May 19 2016

PC or Console: Which is best for gaming?

Having played consoles all my life, I made the transition from the Xbox 360 to becoming a serious PC gamer over 3 years ago, having spent about £1700 in total on the original pc and on upgrades since. Over those 3 years, I can confidently say at my own expense, amongst all the butt hurt this may get from the PC community, that I have not once received a return on investment and it’s only been a world of problems.

A little background on myself, I have always been a fan of technology. I have a few minor qualifications in ICT, I’ve worked as an ICT Technician and as a Software Tester. Basically I have a good understanding of PCs and as you may know, I am a big fan of games.

The full current specs of my PC can be found on my About Page, but the original PC I bought contained an i7 3770k, GTX 680 2GB, 16GB RAM, 120GB SSD, 2TB HDD, Blu Ray Drive, DVD Drive, 750W Gold power supply, Asus p8z77-M motherboard, 23″ 1080p screen, Razer Lycosa keyboard and Razer Imperator mouse. Since then, I’ve upgraded to a GTX 970, added an extra 250GB SSD and extra 16GB Ram.

I originally bought this powerful PC not just for playing games but for video production. I was hoping to indulge in my hobby of creating videos, but have barely ventured into this, having created more videos in the past on my weaker PCs. I would say that the only advantage that a PC has over a console is that it can internally create higher quality gameplay videos over consoles like the PS4, which records video at a very low bitrate. So if something occurs spontaneously in a game, the PC is better for recording the replay but if I’ve got a dedicated project in mind, I’ve got a spare laptop and an Elgato, so this could easily be plugged up to a console for HD video recording.

The first main issue that occurred was that my GTX 680 blew a year after use. Luckily still within its warranty, so was sent off and replaced for free to a GTX 770. That had a DVI port that went on the fritz a few months later and so I sold to upgrade to the GTX 970, which I found later to have a massive flaw of having only 3.5gb of true GDDR5 VRAM whilst the remaining 0.5gb of shit slowed the entire card down, affecting a huge amount of games that were released at the time. The situation has de-escalated since, as games are now built with optimisation around this to some degree. I am now wondering though whether to upgrade to a 1070, but am not sure it’s worth chucking another £100 at my machine.

Then recently, a 4 port USB PCIe hub blew up on my computer, taking the sound on my motherboard with it. I’ve yet to get the funds together to buy a new motherboard and so am taking the risk of frying the rest of my expensive components. All my appliances are connected to surge protectors, so am ruling out the house wiring as causing all these poor manufacturing faults.

I realised a few months after purchase that the ‘gaming’ keyboard I bought was very uncomfortable for playing games on, but have been stuck with it for the last 3 years as I was trying to get my £75 worth out of it. The speakers built into my monitor are very quiet, even with everything turned up to max. Whenever I plug my PC to my 4K TV or the old 1080p TV I used to have, I have issues with the colours and sharpness of the image (This applies to all my window devices such as laptops), so I can never truly relax on my couch to play games as the picture looks like shit, meaning I have to resort to playing in my office chair on my smaller computer monitor with crappy speakers.

Playing PC games is a chore of having to set up every little setting to ensure of getting a smooth 60fps throughout gameplay as I hate screen tearing and most of the times, there’s always one setting (like shadows in Fallout 4 or any Nvidia works) that kills framerates and takes me 2 hours to investigate, all this before I’ve even managed to play the game for 5 minutes. Games are never properly optimised and never make full use of the expensive graphics card. Plenty of times I have seen the GPU and VRAM at 70% during frame drops and crying out “WTF, use the extra power, it’s what it’s there for!” I don’t appreciate wasting 2 hours monitoring frame rates, I want something that after a hard days work, I can sit down to, switch on and without having to fiddle with any settings options, be playing straight away.

The PC is heavy and cumbersome to move around. Having to dust it down a couple of times a year means having to unplug a billion cables, lift a large object and carefully move it to waste time unscrewing the side and clean out the fans. I have a massive Noctua fan on the CPU that blocks most of the access to the inside of the PC. Fair enough, a gaming laptop is portable but cost an absolute fortune compared to its desktop counterpart, but whilst I would struggle to chug my desktop PC over to a friends house, a PS4 is small enough to be packed nicely into a backpack.

The PC draws a tonne of power and I hate using it to do little tasks like browsing the internet or watching videos, or even leaving it on for 5 minutes to grab a drink. Most times, I resort to a laptop just simply because of energy concerns or use my TV for a better cinematic experience of watching videos, even if it’s just YouTube. Most of my best PC gaming experiences were on this crap 5 year old Pentium laptop I’m currently typing on, having played Portal, Online Pokémon Trading Card Game and online flash games. I’ve even ran Minecraft, a server and a community off this laptop, nothing I’ve even since bothered with on a much more powerful PC.

I can’t say I’ve played or have any interest in playing PC exclusives such as the ARMA series, CS:GO or MOBAs. I actually think the graphics of these games look terrible and I think the community has made them something bigger than they actually are. I tend to usually play RPGs and always prefer to play these on a dual stick wireless controller rather than keyboard and mouse. I can’t say I’m a fan of using keyboard and mouse since they are incapable of measuring sensitivity to control mechanics in a game such as turning/movement speeds and do not provide rumble feedback. I do appreciate that the mouse does offer greater accuracy in shooters, but that’s also true for your opponents on PC, meaning there isn’t actually any benefit to playing this way.

Also with multiplayers, PCs can offer an unfair advantage to those with a better system, usually because they’ve put more money into their computer which they might be able to do if they have more disposable income than others, whilst on console, everyone is on a level playing field, allowing for mainly skill to shine through. I’ve also found that hacking on multiplayers on PC is more prevalent than on consoles. Whereas hacking a console multiplayer actually requires a lot of effort, putting off any troublemakers, it only takes two minutes on a PC to google and install a hack. I will say the only benefit of being able to use cheat commands in a game on a PC is to bypass any of the bugs that appear in Bethesda titles, whereas consoles have no work around.

So when I compare my PS4 to all the issues I’ve had with my expensive gaming PC, PS4 wins, hands down.

For £650, that bought me a brand new PS4 and a 43″ 4K Smart TV. For £650! Instead of buying a gaming PC for £1700, I could have saved £950!

I could have spent that £950 on so many extras instead, like a really comfortable couch to sit on and lounge in, a surround sound system, a load of games (fair enough, PC games are cheaper than on console initially, but have to be redeemed as codes on Steam and can’t be sold second hand like console games, so overall the costs eventually work out to be the same), a load of fun accessories for the PS4, a new laptop, a new mobile phone… anything at all.

I can honestly say I feel that I’ve got a return from the investment in my PS4 for all the hours of enjoyment it’s brought me over the headaches that my PC has given me. As far as I’m concerned, the graphics of the PS4 are beautiful and the PC is hard to beat it. Fair enough, playing last gen games such as PS3 and Xbox 360 on the PC does allow for upscaling the games graphics, but compared to the PS4, I can still play most games at 1080p and the only advantage of PC is being able to play at 144Hz, which I have no need of. If PCs could offer 4K performance on the latest games using the one GPU, it would be worthwhile, but without having to go SLI (which blows any respectable budget), not a single GPU on the market can even handle modern 4K gaming, whereas what PS4 also have in common with PCs is that they can both playback 4K media.

And to be honest, the PS4 is a brilliant gaming PC on its own. Games have been specially optimised (which I’ll be touching upon in a later article about the direction of the gaming industry), to offer amazing 1080p performance and considering that you can now plug up a keyboard and mouse to the PS4 to browse the internet and play the MMORPG Final Fantasy 14, what more could you ask for?

Permanent link to this article: https://www.thelategamer.com/blog/pc-or-console-which-is-best-for-gaming/

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