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Gaming PC, Laptop, or Console: Which Should You Get?

It can be tricky to choose your next main gaming console. If you’re torn between a gaming PC, laptop, or console, we’ll help you decide.

In an ideal world, every gamer would own one of each of their preferred platforms. However, this is awfully expensive, and most people can’t afford it.

So, if you’re planning to get a gaming device, these are your three main options and the pros and cons of each.

1. Desktop Gaming PC

Computers are incredibly flexible devices. It can pretty much do anything—from word processing and spreadsheet creation to making videos and simulations. Given that, they’re also great at gaming. So, why should you choose a desktop computer for your gaming needs, and what are its drawbacks?

The Pros of a Desktop Gaming Computer

a gaming computer with CD Keys games open on the screen

The main advantage of a gaming computer is that one can be had at a wide price range. Whether your budget is $500 or $5,000, there’s a gaming rig for you. Furthermore, if you have a limited budget, you can first build a cheap gaming PC. Once you have saved enough money, you can upgrade it to a more powerful system later.

Furthermore, if money is no object, desktop systems can be far more powerful than consoles. Since you can pick and choose the parts you want to install into a desktop PC, the only thing that limits it is your imagination and 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 Steam and Epic Games offer. Several other game launchers have subscription models that allow gamers to download multiple titles for an affordable monthly fee. While both Xbox and PlayStation also offer subscriptions, you simply have more choices when you have a PC.

One other thing computers can do, and consoles can’t, is act as a productivity machine. If your work requires a powerful PC, like video editing, computer-aided design, or simulation modeling, you can also use it as a potent gaming device.

Why You Shouldn’t Buy a Desktop Gaming PC

Despite the advantages of the so-called PC Master Race, it’s still not the clear-cut choice in gaming. Firstly, getting a gaming PC that can rival the power of the most popular gaming consoles is far more expensive. This was especially true during the GPU shortage between 2020 and 2022 when many video cards sold at highly inflated prices.

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

Even though Sony is slowly allowing its formerly exclusive titles to have PC releases, some games, like the iconic Gran Turismo and The Last of Us, can only be played on the PlayStation.

Computers can also be challenging to build and set up. Since you usually deal with different parts from various manufacturers, you must be careful with compatibility. You also need to install an operating system and have myriad drivers for each part you get. Although you can get a pre-built PC to save yourself from the trouble, these are typically more expensive than just building one from scratch.

2. Gaming Laptop

Acer Predator Helios 300 PH513 35 79C4 keyboard deck and RTX sticker

While gaming PCs are great options, they’re typically hard to bring around. So, if you like to bring your games with you when you’re taking a vacation or move between a dorm (or your office) and your home, you might want to have a gaming laptop instead.

Gaming Laptop Advantages

The primary advantage of a gaming laptop is its portability. Although they’re generally less powerful than their desktop counterparts even if they have similar specifications, the difference is negligible enough for most gamers. The portability of your primary gaming machines gives gaming laptops an attractive advantage.

Furthermore, since laptops have batteries, you’re assured that you won’t lose game progress if the power suddenly cuts out. That way, you can save your progress and properly close your game if you lose electricity. And if you have a full battery, you can probably game for another hour before needing a recharge.

Drawbacks of a Gaming Laptop

When you buy a laptop, you typically can’t upgrade it anymore. Although most gaming laptops have some upgradeable parts, like expandable RAM and the option to add more SSD storage, that’s pretty much it. To get a new GPU or a better processor, you must buy a new computer.

You also have limited I/O (input/output) with a laptop. So if you want to install multiple peripherals simultaneously, like extra monitors or maybe a full suite of gaming controllers—including a gaming keyboard, a gaming mouse, a driving wheel setup, and a VR system—you’ll need a USB hub.

3. Gaming Console

Image of a white Xbox console

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

When Gaming Consoles Make Sense

If you want simplicity when gaming, then there’s nothing more simple than a gaming console. You only need to plug it into your TV and insert a game disc to start playing. If you’re getting a device without a disc slot, then you only need to connect to the internet and create an account, then you’re good to go.

Consoles are also the most cost-efficient when it comes to your gaming options. That’s because to get a computer with the same power, you’ll have to spend one and a half to twice the price of a console.

Gaming consoles are also great for multiplayer gaming sessions. When you have a friend over, or if you want to play with your siblings, you only need one console to play locally. Some PlayStation and Xbox bundles even offer two consoles right out of the box.

Why You Shouldn’t Buy a Console

However, since a gaming console is only designed for gaming, that’s pretty much the only thing you’ll use it for. Although you could use it to browse the internet and watch videos on YouTube, it’s not terribly efficient at those tasks.

If you’re a busy professional, you’ll likely get more mileage from a gaming PC since you can use it for your work. But if you get a gaming console, you’ll probably fire it up only on weekends, with your system gathering dust during the rest of the week.

Choose According to Your Budget and Gaming Needs

balancing time and money illustration

So, what’s the best option among the three gaming systems? Frankly, there’s no straightforward answer to that. If you’re talking about raw horsepower with no regard for money, the gaming desktop would hands-down beat the other two.

But if you’re looking for a more flexible device—one that you can bring to the office for work and game on once you get home—then a gaming laptop is the way to go. It’s not as upgradeable as the desktop PC, but if your company pays for a new laptop every other year or so, then it’s a truly compelling choice.

Finally, if you want to game and don’t need a powerful PC, the gaming console offers the best bang for the buck among the three. Furthermore, if you’re used to a keyboard and mouse setup, you can get one for the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X|S. The Xbox Series X|S also lets you play games you’re used to in Windows through its Game Pass subscription.

There’s No Platform Monopoly in Gaming

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

And if you’re worried about being unable to play with friends, so you’re pressured to pick a device you’re not really keen on, don’t stress yourself. With crossplay, you can enjoy different titles, even if you and your friends play on different platforms.

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