Over time PC games have held a leadership role over gaming consoles. It is still its helpful to be aware of the generations of consoles which give a rough guide to the minimum system requirements for the period.
Keep in mind when comparing consoles to a PC, the console often uses a lower resolution rendering than the typical PC player would consider. This means a PC gamer needs a more powerful machine for gaming.
Generally PC processors have been much faster than consoles which have more constrained power limitations. PC memory is the weakest part as most do not realize additional memory can improve overall performance. Today, an 8-core 16-thread processor is adequate to handle contemporary gaming.
Graphics cards are widely available that are dramatically more powerful than any console. Graphics card vendors have long competed with who can design the most powerful cards.
|GEN 5||GEN 6||GEN 7||GEN 8||GEN 9|
|CPU||33 MHz||733 MHz||X4||X8||X8|
|RAM||16 MB||512 MB||4 GB||8 GB||12 GB|
|GPU||1 GFLOP||5.8 GFLOPS||460 GFLOPS||1843 GFLOPS||4197 GFLOPS|
|HD||2 GB||60 GB||500 GB||1 TB||2 TB|
The table shows the various generation consoles. Looking at the screen resolution, it clear that the 9th generation consoles at 3840×2160 are quite demanding.
The NVIDIA GTX 1080 Ti and the AMD Vega 64 both have more GFLOPS than the consoles so they are comparatively good choices for a single card solution at 4K UHD. Some old games may not scale up above 1920×1080 but LCD panels can cope with this easily.
A good rule of thumb for PC system memory is 8GB plus 2x the amount of VRAM on the video card. VRAM is shadowed in main memory so extra memory is needed for the buffer. An 8GB to 12GB video card is best with 32GB of main memory. Dual cards need proportionally more memory and a more sophisticated chipset.
DDR2 sticks top out at 4GB while DDR3 top out at 8GB. DDR4 however brings 16GB sticks to the consumer which affords up to 64GB on an ATX motherboard. So far 32GB memory sticks have not been available for consumer rigs.
AMD and Intel have more extreme motherboards and chipsets with additional memory channels to help overcome the limited capacity of PC memory sicks. Typically these are very expensive.
Storage on the PC is considerably larger than any console as the typical ATX PC chassis has room for 4 hard disks. Steam games tend to accumulate which can be handled by larger capacity desktop hard disks. 14TB disks are widely available for larger game collections and other media.
Microsoft has blocked optical disks with Windows 7 and above for security reasons as nobody wants to sign the DLL. SecuROM has long ago disbanded. We have over 500 games on CD and DVD disks.
For more background information see out page on game performance.