Is it time to build a PC instead of upgrading to next-gen consoles?

UKRAINE - 2021/07/24: In this photo illustration a Steam logo of a video game digital distribution service is seen on a smartphone and a pc screen. (Photo Illustration by Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
UKRAINE - 2021/07/24: In this photo illustration a Steam logo of a video game digital distribution service is seen on a smartphone and a pc screen. (Photo Illustration by Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images) /

2023 has seen its share of ups and downs in the gaming industry, mainly the poor launch of Jedi: Survivor and Boulder’s Gate 3 blowing us away while developers say not to expect this as the norm. Is it finally time to build a PC?

It was 2013 and I had tuned in to E3. I saw Microsoft had announced a new generation of consoles called the Xbox One. This console would give you power over your entire living room and even came packaged with Kinect. This being said, Microsoft was unclear if you could play your entire library of games from the Xbox 360 or not. Eventually, they told us no, we couldn’t.

The console was priced at $500 and then you’d still have to buy the games associated with that console. However, some developers gave free upgrades to the next-gen game free of charge. In my mind, I was done with console gaming. If every 10 years I had to upgrade my entire game library, what was the point of upgrading?

I began to research building a gaming PC and at this point, you could build a decent PC for around $700. So I decided I would do that. After all was said and done, I paid roughly $800 for my PC which if you’re keeping track, was about 30% more than the new Xbox One but what I cared about was my game library. The biggest draw to PC gaming was the ability to keep my games forever no matter what, and the irony today is I can still play the majority of my Xbox 360 digital downloads with play anywhere.

However, during the pandemic the crypto craze caused the Graphics Processing Unit to become crazy. GPUs that were $200 were not going for $500 while NIVIDA and AMD were raking in record profits also some reports told of artificial supply issues as they would purposely withhold certain cards from the market. Producers of GPUs raked in record profits during a recession which gave credence to the idea of why would they get a surplus. Building a PC became the price of one’s mortgage or rent or even car payment and with many people getting laid off or fired, the market for a gaming PC was horrible.

Right now the market is still high, but the used market has come down, For example here are my PC specs:

  • ASUS B450 Strix Motherboard
  • Ryzen 5 2600x CPU
  • GTX980 GPU
  • 16gb DDR4 RAM
  • 850w Power Supply Unit
  • 1TB SSD Harddrive

In 2016 I upgraded my GPU and I paid about $300 for the GTX980 and still to this day, it kicks some serious butt. On Elden Ring, a game that is super demanding on hardware, I’m getting 75fps at 1080p and High settings. Granted I have to use a fan control to keep the fans high so as to not overheat the GPU, but it can be done. I’ve also been flirted with getting a GTX 1080ti and have found some secondhand for $125, compare that to a new one for $300 still.

My PC was amazing about 6 years ago and today it’s average and gets the job done. But that’s also due to the Ryzen 5 series and the GTX 90 series being what they are. Despite more VRAM dedication, the 1080ti is still a better card, at least at clock speed than the 2060, and even the 3060ti. You can even get an RX580 on Amazon for around $100 and still get 60fps on games if you manipulate the settings. Steam users have also reported that even the 1660 Super, a card that has less power than my GTX980, is the most used card still.

However, the draw to PC is the higher frame rates and the graphical advancements over the consoles. The other downside to PC ports is the majority of gamers play on console so games are typically developed for consoles and are ported to PC. However, those PC ports are sometimes console exclusives, case in point is Horizon: Zero Dawn and The Last of Us, which as an Xbox guy I never played (I’m also patiently waiting for a Bloodborne PC port from FromSoftware). Even if you only owned the PlayStation, playing The Masterchief Collection in 4k on my 55″ TV has been an incredible experience as well as Gears of War.

Even in 2023, my PC, if you were to build it from scratch, would cost you $500, $250 if you found the items on the used market which I’m a big proponent of. With the recent price increases of consoles due to inflation, a PC is vastly more practical than a console and also easier to upgrade. Again, the irony of not getting an Xbox One because I couldn’t play my 360 games on it only to be able to play them using Play Anywhere now is one of my favorite reasons to have a PC.

One thing to note is you can play with a controller or mouse and keyboard. On competitive shooters I play with my mouse and keyboard and on cross-play, there is no competition such as in Battlefield 2042. However, in RPG I play with a controller such as Horizon and Elden Ring.

So is 2023 finally the time to build a PC? If the cost I what you care about then you’d still be throwing about $1,000 into it if you wanted something that will last you a good 5-10 years. In my opinion, the graphics don’t make the game good but the experience does. I find I have vastly more fun on a game that I can play that is engaging and the story is fun (looking at you Horizon: Zero Dawn and Red Dead Redemption). If you care about graphics then you’d be spending about 150% of that budget. But for a PC like mine which is mid-tier, you can build it for $300 with aftermarket parts.

If you have an Xbox One and are looking at the huge price tag for the new consoles, maybe think about getting a PC. The dirty secret to PC gaming is you can also use your TV as well. I use my 55″ Samsung 4K for gaming but also have a 1080p 32″ monitor I can use too. While the TV refresh rate can be a hinder in competitive shooters, in RPGs, I have a blast with it.

In the end, a gaming PC is not as far out of the way as it was a few years ago.