070 and most games I can get 4k 60fps or 2k 120fps. I was a console gamer but for me felt console gaming is not what is was back in 360 and before ages. I moved back to being a pc only and not missed a big game yet. Got my elite controller and Xbox one controllers working with my pc so can play with my little one. Add emulators ect to the mix and I don't need multiple consoles to. I will look to upgrade my gcard but I'm not doing that for latest 5 years as I don't feel I need to yet. Consoles were great and still are for a lot of people but I do feel for me I won't go back any time soon.
  • You are right, console gaming isn't what it was in the 360 days, it is MUCH Better! It still has the casual appeal of the game just working. To me that's why I stopped being PC only in the 90s. I am now dipping my toes back in and I am getting the same crashes that I did back then that drove me away. A great example is that I can't even open AoE4. I was able to play it one time, but now it won't load. I tried installing it multiple times and other trouble shooting things. I have pretty much given up and will wait for Xbox.
    Some people just don't want to deal with that.
  • You do realize you can connect a mouse and keyboard to the Xbox series S right? 120fps for $299.
    True PC gamer lol. You just showed your age.
  • Uhh did you write this article 2 years ago and forget to submit it?
  • Funny coming from this author. Spending the last year hyping crypto and promoting mining probably didn't help.
  • I respect his willingness to report both sides of this. We could use more of that from the press in general these days. :-)
  • Andrew G1 does not understand the nature of this field or of obligation vs opinion, Granite. But I appreciate your willingness to engage with different facets of our content. Keep it up!