Switching From Console to PC Gaming: 8 Big Differences Explained
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PCs and consoles may be closer than ever — after all, the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 are basically just gaming PCs — but there are still huge differences. PC gaming is all about choice — choice of input devices, hardware, storefronts, and even user-created content. The competitive PC ecosystem has led to cheap games and free multiplayer — there are no monthly fees required to play PC games online unless you pick up an MMORPG like World of Warcraft.

Control Schemes

The mouse and keyboard are the standard PC gaming input devices, but they aren’t the only ones. You can plug a game controller into your PC and play games in the same way you play them on a game console. Microsoft’s Xbox 360 controller is the gold standard here Everything You Need to Know About Buying a Controller for PC Gaming Everything You Need to Know About Buying a Controller for PC Gaming A decade ago the controller was a definitive line separating PC gamers from their console brethren. PC gamers used keyboards, console gamers used controllers, and there was very little overlap between the two. Times have... Read More , as many console games are ported from Xbox to PC and work with the Xbox controller exactly as they do on the console. The controller is ideal for the many games designed with it in mind, particularly console games that were ported to PC.

Mouse and keyboard are still great input devices, though. Play a first-person shooter game with a mouse and you’ll be able to aim much better than with joysticks on a controller. Play DOTA 2, League of Legends, or a real-time-strategy game and you’ll appreciate the precision and quick input afforded by a mouse and keyboard. PC gaming is all about choice — you have a choice between different input devices.


Hardware Choice

Consoles don’t offer hardware choice, which is both a strength and a weakness. Everyone gets the same box for the same price. This means that game developers can optimize for specific hardware, but it also means that everyone has to use the lowest-common-denominator hardware. The Xbox 360 was released in 2005, and people were still using that same hardware in 2013. PC gamers saw huge increases in hardware power and graphics over those eight years.

You can play many PC games on low settings on just about any computer being released today. What will really hold you back, in most cases, is the graphics card. To play PC games well, you’ll want to get dedicated NVIDIA or AMD graphics hardware instead of integrated Intel graphics. Other components, like CPU and RAM, are also important.

You can build a gaming PC How To Build a Gaming PC How To Build a Gaming PC Learn how to build a gaming PC from a gamer’s point of view. Instead of telling you what to buy, we’ll teach you how to weigh and judge these individual components. Read More or buy one. Hardware doesn’t have to be upgraded constantly — a gaming PC from a few years ago can still play modern games on high settings today. You can build a gaming PC for about the same price as a console. You can easily get great hardware for under $1000 — you’ll be saving money when it comes to buying games afterward.



PC games have better graphics than console games. The hardware is just more powerful. Even today, the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 just can’t compete with the graphics a PC can produce. Unfortunately, many games are designed for consoles and PCs at the same time, so the PC may see the same graphics or just a few extra bells and whistles.

If you want the best graphics possible, they’ll always be on PC. This will be even more true as PCs continue to advance over the next eight or so years while the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 remain frozen in time. We’re not even getting into the Wii U here — its hardware is even slower and further behind. The Wii U is great for playing Nintendo games, but its hardware just isn’t competitive.

Gaming PCs can already run games at 1080p today, while consoles are either pushing 720p or struggling to offer good performance at 1080p. Higher resolutions are possible, and we’ll definitely see PCs running games at 4K resolution Should You Buy A 4K / Ultra HD Television? Should You Buy A 4K / Ultra HD Television? About a decade ago, manufacturers started to sell what's now widely known as an HDTV. But now HD is old news, so the industry has decided to push another new technology; Ultra HD, also known... Read More long before consoles can do this.


Shopping For Games

PC gaming is all about digital distribution. You won’t find many physical PC games in game stores, but that’s fine. Digital distribution provides choice, convenience, and low prices.

The de-facto PC gaming storefront is Valve’s Steam. Steam offers regular sales with extremely low prices — that $60 console game may be $10 on Steam in less than a year. Games that were $60 just a few years ago can often be had for $5 or even less if you buy them in bundles. Steam offers a store, gaming library, automatic updates for your games, easy installation of mods, and social features.

Steam isn’t the only store in town, though. EA games like Titanfall and Battlefield are sold on EA’s Origin platform. GOG sells old games tweaked to run on modern systems on its own store. Blizzard sells its blockbuster hits like World of Warcraft, Diablo 3, and Starcraft 2 on Battle.net. You’ll probably have more than one digital distribution platform installed on your PC.

These aren’t even the only shopping locations. You can buy digital games from stores like Amazon and Green Man Gaming — some of these games will give you codes you can redeem on Steam or Origin, while some must be downloaded directly from that store. Sites like Humble Bundle regularly offer bundles of cheap games.

PC game distribution is messier with multiple stores, but it’s also cheaper. It’s not that hard to use — buy a game on a store like Steam and it will be tied to your Steam account. You can easily download and install it with just a few clicks. Steam will automatically keep the game up to date and, for modern games, will probably even synchronize your save games across your computers.


The price of PC games goes hand-in-hand with the way they’re distributed. The focus on digital distribution along with a larger back catalog of old games and competition pushes prices down, so PC games are generally much cheaper than on consoles — especially if you can wait for sales instead of buying games on release day.

Multiplayer and social features are free, too. You don’t have to pay extra to play games online, like you do on an Xbox One or PlayStation 4, with some MMOs being the only real exception.


Game Availability and Backwards Compatibility

The PC has a larger library of games than any modern console. Whereas the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 aren’t backwards compatible, you can still play games that were released in the 90’s on a modern gaming PC. These games are often very easy to get working — if they’re re-released on Steam, they should be tweaked to function on a modern PC. GOG specializes in taking older games, tweaking them to run on current PCs, and selling them cheap. Even if a game won’t run on PC without some tweaking How to Use Old Games and Software on Windows 10 How to Use Old Games and Software on Windows 10 Old games and software can struggle on Windows 10. Try these tips to get your old PC games and programs running on Windows 10. Read More , you’ll generally find guides and fan patches that will hold your hand and help you get them working. Sure, you may struggle with some old games, but it’s actually possible to run them on PC. You wouldn’t even be able to try on a console.

This also means that your game library will continue existing as hardware advances. If you bought games for your Xbox 360 and loved them, you’ll have to hold on to an Xbox 360 to play them. If you bought the same games on Steam, you can continue playing them on your new gaming PC. Even better, they’ll perform faster and have better graphics than ever. For example, Morrowind was released for both the original Xbox and PC. Console gamers need an original Xbox to play it as it performed back then. PC gamers can play Morrowind on modern hardware, with much faster load times and better graphics. They can install graphics overhauls that make the game look better than ever and install other user-created mods to change the way the game works. Morrowind on console is now basically dead, while it’s still living a long life on PC.



Mods, user-created content that change the way a game works, have always been a big part of PC gaming.Want to play Minecraft and experiment with all the amazing user-created Minecraft mods? You’ll need it on PC, not Xbox. Want to install mods for Skyrim that add entire new areas, quest lines, and items — or even just change the way the game functions? You’ll need Skyrim on PC.

Thanks to the way PCs work, you’ll even find mods for many games that were never designed with them in mind. The PC allows for more user-created content and creativity, from maps and tweaks to total overhauls.


Console Exclusives and PC Exclusives

More and more games are cross-platform, releasing for PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4 at the same time . However, many games are still exclusive to some platforms. Just as a game might come out for one console and not another, a game might come out for console and not PC — or a game might come out for PC and not console. Not all platforms have the same games.

If you’re obsessed with Halo, a PC isn’t for you — but maybe you’ll find a replacement in Team Fortress 2, Counter Strike, or one of the many cross-platform FPS games like Titanfall, Call of Duty, or Battlefield. Maybe you’ll pick up a PC-only game like DOTA 2, League of Legends, the ever-popular World of Warcraft, Starcraft 2, or the best version of Minecraft there is. PCs don’t get all console games, but PCs have their own great games that aren’t available on consoles. Goat Simulator is a notable example of this.

PC gaming also has a thriving indie scene, with more indie and experimental games being released on PC. Large consoles have historically been unfriendly to smaller game developers. Although the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One are improving here, the PC is still the home of indie games. You can develop and release a game through the web without anyone’s approval, and it’s much easier to get on Steam than on Xbox.


Everyone has their own preferences — if you love Nintendo games and want to play nothing but Nintendo games, a PC probably isn’t for you. But PC gaming is a more compelling option than ever, and Steam Machines will hopefully bring PC gaming to the living room to provide a more open alternative to consoles.

Still prefer playing on a console? Check out these retro consoles The 7 Best Retro Gaming Consoles You Can Buy This Year The 7 Best Retro Gaming Consoles You Can Buy This Year Looking for a retro gaming system to enjoy 8-bit and 16-bit video games? These retro gaming consoles have everything you need. Read More :

Image Credit: Flavio Ensiki on Flickr

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  1. 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.

  2. 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?

  3. 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

  4. 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

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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 .

  8. 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.)

  9. 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.

  10. 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!


  11. 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.

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

    pc game is awesome hellofgames.com but i prefer console

  13. 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.

  14. 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

  15. 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?

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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?

  19. 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 ;)

  20. 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.