A long time ago, if you wanted to play the latest video games with the graphics settings maxed out, there was only one way you could do it: get a high-end gaming PC. These rigs can demand a pretty penny and may not be feasible for some.
These days, Internet connections have gotten so fast that it’s possible to stream games to your device. You do not need to pay for an expensive PC if you have a fast enough connection – just use a cloud gaming PC and stream the video to your own.
With cloud gaming now a reality, is it better than buying your own gaming PC?
Short-Term and Long-Term Costs
First of all, there’s the cost of both. Cloud gaming’s main draw is that you can gain access to high-end PCs for a fraction of the price of buying one.
The long-term costs for cloud gaming depend on the service you select. For instance, if you use Geforce Now and stay on their basic plan, you can play games for free. If you go for the Founders plan on Geforce Now or use a service like Shadow, you’ll pay a monthly fee.
Buying a PC, on the other hand, is a one-time fee without any additional monthly payments. You may need to upgrade hardware as you go, however, so getting a streaming service may be cheaper year to year.
Comparing Input Latency
When comparing input latency for multiplayer games, a physical PC will always pull ahead. Your keyboard and mouse inputs go directly to the PC, which is then sent over the Internet to the main server. Inputs on cloud PCs, on the other hand, have to travel from your PC to the cloud rig and then onto the game servers.
This is a potential problem if you want to play very competitive and quick shooters, such as Counter-Strike or Rainbow Six Siege. The split seconds you lose from using a cloud PC can change a win to a loss.
Games Compatible with Each System
When you buy a gaming rig, you can run any game you like on it. It may not like your specific hardware, but at the very least you can give it a try.
Some streaming services, on the other hand, aren’t compatible with every game. For instance, Geforce Now requires developers to approve of their games to appear on the service so that you won’t have every game available on it. If your library is important to you, be sure to pay for a service compatible with your games.
Playing Games Offline or with Spotty Internet
Of course, you’ll find that playing on a cloud computer is pretty bad if your Internet is pretty spotty. If the Internet goes down, you can’t play your games while you pass the time!
As such, if your ISP doesn’t have the best ISP service record, you’re better off getting a physical PC. That way, you’ll always have something to do even if your Internet is having a bad day.
Repairs and Updating the Rig
If you’ve owned a gaming PC in the past, you may have come across annoying hardware issues, BSOD, and the need to upgrade it every so often. Rigs are great when they work flawlessly, but when the errors creep in and the hardware gets old, the stress begins.
In comparison, cloud PCs don’t encounter issues as often. When problems do crop up, they’re not your problem; you can simply jump to another system while the hosts fix the PC.
Casting the Game to Other Devices
Because cloud computers don’t demand much of the client’s device, they can be played on any screen. Some cloud gaming services let you play on laptops, in browsers, on your TV, and even on your phone!
That’s not to say that physical PCs are down and out on this topic. There are services such as Steam Link that lets you connect your PC to another device. Your gaming rig does all the heavy lifting while your device acts as a screen.
Which Is Best for You?
If you’re not very competitive and hate the idea of buying and maintaining a gaming PC, a cloud gaming rig is your best option. You’ll need a good Internet connection, but if you meet this requirement, you can play games anywhere you want, on any device, all on max settings, without worrying about spending money on hardware.
However, the gaming PC is still the superior option for people who want the best of the best. From the reduced input time to the ability to play any game you please, there’s plenty that a physical rig can offer over a cloud-based one.
Which one is best for you? Let us know below.