I've been a console gamer for over five years now., so it's also been five years since I've had a decent gaming PC. Since then I've owned two Xbox 360's and a PlayStation 3. It's easy being a convert to the console clan when you consider how easy it is to buy a new console and set one up in comparison to a PC. The process of installing operating systems and hardware can be too much for some, but there are some serious benefits to consider first. Here are some reasons why I'm toying with the idea of getting one:
1) The graphics advantage
As a console fan I've missed one thing: the pretty graphics. Last-generation consoles like the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 both have 512mb of memory. Many great games, including The Last of Us, Mass Effect 3 and Borderlands 2 others run at 720p natively. PC's run their game resolutions natively at what you specify them to be. The PS3 and Xbox 360 had a single and triple core processor respectively. The two have been using the same graphics chipsets since their release around 2007. That means that some graphically intensive games run at slower frame rates due to inferior hardware, like Dark Souls running at 30fps on the Xbox 360 and PS3. Dark Souls II was improved by running far smoother than the previous game but still has not doubled its framerate.
While I do agree that Microsoft's Xbox One and Sony's PlayStation 4 are significant upgrades over their predecessors with 8gb of RAM and 8-core processors, visual levels are not as high as you'd expect. Look at how much better Titanfall looks on a personal computer than on a Xbox One.
A strong PC can run a strong Triple-A title like Battlefield 4 at nearly 100fps while the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 need consideration optimisation to reach 60fps. A high-end system with a 6-core Intel i7, NVIDIA Geforce Titan GTX780 and 16gb of ram can play Bioshock Infinite on 4k resolution just below the hallowed sixty frames per second. Imagine what a slightly lower-specced system can do at a native resolution of 1080p? PCs just sport better hardware, end of story. Also, take a look at Eurogamer's comparison of Tomb Raider: The Definitive Edition across the Xbox One, PS4 and PC.
2) The PC has its own exclusives
Consoles have great exclusives and receive some games far earlier than others. Other titles are console exclusives, such as The Last of Us, Forza Motorsport 5, Gran Turismo 6 and the last two Gears of War games. The PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 also got Dark Souls II and GTAV first. That's obviously because of how much money can be made off an initial console release. The GfK report published earlier this year detailed South Africa's top selling games.
Even with these strong titles the PC has plenty to compete with. It even sports its own exclusives like racing simulators Assetto Corsa, RaceRoom and iRacing
. Massively multiplayer online players have games like Rust
, not to mention the giants like World of Warcraft, Dota 2
and League of Legends.
For strategy fans there's the Total War series, Civilisation V and Sim City
. Multi-platform titles like XCOM: Enemy Within, Diablo III: Reaper of Souls and TitanFall
are also great games. Hell,
Watch Dogs coming out later this year for Windows.
3) The Steam Sales
These are the worst things to happen to your pocket. In every Steam Sale, you can expect large discounts of up to 90% for your game purchases. Once you've bought yourself drunk, your game backlog will be large as ever, and you'll never get through it. For those who don't know, gaming developer Valve runs their digital platform steam to deliver games via the internet. They host sales a few times in the year enticing customers with massive discounts ranging from 15% all the way to 90%. While Valve has never officially released how much they've made during these bargain periods, one can only imagine how much money they make on these days. Here is a recap of what went down last December
in the Steam Holiday Sale. Just make sure you can download all those games you buy.
4) Playing FPS with with high accuracy
If there is one advantage PC gamers have, it is accuracy. The mouse and keyboard have precision on their side. I would even go as far as saying that trackpads are more accurate than joypads. No other control method allows you to hit an opponent quite as well. There are some titles that still need a Xbox 360 controller (like Dark Souls or MotoGP 13) but that's why you have USB ports. Racing simulators will need a steering wheel for full enjoyment but that's why it's an enthusiast genre.
5) PCs are jacks of all trades
A strong PC can function for work and play. Install Microsoft Office or its open-source competition and you've got a capable working machine. The enhanced graphics and processing power give you a more productive machine. You also have the choice to multi-boot your operating systems to separate gaming and working. Then there is also Project Christine from Razer, a revolutionary new PC concept design that will allow a user to build and customize a computer without advanced technical knowledge - a PC for everyone. As new upgrades come to the market, the PC can be easily and quickly upgraded without assistance or the fear of incompatibility or obsolescence.
I get that I'm playing devil's advocate here but these benefits have a real draw. Yes, PC upgrades cost money and the chances are that you're going to need to fork out to keep up performance levels on the long term. Since today's high-end PCs are capable of playing at 4K resolution, playing at 1080p has become easier. A mid-range gaming PC can be built from the ground up from around R7000 upward. Whether you prefer AMD or Intel your options are almost limitless, especially with AMD releasing faster processors integrating their graphics. If you look around you can probably build a solid gaming rig at the same cost of a PlayStation 4 which retails at R6799 without any games.
Consoles have their benefits. Accessibility, short boot times and fast access to games are just some of their perks. They're simpler to use and offer a quicker path to getting your game on. Most games that come out on new consoles are completely playable offline, and you'll have no issue enjoying some of them as is. Having the ability to trade pre-played games is a great benefit too. Online gaming has seen greater exploration on console too. Dark Souls II augments its single player with co-operative multiplayer for example.
If you're not the kind of person who wants to play around with circuit boards, wires and cases PCs are not something you'd enjoy. Also, if you're short on cash and have no need to upgrade your hardware, there is nothing wrong with a PS4. Still, consider what I'm saying here. For the hardcore gamer, the PC still has some appeal left. That's probably why I'm considering one. Just, I won't be dumping my consoles just yet, there's still love to be found.
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Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not MWEB Connect (Pty) Ltd.