Why You Should Consider Choosing A Gaming PC Over A Console

build-a-pc1

For years, gaming PCs have had the stereotype of being powerful, yet complicated and very expensive machines. And for a long time, this stereotype had some truth to it. But thanks to recent advances in technology for several PC components, building a PC to match or even surpass the power of an Xbox One or PS4 while being at a similar price point is now possible. I’m here to to tell you why you should consider building a PC over getting a console.

PC Vocabulary 101

Before I get into this article, I’m going to give you a list of some terms and acronyms that while many of you may be familiar with, some of you might not understand exactly what they mean or what they do. Here’s a small vocabulary cheat sheet:

CPU: Central Processing Unit. The Brain of the PC. CPU chipsets are only manufactured by Intel and AMD.

GPU: Graphics Processing Unit/Graphics Card. An optional processor devoted to rendering graphics, therefor taking stress off your CPU. Since GPUs are basically powerful CPUs devoted to graphics, the chipsets are also made by Intel (GeForce) and AMD (Radeon), but have 3rd party manufacturers like MSI, EVGA, and others. Intel GPUs work better with Intel CPUs and vice versa with AMD processors.

RAM: Random Access Memory. Short term memory storage the CPU uses to run programs without taking up space in your Hard drives. The data is discarded when it is no longer necessary to run whatever program needed it.

Motherboard: If the CPU is the brain, the motherboard, or MoBo, is the heart, lungs, and nerves that keep everything alive.

HDD: Hard Disk Drive. The most common form of data storage. Slower than SSDs but cheaper per gigabyte and offer more storage.

SSD: Solid State Drive. Much, much faster than HDDs but more expensive per gigabyte of storage. To give you an example of how fast they are, my PC starts up completely from booting up to desktop in about 12 seconds.

PSU: Power Supply Unit. Fairly self explanatory, provides power for the PC.

Case: The physical case you put everything into. More for looks than performance really, so get one that looks sweet and has a window so you can throw some colored LED lights in that SOB to show it off.

Putting Current Generation Consoles Into PC Terms

If we’re comparing consoles to a PC, the only natural place to start would be performance. Since the Xbox One and PS4 have dedicated GPUs and CPUs made specifically for them, there’s no direct comparison to those used by PCs. A rough equivalent would be a PC having a AMD Athlon X4 CPU ($75) and an AMD Radeon R7 265 GPU ($157).

However,  my friends on Reddit have already built a similar computer, appropriately called…

The Next Gen Crusher

PCPartPicker part list

CPU: AMD Athlon X4 860K 3.7GHz Quad-Core Processor ($74.88 @ OutletPC)
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-F2A88XM-D3H Micro ATX FM2+ Motherboard ($63.89 @ OutletPC)
Memory: *Crucial 8GB (1 x 8GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($29.89 @ SuperBiiz)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5″ 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($46.89 @ OutletPC)
Video Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 950 2GB Superclocked+ ACX 2.0 Video Card ($149.99 @ Newegg)
Case: Rosewill REDBONE ATX Mid Tower Case ($44.99 @ Newegg)
Power Supply: EVGA 430W 80+ Certified ATX Power Supply ($29.99 @ Amazon)
Total: $440.52

Read more about the Next Gen Crusher (and other example builds) here.

Reasons To Consider Building A PC

If you’re a gamer, there is a plethora of reasons to build a PC. Among my favorite: UNLOCKED FRAME RATE! Until recently, most console games were locked at 30 frames per second (FPS), with recent releases finally hitting the 60 FPS mark. On my PC, I’m able to play Fallout 4 in 1080p at roughly 80 FPS. Not only that, but you can also play in higher definitions. Also, there is unlimited backwards compatibility; One of my most played games is Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings, released in 1999, 17 years ago. Another great point is Valve’s online distributing program, Steam. Not only does Steam provide free online multiplayer, but the Steam Store has become well known for it’s popular, crazy sales. My last gaming related point is 3rd party modifications to games. Ever wanted to play as Sonic the Hedgehog in Skyrim and fight a gigantic dragon-shaped Macho Man Randy Savage or a giant Thomas the Train? You can do that, and more.

One of the main reasons I wanted to build my PC (parts list here for the curious) was that you can really get more bang for your buck in performance. While one can spend $500ish dollars to get an equivalent PC, spending more money to own parts that will stay relevant means that your computer will be able to play new releases for longer. Not only that, but it’s very easy to customize. Want more of a gaming machine? Get a powerful GPU and save money on the CPU. Not for gaming at all? Skip the GPU and spend the extra money on a much more powerful processor.

You’re also able to upgrade parts once yours become old. Once you’ve built a computer for the first time, it’s as easy as turning it off, unscrewing the old part and popping the new one in. On a similar note, the actual process of building it is challenging but fun. It helps to have a friend who’s done it before to help you, especially with the software aspect of it. All in all, my build took five hours from unboxing to getting to the desktop, but for me it felt rewarding, similar to how food always tastes better if you cook it yourself. Side note: Do NOT buy pre-built gaming PCs from 3rd party manufacturers. They are almost always overpriced and underpowered. Always build it yourself.

Finally, I think this is an understated reason to buy a gaming PC: You can do so much more on it than play games. The main catalyst to build mine wasn’t that I wanted to play games, but that my laptop was an insufferable piece of crap and I wanted something nice to do homework, browse the internet, and also play games on. Since buying an Xbox One and getting a nice laptop would have cost me somewhere in the neighborhood of $900, I figured I might as well spend an extra $200 and build a PC that does everything I’m looking for and does it better than an Xbox One and a laptop.

Of course, with all of this, there’s some things to be cautious for. If something goes wrong, it can be expensive to fix. I had to replace my $180 GPU not two months ago because I neglected to take it off of the motherboard before traveling. Once it gets old, you must also make sure their PC meets minimum or recommended specs for newly released games.

Wrapping Things Up

In conclusion, I think that I’ve made a good argument to consider going the PC route for gaming. At the very least, I hope that I’ve informed some of you on how PCs work and how they’re becoming more and more affordable. If you’re considering building a PC, I will attach some helpful links and resources to the bottom of this article to get started. Thank you for reading!

Useful Links

/r/BuildaPC: Great community for asking advice and help. Can look over your builds before you buy and let you know of any deals on parts.

Newegg.com’s PC Build Guide Part 1 Part 2: A great two hour guide that, while long, is very rich with detail and is very informative.

PC Part Picker: Your best friend in the build process. Compares prices and specs between any given part by any manufacturer by any online retailer. This website is fantastic and unbelievable useful.

Tom’s Hardware: A fantastic forum that can help you answer any problem you may have by searching the forums. If you have a problem, someone else probably has had it too, and they asked about it here.

Gearforgaming.com : A great resource to read up on the latest gaming hardware/accessory news and reviews. You can use their comparisons and guides to help determine which specific components would be best for the pc you are trying to build.

TheGreatSetup.com : Perfect site for gaming computer buying guides, product reviews and how to’s. There’s also updated builds so you don’t need to worry about the builds being out of date, and also no matter what your budget is, there are guides for everyone here.

John Sibenaller on sabtwitter
John Sibenaller
A PC gaming, craft beer, and hockey enthusiast, I come from Minneapolis MN.

What I'm playing: Civilization V, Modded CoD WaW Zombies, Rocket League

PC specs for my PCMR friends:
CPU: Intel i5 4460, GPU: MSI GTX 960 2GB RAM: 2x4GB

Add me on Steam: JSibenaller22
About the author

John Sibenaller

A PC gaming, craft beer, and hockey enthusiast, I come from Minneapolis MN. What I'm playing: Civilization V, Modded CoD WaW Zombies, Rocket League PC specs for my PCMR friends: CPU: Intel i5 4460, GPU: MSI GTX 960 2GB RAM: 2x4GB Add me on Steam: JSibenaller22
  • LordCancer Kain

    that is a terrible, outdated and slow gaming pc. what utter garbage.

    • John Sibenaller

      I used the Next Gen Crusher as an example because it was comparable to the PS4 and Xbox One in terms of performance, not because it was supposed to be compared to a $10K supercomputer with an i7, two GeForce Titans and 32 GB of RAM. If anything this reflects how poorly current gen consoles stack up when compared to a similarly priced PC build when measuring performance.

      • LordCancer Kain

        you are recommending a so called next gen crusher at $440 with no operating system and no mouse/keyboard while you yourself are spending $1100 on your own build. which is usually the case with these so called enlightenment articles.

        it is incredibly misleading to say this is a good gaming pc or a better than console value especially after you factor in windows and peripherals this becomes a fairly shitty $600 build with zero upgrade path.

        what i dont understand is why people like you try so hard to convince console gamers pc gaming is universally better while recommending hardware most pc gamer wouldn’t use to the uninformed.

        and frankly it kind of pisses me off the way they post that $440 benchmark video while using an i7 and double and probably faster memory too.

        • Escopablobar

          Well said.

        • John Sibenaller

          What I chose to spend on my build has nothing to do with the example build.

          The bottom of the builds page also has a FAQ that answers why they don’t include keyboard/mouse and OS. To save you the time, they say that since operating systems and keyboard/mouse combos tend to boil down to personal preference, they don’t include them in the list. Using the prices I paid for windows 7 ($50 and arguably much better than Windows 8 and 10) and my keyboard/mouse bundle ($30) the new price becomes $520.

          And quite frankly I would take the $520 build with all of the benefits I listed in the article over a console. And as for your last point, the i7 CPU is no better for gaming than an i5 since hyperthreading is only useful for rendering and video editing. Lastly, and I’m quoting the description of the build here,

          “…this PC will have you absolutely set for the duration of the generation (if you’re willing to drop your settings to what the consoles are locked at, which is usually around 900p, ~45FPS, and Low-Medium).”

          It’s not meant to blow consoles out of the water by having 1080p and 60fps, and it never claims to. The purpose is to beat consoles at their own graphical settings. For what it’s worth, I don’t necessarily agree with the list entirely either. An AMD CPU without a Radeon video card? I mean come on.

          • LordCancer Kain

            they are misleading to link that benchmark video with those specs. they are not using an i5, they are recommending an amd cpu while bench marking with an i7 when an i3 outperforms that amd cpu. they also have double the ram and likely much faster ram, which forgive me if i am wrong, but who pairs ddr3 1600 with an i7? i am using 2400 myself.

            as for windows, purchasing from most of the sites usually recommended is going to cost them $100 for an oem, and never considered in any build when comparing to the cost of a console. also unless free why would you recommend an out dated operating system for a gaming machine when dx12 is exclusive to windows 10? that is just one more dead end on a terrible build.

            you are right about peripherals being personal choice and the things you will be interacting with most on a gaming machine should not be the cheapest parts in the build. telling a console user that it is a good idea trading in a high quality controller for a cheap $30 mouse keyboard designed for basic use like email, is disingenuous at best.

            as for personal preference, every $50 case anyone has ever built a pc in has been an utter pain in the ass, usually looks like an aborted alien that will leave you bleeding and rarely fit for anything more then the cheapest case for some hand me down parts to a friend or family member.

            that isn’t to say someone interested in pc gaming shouldn’t jump in but god i hope they are not doing it with one of these so called console crushers because they are going to be disappointed.

            i will never understand or agree with this idea that we tell them to spend the least amount of money on the keyboard and mouse, a gaming pc is an investment and we shouldn’t be telling someone to spend 5-600 bucks on a dead platform with the trashiest components. an i3 on an 1151 socket and a cheap gpu on ebay leaves room to grow on a budget when paired with a decent mb from the start.

            lets be honest here, that ps4 is going to be on and gaming before amd has loaded the damn os. so unless your after some bad ass exclusive like xcom 2, slightly more frames per second in the same games you can play on console shouldn’t be the reason for building a gaming pc exclusively especially considering console have a great many exclusives of there own.