How To Use Your PC Like A Game Console

Matt Smith 06-12-2012

pc game consoleI’m a PC gamer. That’s not to say I don’t own consoles, of course, but my favorite and preferred platform is the PC. Games almost always look better and/or run smoother on a computer than they do on their console counterparts. They’re also less expensive.


That’s not to say PC gaming is without issues. Many players don’t like it because it forces the user to sit at a cramped desk rather than lounging on a couch. Millions of people across the globe (including myself) spend their time sitting at a desk for work, so why do it for entertainment? This is a problem, but it can be fixed – and here’s how.

The Hardware

pc game console

The first step towards using a PC like a game console is to sort out the hardware. A standard gaming computer is extremely powerful yet also large, loud and expensive. It’s simply overkill for playing most games, particularly console ports. Here are the modest specifications I recommend.

  • Intel Core 2 Duo or better.
  • Radeon HD 7770 / NVIDIA GT 650 Ti or better.
  • 4GB of RAM.
  • 500GB Hard Drive.

That’s all you need for a start. A system like this can handle games at 720p and maximum detail or 1080p and medium detail. While you can potentially build the system from scratch I recommend looking for one second-hand (with or without a video card) and then buying the video card new. This approach is less expensive.

Faster hardware will generally be better, but don’t go crazy. Remember that extremely quick components usually require more cooling, which means a larger case, expensive coolers or more (i.e. louder) coolers.


The Case & Cooling

pc for game console

Once you’ve acquired some hardware you’ll have to decide how to house it. In this area there are three important traits – size, noise and cost. Changing on one trait will impact the others. A cheap case that it is small is likely to also be noisy. A small case that is quiet will be expensive.

There’s no right answer. I had plenty of room in my living room so I went with a large, inexpensive case. It’s not built for silence but its large size keeps it tolerably quiet. I could have purchased a smaller case at the same price but it would have been too loud for my tastes.

Cooling should be accomplished as with as few fans as possible. My large case has plenty of room for airflow so I was able to get away with one case fan and one CPU fan, both running at low speeds. I recommend Speedfan Monitor Your Computer Fan Speed With SpeedFan Read More to monitor temperatures and control fan speeds.


The processor should not exceed 75 degrees Celsius and the GPU should not exceed 100 degrees Celsius. It’s also a good idea to keep the hard drive below 60 degrees Celsius. Exceeding these rough figures won’t cause a meltdown but could cause system instability.

If you system remains 15 degrees below these figures while gaming, considering taking out a case fan (NEVER remove the processor fan). You might be able to achieve acceptable temperatures with less noise.

The Interface

pc for game console

Now that you’ve put together your new rig you’ll need to handle the interface issue. Computers weren’t meant to be used on a couch, after all.


Let’s start with the television. The video cards listed in the recommended build support audio via HDMI, so hooking up the PC to your home theater is as easy as hooking up a new game console.

Next up is the keyboard and mouse. The ideal solution is a keyboard with built-in touchpad. This will let you navigate the computer with on small peripheral. Logitech’s K400 is probably the best all-around choice, but cheaping out is acceptable. You won’t be using the keyboard and touchpad much.

A wired or wireless Xbox 360 controller is ideal for playing games. Windows can detect these controllers and work with them automatically. Almost all games that have a console version will also detect and automatically use the controller. You can also try using the PlayStation 3 controller by installing a third-party driver [Broken URL Removed].

If you’d like to go nuts you can try a motion controller such as the Razer Hydra. This could be a good time on a couch, but it’s expensive.


The Software

pc for game console

A PC lacks the built-in community features found in modern consoles. No achievements, no friends list, no groups. All of those features are a big part of the console experience. They can be replicated, to an extent, using instant messengers, game forums and emails. But that means spending a lot of time with the keyboard.

This is where Steam comes in. It offers a huge community of gamers, built-in instant messaging and group creation, mod management and much more. You can even access an HDTV-friendly library view by clicking the grid icon in the upper right hand corner of the Library display.

I’m not keen on buying games from Steam Why I’m No Longer Buying Games On Steam [Opinion] Steam is now approaching 10 years old. Its impact has been undeniable. Millions of gamers enjoy the service’s seamless community services, low prices and excellent selection. I have been one of them – until now.... Read More , but you don’t have to buy a game through Steam to use it. Just click the “Add A Game” button at the bottom of the Library display and then pick the game out from the list of apps that appears. You will not be able to earn achievements or automatically join other Steam users in multiplayer when you add a game in this way but you’ll still have access to the Steam interface and all of its other community features.

Desura 4 Digital Distribution Gaming Clients You Might Like More Than Steam [MUO Gaming] Although we've been taught to worship anything Steam's Gabe Newell pushes out at us, it's very important to remember that you have other options to explore. I won't argue that anything beats Steam's annual sale... Read More is a good alternative for those who are allergic to Steam. It also includes built-in community features. However, its interface relies on small fonts that may not be easy to read on an HDTV. EA’s Origin platform is more HDTV-friendly but it only will work with games published by EA.


pc game console

Using a low-spec PC game console can be a lot of fun. The games usually work just as they would on a console but are more attractive. And less expensive. Just search Amazon for any game that has a console and a PC version. Buying a PC copy is almost always less. Even the PC itself isn’t much more expensive than a console – if you build to the specifications recommended.

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  1. Oshawott98
    November 25, 2016 at 8:53 am

    Its bad! Not possible to turn your PC into gaming console, because the setup, you need to takes more space of your PC yet too bad! Also, you know console gaming are use console hardware does, PC use computer hardware but not for seemless gaming, also, many people already have laptops for gaming nowdays, as well smartphone and tablets are gets crawl of the sales to beats PC, for PC gaming you can get decent gaming laptops, for basic stuff and general use you can get smartphone,tables and cheaper laptop. How about gaming, go buy console instead. We are console gamers, also, I don't care about hardware and specs, but what matter is the games and fun to play and convenience for setup gaming as we want to do plug and play for gaming! Why not for that?!

  2. aki
    December 8, 2015 at 6:50 pm

    yeah because steams big picture mode is bad for a livng-room enviroment

  3. Clockworkjosh
    January 16, 2015 at 5:30 pm

    Not "keen on Steam?" Please explain how you are not attracted to the biggest selection of games ever on one platform coupled with crazy cheap sales?

    • Anonymous
      June 27, 2015 at 1:32 am

      calm down Gaben

  4. Brenden Barlow
    December 15, 2012 at 7:49 pm

    it took me a long time to actually purchase consoles.....i (finally) got a 360 and a while before that a ps3, but the biggest push was for games that weren't cross platform....which is sad. the games that are released for pc as well look much better than the console version, with less lag because the hardware on consoles are getting very outdated...

  5. Anonymous
    December 13, 2012 at 1:31 am

    Nice article. Write about upcoming steam console. :)

  6. Adinamo Alex
    December 11, 2012 at 6:18 pm

    I have a good pc for games, i don.t need a game console or act like one...pc can.t be replaced.

  7. Giggity Goebbels
    December 10, 2012 at 5:54 am

    I just use my laptop keyboard and touchpad lol

  8. Adam Campbell
    December 8, 2012 at 3:52 pm

    PC is all I have ever used for gaming

  9. Douglas Mutay
    December 7, 2012 at 3:28 pm

    I have always played games on my dedicated gaming pc and wish to buy an xbox for the Christmas. Very good article indeed. Thanks

  10. Austen Gause
    December 7, 2012 at 2:49 pm

    I built a gaming pc last week out of spare parts.

  11. Alexander
    December 7, 2012 at 12:43 pm

    I am already using this kind of setup and i love it :D

  12. Matt Smith
    December 7, 2012 at 12:00 am

    As it so happens Steam just released an update that makes this even better, check it out [Broken Link Removed]

    • Mayank Agarwal
      December 7, 2012 at 7:07 am

      I was about to comment about it too.
      With Steam wecan call our PC a console now.. :P

      He he he.. :)

  13. Anonymous
    December 6, 2012 at 9:26 pm

    This is a great tool to use :). I just ordered parts to build my new computer, and so I looked at those specs you provided and I am happy with what I've chosen. I spent about 700 on it, so I like what I've bought.

    BTW, did you mean gtX 650ti, or just gt 650?

  14. Alex Perkins
    December 6, 2012 at 8:11 pm

    Nice article, very helpful as I'm about to move to PC gaming as I'm getting a new laptop. Also I like your choice of case, the Antec 300.

    • Stefan B
      December 7, 2012 at 10:36 am

      Problem with laptops is that their video cards are mostly downgraded versions of their desktop brothers. If you want to game on a laptop take a good look to your video card specs.

      I don't know your budget, but I just started using a Lenovo Ideapad Y580. It uses one of the best video cards available right now for laptops (GTX 660M) with still acceptable heat production. Definitely worth a recommendation, new games on high or ultra high.

      • Alex Perkins
        December 7, 2012 at 6:41 pm

        A good point, I need the laptop because of the portability. The laptop I'm getting has a 7690m XT in it, that (I hope) will be good enough to play on decent settings for a few years.

  15. Sebastian Hadinata
    December 6, 2012 at 7:20 pm

    Now with Steam Big Picture:

  16. Vishal Srivastava
    December 6, 2012 at 5:43 pm

    I'm used to gaming on my Laptop and my overall configurations better that mentioned above. however, one of the problems of using laptop as a gaming device is battery as my battery, which otherwise provides 6 hours backup, drains completely in an hour. The laptop also heats up as if there was a chemical reaction going on inside it...

    • No excuse
      May 22, 2013 at 10:42 am

      You just have to plug in your laptop to the power socker duhhh not a problem

  17. Daniel Huss
    December 6, 2012 at 5:33 pm

    It still seems kind of hit or miss with getting a wireless 360 controller to connect to a PC. There's a hardware receiver you can buy that should do it, but I haven't done that myself yet...

    • Shavenix
      December 6, 2012 at 8:30 pm

      While I like a big case like the tower I was thinking of taking my motherboard and its parts out of its HAF case and placing it into a ATX HTPC case to be able to fit into shelf spot. As for the controller, Microsoft already has an xbox 360 controller with receiver device and drivers, but I chose a wired Logitech controller that has an input switch going from X to D and vice versa.

      • Shavenix
        December 6, 2012 at 8:34 pm

        Oops this some how connected my comment to another one when it shouldn't have.

  18. André Kamara
    December 6, 2012 at 5:03 pm

    I usually play games on my laptop as I have a pretty good configuration, but the main issue is the heat ! The overall temperature is about 70° C and the games start freezing/slowing down even when I close all the other applications. I'm about to buy an external cooler, I hope it will solve the problem.