Why PC is still better than consoles for 4K gaming

Sony and Microsoft’s new gaming consoles pack powerful hardware, but still don’t offer high-end 4K gaming across all titles.

As 1080p gaming has been the standard for PCs and consoles for a few years now, moving up to 4K is becoming more prevalent.

However, running games at a resolution of 3,840 x 2,160 is far more demanding than Full HD, and requires powerful hardware.

Console performance

The PlayStation 4 Pro and Xbox One X can deliver native 4K in a few titles, although the performance limitations of their GPUs mean graphics settings may be reduced to maintain performance at this resolution. This includes locking the framerate to 30FPS.

The PlayStation 4 Pro also uses upscaling techniques to render lower-resolution images in 4K.

This looks better than using the lower resolution without upscaling, and lightens the rendering demands on the GPU.

At 6TFLOPS of peak compute power, the Xbox One X boasts significantly better performance than its Sony competitor.

However, it is still not powerful enough to consistently deliver native 4K gaming with high graphics settings and decent framerates.

According to benchmark data from AnandTech, the graphics card equivalent of the Xbox One X’s GPU struggles to deliver over 30FPS at resolutions higher than 2,560 x 1,440.

This means 4K gaming on a PS4 Pro or Xbox One X will look worse than it does on PC, or will perform worse.

While the Xbox One X and PlayStation 4 Pro can’t match high-end PCs when it comes to 4K gaming, it must be noted that the consoles are substantially cheaper than powerful gaming computers.

PS4 Pro Xbox One X

Building a 4K gaming PC

If a tight budget is not a limiting factor, then a gaming PC is the way to go for proper 4K gaming.

Nvidia and AMD supply graphics cards with impressive specifications capable of driving high frame rates at high resolutions, with graphics options set to the max.

While a decent processor and RAM are important for 4K gaming, the most crucial component is a high-end GPU, and gamers should look at getting a card in the range of the Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 Ti or up.

4K graphics benchmarks from 4K.com show that while 4K gaming is possible using an Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 Ti, Titan X (Maxwell), or AMD Radeon R9 Fury X, the experience is greatly improved with the new GeForce GTX 1080.

The best graphics card for 4K gaming at the moment is Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1080 Ti, which can handle 4K while delivering 60 frames per second.

High-end 4K gaming comes at a heavy price, though, as the GTX 1080 Ti costs over R12,500.

A 4K-ready gaming PC with a GTX 1080 Ti card and 8-core AMD Ryzen 1700 CPU costs R24,999 from Evetech, although users can save a bit if they build a machine themselves.

Other 4K-capable cards – such as the GTX 1070 and GTX 1080 – are cheaper than the GTX 1080 Ti, but do not offer the same levels of performance.

Another option for 4K gamers is to use two graphics cards in an SLI or CrossFire configuration, with many AMD and Nvidia cards suitable for this.

It must also be noted that 4K monitors are much more expensive than 1080p displays, and must be factored into the total price.

This article first appeared on MyBroadband and is republished with permission.

Now read: PlayStation 4 Pro vs Xbox One X – Ultimate console showdown

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