The never-ending debate about which type of device is better for gaming is unlikely to ever go away as fans of consoles continue to praise their machine’s simplicity and ease-of-use, while PC gamers continue to espouse the virtues of flexibility and upgradability provided by computers.
Computer gamers often love to have the latest and greatest hardware crammed into their aggressively styled cases, using huge fans and cutting-edge liquid cooling systems to keep everything running at peak performance.
Others enjoy the ability to take their gaming setup with them by using a gaming laptop, a powerful gaming PC that’s been crammed into the portable form factor.
PC Gaming Can Be Expensive
This power and portability come at a price though. A top-end gaming system can set you back thousands of dollars, with market-leading graphics cards costing more than a PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X.
For this money, you get the best graphics on the market and more flexibility around mods, addons, and other customizations. This can be seen with the recent release of Cyberpunk 2077.
The game has been pulled from Sony’s PlayStation Store due to a huge number of complaints from angry fans who’ve suffered from slow frame-rates, bugs, crashes, and sub-par graphics that don’t come close to resembling the game shown in the game’s aggressive marketing campaigns.
This was mostly because the game had been primarily designed for PC, looking to push the boundaries of the hardware available on the market today. This meant that the under-powered PlayStation 4 and Xbox One were simply not capable of keeping up with the demands put on them.
So, without a bleeding-edge gaming PC, you shouldn’t expect the immense graphics and performance from that game either.
However, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy gaming on your computer without spending a small fortune. Budget gaming PCs exist and they offer you a wealth of possibilities.
Not All Games Need Powerful Hardware
Many PC gamers like to spend a lot of time comparing the hardware of their machines in the hopes of having the best among their friends. But, unless you’re playing a game like Crysis or Cyberpunk 2077, there isn’t actually a need for it.
There are thousands of titles that can be enjoyed on even entry-level computers and even the underpowered laptop that work gave you to check your emails on.
Browser-based games, such as those offered by sites like Miniclip and Facebook can be enjoyed on underpowered hardware. In fact, you wouldn’t struggle to run them on devices like the RaspberryPi which is designed to be low cost. Most of the leading online casinos also offer browser-based games that can be enjoyed on most modern devices.
Various first-person shooters can also be played on underpowered PCs, such as older Call of Duty titles and Brutal Doom. While other popular titles like Among Us, Minecraft, and Stardew Valley will run on most machines.
There are even entire collections of games on Valve’s Steam store for players with older computers, including the aptly-named “Good games for bad computers”. The games in that collection can be run with just 4 GB of memory, an Intel Celeron procedure and an integrated graphics controller.
Other blockbuster games, such as Grand Theft Auto V will run on computers with 10+-year-old hardware like the Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 processor. So if you built or bought a gaming PC within the last five years, you should have no problems.
You don’t need to play all the latest games to have fun, there are several decades of great games that will run fine on just about any computer that will still run today.
According to research carried out by Gaming Shift, there have been more than 1 million video games available at present. They calculated this by adding up all of the games on platforms like Uplay, Steam, and the Apple App Store.
However, this figure doesn’t accurately represent retro games, many of which haven’t been ported from older DOS-based machines and it includes mobile and console titles, most of which can’t be easily played on PC. It may also be double, triple, or even quadruple counting some games that have been released on multiple platforms.
Regardless of the exact number, the fact is there are more games available to play today than you could ever possibly have time to enjoy. And through clever tools like DOSBox and RetroArch, its possible to play thousands of retro games on even relatively underpowered machines.
For example, the PlayStation Classic is a low-powered ARM-based computer that can play classic PlayStation games through emulation. Using Retro Arch and a few online guides, you could quite comfortably use your 2-year-old laptop to achieve the same effect. So your budget gaming PC will do it without breaking a sweat.
DOSBox will also allow you to play some of the best games ever released, including mid-1990s Need for Speed titles and several Wolfenstein releases.
While these games don’t pack in the game cutting edge graphics as more recent releases, they’re just as fun, if not more. They’re especially fun if you played them when they were first put on sale as you’ll also enjoy the nostalgic feelings and memories they’ll conjure up.
There’s one other way that your cheaper computer can be used for gaming, and that’s by using a streaming service like Google’s Stadia.
Traditionally, video games have worked by being installed on your local machine, running off the hardware inside it. A connection to the internet was only necessary for updates and online multiplayer functionality.
However, Stadia and several other services offer a new way to play. Instead of having the powerful hardware inside your computer, it’s kept in Google’s data centres. Then, when you want to play a title, it’s streamed directly to your Google Chrome browser.
You can still use a controller or your mouse and keyboard, just like any other game, and for the most part, lag is minimal. Many AAA titles have been released on Stadia, including the aforementioned Cyberpunk 2077, Red Dead Redemption 2, and Assassin’s Creed Valhalla.
While you won’t need a powerful PC, you will need a fast internet connection, though most people with fibre broadband should have fast enough speeds.
The uber-expensive gaming PCs that some hardcore enthusiasts buy are not necessary to enjoy most titles. Even a modest computer will give you access to more titles than you could ever have time to play in your lifetime.
Browser-based games, online casinos, emulators, and streaming platforms mean that most gamers will be satisfied with a mid-range computer.