PlayStation 4 vs PC: Which One is Better for Gaming in 2019?
When it comes to their platform of choice, gamers can be loyal to a fault. A PC gamer will always sing the praises of the gaming experience in PC, while someone who primarily plays games on a console will likely hear none of it. As with many things in life and in gaming, there isn’t exactly a clear-cut winner in this argument.
Whether you’re buying a gaming setup for yourself or for your kids, it can be a pretty substantial expense. You would the hate to spend hundreds of dollars on technology that just ends up not getting used. If you’re not sure on whether you should be investing in a PC gaming rig or the PlayStation 4, then check out our completely unbiased and objective guide.
Customization vs. convenience
The term “PC gaming” is a pretty wide umbrella that cannot be defined by any single piece of hardware. The thing about gaming PC rigs is that they can be built however you want – deck it with all the processors, graphics cards, and SSDs that you can afford and you’ll most likely end up with a rig that is more powerful and displays better graphics than any gaming console. You can even go fancy and install a water-cooling system and a custom CPU case that really puts you into that gaming mood.
By contrast, a PlayStation 4 is a console that offers upfront specs. Yes, you can opt for the more premium PlayStation 4 Pro that boasts of a more powerful GPU built for displaying 4K resolution and dedicated memory for non-gaming apps, but the point is that there’s virtually no way to augment the hardware capabilities of your console. Outside of replacing the stock HDD with an SSD, you’re pretty much stuck with the PlayStation 4 when you buy it.
The polar difference of customization and convenience are the two sides of one of the major arguments of picking one platform over the other. Do you want the flexibility of being able to build your rig as powerful as you want, at the cost of actually taking the time and effort to buy the components and install them yourself? Or do you want the convenience of taking a console home, plugging it into your TV, and start playing right away?
A glaring limitation of the “what you see is what you get” approach of the PlayStation 4 is that consoles have an expiration date. When the next generation comes around (and we already know that the PlayStation 5 is on the horizon), games will exclusively be developed for the new console. If you want to play those new games, then you’ll probably have to sell your old console on Craigslist and fork up the cash for the PlayStation 5.
Gaming PCs, on the other hand, will never become obsolete. Sure, a more powerful version of the GPU you are using might get released, but all the rest of your PC components can still be considered current generation for a few more years. If you want an upgrade, just buy that new GPU, swap it out for your old one, and you’re good as new.
The increased graphical power and modular ability of gaming PCs come at a price – literally. If you’re starting from scratch, then you’ll probably need to fork over at least $750 for a basic gaming PC setup. This cost can go up quickly when you opt for more powerful components; gaming PCs that cost more than $2000 are very common.
Back in 2014 when the PlayStation 4 was launched, it was sold at $399. In 2016, Sony came out with a cheaper, less powerful version, the PlayStation 4 Slim for only $299. Many years have passed since then, and these consoles are now so much cheaper than ever.
During the 2018 Black Friday sale, the Playstation 4 Slim bundled with the Spider-Man game (a really good game, by the way) was sold at an unbelievably low price of $199. Predictably, it was one of the most popular items at the time.
For many people, the high initial cost of building a gaming PC is enough to turn them off from the idea. However, owning a gaming PC can still turn out to be cheaper in the long run, as we’ll see a bit later on.
Selection of games
While console exclusives aren’t as big of a deal nowadays as they were before, this is Sony we’re talking about. Out of all the gaming platforms, Sony has the most well-developed roster of console-exclusive games, many of them some of the best games of this generation – God of War, Red Dead Redemption 2, Spider-Man, and the Uncharted series, among others. If you’re going into gaming because of any of these titles, then you basically have no choice but to get a PlayStation 4.
This argument somewhat goes both ways, as PC gamers also have exclusive access to a good number of indie titles and some popular ones, as well. Many console-exclusive games eventually make their way to the PC, although it can take a bit of time. On the Steam marketplace alone, PC gamers have access to a virtually infinite selection of games from various developers, and some of them are even free. Many indie developers prefer publishing their games on Steam, so there will inevitably be a few gems in there that you will not be able to play on any console.
Cost of games
New games can be notoriously expensive, and this dilemma isn’t exclusive to PC or any gaming platform. What many gamers look forward to are price drops and seasonal sales on games. PlayStation 4 owners get to enjoy massive price drops in the PSN online store on a pretty regular basis, with AAA titles potentially dropping to prices between $10 to $20. Physical disks of PlayStation 4 games can also be resold, giving PlayStation 4 owners another avenue to reduce the costs of getting new games.
PC gamers have a huge thing going for them, though, and that’s the Steam online marketplace. PSN sales are one thing, but Steam sales are so much more frequent and have even bigger price drops. Steam has two major sales in summer and winter, plus two smaller ones during fall and spring. During these sales, prices on games can drop from 50% to an astounding 90% off.
As we’ve mentioned, there are also old games or indie games that PC gamers can download from Steam for free.
Depending on how long you’ve been gaming, the difference in prices of PlayStation 4 games and PC games can offset the difference in the initial cost of the gaming platform you chose.
Freedom of controls
The DualShock 4 controller of the PlayStation 4 is excellent, no doubt about it. It has taken all the elements that worked in the previous DualShock generations, made them better, and added a nice (albeit gimmicky) touchpad to the mix.
However, it’s not the best controller for all types of games. First-person games and real-time strategy games are so much easier played using a mouse and keyboard. PC gamers even have the freedom of using fancy mechanical keyboards and low-latency mice so they can be more competitive in online gaming. They also aren’t locked out of being able to use DualShock 4 controllers, as those can also be used for PC gaming.
Playing with actual people online is so much better than facing hordes of AI-controlled enemies. They are smarter, less predictable, and can exchange some hilarious banter. However, PlayStation 4 owners need to have an active PlayStation Network subscription to access any type of multiplayer gaming. The annual PSN subscription costs $60 – an additional expense for PlayStation 4 owners.
On the other hand, PC gamers don’t have to pay anything for online gaming. Simply boot up a game, pick a server of your choice, and you’ll be connected with your friends or with strangers.
Most popular games have dedicated communities of “modders” or “modifiers” who continuously come up with ways to enhance the games or simply add a bunch of hilarious skins. In many cases, these tech-savvy gamers even come up with versions that are so much better than the original game.
Gaming from your couch
Many people don’t want to have to go through a convoluted setup process every time they buy a new game or just want to get a few hours of gaming after work. The PlayStation 4 has the benefit of offering this level of simplicity. Just turn on your console, insert your game disc (or not, if you bought digitally), grab a controller, and you’re good to go.
Gaming on a PlayStation 4 also has the added bonus of allowing you to play games from the comfort of your couch an on a large 4K TV. If this is what “gaming” looks like in your head, then the PlayStation 4 is absolutely the way to go.
A PC can be used for more than gaming
A gaming PC can be expensive and require a lot of maintenance, but many PC owners can easily justify those inconveniences by using their rigs for more than just gaming. A powerful gaming PC is excellent for image and video editing, 3D rendering, or just general office work. A gaming console offers none of those functions, meaning that all of your investment goes to nothing else but gaming.
We’re living in the golden age of gaming where both games and hardware are better than ever. Whether you’re a PC gamer or prefer any of the gaming consoles, there are sure to be lots of excellent games for you, as well as a thriving gaming community for your platform.
Of course, you don’t have to pick just one – you can have both a gaming PC and a PlayStation 4 at home. For many, though, picking just one is simply more practical. Both of the options have their merits. Gaming PCs are more expensive initially and require more work but can be much more powerful than any console and offer modding opportunities. A PlayStation 4 requires a smaller initial investment and offers excellent console-exclusive games, but has limited hardware and can become obsolete when the next generation of consoles come around.