One of the biggest barriers of entry for PC gaming is the cost. Throw in a console or few and that gaming investment starts to stack up higher than a final-circle tower in Fortnite. Initial platform cost notwithstanding, the good news is that these days there are a number of peripherals that work on PC and console (and vice versa).
The most obvious multiplatform option you may already know about is a controller. Whether it’s a first-party DualShock 4 or Xbox Elite Wireless Controller, or a third-party wired/wireless controller for your console of choice, there’s a way to use it on PC. For any Bluetooth-powered controller, if your PC supports Bluetooth (and any modern PC should), it can sync with your fave Bluetooth controller.
Wired is even easier as both PlayStation 4 and Xbox One consoles use a USB interface that translates directly to PC with the right automatic driver download. Having a console-compatible controller is also the best way to stream games to your PC. If the TV is in use and you have a hankering for the latest PS4 or Xbox One game, Windows 10 has a free PS4 Remote Play and Xbox Console Companion for streaming to your PC.
This wired logic applies to keyboards and mice, too. The chances are good your preferred wired keyboard or mouse is compatible with Xbox One or PS4, with the only proviso that just because your gear is compatible, it doesn’t mean the games you love support these devices. Additionally, keyboard buttons like media-playback controls will likely be little more than there for display when on console.
For something more tailored, the Razer Turret for Xbox One works on PC and, as the name implies, Xbox One, offering a wireless solution that conveniently adds a mouse pad alongside a wireless mechanical keyboard.
What most console gaming headsets won’t tell you in bold text on the packaging is they’re also compatible with PC. This applies to high-end options like the Astro A50 wireless (in PS4 or Xbox One flavours) and more budget-friendly cans like the Plantronics RIG 400HS. On top of this, if a headset has the option for a 3.5mm connection (primarily or as an input alternative), that headset will work on all platforms with a 3.55mm port.
Take the Turtle Beach Recon 70, for instance. There are colour-coded models for PS4 (blue), Xbox One (green) and Nintendo Switch (red). The reality, though, is these will also work with any PC that has a 3.55mm port, and they’ll also work with the other consoles. The main catch for 3.55mm headsets is that voice functionality isn’t always supported cross-platform and actual technical support may be limited to the platform on the packaging.
Really, though, if you want to invest in high-end cans that are fully cross-compatible across platforms, consider something like the SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless. It has out-of-the-box support for PC and PlayStation 4, but there are ways to get audio and chat for Switch and Xbox One with the relevant smartphone app installed.
Any monitor that supports HDMI input will work on desktop PC (and laptops with a HDMI-out port or compatible dock) and consoles. But just because your ancient monitor is compatible across platforms, it doesn’t mean it should be your go-to. Gaming monitors are built with image quality and responsiveness in mind, which doesn’t just make for great offline gaming, it’s particularly important for competitive online gaming.
This is why, despite pretty much every modern TV including a so-called ‘gaming mode’, gaming monitors tend to have lower input lag, which makes for a smoother gaming experience. Console games don’t yet exceed frame rates beyond 60fp – something that’s likely to change with the next-gen consoles – which, for now, means you can save money on an entry-level option like the BenQ ZOWIE RL2455 S.
The catch is that PC gaming is much more capable of higher frame rates, so it’s worth investing in a high refresh-rate screen, ideally 144Hz and beyond. For those who prefer to play on Xbox One and PC, FreeSync monitors like the 27-inch Dell S2719DGF equate to tear-free gaming up to 155fps on PC, and no jaggies when playing Xbox One on the same screen.
While the not-so-humble PC is the gaming platform that reigns supreme when it comes to peripheral versatility, it’s well worth considering investing in gear that’s also compatible with console gaming of today and, potentially, tomorrow.
PC to TV
Really long cables are the most basic way to play PC games on your TV. A five-metre Belkin High Speed HDMI cable is a good start. Then you can string together as many Belkin or XCD USB extension cables as needed for keyboard and mouse control. Except that’s not particularly elegant. Invest in Nvidia Shield TV or Steam Link to stream from PC to TV. Certain TVs, like Samsung models (from 2016 onwards), have a Steam Link app that foregoes the need for additional hardware to stream your Steam library from PC to TV. Try to use Ethernet for a smoother gameplay experience.
Just because you can connect a keyboard and mouse to your console, doesn’t mean you can now run circles around your controller-wielding brethren online. Because of the input advantage of PC peripherals, their use is limited to specific games, with titles like Fortnite queuing players separately based on input device. Where supported, the chances are good that a keyboard/mouse is a better fit for solo play (if that’s your jam). A keyboard is definitely better for typing messages to that mouthy noob you just squashed.
Both Xbox One and PlayStation 4 support storage expansion via compatible USB 3.0 hard drives like the WD My Passport Portable (in your preferred terabyte size). Alternatively, if you’ve got a PC storage hard drive sitting around gathering dust, connect it to your console to see if it’s compatible. Jump into ‘Settings’, ‘Devices’, ‘USB Storage Devices’ to verify PS4 compatibility, and ‘Settings’, ‘System’, ‘Storage’ for Xbox One. From here, you can choose whether games are installed on the internal or external drive.
A lot of streaming and capture peripherals are designed with PCs in mind. That said, capture devices like the Elgato Game Capture HD60 S are compatible with any platform that has HDMI output. You’ll still need a compatible desktop or laptop (to make life easier) to capture to, but HDMI lag-free HDMI pass-through lets you play on your platform of choice while capturing on PC.