Want to play your PC games on your TV? Here’s how to use your PC as a game console and play on your TV!
PC gaming is great, but can it compete with console gaming? After all, a PC can’t really replace a console like the Xbox Series X or the PS5, can it?
Well, maybe it is possible. Here’s everything you need to know to turn your PC into a gaming console.
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Can you turn your PC into a real gaming console?
If you’re looking for a way to turn your PC into an Xbox One or a PS4, the answer is no. There is no way to turn your PC into a game console that runs Xbox One or PlayStation 4 games.
Despite this, you still have options to turn your computer into what you might call a PC gaming console. To do this, you need:
- A computer capable of running modern operating systems such as Windows or Linux
- Appropriate GPU or GFX card
- HDMI cable to connect your PC to a TV
- Quality game controllers
- Steam: For the console-style interface, the only option is pretty much Steam
Let’s expand this list to prepare you to convert a standard PC to a dedicated PC gaming console.
Can your PC run console level games?
First of all, you need to make sure that your computer is up to the task. It could be a desktop, laptop, or even a self-built HTPC. It doesn’t matter, as long as it can run the games you want to play.
Although virtually all computers run a video game, some older hardware can cause problems. For example, old processors and jerky old hard drives will create a disappointing PC game console experience.
So, opt for new or recent equipment:
- CPU: a PC with an Intel Core i5 or AMD Ryzen 5 processor or later
- RAM: your system must have at least 8 GB of DDR4 RAM
- Storage: Use SATA SSD or for best performance, slim NVMe or SATA 3 M.2 drive, with 1TB of storage
- GPU: This is a controversial topic, but as a general rule, aim to get the best performance from the most suitable graphics card for your motherboard.
Install an operating system on your PC game console
You are more than likely to consider using Windows for your PC gaming console. After all, if you’re using an existing PC, you probably already have a license.
But if you’re building your PC gaming console from scratch, you probably won’t have a copy of Windows to use. The alternative? Linux.
Linux is free, requiring no paid license. While Windows 10 will set you back around $ 100, Linux distros like Ubuntu, Linux Mint, Arch Linux, and others cost nothing.
While Steam works fine on Linux, you can also opt for SteamOS instead to save time. This is a version of Linux with built-in Steam, intended specifically for games.
Note that running Linux games intended for Windows will bring various challenges that may slow down the gaming experience.
Use Steam Big Picture mode for your PC game console interface
Whether you go for Windows, Ubuntu or another distribution, or SteamOS, you’ll be using Steam for gaming.
After all, it is the largest digital game distribution service. You can buy games, unlock achievements, communicate with other players. There is the option to take screenshots, purchase DLC, and the games on Steam are compatible with almost any game controller you want to use.
However, for the ultimate PC console gaming experience, use Steam in Big Picture Mode. It’s a console-like user interface for PC, similar to the one found on Xbox Series X or PlayStation 5. Use it to browse your library, install games, and launch them.
Find the best wireless controllers and keyboard
With your hardware configuration, you’ll need something to play with. It can be a USB or wireless controller, or a keyboard and mouse. This will, of course, depend on the types of games you want to play.
Controllers from other consoles should work fine on your PC game console. Pick a controller, google it based on your chosen operating system – you’ll soon find out if they’re compatible.
Rather than providing an exhaustive list of consoles from the past 20 years, it’s easier to choose a controller.
Connect your PC console to your TV
If you’ve reached this point, you’re ready to connect your PC game console to your TV. The options here depend on the outputs offered by your laptop or desktop.
With an HDMI cable
The HDMI cable option is the most obvious. The vast majority of TVs now come with HDMI as the primary option (if not the only one), and HDMI cables are much more affordable than they were a few years ago. All you have to do is connect the HDMI output from your computer to your TV and then select the HDMI channel on your TV.
Are you using a laptop for your PC game console? You will need to redirect the video output to your TV rather than the built-in display.
- Press on Windows + P
- In the Project panel, select Duplicate to get the best results
Only the second screen can be used but does not tend to perform as well.
With other cables
Unless you’re using an old computer (and avoiding current-gen games), you probably won’t need any cables other than HDMI. However, many TVs still have VGA connectors, DVI connectors, and RGB connectors. If a new TV isn’t right for your budget, you can find adapters to convert the HDMI signal into something your TV can display.
Usually this goes well, but with the wrong cables it can turn into a nightmare.
Cloud streaming and gaming
We mainly looked to turn a physical PC into a game console using Steam. For the most part, this is the best option, but alternatives exist in the realm of cloud gaming.
These are subscription services that let you play premium games on any computer regardless of its specifications. If a computer can run a current operating system and browser, and you have a high-speed internet connection, you can enjoy cloud gaming.
Cloud gaming services have console-like user interfaces, so you just need to plug in a game controller and play! Missing a specific game on your PC game console? A cloud gaming service could be the answer.
The main cloud gaming services include:
- GeForce now
- Google Stadia
- XCloud project
Don’t you want that? No problem. You can also stream games to your home using Steam In-Home streaming. The games work on your PC, but can be played on any other compatible device, PC or mobile. The apps are available for Android and iOS.
Yes, you can use your PC as a game console
Whether you have a high-end PC or have a system more suited to cloud gaming, you can use your PC as a gaming console. It may require smart budgeting for additional hardware or to pay for a gaming subscription, but it’s an increasingly realistic proposition.
With the right setup, decent controllers, and a smart TV – not to mention the right audio – your PC can give you a full gaming console experience.