PC vs Console Gaming: Which is Better?

Every gamer is faced with a choice: PC, console, or both. Arguing about which one is better is the kind of debate that lights up message boards – which one is less expensive, has the best visuals, or has the best multiplayer competition? If you’re trying to decide between purchasing a console or gaming PC, we’ll break down each part of the PC vs. console debate to help you decide what’s best for you.

Three things to consider

Whether you want to use a console or a PC, the important thing is to enjoy the game. Considerations like your budget, technical skills, and available upgrades play a part in making your decision of how to enjoy the game.

Budget

PC and console gamers both want the most bang for their buck, but what that looks like and how it’s measured is different for each group. For a console gamer, costs are generally limited to purchasing the console, extra controllers, games, and perhaps online multiplayer passes. For a PC gamer, there’s a wide variety of options to buy if you choose to build your own computer, but not every PC gamer has their own custom-built machine.

Because there’s such a wide variety of possibilities and differences in perceived value, it’s impossible to say either PCs or consoles are more cost-efficient. It completely depends on the individual. The level of customization and performance you’re looking for determines the size your budget needs to be to get the platform you want.     

Technical skills

Generally, PC gamers need to have more technical skills than console gamers. Although it is possible to modify a console by adding new hardware, it’s not necessary. Console gamers do need to be able to install the sequel or update of their games. PC gamers need at least a minimal level of technical skills, even if they purchased a pre-built gaming computer. And by technical skills, we don’t mean the ability to write HTML code, but the ability to set up a computer with a general concept of how it operates. A PC gamer might also want upgrade hardware components and install new drivers for those components, which calls for an intermediate skill level.

Upgrades

It is possible to add new hardware to a console with a minimal technical skill level. With a PC, the upgrades can be much more extensive. Each hardware component can be upgraded, along with other cosmetic features like the system’s case. 

Advantages of console gaming

Consoles have advantages over PCs, they are easy to use, don’t require upgrades, many of your friends also have consoles, so it’s easy to play with your friends, in general they’re cheaper, and wireless controllers allow you to have a more active experience.

        1. Consoles are simple, easy to use, and cost less

Many gamers choose to play with a console because they are designed for easy set up and maintenance. Console gaming can start minutes after you remove the system from the box. There are no build times or technical skills needed to start having fun.

Although the relative costs of consoles and PCs are debatable, generally, consoles cost less than gaming PCs. Plus, newer consoles can be used to stream movies, TV shows, and music - adding another perk to owning a console. 

Gaming console and tv monitor

2.     You don’t have to upgrade hardware

You can keep playing your games without worrying about obsolete hardware components. Unlike playing on a PC, which can require upgrades as PC games advance, consoles are built by the manufacturer with the necessary system requirements. However, console manufacturers will release new consoles in line with improvements in technology, so there is still a risk of old consoles not being supported for new games. How much time between new console releases depends on the manufacturer. So, console gamers will have to consider whether to upgrade or not when the latest system is released.

Additionally, many console gamers over time will have a collection of consoles to play games across systems. The lack of backwards compatibility, or the ability to play games released for previous generation consoles on newer generation machines, does mean players are often forced to upgrade.

3.     Brings gaming to the masses, including improving multiplayer

Most of your friends have console systems, too. It’s easy to get friends together to play, and consoles are set up for multiplayer games.

Map showing console gamers

PC gaming historically has been credited as the best for its online multiplayer functionality. However, consoles have since aimed to catch up with improvements with in-game communication and online game sharing, which is great for playing with friends. If it’s multiplayer gaming with friends you’re most interested in, you will need to consider which system your friends play on, as few consoles and games support cross-platform capability.

4.     Console-exclusive titles

It’s true that some games are not available for PC, but rather remain console exclusives. Before committing to a console, consider which systems offer the games you love, as not all consoles offer the same range of games.

5.     Wireless controllers

Wireless controllers allow you to be more active while playing. Many consoles have games that increase your physical activity and skills.

Advantages of PC gaming

PCs have some different advantages, you can customize your PC, the visuals are sharper and more life-like, peripherals are more accurate than a console, and you can modify your games.

        1.     You can customize PC hardware

By building your own gaming PC you can choose where, when and how much you want to invest in your computer. Some gamers invest in maintaining a very high-end computer, preferring to run the newest game releases at the highest possible settings. While others invest in a budget gaming PC and upgrade only when required.

Gaming computer hardware

The three components that gamers typically invest and upgrade the most often include:

  • Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) or graphics card – which turns data into signals which are sent to the monitor. This data then creates the imagery or video you see on the screen.
  •  Memory (RAM) – where game information is stored to be loaded or retrieved quickly. Here gamers consider how much RAM they might need, the frequency at which data can be transferred and speed (latency) of that information. What to know more about memory for your gaming PC? Find the best gaming memory for your gaming PC.
  • Hard drive or Solid State Drive (SSD) – is where game information, data, programs and other applications are stored on the computer permanently and retrieved when required. Most PC gamers prefer a solid state drive, as it provides greater speed, long term durability and reduces power consumption when compared to a hard drive. 

2.     The visuals are better

It’s one thing to dominate the competition, but it’s another to see it happen in the most stunning resolution possible.

Whether it’s with integrated graphics or with a graphics processing unit (GPU) or graphics card, you’re in control of how sharp the visuals are. On a PC, you can also game on multiple screens at one time.

Two gaming monitors

3.     Control the way you play--gaming peripherals

Unlike consoles, which can restrict the way you play, PC users benefit from a wide variety of controllers and mice to choose from. Gamers looking to kick back and relax can enjoy the freedom of wireless controllers, joysticks and even a steering wheel for racing games, like most consoles. However, when precision is key, PC users can utilize a gaming mouse. Gaming mice are particularly accurate, allowing you unrivalled control and accuracy during first-person shooter games. These are often favored by professional gamers, who can’t afford to have anything less than perfect accuracy.

4.     You can rescript your rig – or your game

You can change the physical appearance of your PC, and in many games, you can also modify gameplay by modding the game itself.

Imagine hunting down opponents on a new map or switching out different character skins to add more personality to your game. You can often download other gamers’ mods, so you don’t have to do any of the work yourself. It’s all possible when you dive deeper into gaming and get into mods.

Modified gaming computer

5.     PC games cost less

While a lot of gamers think first about the cost of building a PC, one of the lesser discussed advantages of PC gaming is the cost of PC games. With many digital distribution platforms offering PC games, this offers gamers an option to shop around and many find that PC games are cheaper than their console-specific versions. 

The winner?

When considering the epic battle between console or PC, it’s important to consider not only budget, but what experience overall you are looking to have. As a gamer, are you most concerned with convenience? Or cost? Multi-player online gaming? Do you enjoy or would you be interested in upgrading a computer yourself? Most of us here at Crucial® like PC gaming better than console gaming, but we’re all into that. No matter what you choose, the important thing is to play.


1One way to upgrade a console is to install an SSD, but, with some devices, this may void the device’s warranty. However, this is often a small price to pay for faster, more secure performance. Find out more about the benefits of upgrading your consoles SSD.

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