PC gaming's better than consoles, but there's room for both in the home
The PC is the better platform, in my humble opinion, for gaming. But that doesn't mean there's no need to own a console. I live with and love both and I think you should too.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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?)
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.
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.
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Rich Edmonds was formerly a 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 on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.