Gaming PC, laptop or console: which one to choose?

In an ideal world, every gamer would own one of each of their favorite platforms. However, it is very expensive and most people cannot afford it.

So if you’re considering getting a gaming device, here are your top three options and the pros and cons of each.

1. Desktop Gaming PC

Computers are incredibly flexible devices. It can do just about everything, from word processing and creating spreadsheets to making videos and simulations. Considering this, they are excellent for gaming as well. So why should you choose a desktop PC for your gaming needs, and what are its downsides?

The Benefits of a Desktop Gaming Computer

The main advantage of a gaming computer is that it can be purchased in a wide range of prices. Whether your budget is $500 or $5,000, there’s a gaming rig for you. Also, if you are on a budget, you can build a cheap gaming PC first. Once you have saved enough money, you can upgrade it to a more powerful system later.

Also, if money is no object, desktop systems can be much more powerful than consoles. Since you can choose which components you want to install in a desktop computer, the only thing that limits it is 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 vast library offered by Steam and Epic Games. Several other game launchers have subscription models that allow gamers to download multiple titles for an affordable monthly fee. Although Xbox and PlayStation also offer subscriptions, you just have more choice when you have a PC.

Another thing computers can do, and 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 powerful gaming device.

Why You Shouldn’t Buy a Desktop Gaming PC

Despite the benefits of the so-called PC Master Race, it’s still not the obvious choice in gaming. First, getting a gaming PC that can match the power of the most popular gaming consoles costs a lot more. This was especially true during the GPU shortage between 2020 and 2022, when many video cards sold for wildly inflated prices.

You will also be at a disadvantage when it comes to console-exclusive titles. Although Xbox now lets you play its exclusive titles through the Xbox app for Windows, PlayStation games are generally limited to Sony’s game console. Although PlayStation Now lets you stream certain titles to your PC, this option still requires a fast internet connection.

Even as Sony slowly allows its once-exclusive titles to be released on PC, some games, like the iconic Gran Turismo and The Last of Us, can only be played on PlayStation.

Computers can also be difficult to build and configure. Since you usually deal with different parts from different manufacturers, you have to pay attention to compatibility. You also need to install an operating system and have a myriad of drivers for every part you get. While you can get a pre-built PC to save yourself the trouble, these are usually more expensive than just building one from scratch.

2. Gaming Laptop

While gaming PCs are great options, they’re generally difficult to transport. So if you like to take your games with you when you go on vacation or move between a dorm room (or your office) and your house, you might want to get a gaming laptop instead.

Advantages of gaming laptops

The main advantage of a gaming laptop is its portability. Although they are 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 main gaming machines gives gaming laptops an attractive edge.

Also, since laptops come with batteries, you are guaranteed not to lose game progress in the event of a sudden power outage. This way you can save your progress and properly close your game if you lose power. And if you have a full battery, you can probably play another hour before needing a recharge.

Disadvantages of a gaming laptop

When you buy a laptop, you can usually no longer upgrade it. While most gaming laptops have upgradable parts, like expandable RAM and the ability to add more SSD storage, that’s about it. To get a new GPU or a better processor, you have 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, like additional monitors or maybe a full suite of gaming controllers including a gaming keyboard, gaming mouse, steering wheel setup, and VR system, you’ll need from a USB hub.

3. Game console

A device primarily designed for a specific function usually excels in that area. So if you want a machine designed for gaming, many would say you should get a game console.

When game consoles make sense

If you want simplicity when gaming, there’s nothing simpler than a game console. Just plug it into your TV and pop in 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, then you are good to go.

Consoles are also the most cost-effective when it comes to your gaming options. Indeed, to get a computer with the same power, you will have to pay a price and a half to twice the price of a console.

Game consoles are also great for multiplayer gaming sessions. When you have a friend over or 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

However, since a game console is only designed for gaming, that’s pretty much the only thing you’ll use it for. Although you can use it to browse 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 out of a gaming PC because you can use it for your work. But if you buy a game console, you’ll probably only turn it on over the weekend, with your system gathering dust the rest of the week.

Choose based on your budget and gaming needs

So which is the best option out of the three gaming systems? Frankly, there is no simple answer to this. If you’re talking about raw power without worrying about money, the gaming desk would beat the other two by far.

But if you’re looking for a more flexible device, one that you can bring to the office for work and play when you get home, then a gaming laptop is the way to go. It’s not as upgradable as the desktop PC, but if your business pays for a new laptop every couple of years or so, it’s a really compelling choice.

Finally, if you want to play and you don’t need a powerful PC, the game console offers the best value for money among the three. Plus, 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 on Windows with its Game Pass subscription.

There is no platform monopoly in games

In a perfect world, you’ll have all three gaming devices in your room. But buying and maintaining all three is prohibitively expensive, so you’ll have to choose one or two. And while some people say nothing beats the PC Master Race or that you can only find the best games on PlayStation, no one platform can claim supremacy.

And if you’re worried about not being able to play with friends, if you’re forced to choose a device you don’t really like, don’t stress. With crossplay, you can enjoy different titles, even if you and your friends are playing on different platforms.

Robert P. Miller