Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Console v. PC - The Video Game Smackdown!

Do you get your game on via PC or console? Which is better? Which has better performance? This has long been argued by many gamers from different backgrounds. This Tech Tip will attempt to address both sides and determine which one is the best of the best!


Today, gaming on a console brings many of us older gamers back to our roots. People (myself included) who grew up with the good ‘ol 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System, Sega Genesis and Atari 2600 will remember the simplicity and endless hours of fun with those gaming machines. Speaking of simplicity, this is a console’s greatest strength when it comes to its function. No fussy installations, hardware configurations and possible incompatibilities are involved. You just plug the cables into your television, plug the console’s power adapter in, insert the game and voila! Instant fun right in your living room.
Another blessing of console systems is the pricing. As of this writing, a Sony Playstation 3 runs for about $300, a Microsoft Xbox 360 systems and the Nintendo Wii start at $199 which is relatively cheaper than a gaming computer. In addition, the Nintendo 3DS and Sony PSP provide a way to take the console fun on the go. Console gaming offers instant action at a relatively affordable price.

PC Gaming

At the other corner, we have the classic pc computer platform which many would argue has just as good, if not better benefits as its console counterparts. First, a computer can do everything a console can do but can also be used to check email, download music, write papers, do research, conduct business, and edit photos and much more. Hence, its utility is plenty for a consumer. Second, with the rapid spread of technology, a computer can be continuously upgraded with new hardware to accommodate new technologies and new games that take advantage of next-generation graphical eye candy (ahem, DirectX 11). In, addition, PC gamers have the option to overclock their computers in order to squeeze extra power from their systems; some also overclock and refrain from buying newer and more expensive hardware until prices come down in their favor. Regardless, the PC platform offers a wide range of utility and flexibility for the gamer.

Why Console over PC

Let’s face it, if you’re hosting a party, it would certainly increase your nerd stock to set up 4-5 computers in your living room for a fun and casual gaming atmosphere. Let’s not forget that most average people either don’t know or aren’t comfortable using a computer keyboard and mouse to play a video game. In addition, you have the Microsoft Kinect and Nintendo Wii systems that add a new level of interaction between the users and the gaming system. Thus, the console platform has something for everyone.
You also have the simplicity of a standard gaming platform. For example, the Microsoft Xbox 360 has the same setup and the same type of games as it did when it debuted in 2005. Therefore, there are no headaches and issues about compatibility on games and accessories.
Regarding games, the consoles excel at several genres which include (but not limited to) sports games, educational games and racing games. Even though Madden 2011 is available for PC, most sports fans would rather play it on an Xbox 360/PS3 because of the easier gamepad. Other games like Guitar Hero and Gran Turismo 5 would arguably be preferred on console systems. Furthermore, fighting games like Marvel vs. Capcom 3 and Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe are more socially preferred as everyone is usually huddled around a big-screen television.

Why PC over Console

What do the Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and Nintendo Wii all have in common? If you crack open their cases, you’ll find a CPU, video card, sound card, hard drive, RAM, network adapter, optical drive and motherboard. Whoa? That’s the exact same thing one would find inside a computer. From a technical perspective, it is true that all consoles are computers since they share the same hardware. However, the biggest issue with consoles is their obsolescence. The hardware inside the Xbox 360 is from 2005 and the hardware inside the Sony PS3 is from 2007. Graphically, their performance is subpar relative to a current-generation gaming PC with 2010-11 hardware. For example, Activision’s newly-released game, Call of Duty Black Ops was a cross-platform release. In other words, it came out for PC, Xbox 360, Wii, PS3 and Nintendo DS all together. However, if you examine the PC hardware requirements for the game, you’ll notice it requires Direct X 9. This graphics platform was released in 2002-2003; Meaning that the game was graphically “dumbed down” so the console platforms could support it. Also, PC gamers have the flexibility of graphically tweaking the game settings for optimal visual performance. For example, if you look closely at a television running Halo 3, you’ll see lots of “jaggies” or lines/edges with jagged textures which is a painful eyesore among PC gamers.
Console gamers also mock that PC gamers are uber-nerdy when they all get together and have LAN parties. That is, several PC gamers bring over their computers and set up a local area network (LAN) at someone’s home and play video games. So what do you call 8 people split between 2 connected Xbox 360s and 2 big-screen TVs playing Halo 3? It’s really the same thing except PC gamers each have their own monitors and don’t have to squint at a corner of the TV.

So Which is Better?

Ultimately, it really comes down to preference. Neither PC nor console is superior but rather the choice comes down to what the gamer prefers. Are you the type of person who just wants to jump in, not worry about settings and wants to just enjoy the action? Or do you like playing in the living room in front of a big-screen TV with a simple gamepad?
Are you the type of person who enjoys long-hours of the MMORPG genre such as World of Warcraft? Do you fancy opening up your computer case and enjoy tinkering with BIOS settings, replacing parts and think FPS (first-person shooter) games are meant to be played via keyboard and mouse?
Regardless of your preference, just keep in mind several factors. First, know how much you want (and can afford) to spend before making a significant financial investment. Second, make sure the gaming platform you choose is aligned with your gaming interests and preference. Third, since technology moves so rapidly, keep the future in mind and consider changes/trends that might affect your future gaming purchases.
Remember, if you’re having trouble getting past a certain level, throw it into God mode and game on!


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