Why PC Gaming Requires Better Hardware Than Console

If you’re trying to play Square Enix’s new Forspoken game on PC, then good luck to you. The PC gaming community was shocked to learn that to play the game at 4K resolution at 60fps, the developer recommended an Nvidia RTX 4080 GPU (which just hit the market a few months ago) and – get this – 32GB of RAM! The RTX 4080 alone costs $1,200 – well out of reach for many PC gamers.

To play Forspoken at 1440p (33% higher resolution than 1080p) and 30 frames per second, Square recommends Nvidia’s RTX 3070 GPU and 32GB of RAM. On social media the question arose: how can a PlayStation 5, which isn’t as powerful as a modern mid-range gaming PC, run Forspoken in 4K, but a gaming PC that costs double can’t it?


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Consoles are far more affordable than gaming PCs, often because manufacturers sell them at a loss and recoup that by taking a cut of the profits from individual games (although last year that started to change, with Sony announcing a quite a significant price hike for the PS5). Console owners get a lot of gaming power for a relatively reasonable price.

The consoles are closed hardware, similar to Apple’s iPhone. Other than adding storage space, there is nothing the end user can do to upgrade the platform. Consoles last five years or more, and developers know exactly what kind of hardware they are designing a game for. This limits what a gamer can do with their console, but it also ensures that developers can optimize game engines to use all the resources available on the machine. As a result, titles released towards the end of a console’s lifespan (like Death Stranding on PS4) are often far superior in graphical quality to earlier titles. Over time, developers learn to optimize all hardware features of the console.

Sony and Microsoft design consoles with specific game genres (and even specific developers) in mind, unlike the design of multifunctional PCs. Sony’s PS5 CPU/GPU combo (called APU, or Advanced Processing Unit) was designed with AMD and based on AMD’s Zen 2 architecture. The PS5 is designed uniquely for gaming, which means Sony and AMD can add technical features that game developers specifically want, like faster SSD storage and hardware-accelerated ray tracing. Often, a game console represents the perfect “canvas” for game developers to work on, and typically, these devices are designed to make software development easier.

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While a game console’s Advanced Processing Unit (APU) works cooperatively to compile both the logical and graphical aspects of a game, a gaming PC relies on coordination between the processor, the RAM and the system GPU to create the gaming experience. If two components do not match (for example, the GPU is more powerful than the CPU), a bottleneck can develop where you are not maximizing the potential of the most powerful component, and game performance will suffer. If the PC does not have enough RAM to handle the game assets and has to mine the SSD for memory, again game performance suffers. All of these variables are fixed on the console side, and game developers can work around the strengths and weaknesses of the machine to ensure a playable end product.


Even gaming-specific PCs are general-purpose machines, simply more powerful versions of standard PCs designed to optimize workflow. Although Microsoft has integrated many gaming-specific features into Windows 11, it is much more system-intensive than a game console’s user interface. Even the Windows operating system itself is constantly using system resources, and the operating system alone degrades performance.

To make matters worse for developers, no two gaming PCs are the same. There are endless GPU, CPU, RAM, SSD, HDD and display combinations, which means there is no single mode of PC game development. One gamer may have the latest and greatest Nvidia GPU, and another may have an AMD GPU from four years ago, but both expect a game to be playable on their system if they meet the minimum configuration required.

Additionally, developers can use a few technical tricks to make demanding games run exceptionally well on a console. For example, some PS5 games are rendered at 1080p and then upscaled to 4K with a process often called checkerboarding. This reduces the load on the APU, freeing up computation for other aspects of gaming, and relies on upscaling to produce what looks like a native 4K image. Additionally, consoles are often hooked up to 4K smart TVs that use a host of motion-smoothing software to enhance gameplay. Combined, checkerboarding and motion smoothing can make a game running at sub-60fps quite smooth.

While PC is the platform that a majority of gamers use to enjoy their favorite titles, many PC gamers use budget but not very capable GPUs. As of December 2022, 2019’s Nvidia GTX 1650 was the most widely used GPU on the Steam PC gaming platform. It’s definitely not the most advanced GPU as it lacks modern features like ray tracing and DLSS. A much smaller percentage of PC gamers are dedicated to upgrading their PC whenever new and improved hardware is released. A PS5’s APU would easily outperform an Nvidia GTX 1650 in terms of performance. The GTX 1650 wasn’t even designed for 4K gameplay and was geared towards 1080p PC gaming.

Forgotten Chapalania boss fight

Consoles and PCs use upscaling technology to improve game performance. While consoles use the checkerboard described above, PCs implement either Nvidia’s DLSS or AMD’s FSR. DLSS allows the PC to render a game in a lower resolution than the native resolution (usually 1080p or 1440p) while the AI ​​software sharpens the image to recreate what 4K resolution would look like. In side-by-side comparisons, DLSS generally outperforms console checkerboard in fps, but it’s limited to Nvidia GPUs, while checkerboard is used on all console games, so often when comparing PC and laptop performance. console, you should take into account that consoles use performance-enhancing scaling while many PC games do not.

Many games today are designed for game consoles and then ported to PC. Console builds are highly optimized for console hardware. PC ports sometimes rely on more powerful PC hardware to achieve console level performance on PC. This frustrates PC gamers who feel that games rarely take advantage of the powerful hardware they’ve spent so much time and money building, while gamers with older GPUs simply don’t benefit from the most powerful technologies. recent.

Game developers have a baseline for how they want their product to perform on PC, so they release a series of hardware recommendations to help gamers achieve this. Previously, many titles coming to PC were enhanced ports of PS4 or Xbox One games, but now that next-gen titles are being ported to PC, we’re seeing higher system requirements.

PC gamers often assume that since consoles are cheaper, their performance is much lower than gaming PCs, which is often not the case at all. There’s a lot to consider when choosing a gaming platform, with exclusive titles and access to older games factoring into that decision. Today, consoles and PCs offer gamers a great gaming experience using a host of technological features, but either way, those features usually come at a cost.

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