Lets talk “value”. By that, I mean all aspects of it: PC gaming, console gaming, and mobile gaming. I’m sure we all have a friend out there who is an avid PC gamer.
They are part of that glorious master race of PC elitists who won’t even listen to you when the words “console gaming” are mentioned. You probably hear this phrase, “It’s so much cheaper to game on a PC, why would you ever buy a console?” And yes, the smug accent is full and present. You might as well be talking to the Patrick Bateman of gaming, “the subtle CPU over-clock, the heat dissipation. That GPU, it even has a water cooler on it.” But, let’s talk about that “cheap” PC build. How cheap is it really? And in the long run, is it actually cheaper when compared to console gaming and even (dare I say), its subscription based services?
First, let’s get the console cost out of the way. Since the PS4 Pro was just announced, let’s use that price point, including the Playstation Plus subscription:
- PS4 Pro: $399.99
- PS Plus: $59.99
Total price (with 8.25% tax): $497.93. Now, let’s assume you didn’t buy any games as well. You now have a PS4 Pro and a one year subscription to PS Plus, which nets you six Playstation games a month. That’s 72 free games (give or take for crossovers) a year (if you own the PS4, PS3 and PS Vita). If you only have the PS4, then you’ll still get 24 free games for that year. Now, these games always range in price; sometimes they’re cheap games…sometimes they’re more expensive games. Most of the time though, you get some sweet indie gems like Tower Fall, Rocket League, Bro Force and Journey. I completely understand PC gamer’s complaining about the reliability and fees associated with online console gaming, since most of them probably do not feel they should pay for internet services. Like most of them, I completely agree. But the free games heavily outweigh the cost of the subscription. The argument of connectivity is a grasp at straws. While we’ve been seeing more online gaming outages lately, most of those are not a result of Sony’s “terrible” service, but rather from outside influences (like a massive DDOS attack from dumbass hackers). There has been relatively few times that outages like that have cost us some pain and anger. PC games get hit as well; no one immune to DDOS.
Now, let’s have a look at some PC builds from the many, many websites out there that have someone post a “cheap” PC build for the console peasants to attempt. Let’s take a look at this article from VG Tribune. The author gives you two extremely similar builds, keeping down the costs to a modest value. Let’s take a look at his first build (the TFLOP focused build):
- CPU: AMD 5350 2.05Ghz Quad-core Processor $39.98
- Motherboard: ASRock AM1B-M Micro ATX AM1 Motherboard $29.99
- Memory: Kingston HyperX Fury Black 8GB DDR3-1866 $35.18
- Storage: Western Digital AV-GP 1TB 3.5″ 5400 RPM HDD $41.99
- GPU: MSI Radeon RX 470 4GB Gaming X $205.99
- Case: Corsair 200R ATX Mid Tower $49.99
- Power Supply: Corsair Builder 500W 80+ Bronze certified ATX power supply $49.79
- OS: Microsoft Windows 10 Home edition 64-bit $88.88
- Dualshock 4 (DS4) controller: $47.00
Here’s your total (with tax just to keep it the same): $589.87. $90 doesn’t seem like that much of a price increase…but what about games? You have none so far, since you’ll have to either install Steam or buy games locally/from another online retailer who usually gives you a steam key. You don’t have a keyboard and mouse, unless you have one lying around, which I’m sure most people have. You couldn’t use your DS4 to setup your PC, so better bust out the old dusty KB/M. I also wonder why an avid PC gamer would suggest a DS4 over a mouse and keyboard. Surely the DS4 is a great all-around controller for almost every game that you can play…but isn’t the allure of FPS gaming on a PC the whole keyboard/mouse thing? If I wanted to game on a PC, wouldn’t I want to use the superior controls?
While the price doesn’t seem that bad, you still have to build it. Honestly though, it’s really easy to do, but I can see why it looks intimidating if you’ve never built one before. I would suggest looking on YouTube for a guide. There’s plenty of great channels to show you the right way.
The article I linked to earlier also had a second build that was a “CU” focused build, that only changed out the GPU for a Gigabyte Radeon RX 480 8GB video card (for roughly $35 more). That puts the total cost of a slightly, if that even, better build at (with tax): $675.24. All of the same rules apply: no games, no KB/M, no monitor, etc.
If you read this other article, you’d know that these are pretty much spot-on specs for the PS4 Pro. But according to userbenchmark.com, you’re pretty much running a jet ski and speed boat when it comes to gaming potential, and even less when it comes to desktop or workstation productivity. I don’t know how reliable that information is, but it seems like these builds would get you exactly what a PS4 Pro or any console right now is offering, without the highly optimized part of course.
So now we’ve got our builds done…but what do we really know about the parts? Well, I’ll tell you, with my limited PC knowledge of course. First off, the motherboard. It’s an AM1 socket type, meaning that the best processor you can get for it is, you guessed it, the AMD 5350. Lets also take a look at a few random games on the most played list on Steam (that are also on PS4 and their requirements). Most games the minimum specs will allow you to play the games at various resolutions and graphics, meaning, you might have to turn off all kinds of things to get the game to run smoothly and properly.
- GTA V: Processor: Intel Core 2 Quad CPU Q6600 @ 2.40GHz (4 CPUs) / AMD Phenom 9850 Quad-Core Processor (4 CPUs) @ 2.5GHz (taken from Rockstars website)
It looks like you may have some trouble playing this game with the current build we have. The GPU doesn’t seem to be the issue here since GTA V only requires an AMD HD 4870. They recommend a 4GHZ quad-core and an AMD HD 7870.
- Fallout 4: Processor: Intel Core i5-2300 2.8 GHz/AMD Phenom II X4 945 3.0 GHz or equivalent (taken from systemrequirmentslab.com)
It seems like this one may be out of reach as well. The GPU again doesn’t seem to be a huge issue with the minimum specs requiring an AMD HD 7870. They recommend an AMD FX-9590 4.7GHz or equivalent and an AMD R9 290x which we have covered.
- Rocket League: Processor (recommended): 2.5+GHz and an ATI 7950 or better. (taken from systemrequirementslab.com)
We might be able to achieve this with some success. I’d say the processor is a little slower but I don’t think that will have too much of an impact. You could always turn down some settings.
- Shadow of Mordor: Processor: The minimum recommended is and AMD Phenom II X4 965 at 3.4 GHz. (taken from WB Games)
This game looks pretty out of reach and not because of the GPU, it’s the processor. They recommend an AMD FX-8350 at 4.0 GHz and an AMD HD 7950.
Now those are just a few of the most popular games on both console and PC. There are many others out there, but I urge you to do your own research on what other games you might play on PC or console.
There’s a lot of information here, and more probably wondering: “what does it all mean”?
Is it really cheaper and better to play on PC? Are you going to have the same experience that you would on a console? In my opinion, I don’t see you having that much better of a time on a PC. In fact, with the builds this “PC expert” has laid out, it seems you would be struggling to play most of the games out there that were released in the past three to four years. There’s also the matter of GPU profiles/enhancements and even CPU overclocking/tweaking that you can do to try and maximize your experience. But if you need help putting together a PC, then you’re going to need even more help with optimizing everything…and even then, it might not work on certain games without further tweaking.
It’s easy for a PC elitist to say “go out and build a PC”. It’s cheap, it’s easy and you get more value in the long run but what about what this so called expert recommended? The most limiting factor here is your processor. If it is maxed out, then that’s it. If you want to upgrade, you’re going to need a new motherboard as well. Realistically, the system offered here is practically obsolete right out of the gate. And where do you go from there? You’ve taken the experts advice on what to build, but they leave it there and now you’re stuck wondering what you need to do to upgrade in the future.
I’m no PC expert, but it seems from what’s always offered as a “cheap” build will always end up netting you more problems than it would have been to go to your local electronics store, buy a PS4 or any console, take it home, plug it in and start playing. There’s no wait time to build it, no wait time for shipping, no wait time for optimization/BSODs or any of the other problems that could arise from building your own PC. I’ve built one before, and while it is easy to put the parts together, it has taken quite some time to even begin to learn the lingo, tricks and optimizations needed to play. I spent about $1200 on everything I needed (maybe even more than that in building what I thought would be a comparable gaming machine that would really show me the differences in graphics and gameplay). While I can say that all of the games I’ve played have looked amazing, it doesn’t seem to have the same experience that you get from a console.Consoles offer us a complete and easy-to-use experience without the added cost. Yes, games are almost always $60. We also don’t get Steam sales or superior graphics. What we do have, though, is a highly optimized experience and easy-to-play gaming machine that does all the work for us. We don’t upgrade until a new console comes out; that means we don’t have to research the many billions, if not trillions, of different combinations of GPUs, CPUs, RAM, motherboards, hard drives, etc., that comes with the territory.
PC gaming is a game in itself. While I am a gamer and play on many consoles across generations, I don’t claim one is better than the other. In the heat of the moment, we always defend what we love…but PC elitists will always scream that it’s better on PC and it’s cheaper…when in reality, it’s not.I’ll wait for the PS4 Pro to release on November 10th before I judge what it’s going to be capable of doing.