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Gamers are now faced with a larger number of viable options (by which mean platforms and devices) than ever before; and this, one could argue, is both a good and a bad thing. It’s no longer as simple as pledging your allegiance to one “camp” and calling it a day — the differences across all platforms are much smaller and less pronounced than they were in the past.
You really have to weigh the pros and cons of each platform or device before making any kind of purchasing decision as they all come with their own unique strengths and weaknesses. The age-old clash between consoles and PCs, however, still rages on — although it’s nowhere near as fiery as it once was.
Today’s gaming consoles carry the exact same architecture as the computers we all use on a daily basis and, as such, are very much comparable in regards to performance. And yet, as was always the case, they still provide a vastly different overall experience.
Both options, needless to say, are quite alluring, but they also bring their own unique peculiarities in tow.
So, which should you choose and why? What are their inherent pros and cons? Let’s take a closer look!
Gaming PC vs Gaming Console — Which Is Better?
With a gaming PC, you really need to think about a myriad of different things: hardware compatibility, power limits, cooling, system updates, GPU drivers, and a million other hurdles. It’s just not a plug-and-play kind of experience which, depending on your needs, may or may not be a good thing.
Once you take everything into consideration, the sheer prospect of going through such an ordeal makes it a lot less appealing. Now, granted, most of us love the process of building a gaming rig but it sure isn’t to everyone’s taste. It takes a lot of time, effort, and knowledge — it’s a hobby, and much like any other activity, it, too, can get taxing and tedious.
Gaming consoles, on the other hand, offer an astonishingly seamless experience. They’re so good and frictionless it almost boggles the mind. It really is as simple as turning on your controller, pressing a couple of buttons, and you’re ready to climb the ranked ladder — or, conversely, finally start playing through your backlog.
It’s incredible, really, and it gets even more impressive once you juxtapose it to the average PC experience.
And so, with all of that in mind, it’s fair to say that neither option is objectively better than the other. It’s all a matter of taste and personal preference. If you’re after the most user-friendly experience, then a gaming console is nigh impossible to beat.
If, however, you want absolute and total freedom over your hardware — and are willing to deal with the “complications” and realities which come in tow — then a gaming PC would be the way to go. They’re a luxury, one could argue. You and only you can choose what to install, when, and under which circumstances. You can use mods, you can emulate, you can tinker with a wide range of settings and particularities which consoles simply lack.
Such a granular level of control obviously isn’t to everyone’s liking, but it is a pretty big selling point, and it really doesn’t need to be explained.
Gaming PC vs Gaming Console — Which Is More Powerful?
This, too, is a very interesting topic. A gaming PC can obviously be a lot more powerful than any of today’s most popular consoles, but it’s also going to cost more. Then again, the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series S|X are definitely powerful enough. They’re devilishly fast and are equipped with numerous unique bells and whistles — features which have basically eliminated loading screens and have opened up a world of possibilities for developers to create vast and beautiful virtual worlds.
Sony and Microsoft’s offerings are very similar architecture-wise to today’s gaming rigs (an understatement), which means they can very much be compared performance-wise. And even though they’re not as powerful as high-end gaming PCs, they’re still more than capable of delivering a spectacular 4K experience with all sorts of hardware- and software-based goodies like ray tracing, FSR, VRS, HDR, VRR, and so on and so forth.
These consoles are by no means underpowered, and while they cannot offer the same potential as a spec’d-out gaming PC, they are still more than sufficient. This, in short, is the very first generation of consoles that isn’t trailing behind the “PC master race.”
So, needless to say, you won’t be disappointed no matter which option you end up going with — as far as sheer performance is concerned.
Gaming PC vs Gaming Console — Which Is Easier to Set Up?
That’d be a gaming console — by a country mile. You just need to plug in three cables (HDMI, power, and optionally Ethernet), press a button, and you’re good to go. Signing in to your account (or creating from scratch) only takes a few moments which means that you can, by all means, start playing your favorite games within the span of, say, five or ten minutes — download speeds permitting.
You don’t have to install an operating system or, perhaps even worse, download a seemingly endless list of updates and security patches; you don’t have to find the appropriate drivers, to download a myriad of different launchers and all the many executables and APIs and whatnot.
Gaming PCs offer a much higher level of control, but that control does complicate things. Sometimes you just want to sit on the couch, put your feet on the table and, within seconds, start gaming. Consoles offer that kind of experience straight out of the box. There’s no tinkering or fiddling with settings, no tuning or tweaking — it all just works as advertised.
And so, if ease of use is your primary goal, then a gaming console would definitely be your best option.
Gaming PC vs Gaming Console — Which Offers Better Value?
This really depends on your definition of value. Gaming consoles are much cheaper than equally spec’d gaming PCs, but they’re also nowhere near as versatile. For a fairly palatable sum of money, you basically get a nice looking box that isn’t going to get too hot or loud and will chew through all the latest and greatest titles (all of which are fully optimized) with aplomb.
That’s a very strong selling point.
And, better yet, subscription services like Xbox Game Pass and PlayStation Plus make it all the more worthwhile (the former especially). Having access to hundreds upon hundreds of incredible games — both indies and AAA ones alike — means that, for a somewhat reasonable monthly fee — you’re never going to be out of games to play.
Then again, console games don’t go on sale nearly as often as PC ones, and there are rarely, if ever, any “freebies.”
So from a sheer value perspective — if we take services like Game Pass into consideration — then we’d have to argue that a gaming console is the better option. It’s going to perform a lot better than a similarly priced gaming PC and it won’t force you to go through any software- or hardware-based shenanigans in order to get everything up and running.
Their seamlessness and ease-of-use are unparalleled.
Gaming PC vs Gaming Console — Which Should You Buy?
Why not both, if your budget allows it, of course? That way you’d essentially get the best of everything — a frictionless user experience from a gaming console, and the sheer freedom and versatility of a gaming PC.
If that’s not possible (for whatever reason), then you can use the following summary as a guide of sorts to help you make a final decision:
Build a Gaming PC If:
- You want absolute and total freedom over your hardware
- You want to be able to upgrade certain components further down the line (whenever the need arises, basically)
- You want to have control over which games you can play and how — AAA titles, legacy ones, indies, emulation, cloud streaming, and so on and so forth are all a possibility on a regular gaming rig
- You plan on doing other productivity-related tasks whenever you’re not gaming
- You prefer a mouse and keyboard (but also want to retain the ability of connecting a controller)
- You’re okay with missing out on certain console exclusives (which have become rarer and rarer)
Buy a Gaming Console If:
- You want as seamless an experience as possible
- You don’t want to mess around with system updates, drivers, custom settings, and such like
- You don’t have a lot of free time available and just want everything to work as intended the moment you sit down to game
- You already have a gaming PC and just want another platform to game on whilst on the couch
- You’re interested in playing the latest console exclusives (which, again, are by no means as plentiful as they were in the past)
Both options have their own unique pros and cons. There’s an overlap, sure, but one could argue that they still cater to slightly different users and demographics. A gaming PC will never be able to match the simplicity and frictionless nature of a gaming console — that’s just a fact. The same could be argued the other way around but in regards to flexibility, personalization, customizability, and sheer control.
A gaming PC, generally speaking, is the better investment as it provides a lot more freedom in regards to the things for which it can be used. It’s not as user-friendly as a gaming console, but it sure is the most “premier” platform to game on. If money is of no concern, then building a high-end gaming rig will deliver an experience unlike any other.
That being said, the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series S|X are definitely standout options, if not for their sheer computational prowess then surely for their surprising affordability. Heck, the small and seemingly underpowered Series S is probably the best deal in gaming nowadays, especially when paired with Microsoft’s Game Pass. It’s nowhere near as capable as its bigger brother, but it’s still a surprisingly adept performer.
In any case, you won’t be disappointed no matter which option you end up going with.