Timing is everything, isn’t it? While we’ve been running TechRadar’s PC Gaming Week 2020, which has been celebrating the best gaming platform on Earth, both Nvidia and Intel held big product launches which will have huge ramifications for the future of PC gaming – further proving our point that the PC is the best place to play.
All of this, while Microsoft struggles with a woeful Xbox Series X launch lineup, now that Halo Infinite has been delayed, and along with Sony refuses to let us know how much the next-gen consoles will be, and Nintendo’s frankly anti-consumer celebration of Mario (limited run digital games to drive up demand? Gee, thanks Ninty), means there’s no question for gamers. Forget the PS5, Xbox Series X and Switch – buy or upgrade your gaming PC instead.
First of all, those launches. Nvidia revealed its powerful new graphics cards; the RTX 3070, RTX 3080 and the gorgeously bonkers RTX 3090, which looks like it could finally pave the way for 8K gaming.
These three new GPUs will likely easily blow past whatever the Xbox Series X and PS5 will be capable of, and will remain cutting edge for years. While the RTX 3090 and RTX 3080 are expensive cards, they are investments. And, Nvidia pleasantly surprised us with rather decent pricing for its GPUs (ok, the RTX 3090 remains obscenely expensive, but the others are rather reasonable).
In fact, as my esteemed colleague Bill Thomas wrote, the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 looks like a better buy than the PS5 or Xbox Series X. Priced at $499 (£469, around AU$680), it’s likely to be around the same price as the next gen consoles, if not a bit cheaper. If you’ve already got a semi-decent gaming PC, then the initial outlay is not going to be too bad – and you can save money in the long run with PC gaming.
You see, one of the biggest arguments in favor of buying games consoles instead of PCs or laptops is the initial price of entry is lower for consoles. And while that may be true, the fact that Sony and Microsoft are engaging in a game of chicken when it comes to seeing who will announce the price of their next gen consoles first, means these new machines are likely to be expensive.
And, even if they do launch for less than even a budget gaming PC, which is still likely, in the long run, that gaming PC or laptop is going to save you money. For a start, PC games are usually a fair bit cheaper than console games – even when new. With rumors that next-gen console games are getting a price hike, the difference could be even bigger, and after a good five years of purchases, you’ll likely have made that money back – and then some.
Also, if you go all-digital, you’re going to be stuck with buying from Microsoft’s or Sony’s stores – and having to put up with their prices. On PC, you have loads of choice, from Steam and Epic Games Store, to GoG.com and the Humble Store. The fierce competition between them helps keep prices low, and each one is well known for offering big discounts and sales throughout the year.
The fact you don’t have to pay for online multiplayer with a PC (except for paying for the internet connection itself), also keeps the cost of PC gaming down.
The other big launch was Intel’s 11th generation Tiger Lake processors for laptops. What’s got us particularly excited is the company’s advancements with integrated graphics. Intel claims you’ll be able to play games like Battlefield V on a thin and light laptop without the need for a dedicated graphics card. If that claim is even remotely accurate, people who want to game on a laptop are in for a real treat.
You don’t need to buy a new machine
For many people, you won’t need to buy a new machine either. The scalability of PC games means even modest gaming machines can run games at an acceptable frame rate, as long as you tweak a few settings. And, with a few choice upgrades, you could get a gaming machine that means you don’t have to buy a whole new (expensive) setup.
For the past week, I’ve been using Nvidia GeForce Now on a Chromebook (the Pixelbook Go, to be precise, a laptop I keep boring people by going on about how much I love it).
Ordinarily, even the best Chromebooks would not be able to run pretty much anything but the most basic Android game, but with Nvidia GeForce Now, and a Founders subscription, I was able to play Wolfenstein: Youngblood with ray tracing effects, and Planet Coaster, two games that require much more beefier hardware usually.
Planet Coaster in particular worked great on the Chromebook, as it’s a simulation game, and as long as I made sure I was in a good spot in my home for Wi-Fi, the results were fantastic.
If you want to give it a spin, we've got a tutorial on how to use Nvidia GeForce Now on a Chromebook.
Games games games
The other reason to game on PC is the sheer breadth of games available on it. Microsoft’s baffling decision to release every game it makes for Xbox on PC means there’s no reason to ever buy an Xbox any more.
And, while you may miss out on Sony exclusives if you buy a PC over a PS5, there have been rumblings that the company is considering porting more of its games over to PC, like it did with Horizon Zero Dawn. If the likes of God of War, Uncharted and Spider-Man come to PC as well, that further solidifies the PC as the best gaming platform. Why buy anything else?
OK, you won’t get Nintendo exclusives either, but looking at the Switch’s paltry lineup of games, it looks like buying a Nintendo console no longer guarantees you’re going to get good Nintendo exclusive games anyway.
And, by announcing a barebones Super Mario All-Stars 2 launch, with hardly any improvements, missing out one of the best games it’s made (Super Mario Galaxy 2), all for full price and limiting the release to drive up hype, Nintendo continues its disappointingly anti-consumer streak.
What’s more, the PC’s open nature means that anyone can quite easily build and release a game on the platform. Looking at our list of the best PC games from black, Asian American, Indian and South African creators, you can see some of the most exciting and innovative games are coming from diverse minorities who may otherwise not have been able to release their games.
I haven’t even touched on the fact that you can play PC games on all sorts of resolutions (1080p, 1440p, 4K or 8K), refresh rates (144Hz is the new hotness, and we’re seeing monitors go up to an epic 360Hz these days) and aspect ratios (sure 16:9 is fine but you need to play at 21:9 ultra-wide for real immersion).
But, I think the case for PC gaming is clear. This is by far the most diverse, accessible, fun and exciting gaming platform in the world. Why wait for the next gen consoles, when the future of gaming is already here?
TechRadar’s PC Gaming Week 2020 is celebrating the most powerful gaming platform on Earth with articles, interviews and essential buying guides that showcase how diverse, imaginative, and remarkable PC games – and gamers – can be. Visit our PC Gaming Week 2020 page to see all our coverage in one place.
- These are the best PC games of 2020
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Matt is TechRadar's Managing Editor for Core Tech, looking after computing and mobile technology. Having written for a number of publications such as PC Plus, PC Format, T3 and Linux Format, there's no aspect of technology that Matt isn't passionate about, especially computing and PC gaming. Ever since he got an Amiga A500+ for Christmas in 1991, he's loved using (and playing on) computers, and will talk endlessly about how The Secret of Monkey Island is the best game ever made.