It’s an interesting time in the life cycle of the big games consoles. The new systems are here, and that leaves owners of older ones with a decision to make. Is it better to go for the Microsoft system or the Sony one? Or is it time to make the switch from console gaming to the wonderful world of PC gaming?
We’re here to make the case for the PC. Now, it won’t have escaped the attention of astute readers that this is a PC gaming blog, running on the website of a business whose purpose is to sell gaming computers. Well, we hold our hands up – we have a financial incentive to sell you a PC over a console.
With that said, let’s run through an easily-digested list of pros (and a few cons) of making the switch to PC!
A decent PC will run games a lot better than even a brand-new games console can. Indeed, the new consoles have been around for all of five seconds, and already they’re being overshadowed by desktop PCs. The console versions of Watch Dogs: Legion, for example, are capped at 30fps, and will dynamically downscale the resolution to stay under the cap. A 2060 Super running equivalent settings will deliver much the same performance – while a 3080 or equivalent will go even further. For multiplatform games, you might find that the very best textures can only be found on PC. As time goes by, the gap between the two kinds of system is only likely to widen.
One of the joys of PC gaming is the ability to dive into menus of graphical options and to tweak the settings to your liking. If you don’t like motion blur, you can simply turn it off. If you’d rather the game ran faster, you can sacrifice a little bit of texture quality. If you know what you’re doing, you can even dive into config files and change things that aren’t even in the options. That’s how those Watch Dogs comparisons were made – the PS5 and Xbox settings are right there in the config!
Over time, new components may come out that will make your machine run that little bit faster. If you own a PC, you can simply buy them, plug them in, and enjoy the extra frames. Consoles tend to be a little more rigid.
If you’re looking to share and record gameplay footage, the PC presents an enviable range of programs. Graphics card manufacturers are even bending over backwards to offer onboard video encoding, which alleviates the strain from the CPU and allows for easy streaming. While similar leaps forward have been made on consoles, if you want to edit footage and superimpose your own fancy graphics and titles, you’ll need a PC that’s up to the task.
There are thousands upon thousands of PC titles to play, and you don’t need to worry about compatibility issues between generations. What ran on your old machine will almost certainly run on your new one. Many of the big hitters on console, like Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds and Minecraft, got their start on PC – and you can be reasonably sure that the next cultural phenomenon will follow a similar trajectory.
What’s more, there’s the modding community. On PC, it’s easy for technically-minded players to go under the hood and start tinkering with games, adding in character models and even entirely new modes of play. You might think that this is a fringe thing, but consider the list of success stories. DayZ started out as a mod of Arma 2. Defence of the Ancients started out as a mod of Warcraft III. Counterstrike and Team Fortress stemmed from Half Life 2.
If you’re trying to persuade your parents that buying a PC is, in fact, a great move for your future career, then you might casually mention just how much money these franchises are raking in every year. It’s not a trivial sum.
Here we have something of a double-edged sword. If you want a machine that’s specced the same as a console, you’ll have to pay a little more. If you want a machine that’s vastly superior to a console, you’ll have to pay a lot more. That’s even before you consider the cost of peripherals, monitors and fancy RGB lights.
With that said, there are savings to be found on the PC. These mostly come from the price of the games themselves. Platforms like Steam regularly offer games at knock-down prices. At the time of writing, highly-rated games like Red Dead Redemption II, Disco Elysium and Control: Ultimate Edition are all available at heavy discounts.
If you’re getting through a lot of games, then the savings will quickly offset the price of entry. You might even find that you already own one or two PC games: CD Projekt have made The Witcher 3 on PC available for free to those who’ve already bought it on other systems.
Then there’s the fact that you have to pay a subscription to play online on a console. Xbox Live or PlayStation Plus will set you back around forty quid for an annual subscription – after five years, that’s £200. What seemed like a good deal can quickly turn sour.
If you’re just coming up with a rough budget, then figure out what games you’ll be playing, and take a look at our PCs built to cope with them.
You’re not taking the TV
If you’re living with other people, then console gaming can create a problem. You want to watch the latest episode of the Crown; they want to beat the snot out of Yoshimitsu. On a PC, you don’t have this problem – you’re playing on an entirely separate system and monitor, and everyone’s happy.
When you buy a console, you’re buying something that’ll work from day one. You plug it in, you accept the user license agreement, you wait for the day one patch to download, you restart the system…you start to yearn for the days where console games came on cartridges.
The fact is that the lines between PC and console gaming are a little blurry these days, and the advantage of convenience isn’t as significant as it once was. This is especially true when you consider all of the prebuilt systems available from the Cyberpower store – they’re ready to go in much the same way as a new games console, and they’re a lot more powerful, too!