Entertainment Technology Explained

Switching From Console to PC Gaming: 8 Big Differences Explained

Ben Stegner Updated 27-05-2019

If you’re new to PC gaming, you might wonder what to expect when switching from console to PC. While the end objective of playing video games is the same on both platforms, the options you have vary quite a bit when gaming on PC over consoles.


In this article, we’ll walk you through the most important differences to keep in mind when switching from console to PC. And once you understand the biggest difference, you’ll be better equipped to start PC gaming like a pro.

1. More Controller Options

Keyboard and Mouse Game Controls
Image Credit: JBER

Every console has its own controller (or multiple controllers) to get used to. When you’re switching from console to PC gaming, one of the most obvious differences is the control scheme. The default is a mouse and keyboard, but as you’ll see throughout this list, you have tons of choice with this. Some gamers swear by arcade sticks (and there are excellent arcade sticks for both console and PC gaming The 9 Best Arcade Sticks for PS4, Xbox One, and PC Gamers Here are the best arcade sticks available, since searching online for an arcade stick can be a daunting process. Read More .)

Mouse and keyboard controls work well for classic PC genres like real-time strategy and MOBAs, which require a lot of navigating menus and interacting with onscreen elements quickly. A mouse is also far superior to the controller joysticks you’re used to when playing first-person shooters. And as a keyboard has way more buttons than a controller, you can map different actions to the various keys.

However, controllers are often better for platformers, racing games, and other genres. Many PC games support controllers, and here’s how to set up your Xbox One controller with Windows 10 How to Set Up Your Xbox One Controller With Windows 10 Microsoft has made it very easy to use an Xbox controller on Windows 10. We show you how to connect it through USB or wirelessly. Read More .


2. Choosing Your Own Computer Components

case fan
Image Credit: Bplanet via Shutterstock

When you buy a console, you don’t have much of a choice in the hardware aside from buying the more powerful PS4 Pro or Xbox One X. But when you switch from console to PC, everything changes.

You can buy pre-built gaming computers, but the real fun lies in building your own gaming PC How to Buy a Cheap Gaming PC With an Nvidia Graphics Card Looking to build a cheap gaming PC? Dann Albright built an Nvidia-based gaming machine on-the-cheap. And he's going to show you how it's done for under $600. Read More . This process lets you customize exactly how powerful you want your gaming rig to be. Even better, if you built a decent enough computer, it will be future-proofed for years, allowing you to play games that release years down the road. This means you upgrade only when you want or need to, instead of having to buy a new console to play the latest releases.

3. Graphical Upgrades

Overwatch PC Graphics Settings


There’s no question that PCs offers better graphics than consoles. This is because the hardware available to purchase for computers is much better than what’s in current consoles, which remains unchanged for years.

This isn’t the only aspect of graphics that’s better on PC, though. Nearly all PC games give you options to tweak the graphical settings as you see fit. Some have a simple Low > Medium > High slider, but most let you pick exactly how clear different effects and textures should look.

If you have a good monitor and a powerful enough machine, you’ll be amazed at the graphics you can get out of PC games. However, this can be a little overwhelming if you’re not used to it. If you try to crank up the graphics beyond what your computer can handle, you’ll experience a drop in performance.

4. Game Distribution and Pricing

GOG PC Game Sale


Once you’re all set up, you’ll probably wonder how to start playing games on your PC. On a console, your main options for buying games are picking some up from a physical copy in stores or buying some from the digital shop (such as the PlayStation Store or the Nintendo eShop). As you might have guessed, PC players have many more options. However, the vast majority of PC games are sold digitally; hard copies are uncommon nowadays, even for those widely-known, most influential PC games The 10 Most Influential PC Games That Changed Gaming Forever These are the most influential PC games everyone should play at least once. And the best thing of all? They're fun! Read More .

The main PC gaming marketplace is Valve’s Steam. Steam’s desktop client offers thousands of games, library organization, social features, automatic updates, and more. It’s the best place to start your PC gaming journey.

However, you should also take a look at some of the other clients and services available. On GOG, you’ll find DRM-free copies of classic PC titles. You’ll need EA’s Origin client to play games like Battlefield, and Blizzard’s Battle.net to play Overwatch, Diablo, and Destiny. And for PC gaming deals, check out Green Man Gaming and the Humble Bundle.

This might lead to you having several clients installed for different games, but it’s not too difficult to keep track of. In addition, keep in mind that each of these services hosts sales regularly (included deeply discounted bundles). If you’re patient and shop around, you should be able to avoid ever paying retail price for a game.


Finally, unlike PlayStation Plus and Xbox Live Gold, you don’t have to pay for online multiplayer for PC games. The only exceptions are MMOs like World of Warcraft that require their own subscription.

5. Backwards Compatibility

Morrowind on Steam

For console players, backwards compatibility can be a sticky subject. Not all consoles are backwards-compatible, meaning you have to keep old systems around to run those older games. And if developers re-release an older game on new hardware, you have to buy it again.

The situation is much better on PC. We mentioned sites like GOG, which tweak old PC games to run on modern hardware. You’ll also find many games on Steam and other services that were released on older consoles, but still run fine on a current PC.

For example, Fallout 3 released for the Xbox 360, PS3, and PC. You’d have to keep your old Xbox 360 out to play Fallout 3 on a console, and it would have the graphical quality that it did upon release. On PC, you can run Fallout 3 without much issue, and it will look much better on a computer than a console.

Even better, you can often install patches that enhance the graphics of older titles. You might have to take further steps to get older games working in Windows 10 How to Run Old Games and Software on Windows 10 Old PC games and software can struggle on Windows 10. Try these tips to get your old Windows games and programs running on Windows 10. Read More , but it’s usually not too difficult and you can follow guides online.

6. More Support for Mods

Hat in Time PC Mods

Mods are user-created content that change the way a game works. For many games, they add hours of additional fun and introduce concepts the developers never thought of.

Want to play more Zombies maps in Call of Duty, replace the terrible dialog interface in Fallout 4, or add better interface options in Minecraft? Mods make all of these (and much more) possible.

If you’re someone who loves squeezing every ounce out of your favorite games, you’ll love checking out and installing mods. While they have a limited availability in some console games, their true home is on PC.

7. Losing Access to System Exclusives

While most games are multi-platform, every system has its own exclusive titles that you can’t get anywhere else. So switching from console to PC means you can’t play PlayStation favorites like the Uncharted series.

However, if you’re switching from Xbox to PC, you won’t have such a rocky transition. Thanks to Xbox Play Anywhere, many Xbox One titles are also available on PC. But this doesn’t apply to everything—Halo: The Master Chief Collection has been out for Xbox One since 2014, but it’s still not available on PC.

There is a trade-off in PC’s favor, though. Many PC games are not available anywhere else, such as League of Legends and Dota 2. In addition, a lot of games arrive on PC first and don’t hit consoles until years later. This is the case with a lot of indie games, which may or may not launch right away on consoles, but are almost always available on PC.

Nintendo is a major point to note here, as first-party Nintendo games are only playable on the company’s systems. If you love Mario and Zelda, it’s worth investing in a Switch or 3DS in addition to your gaming PC.

8. Other Things to Bear in Mind

There are a few other things you should know about switching from console to PC.

First, you should be aware of how to optimize Windows 10 for gaming How to Optimize Windows 10 for Gaming and Performance Are you gaming on Windows 10? Use these tips to optimize Windows 10 for gaming and set it up for best performance. Read More . This is especially important if you use your computer for more than just playing games. Remember that games take up hard drive space, so you might run into issues if you have a large amount of files on a small SSD. Having lots of background processes from other programs running can affect game performance.

If possible, we recommend going with a gaming desktop instead of a laptop. Desktops give you much more freedom to customize and upgrade components, and you often get more for your money.

To ease yourself into the PC gaming transition, try playing a game that you’re already familiar with on a console. Because you already know the mechanics of the game, you can focus solely on learning the new controls.

Finally, while it’s possible to clean your consoles to a point, physical maintenance for a gaming PC is easier. Thus, you should regularly clean your system so it’s free of dust and other debris that can hamper performance.

Now You Know How to Switch From Console to PC

When you’re new to PC gaming, it can be a daunting experience. However, you shouldn’t be scared, because there’s a lot to love about PC gaming. Once you’ve built your dream rig, installed your favorite game, and seen how amazing it looks when firing it up for the first time, you’ll get to enjoy an amazing gaming experience.

Another great aspect of PC gaming is the wide variety of accessories you can buy. To help you get started, here are the essential PC gaming accessories for all budgets and a few unusual gaming accessories to pick from.

Remember, PC gaming is not free from problems. Want to know what to watch out for? Here are a few common PC gaming problems and how to fix them 5 Common PC Gaming Problems (And How to Fix Them) Here are the most common PC gaming problems you'll encounter, what causes them, and how to fix them. Read More :

Image Credit: Flavio Ensiki/Flickr

Related topics: Gaming Consoles, Gaming Culture, Gaming Tips, PC, Steam.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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  1. Xenomorph2025
    May 7, 2019 at 3:55 am

    Meh PC gaming just isn't for me, in the same way that phone games aren't either. I concider those devices to be tools rather than entertainment. The fact that I rest an ashtray on my desktop and would never fathom doing such a thing to my NES reflects this. I enjoy the simplicity of popping in a game, playing it until whenever, and turning off the system. No dealing with install files, possible updates causing issues, or having to manually set graphics levels. It is what it is at that point and I enjoy it much more that way. The uniform look of packaging for each console also helps with shelf presentation, and makes it feel much more collectible and fun to pick up a new game. Also, I really don't care for online and would much rather have people over to the house to play if i want other people involved, rather than interacting with randos on the interwebs (hence no need for ps+ or xbox live for me). I do think emulators and fan games are great on PC (Mega Man SFR is amazing), but still feels awkward and would rather just buy them on psn or a limited run games disc rather than have them for free on PC. But to each their own. If the desired gaming experience for you is from PC, by all means get one! For me, I'm quite happy with what I've got :)

    • SilkBot
      July 17, 2019 at 5:58 pm

      I enjoy the simplicity of starting a game, playing whenever, and turning off the system, too. What makes you think this is not an option on PC? Current consoles also need to install games and graphics settings never need to be set manually. Just use the default if you really don't care. There's also presets such as "Low" "Medium" and "High", it's super simple.

  2. Thesameermalik
    March 1, 2019 at 1:47 pm

    Hello there, I have really read some of the articles of this site and it really seems like the content of this website is genuine. keep up the good work.

  3. Charlie
    March 10, 2017 at 2:45 am

    One thing that is purposely never mentioned is that you are stuck with the pc digital game, whether you like it or not. On a console, you can sell it or buy used. That is a major factor when it comes console vs pc and defiantly never mentioned. Also, everyone always hears this baloney of pc mustard rice(master race). Majority of the pc community runs at medium-low settings as stated by many developers. However, it is true that pc will upgrade over the years, but that doesn't mean that is what the entire community is doing anyway. Anyone who tells you otherwise is a liar. On top of all this talk, is the fact that gaming laptops cost 2-4 times the amount of a console. This doesn't even account for a gaming pc that costs as much as a gaming laptop, which also doesn't include anything but a tower. This is where the arguments come in that you have to build a randomly pieced gaming pc to get any sort of value out of it. PC is overpriced for what you get. This is where fanboys who can't even afford to buy a pre-built gaming pc speak gibberish. When you see the 6k-10k pc setups, it makes you wonder why you would spend so much for something that looks like a darn cartoon anyway, pre-built or not. This last statement alone crushes all that graphics baloney. Let's not forget that you have to run a vpn a lot of times on pc games for all the grown folks living in mom's basement with anger management problems.

    • Chris
      February 16, 2018 at 9:46 pm

      Why do you need a VPN?

      • MIKE157
        June 10, 2019 at 6:27 am

        It's a personal preference. You don't need it unless you're unsecured or are doing illegal activity online.

  4. rekt1357
    November 19, 2016 at 4:28 am

    "if your obsessed with halo a PC isn't for you..."

    actually halo 6 is confirmed to be on the PC as well as the xbox one

  5. Brandon
    September 2, 2016 at 7:26 am

    I game on a Xbox but sometime I wish I ad a pc but I'm a walking EMP so have to let Microsoft f-ing me in the A for now

  6. Connor
    June 12, 2016 at 1:41 am

    I'm a PC guy, through and through. I just find the controls so much easier. I can't play ith a controller, I just can't.

  7. Zhickusa
    May 13, 2016 at 1:55 pm

    I used to be a console player years back. But I started playing on the PC because you have much more control of what you're doing like changing the graphics settings or controls. And games are much cheaper if you have any idea where to buy them. Besides building and modding computers is a bunch of fun most of the time.

  8. siddhartha
    May 13, 2016 at 9:06 am

    i had xbox 360 and ps4 i sold them because i stared spending so much money busying gamges for them . i am bulding a pc where i can do productive workds as i am a photographer and also buy cheap games .

  9. ismailghedamsi
    March 22, 2016 at 2:26 pm

    You just don't understand why people like console,It's because they can play games within 10 years without thinking about technical aspect and upgrading to play the lastest games.

    • Alex Griffin
      November 21, 2016 at 2:23 am

      (Old comment) but consoles are just none upgradeable PCs... they get old at the same rate as a PC with the same components.
      The difference is in 10 years you can still play a lot of the new games on a PC but with lower graphical settings while the console will have been left behind by the developers and won't have any of the new games.

    • GadgetGamerTV
      May 30, 2017 at 12:49 pm

      we dont need to think about technical aspects if we dont want to

    • GadgetGamerTV
      May 30, 2017 at 12:50 pm

      we dont need to of we dont want to
      (aka prebuilts.)

  10. rudeboyrg
    December 18, 2015 at 2:37 am

    Here is my problem I am often faced when buying games for PC which makes it difficult to completely transition though I do have a steam account and GOG account. You said games on PC are cheaper? I don't see it.
    I want to play MGS Phantom Pain. On Amazon, I can buy the disc for 35.00. But I wanted to purchase it for PC because of many reasons you mentioned above why a game on PC may be better. So I went to steam to purchase it. The same 35.00 game on PS4 was 60.00 on steam for digital download. I'm not going to pay twice as much to play MGS just so I can play it on PC when I can buy the disc on amazon for 35. So I end up having to buy it for PS4 and can't play it on PC. So while I agree, there are a number of good reasons and some great games at good prices. The above examples is a good reason why I and I suspect a number of people would still buy a PS4 disc as opposed to a Steam Download. 60.00 vs 35.00 is a big difference.

    Here is another thing that bugs me about PC gaming. Where the ***ck are the damn save files. Each game has it's own thing. Some are cloud based (which is fine). Others save your files in document folder. Some games save it in some hidden folder with an archaic naming scheme. Certain games your guess is as good as mine. Gosh. I hope I never have to change my PC' or reformat my hard drive. I would lose all my saves. Can't back them up because more than half the time I can't even tell where the hell they are. And you are speaking to someone who is actually quite damn proficient with PC's. Now try dealing with someone who is a casual user. You'll lose him/her.

    • Rafael
      December 21, 2015 at 5:44 am

      Download Razer Cortex. I once had the same problems as to saving, but this app does it flawlessly on whichever cloud system you choose (Dropbox, OneDrive, and I think there are others). The problem with prices is one I can deal with because I have lots of games to play, so I'm never really looking for newer games (Fallout 4 being the exception) and also because I live in Brazil (where stuff costs 3x its actual value). Whichever gaming platform you choose, just remember to have fun.

      May your FPS be high and your draw distance far.

  11. Anonymous
    October 8, 2015 at 11:06 pm

    PC gaming is massive. Every few years someone says it's dying off but it's been around longer than any of the current consoles. Here's what you get:
    1. cheaper games
    2. better graphics
    3. more customisation/mods

    The list goes on - I've written a short guide on building a gaming pc if anyone is unsure ow to build their own:


    It also contains details on how to build a Steam Machine!


  12. Anonymous
    July 24, 2015 at 8:16 pm

    The whole compatibility thing made the switch for me a few years ago. I switched from my Ps3 to the Pc, but I'm still collecting and playing some awesome games for my consoles. I just hate the fact that the old console got obsolete after the new generation has been released. I still love my PS3 - why should I upgrade?! Its kinda sad.

  13. Anonymous
    July 10, 2015 at 12:40 pm

    pc game is awesome hellofgames.com but i prefer console

  14. Carwyn Monck
    May 31, 2015 at 3:56 am

    Is it worth upgrading and buying a new PC so it can play the latest games or Buying a Console such as the PS4 considering that I have never had one before?

    • Anonymous
      August 23, 2015 at 12:32 am

      If you already have a pc its cheaper to just buy a new graphics card to play newer games. I picked up a r9 290 for $230 and its relativly new, plays every game that ive tried on ultra settings. But cost will depend on where you live.

  15. Isaac
    May 8, 2015 at 2:20 am

    Can you use a pc as a normal computer or is it just for games? Please answer

    • jake
      May 21, 2015 at 10:45 am

      Only gaming PCs I think (but u can play games on normal PCs)

    • Carwyn Monck
      May 31, 2015 at 3:50 am

      Any computer you by the has windows, or any operating system can be used as a normal Computer, Word, Powerpoint Paint, Internet ect...

    • Anonymous
      August 23, 2015 at 12:35 am

      Of course. All the functions are available. I run steam big picture mode, play a lot of my games from the couch with a controller. Close it watch some stuff on kodi/xmbc, netflix, hulu etc. Use word, excel, browse the web etc.

      • Chris
        March 2, 2016 at 3:50 am

        Do you know anything about the syber vapor titan? I want to use kodi/xbmc on it but don't know if it will work. It does have windows 10 so I think so but am unsure

  16. consolebundle
    April 21, 2015 at 11:12 am

    The console on PC its amazing . try it everyone.

    • Carwyn Monck
      May 31, 2015 at 3:51 am

      Do you mean the controller on PC?

  17. Jorge
    June 10, 2014 at 12:19 am

    Does PC gaming have the same social on a Multiplayer gaming as consoles?
    Can PC gamers play Console gamers?

    Sorry for the ignorance i have been a console gamer my whole life.

    • Coolnuts
      February 12, 2015 at 2:09 am

      Yeah Kiddo continue playing on the Console! Can you play any PC game on a Console, also can you upgrade your hardware. Well if you have loads of cash and dont know what to do keep buying newer consoles to play the newer titles!

    • Carwyn Monck
      May 31, 2015 at 3:52 am

      No, just like Playstation players cant play with Xbox players. PC have their own social server.

    • Carwyn Monck
      May 31, 2015 at 3:54 am

      No hardly any PC games are available on console, switch to PC!

    • Anonymous
      August 23, 2015 at 12:38 am

      Not unless the game developers add it. Typically its pc with other pc, just like xbox plays with other xbox and ps4 with others on ps4. There is still chat functions too.

  18. Dragon
    April 16, 2014 at 12:55 am

    The Wii U isn't that far behind the others... It is far more powerful than you make it out to be...

    • CarelessDonkey
      April 16, 2014 at 4:07 pm

      Couldn't agree more. Whether the hardware is up to snuff is not that important to me. It's the overall polish on the games that I look for, and that's what I see in first-party Wii U games moreso than PC games. Wish there was more third-party support but what Nintendo does with its games is very impressive, especially if it's using such "subpar" hardware.

  19. Suleiman
    April 15, 2014 at 11:35 pm

    What a great read!! You just woke up my Counter Strike days of gaming, pc gaming. Got PS4 already but no games for it so far ; i am using it just for Fifa 14 and watching people streaming while they are drunk and stoned from all over the world lol

    So this is what i did: went to Steam, opened an account, installed software and downloaded cool free to play games. Now i got Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Phantoms and RaceRoom Racing Experience totally FREE. It feels good to use mouse and keyboard.

    Thanks for sharing this, you made my day :)

    • Carwyn Monck
      May 31, 2015 at 3:55 am

      I am not sure whether to get a console... Is it worth upgrading and buying a new PC so it can play the latest games or Buying a Console such as the PS4 considering that I have never had one before?

  20. Master Raf
    April 15, 2014 at 7:31 pm

    I use both to game sometimes i just like to be in the living room on a console other times i like to sit in my bedroom on the pc it really depends on the game and what i feel like doing.

    • Raul Sustayta
      April 15, 2014 at 9:06 pm

      You CAN play PC Games on the couch you know? hehehe! I sometimes like to hook up my pc to my TV using HDMI and play Tomb Raider or Batman as if I were on a console, and look...they even look much better than the PS3 or Xbox 360 version ;)

  21. Joel L
    April 15, 2014 at 4:22 pm

    PC 4 Lyfe! On a more serious note, it's unfortunate that the kinds of gamers who actually believe consoles are better than PC aren't open to persuasion. Not that there's anything wrong with preferring console gaming to PC gaming, but it's not hard to see that PCs are technically better than consoles is almost every way.

    Your explanation was great. Nice one, Chris!

    • zgillet
      June 6, 2016 at 7:49 pm

      Nobody "prefers" console gaming, they just can't afford PC gaming.

      • Setanjan Roy
        January 13, 2017 at 1:51 pm

        Oh really now ? My PC was cheaper than both a brand new Xbox One and PS4 and it performs pretty much on the same level as a PS4 more or less . Games are cheaper . Multi player is free and i can do other jobs on it . Honeslty how can you even call consoles cheaper when its like 400 or 500 dollars for machine that can only game and do nothing else ? Yeah sorry playing movies doesnt count even a phone can do that . And those exorbitant prices for games .

    • Caleb Moorhead
      September 7, 2016 at 4:38 pm

      I love console gaming. But I've been wanting a PC for months. I've been watching a ton of videos on PC exclusive games and I want into that community so bad!! But I just can't afford one. I totally agree that PCs are way better than consoles, but I just don't got the greens. It sucks lol. Someday.