Once you start getting serious about gaming, you’re going to want to purchase your own dedicated piece of hardware that is your exclusive gaming device.
Before you head into the marketplace, however, you have got a choice to make.
Should you buy a gaming laptop or a console?
What are the differences?
Which will give better performance?
And which will deliver better overall value?
Read on for the answers.
- 1 In a Nutshell
- 2 What’s the Difference?
- 3 Q & A
- 4 The Final Word
In a Nutshell
We will investigate the question of whether you should go for a console or laptop fr gaming in a moment. First, though, here’s a summary of our findings:
- Go with a console if you are new to gaming, have a budget of less than $500 or will only be playing low sec games
- Go with a gaming laptop if you are going to get into some serious gaming and want the best performance and graphics.
What’s the Difference?
A gaming console is a device made by a gaming company that is specifically designed for playing high spec video games.
Or in the case of the Nintendo Switch to be as portable as possible.
It connects to the TV.
You play games with the aid of a device known as a controller.
You can also stream video, record your games and, on many devices, watch such platforms as Netflix, and YouTube.
The most well-known brands of gaming console are Microsoft Xbox, Sony PlayStation, Nintendo Switch (Nintendo uses different names every generation).
A gaming laptop is an everyday computer that has beefed up performance capabilities to allow it to run games.
The key difference between a gaming laptop and a normal one is that it has a more powerful graphics processing unit.
The price factor is one area where consoles have an advantage.
There are some great bundle deals out there that allow you to pick up a console, game, and controller for less than $400. That compares to more than double that price for a budget gaming laptop.
Of course, you will get more functionality out of a laptop, but if gaming is your only consideration, then a console is going to be way cheaper.
Microsoft has introduced an option where you don’t even hve to make an initial capital outlay. It’s called Microsoft Xbox All Access. For a monthly fee, you get an Xbox console, Xbox Game Pass and Xbox Game Live Gold. They offer two subscription options.
The $34.99 option gives you an Xbox One X console, while the $21.99 option gets you an Xbox One S.
When it comes to access to games, laptops have it all over consoles.
You can find literally millions of titles on the internet.
If you’ve got a gaming laptop or PC, you can also play MUDs, browser games, email games and a whole lot of games that are available as digital downloads. In addition, you can modify game files.
Ease of Use
When it comes to ease of use, consoles have their advantages.
These devices are specifically made for gaming. As a result, they are custom-built for multi-player gaming.
Your console will come with a network card so that you can get online and play multiplayer games.
Consoles are also designed so that you can sit comfortably on the couch and play with your friends.
You can play games on your controller immediately without having to worry about having to spend a lot of time learning basic game functions on a laptop.
On the downside, online multiplayer use on consoles is often limited to players who have the same brand of console, but recently there has been an increase in cross platform multiplayer. They also require a subscription PlayStation Network plus for PlayStation consoles, Xbox Live for Microsoft Xbox and Nintendo Switch Game Pass for current generation Nintendo consoles.
You will also find a lot of games that are designed for one type of console but not others. These games are called Console exclusives and are usually locked to that consoles, or multiple ones and not ported over to PCs.
A trump card that the console marketers have is that they can offer rights to exclusive titles that you can only access on their platform.
Both Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo offer exclusive titles. So, if you’re absolutely dying to play that exclusive title that only Sony has, you’ve got a pretty strong emotional pull towards the Sony PlayStation.
In fact, the Sony PS4 provides the greatest range of exclusive titles. Here are some of their exclusive titles:
- God of War
- The Last of Us
- Horizon Zero Dawn
On the other side of the fence, there are some games that are exclusive to PC. These are usually produced by indie game developers. Examples of PC exclusive titles are:
- Survival games such as RUST, SCUM, PUBG, DAYZ all started on PC before being ported over
- MOBA titles such as LOL and DOTA 2
- Counter Strike Go
- Grand Strategy Games – Crusader Kings, Hearts of Iron, Stellaris, Europa Universalis
Graphics and Performance
A dedicated gaming PC or laptop will provide better visuals than a console. It will also give you better overall performance. Of course, you will be paying a lot more than a console, but for that money, you will get a quality graphics card, processor, SSD Storage and a decent amount of RAM.
If you are serious about gaming, then you’ll be happy to pay around $1500 for a laptop that will provide the specs you need for a great gaming performance.
A gaming laptop will provide you with a great deal of functionality beyond the world of gaming. Anything you can do on your PC, you can also do on your gaming laptop, from creating documents to web browsing and editing photos.
Gaming consoles also have some functionality beyond gaming. You can watch Netflix, YouTube, and HBO. But that is about it.
One of the best aspects of gaming is being part of a social community.
You will have social functionality on gaming PC than a console. It’s a good idea to do a little survey of what your friends are using – PC or Console.
Going with the consensus will help you to stay connected.
Keyboard / Controller
Another thing to consider is the difference in functionality between a keyboard on a gaming laptop and a controller on a console. A controller is good for beginners as it is easy to use. However, experienced gamers will get more precise movement and more options with a keyboard and mouse.
Quite a few games out there require that you use a keyboard and mouse, which you cannot do on a gaming console.
Q & A
What are the most important features to look for in a gaming console?
Monitor Control – This allows your movements to be translated into onscreen actions on compatible games. So when you swing your arms it comes onscreen as you wielding a sword or swinging a bat.
This feature was introduced by the Nintendo Wii. Now, most of the main players offer it.
Mobile Apps – Mobile apps are beginning to become available on some gaming consoles.
Both Playstation and Xbox provide apps so that you are able to use your phone or tablet as an alternative screen. They also allow you to use those devices as a remote control for your main console.
Remote Play – Remote play functionality allows you to stream content to your mobile device. As a result, you will have the freedom of playing your streamed games on your small screen.
This feature is available on Sony Playstation 4 but not on Xbox. With no need for it on the Switch as it already a mobile console.
The only console on the market right now that allows you to easily multitask is the Xbox One.
It features a Snap bar that sits on the side of your screen and runs an app that you can watch as you are playing your game.
For example, you could watch a live game of rugby while you are playing. You can also use voice commands to speed up this process.
Backward compatibility is simply a fancy way of saying that the console will allow you to play older games.
This seems like a pretty basic thing, so you may be surprised to know that the Xbox One or Playstation 4 does not have backward compatibility.
In fact, the only console that does it for all games is the Nintendo Wii U (now discontinued). That means that there will be a lot of older games that you won’t be able to play on most gaming consoles. The PlayStation 5 and Xbox Scarlet are reported to be backwards compatible.
What are the major gaming console brands?
There are three big players in the gaming console market:
Microsoft – Microsoft launched the Xbox in 2001 and immediately became a rival to Nintendo and PlayStation. Microsoft’s biggest game has been Halo.
Microsoft is currently offering two consoles:
- Xbox One
- Xbox 360
Nintendo – Nintendo is the innovator who introduced the Nintendo Entertainment System way back in 1985. Over the past three decades, it has brought out some huge bestsellers, including Mario, Donkey Kong, Pokemon, and Zelda.
Nintendo is currently offering two consoles:
- Switch Lite
Sony – The first Sony video gaming console was the PlayStation, which was released in 1995.
Sony is currently offering two consoles:
- Playstation 3
- Playstation 4
How can I get the best price on a gaming console?
Gaming consoles are usually marketed across the board at a fixed price. That means that you probably won’t find cheaper consoles from one store to another.
However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t pick up a great bargain on Black Friday and other big sales.
Look out for bundle packages.
You can end up with games and accessories that are essentially free. If you aren’t obsessive about getting the very latest console, look out for previous models, which you can often pick up a heavily discounted price.
As a side-note, you can get great deals on video games by signing up to the subscription service that is associated with the console distributor.
The Final Word
So what can we conclude?
Should you buy a gaming laptop or a console?
If you are new to gaming or are happy to play lower-spec games that don’t demand a whole lot of grunt out of your device then go with a console.
Consoles are also the go-to choice for people on a restricted budget.
However, if you are wanting the best gaming experience along with the extra functionality that comes with a computer then a gaming laptop is the choice for you.
Find the best value gaming laptops under $1500 with our in-depth review here.