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Geno Rosario (Technology Consultant)

PC Gaming vs Console Gaming

Written on September 15, 2020 by Geno Rosario
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I’m an avid gamer. It’s one of the things I love to do to pass the time late in my evenings after a good, solid bike ride out in the sun. One of the occasionally-hot topics of discussion at Puget with my friends here is which platform is the best one to game on. I firmly believe in playing on whatever platform you want to, and I think there are advantages to each. I’ll try to touch on some of these!

PC Gaming

Pros:

  • More direct control of your visual and audio experience while gaming.
  • Great for tinkerers and people on the cutting edge of technology
  • Keyboard+Mouse provide the best accuracy in twitch-based games
  • Games usually release on PC before they release on consoles
  • Early Access & Early Development Builds and releases
  • Still supports console controllers for genres that are friendlier to it
  • Computer builds can be customized/flashy/cool
  • Most streamers you watch are likely playing their games on a PC
  • Frequent deals at fraction of a full game’s cost on console

Cons:

  • Much higher initial cost upfront to get started.
  • Cutting edge hardware can be less stable than a console.
  • Far more PC knowledge required to build/maintain a PC
  • Too many PC stores (Steam, Microsoft, Origin, Epic, Battle.net, Discord, UPlay, etc)
  • Each store has its own launcher, and games are exclusive to each platform
  • Driver crashes/Windows crashes
  • Linux and MacOS gaming experiences are generally poorer than Windows

Console Gaming

Pros:

  • Easier to set up and get to your games
  • Console cost is usually a fraction of a good gaming PC’s cost
  • 1080P is a baseline resolution targeted by nearly all console games.
  • UI experience is consistent across each platform
  • Console games are often comfortably played on a larger TV.
  • One unified store per platform, multiple game launchers not needed
  • Console generations typically last at least 7 years
  • All 3 major consoles offer monthly free games
  • Game Libraries are easily shareable on consoles between family members in the same house

Cons:

  • Consoles tend to have less graphical fidelity than what PC hardware can generate.
  • Games will typically target 1080p when PC commonly targets 4K
  • Requires a monthly subscription to play online (all 3 console makers)
  • Weird stigma about console gamers being inferior to PC gamers
  • Not as easy to set up and run streams if you’re a Twitch streamer
  • Controllers on consoles are kind of a you-love-it-or-you-hate-it kind of thing
  • Most Console games do not support Keyboard+Mouse.

Long story short, A good PC that plays games at 4K will easily cost you more than $3000, if you round up the cheapest parts you can find. Xbox/PlayStation/Nintendo Switch all have consoles in the $300 range. Not to mention, console gaming is much more cost-effective for families.

I love playing Overwatch on my Xbox, because it’s got a vast pool of players, and a unified experience, but there’s nothing quite like playing Overwatch on my PC at 4K/60frames on a high-end gaming monitor. If you’re picky about how good your visual experience is, PC gaming is where you’ll want to be.

Parental restrictions are FAR easier to accomplish on a console than on a PC. With a PC, I couldn't find a single babysitting application for younger kids on the web. Otherwise, you’d have to lock out websites manually. I did write an article about setting up parental controls here.

Game sharing is a breeze on consoles, compared to PC. On consoles, you pick your “Home Console” and any purchases are shared to all other users on that console. So, when my children were small, I had just the two consoles: mine, and theirs, and I could always play my own games on my secondary console, and all of my purchases shared to the “Main” console, and I only ever had to make the digital purchase once to share it to my two young children. On PC, you have to build/maintain a second, or third PC, and set up sharing within Steam, while the other stores (Epic, Origin, UPlay, etc) don’t support sharing your library at all. For larger families, consoles are the way to go financially (in my humble opinion).

On PC, however, there are just some games that don’t translate as well to consoles. MMORPGs are one genre that are lacking on consoles. There are only a few highly-recommended MMOs out there in general, and only one Console MMO that feels like a PC MMO, and that’s Final Fantasy XIV on Playstation 4. I believe that the other console MMOs (all are Free-to-Play) lack in comparison to World of Warcraft, Rift, Guild Wars 2, EVE Online, Runescape, or Star Wars: ToR. Final Fantasy XIV feels like the only PC-level MMO on console. RTS games like Command & Conquer, Total War, Starcraft 2, Warcraft 3, & Endless Legend have simply not been ported to consoles, because of the limited input options on consoles, when a Keyboard+Mouse is needed.

Honestly, the pros and cons of PC vs Console are different enough that it’s hard to say one is better than the other. Hopefully I’ve shared enough insight to help you make a choice! Come talk to us if you want to put together a gaming rig!

We have a couple of Xboxes and way too many Nintendo Switch in our house that I'm prepared to admit to, but as a parent, I appreciate the simplicity of the console for my younger kids to game on. As they get older the PC along with Discord and Twitch/YouTube on a second monitor seems to be the normal We are in such a great spot right now with so many excellent gaming options. Excellent article, Geno!

Posted on 2020-10-07 05:41:03
Bp_sti

3000$ seriously? Your living in the rarefied air of someone who works at a company that does hardware testing. The vast majority of PC gamers are running i5/xx60 class cpu/gpu systems. 1000-1300$ is a common build cost for a very good system, and stepping up to an i7/ryzen7 and x70ti or x80 class GPU can be done for another 400$ or so. Even adding in the cost of a monitor keeps most builds below 1500$-1600$.

For some reason people want to price a PC from scratch but toss in all the console "extras" as freebies. Multiple controllers, AV system for sound, big screen TV, etc are all part of the cost. If you exclude those you can exclude them on a pc as well. Ive had multiple console gamers switch to a pc and use their TV and xbox controllers and game like they had a very potent console that they could upgrade piece by piece. Two years later one of them has a 144hz monitor, and a bunch of rgb stuff and a new GPU, but he didn't need to do it all at once.

The new consoles will be cheaper than a PC for similar power levels. But the new GPUs and the new ryzens once again prove the rule of thumb that the consoles are at this point entry level gaming PCs on the inside that update every 5-7 years. They will be equal to a 3060 this cycle, and in 2 years the 4060 will likely knock them back to the "budget" status they have occupied since the PS3 era. That doesn't make console gamers less, its just a factor of the huge R&D costs involved in CPU/GPU development now.

Posted on 2020-10-16 05:45:19
Geno Rosario

You're right! a gaming-focused build will come in cheaper. But, since we don't focus on gaming builds at Puget, I quoted what a system good for gaming would cost from us. The new generation of consoles will definitely be closer to entry-level PCs, for sure!

Posted on 2020-10-16 21:18:41
Bp_sti

Yah and stay focused on what you guys do best! Your the go to guys for info when I upgrade my wifes business system every 4+ years since she is a wedding photographer. This time I dredged your very useful info on the 5900x. It seems like the best bang/buck for photoshop/lightroom/mild video work.

Have you seen the latest info on memory banks effecting the 5000 series cpus? Apparently 4x8 sticks gives a 10%+ improvement in some benchmarks with the 5000 series. But it also seems like 2x16 gives the same or slightly better. Which leaves me wondering... what happens when you add 4x16, 2x32 or 4x32? Ill probably go 2x16 for her build but would hate to see the system take a 8-10% performance dip if you move up past 32... gamers nexus is who noticed the discrepancy I believe (and their published scores were *before* the increase that happened with the 4x8 setup I believe!).

Posted on 2020-11-11 07:06:06
Sean Long

/me sits here, looking at his deluxe gaming-rig PC bought from Puget very recently (it's been in my home for less than 40 days now) .... and it's $3K+ price tag. :D And it's not even the most-amazeballs build possible, either ...! :D

Yes, you can get a game-capable PC for the sum you cited. But, if you do, then probably you did the assembly/build, not someone else. Also, you probably did not pick out the more top-shelf components available.

This PC has a Core i7-10700K processor and 32GB of Crucial DDR4-2666 memory, on an MSI z490M Gaming Edge Wifi motherboard. It has a PNY-build NVidia 2070 Super (when I set the build up, the 30XX cards had been announced, but weren't commercially available yet), a 1TB Samsung EVO 2.5"/SATA3 SSD (for operating system & applications), a 1TB Samsung EVO Plus M.2/PCIE SSD (for game installs - and let me tell you, "load times" are a thing of the past, now! :D ), and finally a 4TB WD Red HDD (for general storage - music, artwork, documents/PDFs, etc).

No monitor. No mouse. No keyboard. No gamepad. I already had all of that.

Also, no optical drive. I hardly ever used the optical drives on my prior PC, so I skipped it this time.

And the cost, not including taxes of S&H, was $3,236.60 in late August, when I placed the order. All told, it cost me $3,647.23 to get it here. (Then I added a second monitor - a curved ultra-wide one, in 2560x1080p ... ::bliss:: )

TL;DR - if you want an entry-level computer for gaming (meaning, you want to put most graphic settings on medium, with the occasional "low") .... sure. A grand or so. But if you want to dial it all up to 11, and melt your eyeballs with awesome? The price will get dialed up to 11, too. :)

Posted on 2020-10-30 06:13:51
Bp_sti

Thats not actually true even in the case of an excellent build. And this build was the most i think ive ever spent at once. In the 900 series era i used a 970 card, in the 1000 series era i used a 1080ti, and i skipped a gen to the 3080. Havent used a cpu less then an i7 since the i series was introduced. Haven't used low or medium settings in near 2 decades.

I bought all of this new in 2017 i believe. The 8700k had been out a month or two, so it was all fairly top of the line:
8700k = 400$
Z370-E = 150$
16gb 3200 ram tridentZ rgb 100$
2TB nvme SSD: 180$
View71 case (rgb glass): 150$
Evga 1080ti FTW3: 650$
850w EVGA PSU: 80-90$

So 1750-1850$ish

I recently sold the 1080ti and bought a 3080 evga ftw3 ultra for 300$ after the sale of the 1080ti (450$). So now we are at 2050-2100$ish. I also bought a valve index this year, so 3100$ now. Lets toss in 100$ for the OS (i got it "free" since I had it on my previous system build). So 3200$.

Ive had my system for 3 years longer, and it will out fps yours by a fair margin at the moment, and its got a top end VR headset, and I spent 400$ less. We could add in the 2nd 2tb NVME drive i got recently for 220$ and the 8TB drive I added last year and still be less.

I dont lay this out to be a jerk. Your system is excellent. I just usually try and teach the PC gamers I bring into the fold that one of the biggest advantages of gaming this way (on a pc) is its modularity and upgradeablity. I had a coworker build a system back in 2007-2008 and he bought the top CPU and top video card and loved bragging about the 10-15% speed difference over my and a friends build. And then about 18 months later i bought the next gen cpu and gpu and still had a *total* expense less then his on his original system and yet the new one was near 50% faster than his and i had extra parts i built a 2nd pc with. But he was too broke to do the same.

Getting the highest spec you can get is awesome if you can afford to keep doing it (i have friends who do exactly that). But don't ever "future proof" your system. I had a friend "future proof" his build in mid 2019 with a 2080ti for 1100-1200$. Now a year later we have a 500$ 2080ti in the 3070 and 6800 amd.

You got a nice build. You also bought from a builder that uses good quality standard components (thats a good thing!). So when the time comes for an upgrade you have everything you need to keep pushing the edge cheap. If you wanted a 3080 you could do it for 300-350$ (after the sale of the current card). If you wanted a ryzen 5000 5950x you could do that too and probably carry the memory over no problem. Same case, same psu, etc.

Before i got silly with this last build doing glass and rgb my case and psu were near 8 years old. Steady upgrades kept me in a system that vastly outperformed consoles and I did it for less money.

The main thing I lose is the ability to call a support line for help for the overall package versus individual components. I'm ok with that.

But thats a gamers calculation. A businesses calculation is a vastly different beast, which I suspect is the majority of puget systems business (if it isn't then this response may be drowned before it ever surfaces. Lol)

Posted on 2020-10-30 07:19:23
Sean Long

Based on your price listing, it looks like you built that computer yourself, completely?

Which means you're forgetting the OEM markup. I could have bought just the parts - the exact, identical parts - in my computer from Amazon and/or NewEgg for about $2,000. But I've never completely built a new computer before - especially, I've never mounted a CPU to a motherboard, nor a heatsink to that CPU. (I also do not have an environment clean enough, IMO - "the fur sticks to everything EXCEPT the cat", ha!)

So, around $1200-ish of the price I paid, was for having the parts put together by people with infinitely more experience (and far better tools) than I. That's about a 60% markup; if we add that to the ~$1,900 initial price for your parts list (including the OS) ...? Your system comes in at just about $3K, before the upgrades you did - only about $200 less than mine. (I'm not going to apply that markup to the upgrades you did, mind. Just the initial build.)

And that paints rather a different picture than you seem to be aiming for, wouldn't you agree?

All of which is exactly what my comment suggested, in the very second paragraph: You didn't "buy a computer". You bought a pile of parts, from which you built a computer.

Not everyone is capable of doing that. Some of us don't have the skill or the confidence to risk 1 or 2 thousand dollars in parts in order to build the computer ourselves; we need to hire someone who does have them to do the work for us.

For example, I had a computer that I added an optical drive to. Sounds like a simple thing, right? I had a clean environment, I used an antistatic wrist strap, the whole nine yards. I still completely bricked the motherboard. Twelve hundred dollar computer, kaput, just like that.

I've done other replacements without that sort of thing, mind. A PSU, video cards twice, RAM once, a HDD once, across two different PCs.

But that experience (which led to my first purchase from Puget) still makes me very, very uncomfortable with the idea of opening a PC case for anything beyond dusting (carefully!) with a can of compressed air and a pencil to hold fans still.

Risking two thousand dollars of parts I couldn't afford to purchase a second time, to scratch-build a computer from the ground up? NOPE. Not on the menu. :)

...

The main thing I lose is the ability to call a support line for help [...]

And a warranty. I have a 1-year Parts and labor Warranty from Puget. The only cost to me, would be shipping the computer back to them, if it entailed more than "replace a lemon of a GPU".

But don't ever "future proof" your system.

I can't afford to buy new components JUST to upgrade. If a part isn't broken, it isn't getting replaced - especially since I'm loathe to put my hands into the case, unless the only alternative is to completely junk the system.

Thus, it needs to be something that will remain competitive for as long as possible. Hence, "future proofing".

But do note, I don't buy "the absolute best of the best regardless of price". I buy the best intersection between price and peformance, slightly favoring performance.

Posted on 2020-11-11 04:27:31
Sean Long

Regarding the multiple stores:

GOG Galaxy can handle all of them, as a one-stop way to track and launch your games. You still need to have those other stores' client software installed (especially to buy things from them), but you can use Galaxy to view, install/uninstall, and launch ALL of your games across multiple platforms.

Posted on 2020-10-30 06:00:48