In an ideal world, every player would own one of each of their preferred platforms. However, this is terribly expensive and most people cannot afford it.
So if you’re planning to get a gaming device, here are your three main options and the pros and cons of each.
1. Desktop gaming PC
Computers are incredibly flexible devices. It can do pretty much everything – from word processing and creating spreadsheets to creating videos and simulations. Given that, they are also good at playing. So why should you choose a desktop computer for your gaming needs and what are the cons?
The benefits of a desktop gaming computer
The biggest advantage of a gaming computer is that one can be had in a wide price range. Whether your budget is $500 or $5,000, there’s a gaming rig for you. Furthermore, if you have a limited budget, you can build a cheap gaming PC first. Once you’ve saved enough money, you can upgrade it to a more powerful system later.
Furthermore, if money is no object, desktop systems can be far more powerful than consoles. Since you can pick and choose the parts you want to install on a desktop PC, the only limits are your imagination and your budget.
There are also more options when it comes to PC games. Although some consoles have exclusive titles, they still can’t beat the huge library that Steam and Epic Games offer. Several other game launchers have subscription models that allow players to download multiple titles for a reasonable monthly fee. While both Xbox and PlayStation also offer subscriptions, you simply have more choices when you have a PC.
Another thing that computers can do that consoles can’t is act as a productivity machine. If your work requires a powerful PC, such as video editing, computer-aided design or simulation modeling, you can also use it as a potent gaming device.
Why you shouldn’t buy a desktop gaming PC
Despite the advantages of the so-called PC Master Race, it is still not the unequivocal choice in gaming. First, it’s far more expensive to get a gaming PC that can compete with the power of the most popular gaming consoles. This was especially true during the GPU shortage between 2020 and 2022, when many graphics cards were sold at very high prices.
You’ll also be at a disadvantage when it comes to console-exclusive titles. Although Xbox now lets you play its exclusive titles via the Xbox app for Windows, PlayStation games are generally limited to Sony’s gaming console. While PlayStation Now lets you stream some titles to your PC, this option still requires a fast internet connection.
Although Sony is slowly allowing its previously exclusive titles to have PC releases, some games, such as the iconic Gran Turismo and The Last of Us, can only be played on PlayStation.
Computers can also be challenging to build and set up. Since you are usually dealing with different parts from different manufacturers, you need to be careful about compatibility. You also have to install an operating system and have countless drivers for each part you get. While you can get a pre-built PC to save yourself the trouble, these are usually more expensive than simply building one from scratch.
2. Gaming laptop
While gaming PCs are great options, they are usually hard to come by. So if you like to take your games with you when you go on vacation or move between a dorm (or office) and your home, you might want to have a laptop instead.
Advantages for gaming laptop
The primary advantage of a laptop is its portability. While generally less powerful than their desktop counterparts, even though they have similar specs, the difference is negligible enough for most gamers. The portability of your primary gaming machines gives portable gaming machines an attractive advantage.
Furthermore, since laptops have batteries, you are assured that you will not lose your game progress if the power suddenly goes out. That way you can save your progress and close the game properly if you lose power. And if you have a full battery, you can probably play for another hour before needing a charge.
Disadvantages of a gaming laptop
When you buy a laptop, you usually can’t upgrade it anymore. While most gaming laptops have some upgradeable parts, like expandable RAM and the ability to add more SSD storage, that’s pretty much it. To get a new GPU or a better processor, you need to buy a new computer.
You also have limited I/O (input/output) with a laptop. So if you want to install multiple peripherals at the same time, such as additional monitors or perhaps a whole suite of gaming controllers – including a gaming keyboard, a gaming mouse, a drive wheel setup and a VR system – you’ll need a USB hub.
3. Games console
A device primarily designed for a specific function usually excels at it. So if you want a machine designed for gaming, many would say you should get a gaming console.
When gaming consoles make sense
If you want simplicity when you play, then there is nothing simpler than a game console. You just need to connect it to the TV and insert a game disc to start playing. If you get a device without a disc slot, all you need to do is connect to the internet and create an account and you’re good to go.
Consoles are also the most cost-effective when it comes to your gaming options. That’s because to get a computer with the same power, you have to spend one and a half to twice the price of a console.
Gaming consoles are also great for multiplayer gaming sessions. When you have a friend over, or if you want to play with your siblings, you only need one console to play locally. Some PlayStation and Xbox bundles even offer two consoles out of the box.
Why you shouldn’t buy a console
But since a game console is designed only for games, that’s pretty much the only thing you’ll use it for. Although you can use it to surf the internet and watch videos on YouTube, it is not very efficient for these tasks.
If you’re a busy professional, you’ll probably get more mileage out of a gaming PC since you can use it for your work. But if you get a gaming console, you’ll probably only fire it up on the weekends, while your system collects dust the rest of the week.
Choose according to your budget and gaming needs
So, which is the best option among the three gaming systems? Honestly, there’s no easy answer to that. If you’re talking about raw horsepower without regard for money, the gaming desktop will undoubtedly beat the other two.
But if you’re looking for a more flexible device—one that you can bring to the office for work and play on when you get home—then a laptop is the way to go. It’s not as upgradeable as the desktop PC, but if your business pays for a new laptop every two years or so, then it’s a really compelling choice.
Finally, if you want to play and don’t need a powerful PC, the game console offers the best value for money among the three. Furthermore, if you’re used to a keyboard and mouse setup, you can get one for the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S. Xbox Series X|S also lets you play games you’re used to in Windows through the Game Pass subscription.
There is no platform monopoly in games
In a perfect world, you’d have all three gaming devices in your bedroom. But buying and maintaining all three is prohibitive, so you have to choose one or two. And despite some saying that nothing beats PC Master Race or that you can only find the best games on PlayStation, no platform can claim supremacy.
And if you’re worried about not being able to play with friends so you’re pressured into choosing a device you’re not too keen on, don’t stress yourself out. With cross-play, you can enjoy different titles, even if you and your friends play on different platforms.