PC gaming's better than consoles, but there's room for both in the home

There's serious momentum within the #PCMasterRace for a very good reason — PC gamers are passionate enthusiasts. The PC has been around for decades and every day offers more performance and entertainment than the day before. But while these powerful machines are easily the best place to game, consoles have their place in the home. I'll run through the positives and drawbacks of each platform and where both can fit in your life.

Why the PC is king

I've been a PC gamer since 2005 when I built my first ever rig. The case was a Tiny Computers branded chassis and sported an AMD Athlon CPU and some terrible GeForce 6200 GPU, which I thought was the absolute king of graphics due to offering support for shader 2.0. I've kept up with the latest advancements in chips over the years and it's made upgrading PCs a worthwhile investment to get the most out of 1080p (and now 1440p) entertainment.

Old GPUs

A collection of older GPUs that were replaced by more powerful cards.

But why do I claim that PC is best? As a console fan, you're probably wondering what reasons I must have to make such a bold statement. Here are but a few advantages I feel make the PC platform the number one choice when it comes to gamers.

  • PC gaming is more affordable. Period.
  • Builds aren't tied to specific "generations."
  • Components can be upgraded whenever.
  • No fee to play online with friends.
  • Productivity extends beyond gaming.
  • Older games can be played without relying on backward compatibility.
  • Can be immensely more powerful than consoles.
  • Console controllers can be used.
  • Easily customizable with LED lighting, case modding, etc.
  • Traditionally enhanced graphic fidelity.
  • Take multitasking to the extreme. Game and watch a stream because why not?
  • Games are often significantly cheaper.
  • Modding!

It's difficult to price match the Xbox One X, but that misses the point.

Sure, to put together a capable PC that matches the price and specifications of the upcoming Xbox One X is nigh impossible without taking advantage of strong discounts, but consoles are built to be affordable and manufacturers partner up with console makers to sell components in bulk. This is something PC builders simply cannot compete against. But this is where things get interesting because by opting to go for a GTX 1050 instead of a GTX 1080, you're still going to be able to enjoy some solid 1080p experiences (no 4K, unfortunately), and take off a substantial $400 from the total cost.

Hello, Doc. Gaming and enjoying a stream simultaneously.

And the GTX 1050 is vastly more powerful than the Xbox One and Xbox One S, so you'd be located in the middle of Microsoft's console refresh with the option to upgrade to a more powerful GPU at a later date. This is the beauty of the PC: choice. This is something one cannot do with a console. Own an Xbox One S? Unfortunately, you're going to have to shell out a good few hundred more to enjoy the latest titles at higher resolutions.

Build your own

While pre-built PCs and gaming rigs are available from various retailers and manufacturers, it's always recommended to go down the custom route to some more pennies. Even if you've never opened a side panel before and peeked inside a chassis, you can easily build your own PC without experience or much knowledge. Even bare bones and some more affordable pre-built systems have capable hardware housed inside that only need a powerful GPU to take things to the next level.

Tt Core P5

Building your own PC is so much fun.

There are some excellent resources available online that makes building a new PC from scratch — ordering components, a case, carefully throwing everything inside and installing Windows — an absolute breeze. Completing your own build also makes one appreciate what magic occurs inside a case.

The future is PC

eSports is huge already and the industry will only continue to grow in size.

eSports is mainly being carried by PC gaming. Titles like Counter Strike: Global Offensive, League of Legends, and DOTA2 are all titles enjoyed by millions of PC gamers each and every day. The same goes for virtual reality, which relies heavily on the power of a PC — case manufacturers are even adding "VR-ready" versions to product lines to cater for this niche.

League of Legends eSports

PC eSports draws millions of viewers.

The world of gaming continues to share more and it's even easier with a PC at hand. Not only is it possible to stream while gaming, one can even record for video editing at a later date, upload to YouTube or another video sharing site, and let's not forget communication suites like Discord and TeamSpeak. New friendships and rivalries are formed on PC without the extra cost of Xbox Live or access to the PlayStation Network. (And if a service goes down, you don't lose connection to the outside world.)

Even as Microsoft, Sony, and other competitors roll out new generations of hardware, the PC will always be ahead.

Where consoles fit in

Now that I've put across a number of points that I believe make PC gaming better than that on a console, I'm not about to throw out the black slabs of plastic without a second thought. Why would you want to have both the PC and a console in the same home if one can outperform the other? I can certainly understand the appeal of consoles to those who enjoy using them, and they can even be a viable option of entertainment for even the most hardened #PCMasterRace follower.

Xbox One X

The Xbox One X is a seriously powerful console. (Image credit: Windows Central)

For starters, consoles are much more casual than PC gaming. Having a console installed in the living room allows for couch gaming, something that the PC is still catching up on. The UI of the Xbox One is just better all-around when it comes to the big screen.

Games are also designed for the controller, which allows for a more relaxed experience unless you're taking things seriously. There's also the unfortunate business of console-exclusives that Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo enjoy boasting about. I despise exclusives in any form, but we continue to have to deal with such practices that make it almost a requirement for you to own a console if you wish to play a particular title. (And yes, I know PC has many titles not available on console, but could you imagine playing World of Warcraft on a gamepad?)

You can prefer one or the other, but there's room for both.

It's also a good idea to have a system available that friends tend to play. For example, should you happen to enjoy PC gaming but have a group of friends who are mainly on Xbox One, you'll want to have a console in the home to connect with them when everyone is online. As well as playing with those who reside elsewhere, a console can allow for family members to enjoy their own personalized experiences without many configuring. Microsoft even lets you tie accounts to specific controllers, which makes it all very seamless.

Xbox One Controller Sign-in

Xbox One will even allow for specific controllers to be tied to accounts.

Overall, taking into account the price of a console, even the upcoming Xbox One X, there's really no reason not to own a capable PC and a console to gain access to the best of both worlds.

Further Reading

Rich Edmonds
Senior Editor, PC Build

Rich Edmonds is Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him over on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.

99 Comments
  • PCmasterrace
  • The PC is my primary gaming device, but that's just me.  Play what you want, don't knock on others' platforms.  We're all gamers first.
  • I've been saying for years that it's great to have both. I love PC gaming, and I don't think I'll ever not be a PC gamer, but I've been a console gamer since Atari, and consoles offer an experience that PC just doesn't. Even today, when consoles are basically a PC, it just feels different, and generally offers a more level playing field. I don't have to guess if the guy I'm playing against drops his rez to nothing to squeeze more frames, or if he's got a bunch of macros/scripts running. There seems to be a lot less hacking on console too. 
  • I agree - I have an awesome gaming rig PC that I play games on most of the time. But I also have all the Xbox (original, 360, One S) and 2 PS (3 & 4) consoles. I don't see any point in arguing that A console is better than B console - I'll just buy both and be done with it.
  • Sounds a lot like my argument. Lol I usually say PlayOnEverythingMasterRace
  • I'm a console gamer, always have been. I understand why people game on PC, but, it isn't for me.
  • Personally, I'd much rather game on a console that a PC. I'm a Sysadmin by day, so I don't feel like dicking with drivers, underpowered hardware, compatibility issues, etc. when I want to game, at night. I want to spend my gaming time by actually gaming and not dealing with crap that I usually get paid to do. To each his own, though.
  • I respect your choice with consoles, but getting a compatible system without the hiccups has been much easier than it ever has.  Less than I year ago, I did my first PC build.  It was very easy compared to a lot of cellphone repair that I did. I don't run into any show stopping things, and I've played may types of games.  The only adjustments I make are really just preferential.  Sure you can have a stray game or two, but it's not like when I was playing PC years ago (the last game I played on PC before my build was the first Unreal Tournament). I'd say, if you get board and you have some money to spend, build a PC, if not just for a DIY.  Either way, continue gaming!
  • You must have not attempted to play pc games in a while. Driver and compatability issues are a thing of the past.  Heck even networking issues are largely a thing of the past.
    PC gaming is largely "plug-n-play" or more accurately "install-n-play" now. In fact I find the social aspect easier to deal with on PC than Xbox.   Love playing a game, skyping, watching youtube/pron, and surfing the internet all at the same time on the same system. I use the xbox more for video streaming to the big screen more than gaming these days.
  • The XBox One was the first console to become my primary gaming machine. Before that it has always been the PC. I can see the merits for both, but it is definitely more expensive (in my case at least) to keep my PC rig upgraded. For that reason, I usually didn't have the fastest or the slowest machine in my circle of gaming friends. The Xbox is a more relaxing setup for me and I find myself on the couch rather than at my desk most of the time. Choice is a good thing though and I find myself looking at GTX 1070 cards to perhaps move back to the PC.
  • I went Back to PC as I just build a new one. It's Xbox and PC all the way now for me. And soon Xbox one X is joining as well :)
  • What does your gaming circle of friends use for voice comm? Discord? I always found voice comm to be somewhat fractured (half the people on one thing and the other half on something else).
  • we went from skype to mumble to Discord but we want something else that is possibly less wonky at times., not sure there is one better tho. since we want to play on a competitive level again, its indeed better to have everything the same.
  • No teamspeak? That's for PC mind you.
  • 1050? Hell, an RX 460 is faster than a X1S or PS4
  • Blimey, Tiny Computers. That takes me back
    (insert harp sound and wavy graphics)
  • Depends on the games, you can't do shooters and RTS games on a console due to the gimped controls. I primarily play those games, a console is therefore out of the question. If I would've played arcade fighting games or race games sure a console could work.
  • I have to disagree with this point Rich - " PC gaming is more affordable. Period." I have a number of friends who are PC gamers and they spend more just upgrading their video cards each year than I spend on an entire console.  Also most new games cost just as much on new games for PC as I do on console.  Yea there are sales but people who are keeping their gaming pc's updated to handle the newest games aren't waiting for that new AAA title to be on a steam sale.  They are paying the 59.99 just like console gamers.  I really don't see where you come up with that point.  Other than mentioning saving money by buying a 1050 as opposed to the 1080 and that console manufacturers get a bulk discount. you don't mention pricing.  How can you make a " PC gaming is more affordable. Period." claim with nothing to back it up.
  • The thing is that you don't NEED to upgrade your video cards every year. Also you don't NEED to have the most powerful or expensive card at all time. You can make it more affordable if you want. That's the advantage of PC. It's totally up to you. Unlike with console when we are forced to pay to play online. MS and Sony increased their price of their subscription and we are forced to pay more if we want to keep playing online... 
  • Poor article. I almost stopped reading at "PC gaming is more affordable than console gaming" (it's not) Also to say that  gtx 1050 is more a ffordable than an Xbox one but u don't get 4k gaming, is like saying a soda is more affordable than a BMW but is not as fast.   Talk about stating the obvious.   You also forgot to mention that PC gaming notoriously more unreliable than Console gaming.   Even in 2017 PC gamers are experiencing all too frequent crashing to the desktop and having to download patches and new drivers.   I'm a strong advocate of both PC and console gaming but this article sucks.
  • Ps meant skoda not soda
  • It's much easier to get cheap PC games than it is to get console games. My biggest frustration with consoles is that I'm either tied to retailers who keep the prices high (or at least higher than PC equivalent), and things like the Xbox store with terrible sale prices rarely below retail sale prices. Places like Steam, CD Key sites, and Bundle sites means you can get almost anything cheaply. I can often get several AAA titles, worth $100-200, for $10-15 in a bundle. So while you may pay a little bit less for the console hardware, it will bite you in the arse as soon as it comes time to buy games for it. And you're wrong about "having to download patches and new drivers" - Steam handles the former automatically, and the latter is practically a thing of the past (I haven't had driver issues in 10+ years). I'm not saying that every game in existence will work flawlessly, but to suggest "all too frequent crashing" happens a lot is utter bollocks.
  • Utter bollocks? Are you for real? As an example look up forza horizon 3 (PC) on launch and then tell me there are no issues? Took weeks of messing about and rolling back drivers and issuing patches. Funnily enough, the EXACT same game on console didn't have any issues. Many folks including me are still having issues. You are incredibly naive if you think people don't have issues on PC gaming and think everything works flawlessly. Can't believe some people just either Bury their heads in the sand or are just deliberately obtuse
  • You might want to hone up on your reading skills as I clearly said "I'm not saying that every game in existence will work flawlessly". Cherry-picking a single game, on launch no less, doesn't prove your point. The vast majority of games don't have such issues. And you're wrong about Forza Horizons 3 - there are many reports of it crashing/freezing on Xbox One too. Source: Xbox One forums. I also saw similar reports with NBA 2K14 on XB1. You said that "PC gaming [is] notoriously more unreliable" and "gamers are experiencing all too frequent crashing to the desktop" which is suggesting that this issue is widespread and implies it happens a majority of the time - which actually is complete bollocks. The truth is that it happens a minority of the time and you're just spreading FUD to suit your own biased opinion.
  • You are spouting utter tripe. How am I biased when I said I like both platforms equally??? What a total melt. I'm adding balance to the original article. PC gaming is less reliable than console gaming and that's a fact. There are pros and cons. How on earth is that biased.?
  • Have you been gaming on PC a lot?
    I agree with what schlubadub said but not only that. On console you have to pay to play online. After 4 years of XBL on XB1 it's 240 bucks added to the cost. There are people who bought the XB1 day one, bought the XB1s last year and will buy a XB1x this year. You got to remember that on a PC, people don't buy a new PC all the time. They will just upgrade the part that needs upgrade when THEY want. All I need is a 1080 on my PC to outperform the "most powerful console". A card I can get for less than the price of that console.
     
  • I have a PC and an Xbox one for gaming. My PC is a core i7 with 16gb ram, ssd, gtx 1080 card and I have a Gsync genuine 4k monitor. I love both console and PC equally. My games of choice at the minute are forza horizon 3, dead rising 4, gears of War 4 and fifa 17. My TV downstairs is a 4k LG TV. On my PC I get games in full 4k with resolution set to ultra and 60fps most of the time. Never drops below 40. On the Xbox I get 1080p resolution and 30fps or sometimes 60 depending on the game. Particularly for launch games they are fought with issues on PC until the