Want to play your PC games on TV? Here’s how to use your PC as a game console and play on your TV!
PC games are great, but can they compete with console games? After all, PCs can’t really replace consoles like the Xbox Series X or PS5, can they?
Well, maybe. Here’s everything you need to know about turning your PC into a gaming console.
Can You Turn Your PC into a Real Game Console
If you’re looking for a way to turn your PC into an Xbox One, or into a PS4, then the answer is no. There’s no way to turn your PC into a game console running Xbox One or PlayStation 4 games.
That said, you still have the option of turning your computer into what you might call a PC gaming console. To do this, you will need:
- A computer capable of running a modern operating system such as Windows or Linux
- Compatible GPU or GFX card
- HDMI cable to connect your PC to TV
- Quality game controller
- Steam: for a console-style interface, the only option is Steam
Let’s expand this list to prepare you to turn a standard PC into a dedicated PC gaming console.
Can Your PC Run Console Level Games
While almost all computers run video games, some old hardware can cause problems. For example, an old CPU and jagged old-fashioned hard disk drive will make for a disappointing PC gaming console experience.
So, choose the new or latest hardware:
- CPU: PC with Intel Core i5 or AMD Ryzen 5 or later processor
- RAM: your system must have at least 8GB DDR4 RAM
- Storage: use a SATA SSD or for best performance, a slim 3 M.2 NVMe or SATA drive, with 1TB of storage
- GPU: this is a contentious topic, but in general the aim is to get the best performance from the most suitable graphics card for your motherboard
Want to seriously overhaul your PC for gaming? This upgrade will improve PC performance the most.
Install the Operating System on Your PC Game Console
Most likely you are planning to use Windows for your PC game 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 may not have a copy of Windows to work with. The alternative? Linux.
Linux is free, no paid license required. While Windows 10 will set you back around $100, Linux distributions like Ubuntu, Linux Mint, Arch Linux, and others, cost nothing.
While Steam runs fine on Linux, you can also opt for SteamOS instead to save time. This is a version of Linux with Steam built in, which is intended specifically for gaming.
Note that running games on Linux intended for Windows will present various challenges that can slow down the gaming experience.
Use Steam Big Picture Mode to Interface Your PC Game Console
Whether you choose Windows, Ubuntu, or another distro, or SteamOS, you’ll be relying on Steam for games.
After all, it is the largest digital game distribution service out there. You can buy games, unlock achievements, communicate with other players. There’s an option to take screenshots, buy DLC, and games on Steam are compatible with almost any game controller you’ll want to use.
For the best PC console gaming experience, use Steam in Big Picture Mode. It’s a console-like user interface for PC, unlike the one found on the Xbox Series X or PlayStation 5. Use it to cycle through your library, install games, and launch them.
Find the Best Controller and Wireless Keyboard
With your hardware setup, you need something to play with. This might be a USB or wireless controller, or a keyboard and mouse. This will of course depend on the type of game you want to play.
Controllers for other consoles should work fine on your PC game console. Choose a controller, Google it related to the operating system of your choice, you will soon find out if they are compatible.
Connect your Console PC to your TV
If you have reached this stage, then you are ready to connect your PC game console to your TV. The options here depend on the output offered from your laptop or desktop computer.
With HDMI Cable
The HDMI cable option is the most obvious. Most TVs now ship with HDMI as the primary (if not only) option, and HDMI cables are much more affordable than they were a few years ago. All you need to do is connect the HDMI out from your computer to your TV, then select the HDMI channel on your TV.
Using a laptop for your PC game console? You should switch the video output to your TV rather than the built-in display.
- Press Windows + P
- In the Project pane select Duplicate for best results
The second screen is usable only but tends not to work properly.
With Other Cables
Unless you’re using an older computer (and avoiding current-generation games), you probably don’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 in your budget, you can find an adapter to convert the HDMI signal into something your TV can display.
Usually this will work fine, but with the wrong cable it can turn into a nightmare.
Streaming and Cloud Gaming
We’ve mostly looked at turning a physical PC into a gaming console using Steam. For the most part these are the best options, but there are alternatives in the field of cloud gaming.
It is a subscription-based service that allows you to play high-quality games on any computer, regardless of specifications. If the computer can run the current operating system and browser, and you have broadband internet, cloud gaming can be enjoyed.
The cloud gaming service has a console-like user interface, so all you need to do is connect a game controller and play! Missing a certain game on your PC game console? Cloud gaming services may be the answer.
Key cloud gaming services include:
- GeForce Now
- Google Stadia
- Project xCloud
Don’t like it? Not a problem. You can also stream games around your house using Steam In-Home Streaming. The game runs on your PC, but can be played on another compatible device, PC or mobile phone. Application is available for Android and iOS.
Now You Can Use Your PC as a Game Console
Whether you have a high-end PC or have a system better suited for cloud gaming, you can use your computer as a gaming console. It might require some smart budgeting for additional hardware or to pay for a game subscription, but it’s an increasingly realistic proposition.
With the right setup, a decent controller, and a smart TV – not to mention appropriate audio – your PC can give you a complete gaming console experience.