Thinking about upgrading your gaming gear and wondering, "Should I buy a gaming PC?" The reality is, gaming PCs used to reign supreme, but these days they don't hold quite as much weight in the everlasting boxing match between consoles and PCs. In the mid 2000s I owned two gaming systems: a Nintendo Wii and a mid-range gaming PC. My PC got lots of attention back then, and the first time I ever played through games like Batman Arkham Asylum, BioShock, Portal and so many others was on PC.
It was my gateway into a world beyond what Nintendo could offer. That momentum carried me through the last decade, and in 2019 I upgraded to a newer PC with an RTX 2060 Super GPU powering the RGB carnival that sat my desk. It was beautiful, and fast, and one of my favorite statement pieces to show when people would come over. And then... things started to change.
The Line Between a PC and Xbox / PS5 Has Never Been More Blurred
In 2020 I bought a PlayStation 5 at launch, and then just over a year later I managed to find an Xbox Series X available at a local Target. Suddenly, games that were only once available to me on my PC were now playable from the comfort of my couch with a controller, without any concern for system compatibility or sifting through countless video settings to ensure I was running the game optimally.
With these consoles now in rotation, my gaming PC, which is less than three years old, began collecting dust. I still turn it on from time to time, especially to play online with friends, but even with Xbox cross-play capability, that became less of a requirement. My consoles ended up taking the lion's share of my time, and that's OK.
Since the latest release of gaming hardware, the line between a home console and a gaming computer has never been thinner. Yes, gaming PCs still offer a variety of performance upgrades that you won't be able to find on a home console, but if you're just looking to play the latest games and, you know, have fun doing so, an Xbox or PS5 is going to give you everything you're looking for.
Interested in third-person adventures with strong narratives? Sony has spent years developing the PlayStation as the place to go for games like that. Microsoft, on the other hand, is more interested in attracting a larger install base with a variety of indies and AAA titles on Game Pass. Likewise, if you subscribe to one of the higher PS Plus tiers on a PlayStation 5 you'll get access to hundreds of games pretty much right away. PC has some comparable offerings such as its own tier of Game Pass, but in terms of value, the console is going to be the most bang for your buck, especially over time.
Are There Benefits to a PC Over a Console?
These days, gaming on a PC is almost more of a personality statement than an actual preference. A niche market who truly cares about the fastest frame rates and the highest resolutions will want a powerful build, but literally at what cost? I can respect someone who wants to put thousands of dollars and many hours into building the perfect rig so they can show off their RGB light show and gloat over how glorious their Minecraft world looks in 4K HDR, but to those same people I just want to ask: Are you happy?
Some describe building a PC as being similar to playing with adult LEGO, while others (some of whom reside on the TechRaptor staff) insist it is far, far more complicated than that. Isn't it easier to buy a relatively affordable PlayStation 5 for $500 and just plug it in? The thing with consoles is they just WORK, Xbox 360 red rings of death notwithstanding. Wouldn't you rather just plug in a system and jump into God of War Ragnarok without worrying about if your GPU needs to be overclocked to run it properly? I know I would.
Can a Console Replace a Gaming PC?
If you're just looking to pick up a system to play games, do some research into what games you love or what upcoming releases you're looking forward to. First-person shooter players may be better off on an Xbox, whereas fans of third-person adventure narratives will find plenty to play on PS5. Those fortunate enough to own multiple systems can be less concerned about what's available on a particular console and instead decide where they want to play a specific game. Regardless of which current-gen console you choose, you're going to love the speedy load times and current-gen features available on a PS5 or Xbox.
Current price points still make these an investment for most people, but it's still cheaper and easier than investing in a high-end PC. The best financial advice I ever got was to spend my money where I spend my time, and I spend a lot of time playing games. From a cost/benefit perspective, nothing can replace the value I get from my home video game consoles.
For most people just looking to enjoy a wide variety of games, any console can be a good investment over a PC, and they won't need to feel like they're getting a lesser experience than their PC-player counterparts. After all, the goal is to have fun, and when it comes to fun, the PS5 and Xbox certainly deliver.
Gaming PCs aren't as much of a necessity as they once were. I'm happy that more people can enjoy games they love by simply purchasing a box of electronics and plugging it into their wall. As for if you should buy an Xbox vs. PS5? That's an argument for another time.