Nvidia: Video Game Consoles Will Never Beat High-End PCs

Nvidia Downplays Capabilities of Next-Gen Game Consoles

by Anton Shilov
09/25/2013 | 11:30 PM

Back in the past, when new generation game consoles arrived, they offered similar of better performance than advanced personal computers. When the next-gen PlayStation 4 and Xbox One emerge later this year, hardware inside them will be similar to mainstream PCs, which are not generally considered as gaming machines. While the consoles have a number of advantages over PCs, an Nvidia Corp.’s vice president believes that in the future PCs will always remain ahead.


“It is no longer possible for a console to be a better or more capable graphics platform than the PC. I will tell you why. […] Nvidia spends $1.5 billion per year on research and development in graphics, every year, and in the course of a console’s lifecycle we will spend over 10 billion dollars into graphics research. Sony and Microsoft simply cannot afford to spend that kind of money. […] Everything is limited by power these days. If you want to go faster, you need a more efficient design or a bigger power supply. […] The consoles have power budgets of only 200W or 300W. […] [They are] always going to be less capable than a PC, where we spend 250W just on the GPU. There is no way a 200W Xbox is going to be beat a 1000W PC,” said Tony Tamasi, senior vice president of Nvidia, in an interview with PC PowerPlay web-site.

While Mr. Tamasi is absolutely right that even next-generation Microsoft Xbox One and Sony PlayStation 4 video game systems will not have the same amount of graphics and general-purpose processing horsepower as currently available personal computers, several things should be kept in mind. The forthcoming consoles will cost $399 - $499 and will last for many years; by contrast, modern graphics card for $499 will be outdated in a couple of years. Truly high-end PCs cost well over $1000 per box (in fact, a 1000W PC can cost $3000 - $4000 and more), quite naturally they provide numerous advantages; unfortunately, not all PC users can afford such high-end systems in order to play games.

Screenshot from Watch_Dogs, a Unisoft game coming to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One later this year.

It is true that processing horsepower conditions quality of gameplay in case of modern titles. The better the microprocessor and graphics processor, the more immersive gameplay will be thanks to quality graphics, realistic physics and high framerates. However, it should be noted that modern PCs have a number of performance bottlenecks that prevent the hardware from showing all of its benefits. By contrast, Microsoft Xbox One and Sony PlayStation 4 have tweaked hardware and special-purpose software architectures, which are projected to boost their actual performance when compared to similarly configured PCs.

Although it is obvious that high-end PCs and next-generation personal computers are more capable than Microsoft Xbox One and Sony PlayStation 4 in terms of hardware performance, the question is when majority of PC games become dramatically more impressive than titles designed for these consoles. Given the fact that the absolute majority of games are designed for consoles and then ported to PCs, that moment seems to be pretty far away, except for certain advanced AAA titles.