Playing cheap – Console or PC?

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I like to casually play games. Few months ago I was thinking to upgrade my Xbox 360 with a new device. What would be the best and the  cheapest option? Should I get Xbox One, PlayStation 4 or PC? At first, I was thinking to buy PlayStation but at the end, I decided to build a custom gaming PC. I will list benefits that I found from gaming on PC over consoles.

Hardware prices

Game consoles are cheap if you compare the price to a high-end gaming PC. The earning logic behind consoles is to make the profit from games, not consoles. The gaming PCs sold by manufacturers like Asus or Dell are usually high-end devices, with a high price tag. To compete with console price you can build a custom gaming PC with almost the same cost. Gaming PC cost can be lowered even further by using used parts from eBay and other sites.

Game prices

Consoles have their own ecosystems. The User is limited to buy games through official channels usually through the manufacturer’s online store. PC games have multiple channels where users can buy games with more competitive price. Most popular is Valves, Steam Online store. Valve makes buying games on PC as easy as on consoles. Steam also has a large library of game titles. There are also games stores for EA, Ubisoft, and other companies. The cheapest option is to buy games from a game marketplace. At the game marketplaces, individual users sell game keys for different stores like Steam. One of these game markets is G2A.

Modularity

The game console has an approximate lifespan of 5 years. After the new generation of consoles become more popular will old consoles become obsolete. Gaming PC’s hardware stands time much better compared to consoles. Modular construction and standardised components make possible to change individual components instead of the whole system. Hardware on PC is more economical and over time, it’s cheaper than buying a new console every 5 years.

Input devices

Game consoles have their own controllers which haven’t changed that much over time. Console user is limited to use one kind of controller, except there are wheels for driving games. But usually, the controller options are quite limited. For PC user, there are all sorts of controllers from the Xbox 360 controller to mouse and keyboard. This makes possible to play games with better ergonomics. The user can choose the best gaming controller for each game. PC games have also good plug and play support for Xbox 360 controller. Almost all games published for Xbox and PC have Xbox 360 controller support on Windows PC. There is also Steam controller that lets users tweak their controller in almost every possible way.

Network gaming

PC’s have more options when it comes to multiplayer gaming. With PC, multiple users can play through a local network or through the Internet. Console users have to rely on closed network services provided by the manufacturer. Usually, network gaming is free on PC, Playstation network membership cost $50 per year and Xbox Live Gold cost $60 per year.

Versatility

There it’s no limitations what you can do with a gaming PC. If a household has a device that has enough power it can be used for gaming. Addition to gaming, it can be used as a general purpose device. Consoles have capabilities to be used as media center devices for movies and music. For PC, you can reduce the tax in some cases if the use is work related.

Education

Starting a gaming console is quite a straight forward process, power on and insert a disc or choose a game from the library. To use a PC for gaming it needs more effort. This isn’t necessary a bad thing. To configure and maintain the gaming setup has also educational side. The user has to know more about the systems and software to be able to use the device to its full potential. The user develops basic computing knowledge while gaming.

Future

The PC gaming market is bigger than Xbox and PlayStation game market combined. This means that game developers and manufacturers have the interest to publish games on PC. Also, future capabilities like VR headset are already developed PC hardware in mind.

Building a gaming PC with a budget

Building a custom PC is easy. Smallest standard size is a MicroITX which is the same size as consoles. To save money best option may be a MicroATX standard. There is a lot of guides to help you to build your own setup on YouTube. One simple and short guide is Austin Evans:  How to Build a Gaming PC! (2016). To find correct parts for your build, a big help is PCpartpicker. PCpartpicker will give options for components and check the compatibility of all the parts. PCpartpicker all so includes a price comparison tool, so that you can get the parts as cheap as possible. Used parts can be a good option when the low price is the goal. Good option for used parts is Ebay.

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