People, we really have to stop making these articles or videos on how to “building a low-cost gaming PC that’s better than the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One.” Seriously, people, this is really tiresome and ridiculous ! Now there’s nothing wrong with building a gaming PC, I love gaming PCs and I’ve been building them for years (19 years now) but there are reasons why a PC will not surpass a console in terms of convenience and power. Now, that’s not to say that any gaming PC isn’t as powerful as those systems because they are – just in a difference retrospect. So get ready as I’m switching on “Rant Mode.” There, it has been done; let’s get this started.
When a console is better than a PC
The main reason why a console (PS4/Xbox One) is still a better choice for either causal gamers is pretty simple, they’re just easier to use. When you get a console you typically have three things you have to do;
- Take it out the box
- Plug it up
- Power it on and download updates
And you’re done! Have fun, go play your game and have a good time. That’s it, there are no settings to play with, no configuration issues or incompatibility problems . Your system is identical to every other console. On that note, I will not say that you’ll have a better game experience in terms of power as we all know that the PS4/Xbox One have had their fair share of issues with running games @ 1080p/60FPS which is pretty embarrassing to say the least right now. But it’s still early and I completely expect their performance to get better, or this might be the last console war we see. Regardless of people feel it still holds true that the consoles one strength is something that the PC will never have: the fact that it’s a closed environment.
You don’t have to upgrade your processor/GPU/motherboard to get a performance bump. However, that’s also a weakness which forces companies to release an updated/upgraded console so development companies can make bigger and better games. One could argue that consoles are holding gaming back while at the same time it could be said that consoles are the reason that gaming still exists. It’s a never ending cycle and debate which has been going on for years if not decades. And then there are those exclusives. Perhaps the main reason people still prefer consoles over a PC, let’s just agree that when it comes to the consoles there are more exclusives. First-party exclusive, third-party exclusives, timed exclusives, and an ever growing list of once thought PC-exclusive ports that manage to make their way to the console. I’m looking at you Diablo III: Ultimate Evil. I’ll admit this, Diablo III on the PS4 is tons of fun and the controller support is something that Blizzard has stated with not come to the PC, yet the controls feel fantastic like it was intended from the start.
And then there are those gaming PCs
For all purposes, gaming PCs built in the last 3-4 years are superior in the terms of sheer power and customization. No doubting that. However, as of late there have been more than a fair share of articles and videos being released that claim that you can build a better gaming PC for far less than a PlayStation 4 or Xbox One. Now excuse me but last time I checked those systems were under $399.99 and there’s no way on this planet that you can build a gaming PC that is anywhere near as powerful as those consoles at that price point. It’s just not going to happen. From my perspective I will NEVER recommend trying to undercut a PS4/Xbox One if you come to me asking for a gaming PC build. What I will do is ask you a series of questions that I can use to gauge how you’re going to use the PC and then I spec you out a PC from there. That said there are several things I will never do when building a gaming PC:
- I will never use a cheap or dual core processor/ less than 4 threads. More and more games are using two or more threads and if you pick up a dual-core processor with only two threads you will eventually have to upgrade again. Do it right the first time.
- I will never use an APU. Just not going to do it, you’ll be better off with a discrete GPU with better performance. If you ask me to do that I’ll probably slap you.
- I will never use 4GB of memory. Let’s face it, if you’re building a gaming PC then you’re going to use either Windows 7/8 and Windows needs memory. You’re going to use at least 2-3 GB for the OS alone so why I see all these builds with just 4GB of memory is beyond me. Windows = 8GB, you don’t need 16GB but you do need 8GB…. for now at least.
If you don’t follow this, I’ll turn you away, it’s that simple. I won’t waste your time or mine. For an example of a decently priced build you can check out the one I did for my HTPC back during the beginning of the year by going here. At the time, I built the PC it cost me $500 but I went with a more expensive ram and video card which you can easily swap out and save $75.00. Of course since this was nearly 7 months ago the prices have also dropped and will be much cheaper. In fact that build is still great for getting into PC gaming now and will still run all the games out now and future titles. Truth be told that while I have a high-powered PC in my office I do love the fact that I can play my games on my HTPC and have since upgraded the processor to an Intel i5-4950 and over clocked the hell out of it. Plus I saved some cash by selling my original processor (Take that Consoles!). At the time of me writing this damn near all my PC gaming outside of the MMO’s/RPG’s/RTS I play, everything else is played in my gaming room (Mancave) on that HTPC and it never skips a beat.
You get what you pay for so don’t cut corners on a gaming PC, just don’t! As for the gaming aspect, it’s just like I stated for the console, the PC has it’s fair of exclusives. True most of those are simulators/MMO’s/RPG’s/RTS titles but at the same time the PC has as of recently been on the receiving end of games that were console exclusive: Ryse, Dead Rising 3, Dark Souls, Grand Theft Auto 5 just to name a few. And due to the fact that the PS4/Xbox One use the x86 architecture it’s pretty easy (in theory) for a title to be ported with little effort between the PS4, Xbox One or PC.
And when it comes to ease of use, thankfully we can thank Valve for what they’ve done to Steam over the past few years. I know they’re still working the kinks out of their SteamOS but Steam on Windows is pretty damned good. Just configure it to start on boot and launch into Big Picture mode and you got your very own console-ized experience. Sure you’ll still have to configure game settings when you launch the game but at least Steam gives you a better interactive user-experience and it even lets you use a gamepad to control it. It even updates games for you, allows you to download and install from the couch/chair/floor and you can even surf the net among other things. So in my eyes this completely destroys the whole “PCs can only be used with a keyboard/mouse” or “The PC experience is clunky,” as this is the best that it’s been in a long time.
It’s a win/win for everyone or at least it should be!
So what am I saying if I’m saying anything at all
So those so called cheap gaming PC builds promise kick ass performance at a cheaper price. I’m not even going to attempt to think about the performance aspect when the specs of those PCs are so damned low that I wouldn’t even attempt to play games on them. But let’s look at another totally incorrect figure: pricing.
Look at this list, do you think this is under $399.99? And I apologize the Tested team, I love you guys but this is unacceptable.
Intel Pentium G3220 3.0GHz – $58.99
ECS H81H3-M4 – $39.99
4GB Corsair Value – $47
WD Blue or Seagate Barracuda – $55
EVGA 430W 80PLUS – $35
(running total $235.98)
PNY 750TI – $140
(running total: $375.98)
Case – $0
Windows 7 or 8 – $97
(Final cost: $472.98)
Let’s be real, if most people are getting into PC gaming they DON’T have a case laying around or they don’t want a case-less PC so you have to toss in at a minimum of $35. Not counting the cost of a decent gaming monitor with they may or may not already have be prepared to toss in another $200.00. But you get my point, it was already over the $399.99 limit before adding a case and as I mentioned before if you want to game on the PC then you need at least 8GB of memory, so tack another $47 onto the build. Oh let’s not forget the keyboard/mouse/gamepad.
I’m all for empowering new PC gamers but I also believe in being truthful. Don’t tell me I don’t need a console and for the same price I can get the same performance on this subpar PC build, cause it’s simply not true. Guys, a dual-core with only two threads vs. custom 8-core Jaguar CPU? Anyone with a brain can see the difference there!
Both the console and the PC have their place which is ultimately up to you to decide upon. Both platforms have their own strengths and weaknesses however it’s up to you to decide on what you want to buy. At the same time I wish people would stop with this “cheap” gaming PC non-sense cause in the end that is exactly what it is. Sure, if you want to build a “cheap” gaming PC then that’s your call but don’t get pissed and start saying PC gaming sucks or is dying because your rig can’t handle a specific title. PC gaming is a completely different beast and does require some effort and research when either buying a PC outright or building it yourself. Cheap PC builds tend to lead to bad performance and frustration, something that a $399.99 console won’t do. So please keep that in mind that next time you read a “we don’t need a console when we have this cheap PC build” article or see a video on it.
Play the system you want to play, let the games be the sole reason for gaming peer pressure . Please for the love of the gaming GODS don’t blindly follow “Cheap PC builds that shame the PS4/Xbox One” as they only serve to do one thing: upset you the consumer and form a negative view on what may actual be a possible experience. That is if you do what’s best and not what’s cheap.