When it comes to gaming, it’s quite hard to top desktop gaming, especially if you’ve got a souped-up PC with powerful hardware and a widescreen 4K monitor. Not only does desktop gaming allow you to game in impressive, high-fidelity 4K resolution, it also immerses you in crystal-clear surround sound, whether you’re got speakers or a headset hooked up. There’s also the fact that it allows for seamless multiplayer with friends and rivals from all over the world, thanks to online gaming. It’s the full sensory experience that’s worth the high price tag.
However, thanks to how smartphones are becoming more and more powerful with each generation, a new kind of gaming is gaining traction and getting desktop gamers away from their precious battle stations—namely, mobile gaming. With larger screens and impressive graphics, gaming smartphones like the Galaxy series have begun to offer gamers a high quality gaming experience that they can take with them anywhere they go. It even offers online multiplayer, thanks to Wi-Fi and wireless internet.
But as mobile gaming is fast becoming popular, even among desktop gaming purists, a particular set of questions keep popping up: namely, which is better? Which one is worth putting your money on? Is it worth buying a current gen smartphone now rather than saving up for a top of the line rig? This article seeks to answer those questions and more by comparing the two, and seeing if either one has any edge over the other.
First, let’s talk about desktop gaming, the current reigning king of video game experiences.
- Allows for high-fidelity 4K graphics for all current-gen games. This is arguably one of the bigger pros of desktop gaming. Namely, if you’ve got a current generation video card, then you’re definitely going to see the best graphics for the game that you’re playing. While graphics aren’t necessarily the end-all and be-all in gaming, it does make the experience richer and more mind blowing.
- Allows for high definition surround sound. You can’t be fully immersed in a video game if you can’t hear what’s happening in it. Thankfully, desktop gaming allows you to hear everything that the video game developer wants you to hear when playing their game, from the background music to the sound effects and even the voice acting. Thanks to PC technology, each sound is recreated in high fidelity and real time, allowing you to react faster when it comes to multiplayer games.
- Gives players the ultimate precision control with a keyboard and mouse. The mouse and keyboard combo is touted as one of the most precise videogame controls you can ever use, especially when it comes to first person shooters (FPS) and strategy games. No other gaming platform can offer this kind of precision.
- Allows for multiple control options for any game type. Desktop gaming also allows you to use other control schemes freely, so long as you have the peripheral available for it. For instance, if you want to really get into the car racing experience, just get a steering wheel controller and plug it into your PC. If you want a more accurate flight simulator experience, then a flight stick peripheral should be the way to go. All this and more is available on desktop gaming.
- Allows for seamless online multiplayer without added fees. Since you already pay for your internet, desktop gaming allows you to harness that same connection to play with anyone else in the world, whether it’s a co-op or a competitive game.
- Gives players the ability to upgrade piecemeal. You can upgrade your desktop PC part by part, rather than buying an entire system wholesale. This means you can also buy parts secondhand from friends or acquaintances, allowing you to improve your rig while still keeping your finances in the black.
- Gives players access to a huge library of games. The desktop gaming library is also incredibly full of diverse experiences, from triple-A titles to smaller and shorter indie games that you can enjoy every now and then. Of course, you’ll have to pay for them to play them, but with frequent game sales, you can easily get what you want on a budget, so long as you’re patient.
- Building a high-performance desktop can be expensive. There’s no getting around it—desktop gaming can be very expensive, especially if you’re looking to play the latest games. Each part can cost quite a bit, with the essentials like the monitor and the graphics card easily straining your budget. You can save a bit by waiting for sales or looking for secondhand models, but that carries the risk of parts not working as well as compared to something that’s brand new.
- It forces you to be confined to one place only. Desktop gaming involves quite a lot of hardware to work, with everything needing to be hooked up to a proper electrical grid as well. As such, you really can’t take it with you outdoors or in your commute. You can only play games wherever your desktop is setup, nowhere else. This may not be that much of a con if you want to keep your gaming private, but some may see it as a disadvantage.
- The games can be expensive as well. The latest games will always have a hefty price tag as soon as they come out. While you can wait for them to lower in price with the seasonal sales, that means you’ll have to do some waiting, which could potentially expose you to spoilers and thus ruin the experience.
Now let’s get to the pros and cons of mobile gaming, one of the top contenders seeking to dethrone desktop gaming.
- Allows for gaming everywhere. The biggest edge that mobile gaming has over desktop gaming, mobile gaming allows you to take your gaming experience wherever you go. Whether you’re commuting to work or on the toilet, gaming on your smartphone is something that you can access wherever you are.
- Gives players access to cheaper games. Mobile game apps are very cheap, rarely reaching the kind of prices that desktop games often sell for. Some of the best games are even completely free!
- Allows for high definition gaming. Smartphone technology has come a long way. Thanks to LCD and LED technology, smartphones can show off games with bigger and brighter screens.
- Allows for high definition sound, but only with earphones. Gaming with your phone’s speakers can drain your battery fast and disturb people around you. However, you can enjoy crisp and clear sound if you have a pair of earphones to use.
- Capacitive controls allow for high precision. The fact that your entire screen is essentially your control peripheral, you can easily tap on game elements without having to look up controls like you would in desktop gaming.
- Games may not be expensive, but they have hidden charges. Some games, especially those that are free to download, often allow you to buy power-ups and points with real money. This could easily drain your wallet if you’re not careful, as the temptation is there to keep buying those elements so that you can enjoy the game more fully. A lot of games that have this payment model are designed specifically to make this a very tempting proposition.
- A lot of games offer very basic and short experiences. Mobile games can’t really offer the kind of breadth and width of gameplay that full triple-A titles on desktops offer, due to space and battery constraints. As such, you’ll always feel that each mobile game you play can be shallow in terms of experience.
- Upgrading involves buying new units outright. Unlike desktop PCs that can be upgraded part by part, upgrading your gaming smartphone can be considered expensive and a bit wasteful, as it forces you to buy a new smartphone outright. With newer smartphones coming out every year, it can be a pricey habit.
Which is better?
Now that we know the pros and cons of both types of gaming, can we really compare them and come up with one that’s superior over the other? The answer to that question is a very unsatisfying “not really”. This is because it mostly depends on you, the gamer. If you’re the type who’s perfectly okay with spending hours upon hours indoors and in front of your desktop, then desktop gaming is clearly for you. On the other hand, if you’re someone who’s always out and about and lives a very active lifestyle, then mobile gaming is definitely something that should serve you well.
Another factor that makes answering this question a strictly player-based one is that it also depends on the kind of games you want to play and how big of a gamer you actually are. If you can’t go without the full gaming experience where story, graphics, and sound come together for an epic tale or story, then desktop gaming is for you. If you’re for smaller games that you can pick up and play whenever you like, then mobile gaming is more your speed. So really, there’s no clear winner here.
But what if you’re in both categories? What if you’re someone who likes to game in their privacy for hours on end, but also wants to do it on the go? Or if you’re just a gamer who wants a diverse gaming experience. If so, then you can just go with both. Save up for the dream rig that you want, and buy a cheaper gaming smartphone on the side. This way, you can’t miss out on the hottest gaming experiences whether they’re on desktop or on mobile.
Trying to decide which type of gaming is obviously better is an impossible task, as both types are very different from each other. It’s just like comparing lemons to oranges in a way. Instead of looking for articles to help you decide, instead think about what you really want out of gaming and go from there.