The past decade has seen a resurgence in the debate between gaming PCs and next-gen consoles as the latest offerings from Sony and Microsoft consolidate high-end hardware capable of playing many of the same games you’ll find on a high-end gaming PC.
The Playstation 5 and Xbox Series X|S feature almost the exact same AMD CPU/GPU combo with only slight performance tweaks. It doesn’t hurt that Microsoft’s current ecosystem supports gaming on both PC and the Xbox Series family of consoles, further blurring the line between consoles and PC. Simply put, gaming is more accessible than ever.
Between the nearly 50% dominance of the mobile games market and the slow rise in video game streaming, it makes sense. Consoles account for around 30% of the game industry’s market share, while PC games consume around 25%. according to a recent analysis. Although the line between playing on a PS5, Xbox Series X|S, or the best gaming PC is becoming less relevant, gamers are picking sides, and for legitimate reasons.
Making that choice is more difficult now that the world is facing a chip shortage It’s okay will probably last until 2024but potential buyers with the option to choose might want to consider a few things if they’re looking to upgrade or move to a new platform.
Gaming PC vs Next-Gen Consoles: Hardware Cost
The first thing people may want to consider is the price of entry. Consoles are generally more affordable than even the best budget gaming PCs and include everything needed to get started. Sony’s PS5 is available in two versions: the standard disc version at $499 and the digital-only version at $399.
The Xbox Series X variants | S allow Microsoft to handle things a little differently. Priced at $499, the Xbox Series X features more comparable specs to the PS5 while the Series S is less powerful in terms of performance and lacks a disc drive. The chip shortage has created an aftermarket that slaps a premium on these consoles, often well over 50% above MSRP. Yet even with the exorbitant prices charged by eBay profiteers, these consoles are still somewhat cheaper than building a similar spec gaming PC.
Building a PC with next-gen features like the best processors, the best graphics cards, and the best SSDs will be very expensive. And that’s not even taking into account all the other extra hardware like a gaming mouse and gaming headset you’ll probably want to pick up.
When building a gaming PC rig, the AMD Zen 2 CPU found in both next-gen consoles costs around $300 on its own, while the AMD RDNA 2-based GPU starts at almost $500. PC gaming has also been affected by the shortage of chips, so component prices are still very high, and that’s not even counting the price of the Windows 11 case, power supply, cooling and license. .
Those who go the pre-built route will likely fare better, but getting something close to the performance capabilities of next-gen consoles will still cost significantly more than a console (assuming you can find one).
Gaming PC vs Next-Gen Consoles: Capabilities
While we’d love to see a gaming MacBook or iMac from Apple one of these days, gaming PCs are a strictly Windows affair, and the operating system can handle plenty of non-gaming tasks.
Your next-gen console won’t run robust photo and video editing software like Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Premiere, and anyone who’s tried using a console’s virtual keyboard to enter a password understands that word processing or work with spreadsheets is done. of the question. Even ancillary gaming capabilities like modding and streaming are much better on PC.
However, building or buying a bespoke gaming PC is a more personalized experience. Making a platform also depends on the games you expect to play. A rig for competitive Fortnite or Rocket Leauge play will be different (and cheaper) than assembling one to play Cyberpunk 2077 at 4K with maximum settings and ray tracing. Keep in mind that the variety of PC builds means games are generally less optimized and troubleshooting can be a pain.
Consoles are built for one purpose, so buyers should already have an idea of what they’re getting into. Game developers also know early on what specific hardware will be in consoles, so they can optimize their games to those exact specs, allowing more advanced AAA titles to run on weaker hardware than PC.
There are a few differences in what the PS5 and Xbox Series X can do, meanwhile. Sony’s next-gen console includes the already popular DualSense controller which makes gaming a bit more immersive. On the other hand, the Xbox Series X has backwards compatibility extending to games released on the original Xbox.
There are also other nuances like how Sony handles storage expansion in comparison with Microsoft. Although Microsoft has moved away from virtual reality, PC and Sony have fully embraced it. PC gamers have a nice variety of headsets to use while Sony plans to release its next-gen PS VR headset sooner rather than later.
Gaming PC vs Next-Gen Consoles: Exclusives
More traditionalist within the games industry, Sony’s AAA exclusives can only be played on its consoles – although Sony is dipping its toes in the water here. Up to Sony dives deeper into PC portsthe only way to play games like Return and Ratchet & Clank Rift aside is on a PS5.
Microsoft’s approach is to transform itself more into an ecosystem that blurs the line between PC, console and its video game streaming technology. Thanks to the Windows maker’s Play Anywhere initiative, subscribers to its Game Pass Ultimate service can play their first-party exclusives on other platforms.
The games library for PC is significantly larger than on consoles. With online stores from EA, Epic Games, Rockstar, GOG and reigning champion Steam, a PC’s catalog of games is unmatched. What Sony and Microsoft are offering can’t even come close.
That said, the era of exclusive AAA PC gaming is all but a thing of the past now that the console’s hardware has nearly reached the level of a modern gaming PC. Plus, since so many people own consoles, there’s a lot more incentive for developers to target their games at consoles rather than PCs.
There is always some PC exclusives, like League of Legends and Guild Wars 2. Widely considered the current benchmark for VR experiences, Half-life: Alyxx can only be played on PC with a VR headset, but the days of getting a PC-exclusive title like the original Half-Life are probably long gone.
Gaming PC vs Next-Gen Consoles: Game Prices
With advances in technology and visual fidelity, games are becoming more and more expensive to produce, generally speaking. Now, the typical AAA title will sell for around $70 per $10 jump over previous-gen games.
Sony and Microsoft have also taken different approaches to how gamers access their content as well. Subscribers to Sony’s tiered PlayStation Plus service get access to a minimum of two free games per month. Microsoft’s Gamepass program has been dubbed the Netflix of gaming with a fixed monthly subscription price and access to newly released first-party titles alongside rotating third-party developed games. Both services also offer discounted prices on game purchases for subscribers to their individual services, and they also often hold sales events.
PC gamers have a bit more flexibility in how they want to pay for games. Most PC digital storefronts like Steam still have some sort of sale for games that are generally more affordable than their console counterparts, and there are plenty more PC indie darlings you can get for around the cost of a cup of coffee. Then there are other stores like Humble Bundle that offer deals that can be incredibly cheap.
However, when it comes to AAA games, there won’t be much of a difference in game prices on gaming PCs compared to next-gen consoles. These prices are pretty consistent and quite high, although sometimes you can get a better deal over each other at storefronts or competing retailers, so ultimately you shouldn’t worry about paying too much. expensive for games on one platform or another.