As technology rapidly improves and esports gains popularity, the PC versus console gaming war seems to have built up into an inferno.
With so many choices for video games that are out there in the market it can be hard to decide which platform to use, whether you’ve just started playing as a fun hobby or if you are an avid long-time gamer.
Here is a list of the top pros and cons between PC and console gaming:
- Pro: Consoles Cost Less
- Con: Consoles Pay to Play Online
- Pro: PCs Have a Larger Game Library
- Con: Console Games are More Expensive
- Pro: Console Gaming is Comfortable and Simple
- Con: PC Gaming is More Complex
- Pro: PC hardware Can be Upgraded
- Con: Consoles Become Outdated
- Pro: Esports and Twitch Gamers Prefer PCs
Making the choice between PC gaming vs console gaming can be difficult without prior research. Below I help make the decision easier by explaining the pros and cons in more depth, and suggest another new alternative to PC and console gaming to consider.
Before I Start: There is No “Perfect” Gaming Platform
I know you arrived at this article looking for an answer. Remember that even with the information and considerations that I lay out to you below, that the choice will ultimately be yours to make.
There is no 100 percent, perfect machine out there that does absolutely everything we ask for in the gaming world.
Although PC gaming can accomplish some things better than console gaming, and vice versa, there will always be pros and cons to each.
Take these tips below and weigh them accordingly so that your buying decision will be aligned with your specific needs best.
Let’s get started.
Pro: Consoles Cost Less
When you look through a Best Buy magazine or scroll through Amazon, you will find that PC prices vary significantly.
Gaming PCs, in particular, tend to have steeper prices out of the box than standard computers or laptops.
If you are tech-savvy, you can sometimes get away with building your own custom PC gaming rig for under $400. But the costs usually keep climbing from there if you wish to add any accessories down the line.
Consoles, on the other hand, top out at around $500 for a brand new model with the biggest memory storage since they are built purely for gaming and they are mass produced.
You can usually find a bundle for that same price or less with some games that are already included, as well as extra controllers and headsets.
If you are someone who wants to get into the PC gaming world but wants a computer that can handle titles right out the box, expect to pay over $1000 once everything is said and done.
Con: Consoles Pay to Play Online Multiplayer
…That’s not to say that consoles don’t have recurring costs that start as soon as you power them on.
Although consoles have favorable up front pricing, the only way to play games online (minus mass online games like Fortnite and Apex Legends) is through a subscription that costs around $5 to $10 per month, depending on how many months are paid in advance.
This can add up to a substantial amount over time.
And since PC gamers don’t have to pay for online multiplayer, you can argue that PCs recoup a lot of their higher up front cost over just a few years.
There’s also subscription game libraries (more on that later) and game add ons that can also add substantially to the recurring costs of console gaming.
As long as you don’t plan on upgrading the components in your gaming PC every year, this can be quite a cost to consider if you are thinking of playing on a console.
Pro: PCs Have a Larger Game Library
It’s actually massive.
If you go on Steam’s list of games that they have on sale, you will be absolutely floored how many titles they offer. The number goes on into the tens of thousands.
Make sure if you go with PC gaming that you have plenty of storage space on your SSD or hard drive, because there are so many options to consider.
However, if you are a gamer that enjoys popular blockbuster titles or sports games, you will mostly find them on the console platform only.
Sometimes PCs will have available games that are Xbox exclusives, like Halo, but can lag behind over a year or more after they launch on the console.
Also, a lot of games you will find on the Steam library of games are mostly indie based titles. Some people absolutely love these games, but the market is more niche and can lack some depth compared to the story lines of popular hit games.
Con: Console Games are More Expensive
It’s great that consoles claim reign for having the biggest and highest budget games, but you’re going to pay much more than PC gamers for that experience too.
Most games for consoles cost at least twice as much than for the PC.
You can sometimes wait a couple months or for a holiday to approach and hope that the price of your favorite console game drops. But for the coolest games you will probably wait nearly an eternity for that sale to happen, or at best, get a $10 drop in price.
Also becoming more popular in the console gaming community are subscriptions that allow you to access a list of games by developer.
For instance, you can buy E3 and access many of their sports games, or Microsoft who offers a lot of their in-house studio titles.
So instead of paying “per title”, the more popular option is becoming to join each of their game libraries via a monthly cost and play as much as you like.
Recurring subscriptions for online multiplayer and game libraries can add up to be a substantial cost that can outweigh the higher upfront cost of a PC gaming rig and their inexpensive titles, depending on how many games you usually play at a time.
Pro: Console Gaming is Comfortable and Simple
Maybe the biggest argument for people to switch over to console gaming, or stick with it, is for its sheer simplicity and comfort.
Grab the controller. Hold the power button. Plop on your favorite couch. Start the Game.
There is nothing more comfortable than having a bunch of friends over and having a party huddled around a console on a huge, long couch amongst a coffee table full of food, drinks, and smartphones.
The gaming experience on the PC is usually confined to an individual space, with chairs tucked against a desk. If you have the money to invest in a desk and a super comfortable gaming chair like this best selling chair by Homall that’s on Amazon (aff. link), then you can potentially create a cool PC gaming experience too.
Since consoles are built for the purpose of gaming and nothing but (expect for some additional features like streaming and music), the process is fairly straight forward so learning a new system is usually pretty simple.
And your buddies probably understand how to operate gaming consoles too.
When you purchase a console, everything is pretty much ready to go right out of the box. They are pre-loaded with their proprietary operating system that drives the games, the accessories are easy to connect, and the games are easy to access.
Con: PCs are More Complex
I will argue that PCs are improving to become more user friendly thanks to the Steam library and an expansive community of PC gamers. But PCs are still more complex to learn and operate than consoles.
Not only are they more bare out of the box. It takes time to connect and pair any accessories, boot up the operating system, and make sure the game runs smoothly.
Speaking of making sure that PC games run smoothly: almost all of these games require tweaking specific options in the menu that adjust graphics, shading, frame rate, and depth of field.
Which is great if you like that power of customizability, but all that can take a bit more time compared to consoles that are calibrated for the graphics right away.
Since keyboards have a lot more keys than buttons do on a controller, mapping out the functions of a keyboard layout for PC can be quite complex, and sometimes even confusing, compared to console gaming.
Like I said, you may enjoy the preference of choosing your precise set up so that your PC gaming needs are dialed in perfectly, but what the console lacks in options it gains in simplicity, so you may prefer that too.
Pro: PC Hardware Can be Upgraded
If you can’t tell by now, there is usually a pro to every con in this debate. In this case, a PC’s complexity can play to its benefits because they are built to have customized and upgraded components.
Note: Consoles are not made to be modded or upgraded by any means, and doing so can void your warranty.
If you feel that your current PC setup has a hard time performing on the latest Steam titles like it used to, you can still keep some of the parts of the unit and swap out or add the ones that are becoming outdated.
This includes upgrades like RAM chips, graphics cards, hard drives, wifi modules, keyboards, mouses, and processors.
Tinkering with these modules are not for the faint of heart if you are a beginner, but with some passion and a learning curve, you can optimize your rig so that you can stay up to date playing your favorite titles.
Con: Consoles Become Outdated
Since consoles cannot be customized or upgraded (other than having a different colored controller or headset), when a new model gets introduced, the one you currently have ends up becoming outdated. And fast.
The only remedy to keeping up with the latest titles with the best graphics, frame rates, and speed are to buy an entirely new console.
Did you realize that your console only ran 1080p and not 4k? New console.
Was 64GB not enough memory to hold your games? New console.
Is there a cool slimmer model that’s out on the market? Yes. New console.
Where the console’s simplicity helps with its comfort factor definitely hurts it when it comes to future-proofing.
I think of console upgrades like a step ladder. You purchase a new console and it allows you to play the latest games with consistent display, speed, and quality for a few years. You just stepped to the next level.
Once you’ve played along those few years, humming along with your console, you find there is a whole new system that’s coming out with games that are not launching for your existing system. You have now just hit a wall.
The reality of console gaming is that with the consistency developers grant you with since they know all systems have the same mass-produced components, there is an impending outdatedness when it comes to the next wave of mainstream consoles. The only way to stay up to date is to step up on the ladder again.
Since you can’t upgrade the operating system or components you currently have, you are ultimately forced to purchase a new console entirely.
Pro: Esports and Twitch Gamers Prefer PCs
Due to the minimal input lag, Esports and Twitch gamers love gaming on the PC.
The PCs that professional gamers use have displays with refresh rates that are much faster than today’s consoles.
Their hardwired mouses and keyboards also give them split-second advantages that create an almost immediate reaction time. These are things that consoles just can’t deliver.
If you plan on going pro, or want to join the wave of gamers that stream on Twitch, then you will want to lean towards buying a PC over a console.
There is still some people who stream on a console, like for blockbuster or sports titles not found on the Steam library, but the numbers are far fewer than PC gamers.
Alternative: Cloud Gaming Allows you To Play on Anything Anywhere
Thanks to the massive servers that exist on this planet, you can now harness the power of PC gaming, with the comforts of console gaming, and the sheer portability of neither.
I’m talking about “cloud gaming”, the newest trend to hit the gaming market ever.
Cloud gaming uses data servers provided by big tech companies that you can access for a monthly fee. But now you don’t have to purchase a console or expensive gaming PC rig.
Take Stadia for example: the first cloud platform to enter the cloud gaming market by Google. Their system already has games that are pre-loaded so that there’s no need to wait hours to install titles on your hard drive.
They also have the computing power to deliver the games for you too. So all you need to have is a device that has the minimum performance standards, and Google’s cloud handles the rest of the work.
This means you can play the same full-length game on your smartphone, notebook, tablet, or even a $69 Chromecast Ultra on the back of your TV.
Since all of the game saves are in the cloud, you can stop the game you’re playing at any point from your couch, start up again on your morning commute, and even pick up from where you left off in the middle of an airport while you’re traveling.
It’s future-proof, it’s flexible, and it’s seamless. Keep your eye on this technology and consider it as part of your gadget portfolio when it goes on sale.