The issue of PCs vs. consoles has been the subject of much debate within the gaming community.
Especially in recent years, players of all kinds of games have stubbornly gone back and forth, arguing the case for their preferred platform.
However, the truth is that both sides have their ups and downs.
There are several factors to consider to make the choice that’s going to satisfy your standards best.
Here’s a breakdown to help you do just that.
When it comes to power, a high-end PC is going to outdo a console in the vast majority of situations.
Graphics cards and processors in the current PC gaming market can vastly exceed the performance of anything built into a Playstation or an Xbox.
With the right components, PC games are going to load faster, look more detailed, and have a higher peak performance than that of a console.
Additionally, PCs have the advantage of modularity; individual components can be replaced and upgraded at any time to achieve user standards.
Gamers who aren’t necessarily picky about running the highest shadow detail and foliage textures are probably going to be perfectly content with the look of a game on a console.
If a developer creates a beautiful game, it’s likely to look beautiful on any platform.
The main difference in visual benefits between a PC and a console is probably the frame rates at which they typically run games. Sixty frames per second (FPS) is a sort of unofficial standard when it comes to what’s considered a “smooth” frame rate.
This isn’t going to be a particularly difficult bar to hit if you’re playing on a decent gaming PC.
However, on consoles, there are some games that have to sacrifice graphics quality to achieve a smooth frame rate.
There are even some games locked to 30FPS, which isn’t entirely on par with what most gaming enthusiasts have come to expect nowadays.
Along with outdoing consoles in graphical performance, a good PC is likely to load faster and have more options when it comes to gameplay.
Overall, a quality gaming PC is going to be more powerful than a console with little to no exception.
Accessibility is a critical factor when it comes to gaming machines.
In this respect, consoles have the definitive upper hand. If a user wants a PC, they’re going to have to do extensive research on which components are going to be necessary to achieve the quality they’re looking for in the games they want to play.
Additionally, if one plans to build their machine, they’ll have to be on the lookout for compatibility issues and follow tutorials on how to put together the PC themselves.
When it comes to consoles, you have the convenience of running over to your nearest GameStop or Walmart and merely purchasing an Xbox or a PlayStation.
That’s the only prominent decision when it comes to console gaming, and you can make it with relative ease depending on which exclusives you want to play or the platform on which most of your friends have already established their presence.
Another thing to consider when thinking about accessibility is cost.
Console prices are, for the most part, standardized and consistent.
Whether you go to a corporate giant like Target or your local mom and pop video game store, you’re likely to pay the same price for the same product — and that price is usually pretty affordable.
On the other end of the spectrum, getting the best price on PC components can be a long and involved undertaking.
Sure, you can go ahead and purchase all the parts you’re going to need as soon as you’re done deciding on your build, but it’s going to cost you.
The method that most avid PC gamers use is to meticulously monitor the prices of each component on several different sites and waiting for the lowest acceptable price.
That has the potential to cut down the total cost of your machine significantly, but it also means that you might be waiting months to complete your build.
It’s worth noting that inexpensive, quality gaming PCs indeed do exist.
If you’re not a stickler for the minute details of performance, it’s likely that you could build a PC that’ll run medium settings at a decent frame rate for around the cost of a console.
However, PC parts are expensive!
Given that a higher potential for power is the primary lure of a PC, you’re likely to take a pretty big hit on your bank account when building a machine that’s going to make games live up to their full potential.
While the wide variety of choices in hardware is what makes many people flock to PCs, this can be a massive turn-off for someone looking for a more user-friendly, no-hassle experience.
The high price of quality PC components can also be a significant deterrent for most, even if they can build a decent machine for about the cost of a console.
As far as accessibility goes, it’s pretty clear that consoles have fewer barriers to entry.
The entire point of purchasing a console or a gaming PC is self-evident: to play games. In deciding on which platform to get into, one must consider the games that they want to play.
As aggravating as it is that so many games are exclusive to one platform, it’s something you need to take into account.
If you’re looking to get into one or two games in particular, then it’s pretty simple to find out what platforms they’re on and make your choice accordingly.
However, if you’re looking for a wide variety, then there’s more to consider.
If you primarily like to pick up the most popular releases of the year to play with your friends, then both PCs and consoles are likely to do you just fine.
With a few exceptions like Halo or Gears of War, most big franchises are going to be available on a variety of platforms.
Some of them offer platform-exclusive content like maps, outfits or weapons but these usually aren’t anything worthy of altering your decision.
It’s even worth noting that most big franchise releases are developed for consoles and ported merely to PC, meaning that they’ll probably perform more consistently on a Playstation or Xbox.
However, if you’re looking for a more comprehensive array of titles or perhaps the opportunity to discover more niche indie games, then PC may be the way to go.
However, consoles are seeing more indie releases than ever as developers begin to expand to the Microsoft, Sony, and even Nintendo stores.
A game that isn’t funded by a large publisher is still likelier to be released on PC — at least at first. Steam (the most popular online store and client for PC games) has thousands of indie titles to choose from that you won’t find anywhere else.
Furthermore, the amount of free, quality content released on PC is far higher than that of any console.
Steam has steady sales along with substantial seasonal deals on big and small titles alike, allowing you to pick up games that you may have been eyeing for a fraction of the standard price.
Overall, the factor of which games you’re going to be able to play on your platform is somewhat of a mixed bag. Prominent franchise releases are going to be available on various platforms, but often are most reliable on consoles.
More niche or indie titles like MMORPGs or releases from smaller development teams are likely going to be released on PC before they have the opportunity to expand.
Someone in the market for a new gaming system should look into the selection of games for all available platforms before diving into any final decisions.
Reliability and Maintenance
When making a significant purchase such as a new gaming system, it’s important to choose something that’s going to do what you want it to do and do it correctly.
As mentioned earlier, the power of a PC is greater than that of a standard console; unfortunately, this doesn’t come without its cost.
The reason that a PC has greater potential for power is because of its modularity and customization options; the user picks out which components are going to be right for their gaming needs.
However, while this can be a great benefit, it also leaves room for error.
The simplest way to put it is that when a developer creates a game for a console, they’re building it for a standard machine that is the same as all the other machines of its name.
Regardless of where you get it, an Xbox is an Xbox, and a Playstation is a Playstation. That makes it easy to guarantee that a game is going to work on your console because it’s no different from everyone else’s console.
PC isn’t quite that simple because the community of PC gamers all have the potential to be using some different combination of hardware components based on their needs and preferences.
While there are means that developers take to make sure that their game is going to run smoothly on as many machines as possible, there are bound to be a few pieces of hardware here and there that are going to have some trouble.
The extensive list of variables that come along with PC gaming is the reason that big franchise releases are likely to run more consistently on a console.
Sometimes a graphics card doesn’t quite get along with a particular shader or texture in a game, which can cause reduced frame rates or choppy graphical rendering here and there.
Most of the time there’s something that either the developer or the user can do, but there can sometimes be highly niche problems for which surefire solutions are going to be hard to track down.
Maintenance is something that a console simply doesn’t need.
Other than maybe removing some dust from the fans here and there, it’s pretty safe to say that you’re not going to need to make any adjustments to keep a console working.
With a PC, however, poor upkeep can affect performance and even damage components.
Thermal paste on a processor’s heatsink will need replacement and hardware requires a periodical dusting with a compressed air bottle.
Most of these things aren’t particularly tricky, but they may be inconvenient or intimidating for someone who doesn’t have any experience on the subject.
A console purchase is going to play every game released for its generation at an acceptable standard of quality, with little room for error.
A PC is liable to get overall better quality results but perhaps with an occasional hiccup that may be difficult for an inexperienced user to target and eradicate.
Conclusion: To Each Their Own
Gaming communities could spend a lifetime hashing out why one platform is better than another.
However, as with most divisive topics, it’s purely a matter of preference.
Making an educated decision about what kind of system to purchase mostly has to do with the type of experience you’re seeking: if you want more of a user-friendly, reliable gaming machine that’s unlikely to cause any headaches down the road, then a console would probably suit your needs just fine.
However, if you’re someone that likes a good project and is willing to put in some extra time, money and effort for a machine with higher potential, then you might consider entering the market for a quality gaming PC.
Each side has its benefits and a handful of shortcomings but, either way, the result is going to be many happy hours spent in your favorite universes as your favorite characters.