Gaming consoles are often compared to gaming PCs in terms of their hardware and performance. While gaming PCs may have more raw power than consoles in terms of FLOPS, this does not necessarily translate into better performance or quality in gaming. In this article, we will explore why gaming consoles don’t need the latest chips to perform well, and how they can still deliver impressive gaming experiences.
One of the main reasons why gaming consoles don’t need the latest chips to perform is that they have optimized software that is tailored to their specific hardware. Unlike PCs, which have to run a variety of operating systems, drivers, and applications, consoles have a dedicated operating system and a standardized set of components that developers can target. This means that developers can optimize their games for the console’s hardware, taking advantage of its features and capabilities, and minimizing the overhead and inefficiencies that come with running on a PC.
For example, both the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X feature an AMD Zen 2 CPU and an AMD RDNA 2-based GPU, which are similar to the ones found in some of the best gaming PCs. However, these consoles also have some unique features that PCs don’t, such as a custom SSD with fast loading speeds, a hardware-accelerated ray tracing unit, and a variable frequency system that can adjust the CPU and GPU clocks dynamically. These features allow the consoles to deliver high-fidelity graphics, smooth frame rates, and immersive sound effects without requiring the latest and most powerful chips.
Another reason why gaming consoles don’t latest chips to perform is that they have exclusive games that are designed to showcase their strengths and hide their weaknesses. Unlike PCs, which have to compete with a wide range of games from different platforms and genres, consoles have a curated selection of games that are exclusive to their platform or optimized for it. These games are often developed by first-party studios or in collaboration with third-party studios, and they benefit from the close relationship between the developers and the console makers.
Some of the most acclaimed games of the previous console generation, such as God of War, Horizon Zero Dawn, Spider-Man, Uncharted 4, The Last of Us Part II, Halo 5, Gears 5, Forza Horizon 4, and Sea of Thieves were exclusive to either the PlayStation 4 or the Xbox One. These games were able to push the boundaries of what was possible on these consoles, despite their aging hardware, by using advanced techniques such as dynamic resolution scaling, checkerboard rendering, temporal anti-aliasing, and adaptive performance. These techniques allow the games to maintain a high level of visual quality and performance without requiring the latest chips.
Cost and availability
Unlike PCs, which require a lot of investment and maintenance to keep up with the latest technology and standards, consoles are relatively cheap and easy to use. Consoles have a fixed price that includes everything needed to start playing games, such as a controller, a headset, and a subscription service. Consoles also have a longer lifespan than PCs, as they are supported by their makers for several years with software updates and backward compatibility.
The PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X cost $499 for their standard versions, which is much lower than the price of building a comparable gaming PC. According to TechRadar, building a PC with next-gen features such as an AMD Zen 2 CPU, an AMD RDNA 2-based GPU, and an SSD would cost around $1,500. Moreover, due to the global chip shortage that affects both PC and console components, finding these parts at their retail price is very difficult.
In addition, gaming consoles also benefit from economies of scale. Consoles are produced in much higher volumes than PCs, which allows manufacturers to reduce the cost of the components. This means that console manufacturers can afford to use more expensive components in their consoles, without passing the cost on to consumers.
As a result of all these factors, gaming consoles can often outperform PCs with similar or even less powerful hardware. You can still use a console released six years ago to play recent games with a good experience, while this often isn’t the case for PCs.