Back in the earlier days of my gaming life, I used to game on PC. We’re talking late ‘90s here, and I have fond memories of playing games like Quake, Half-Life, Deus Ex and many more. With the arrival of the PlayStation 2 and Xbox era, though, aside from the occasional casual game on friends’ rigs, I’d moved on to console gaming. For me, a large part of the appeal was knowing that whatever game I got would just work. No patches, no driver updates, no upgrades needed, and a level playing field.
Now, after the better part of two decades had passed, I got to wondering how the process of gaming on PC had been streamlined, and how intuitive the switch from console to PC would be. Would PC gaming be approachable and good enough to convince me to give up my console and use a PC for all of my gaming? Well, what better way to find out than picking up an affordable laptop and trying it out for myself! I set myself the goal of not switching on any of my consoles for a week, with all of my gaming being carried out on a modestly specified gaming laptop.
For my testing, our friends at ASUS generously sent us a laptop to use. Our test unit was an ASUS TUF Gaming FX505DY, which comes with a Ryzen 5 3550H CPU, a Radeon RX560X GPU, 16Gb RAM, a 500Gb SSD and 1Tb HDD, and a 15.6” 60Hz Full HD FreeSync Display. Retailing at around £650, it’s remarkably competent for the price and lines up well alongside its competitors. It’s fairly conservatively specced, with performance, on paper at least, being roughly on par with the PS4 and Xbox One, however, it’s definitely no match for the likes of the Xbox One X. Considering the whole package, though, it represents excellent value for money.
It’s clear that this laptop has been designed with portability in mind. As with all ASUS TUF branded products, it is designed to be durable. The FX505DY has military-grade MIL-STD-810G certification, and whilst you’re not likely to be using this on top of a mountain or in a humid rainforest, it’s good to know you could if you wanted to. For most users, the shock and vibration protection will be of most use, so if you want to cart your laptop with you to work, or to LAN parties at a friends house, you can be reassured it’s TUF enough to handle any knocks or bumps you pick up on the way.
Initial setup was very straightforward. A few updates were needed for the device drivers to get the keyboard backlight working, but this and the necessary Windows updates all took under thirty minutes from switch-on. A few minutes later I had Steam and the Xbox app installed and set about downloading some games.
Games are cheaper, and sales are a lot more generous on PC. Finding the best games, however, can be more challenging. It’s not because there aren’t many or that the search functionality isn’t great; it’s because there is so much more choice than on console, but also because games aren’t all available on the same launcher. If you want to play all of the best games, be prepared to use several launchers, although, with the various game stores available, purchasing, downloading and installing games is an absolute breeze these days.
Loading up the Xbox app made me feel at home straight away. A quick sign-in and all of my friends popped up, along with my achievements, messages and everything else. I recently took advantage of the offer to convert all my Xbox subscriptions to Game Pass Ultimate, which meant I was welcomed by a huge library of games ready to install. Just like on the console, Game Pass for PC is an excellent purchase if you need to quickly shore up the number of games you can play if you’ve just picked up a new system.
Cut to a few hours and several hundred Gigabytes of games downloaded later and I was ready to go!
First off, game controller support is excellent. Yes, I know, mouse and keyboard is king for accuracy and essential if you want to be competitive in online games, but as someone who has just come from Xbox and PlayStation gaming, being able to play a game sitting comfortably with my feet up is a familiar and enjoyable experience, and the fact I can jump in with a control method I’ve been using for decades makes that transition from console to PC much more appealing.
Connecting my Xbox controller to the laptop was as easy as pairing the Bluetooth, and once paired, it automatically connects whenever you switch it on. If your controller doesn’t have Bluetooth, you can just as easily connect it with a USB cable and you’re ready to go. For supported games on the Xbox app, playing with a controller is as simple as pressing any button once the game is loaded, and all the displayed controls will change to show as the Xbox buttons.
With a controller in hand, I decided to go all-in with my first game, loading up Forza Horizon 4, an absolutely stunning game on the Xbox consoles. The game has a built-in benchmarking tool, which automatically optimises your system, and watching the demo race that it runs while benchmarking, I was already very impressed. The level of detail was excellent, and it was very smooth.
53 FPS is, in my opinion, a great benchmark result when you consider how good it looks.. The majority of visual options were set on high, and in terms of smoothness and quality, it easily surpasses the performance of the base Xbox One. As you can see, for the price of the ASUS you get a lot of performance.
If you checked out the video above, you’ll see just how quickly the TUF FX505DY can switch between areas when you fast-travel. It’s significantly faster than on console thanks to the high-speed SSD. Having been hindered by the often painfully slow loading times of the mechanical hard drive in the Xbox and PS4, jumping in and out of gameplay felt so much faster.
I had to capture the video with the in-game resolution at 720p as, unfortunately, recording at 60 FPS was causing quite a hit to the frame-rate. Thanks to the free-sync display, though, even when it dipped below 50 FPS, it was still very smooth. I had the FPS counter switched on, and it was hovering around the 55-60 FPS range most of the time during gameplay, with any minor dips not impacting gameplay. I was genuinely amazed at how good Forza Horizon 4 runs on this laptop, and can only imagine what it’s like on a high-end setup. So far, so good for PC gaming.
Gears 5 is arguably one of the best looking games on the One X, and one that was sure to tax the hardware of the TUF FX505. Graphically, I had lowered my expectations for Gears 5 in comparison to the Xbox One X. The TUF FX505 actually matched most of the recommended specs for Gears 5, but as expected you do need to switch off a lot of the high-end effects to get it running smoothly at 60 FPS.
Benchmark results were reasonable, as shown in the video, but the recommended settings had Dynamic Shadow Quality set to low, which removed most of the shading, leaving it looking flat and lifeless, and frankly abysmal. With shadows set to medium, it produced a slightly better image, with only a slight reduction in the frame rate. Whilst it was a far cry from the gorgeous visuals I was used to on the One X, it retained enough fidelity to at least be playable, and it mostly maintained a steady 60 FPS.
With everything set to ultra, though, the transformation was remarkable. It clocked in at an average of 32 FPS, which for anyone coming from a console isn’t that bad a trade-off for the stunning graphics. Indeed, it’s still very playable, and I was genuinely astonished that it ran at all, never mind hitting a 30 FPS average. There were, however, too many sub-30 FPS drops, so I had another go at getting a solid, playable 30 FPS.
After a bit of tweaking, reducing some of the less noticeable effects, I ended up with a still good looking game, but with far fewer drops in the frame rate. As you can see from the video (excuse the shoddy gameplay, I was concentrating on the image, not my aim), the FX505DY put in a brilliant performance. It’s not as smooth as the Xbox One X for sure, but it was packed full of detail and beautiful effects, and I’d much rather play this version than on the base console.
Moving on to another game that looks gorgeous on the Xbox One X, and after the remarkable performance of Forza Horizon 4 and Gears 5, I expectantly loaded up Metro Exodus. Without any input from me, the game suggested Ultra settings, but at 720p. Considering the ASUS only has a 15” screen, I decided to try it out, and it looked simply incredible.
In much the same way I’d sacrifice the higher frame rate on Gears 5 in exchange for the sumptuous visuals, for Metro Exodus I happily traded resolution for the amazing lighting and flame effects. Frame rates varied from 30 FPS in graphically intense areas with lots of action and particle effects, whilst enclosed areas were reaching 50 FPS. Some of the effects actually look superior to the Xbox One X version, as the X has to reduce some effects in order to run at 4k. One can only imagine how amazing this must look on a capable rig!
So far, the AAA titles had completely surpassed what I had expected coming into this, turning in not just passable, but excellent performance in comparison to the consoles. How would some simpler titles fare?
Well, apart from a single glaring exception, brilliantly.
Switching to mouse and keyboard, I tried out the excellent Age of Empires, and it performed perfectly. Even with loads of buildings and hundreds of troops on the screen, there was no sign of slowdown, and gameplay was smooth and responsive. I couldn’t fault the FX505 here, so it was time to raise the bar a little bit.
Goat Simulator was a surprisingly poor performer. I had to turn pretty much all of the visual enhancements off, and even then, it plodded along at a 32fps average, which would have been barely acceptable, but this was accompanied by frequent freezes and stuttering. For a game that I imagined wouldn’t be particularly taxing, this poor performance was surprising. For the most part, it was at least playable, but the moments where the image would freeze happened one too many times at a critical moment, and I switched it off.
Human Fall Flat was excellent, though, running absolutely perfectly at the high default settings. I tried ultra but it was a bridge too far, causing jerkiness and frame drops to manifest, without looking that much better, to be honest. As a testament to how well it played, though, after meaning to try it for just a few minutes to see how it ran, I actually ploughed through the first seven levels in one sitting.
I won’t bore you with performance analyses of all the games I tried, but the pattern was maintained through almost everything. The majority of AAA games were easy to tweak to get a performance level I was happy with, while indie games or games with fewer resources pumped into them either performed brilliantly or had some performance issues that I can only attribute to poor optimisation. In comparison with gaming on an Xbox One S or PS4, the plucky little ASUS outperformed them in almost every aspect.
Audio quality was excellent throughout all games I played, with the included DTS Headphone:X software producing a very good virtual surround sound processing solution. I was using an Audeze LCD-GX headset, so it’s unsurprising it sounded great, however, most gaming headsets for consoles are compatible with PC, and they are just as good if not better on a PC.
I spent some time with the ASUS TUF machine connected via HDMI to my 27” gaming monitor, but the leap to 4k HDR proved too much to sustain playable frame rates. Lowering the resolution to 1080p scaled very well though, and connecting to a 1080p TV also yielded good results. Apart from the lower resolution, when playing games with an Xbox controller it was so similar I almost forgot I was playing games from the laptop.
As someone who is primarily a console gamer, I was very impressed with the performance of the ASUS, especially considering that, in gaming laptop terms, it’s relatively affordable. Playing modern, graphically intensive games at medium to high settings (and in some cases Ultra), with frame rates similar to those of a gaming console, is achievable with this laptop, and you’ll find the total package is far superior to that of the base Xbox or PlayStation console.
What I have discovered during my time with the ASUS, is that I’ll happily trade resolution and frame rate for quality of visuals. If you make the concession to run the games at lower resolutions or frame rates, the advanced lighting, shadows and geometric improvements that come with the higher visual settings bring the game worlds to life, and it’s much more immersive. Although I could get most of the games running at 1080p 60, which is the maximum available for this laptop, it often needed me to turn off all of the advanced effects and many of the games looked distinctly last-gen.
Granted, I love single-player, story-driven games, so if I were playing competitive online games then yes, higher resolutions and frame rates become more of a priority. Using what is basically an entry-level gaming laptop means there will always be some kind of compromise, though, and for the price, I’d be more than happy to buy one of these laptops.
If you aren’t looking for 4k resolutions and HDR support, you’ll get a lot of enjoyment from the ASUS TUF Gaming FX505DY. Owners of the Xbox One and PS4 will doubtless be more than satisfied, but if you have the X or Pro models, the lack of big-screen 4k HDR performance may leave you slightly underwhelmed. Obviously it’s to be expected considering the relatively low price, but if you were hoping to replace your console with this laptop it is an important consideration.
During my testing, I encountered none of the problems I used to have when I only gamed on PC. None of the games I played needed awkward to install driver updates, while patch installation is automated these days, and building a collection of games is just as simple as it is on a console. Select it from the store, download it, and play.
The only truly hard part about moving from console to PC for me has been getting used to the mouse and keyboard controls. There are no two ways about it – I suck. It’s not to say that I don’t think it’s a good way to play, but familiarising myself will all the different key placements, and constantly looking down to locate the key I needed to press, ended up with me dying stupid deaths, or failing at difficulty levels that are usually a cakewalk. Give it another week or two and I’m sure it will become second nature again, but for most console players moving over, this is probably the only thing that may represent any kind of barrier to entry.
After all this testing, then, would I be prepared to ditch my console and join the ranks of the PC master race?
The answer is a resounding yes, however, as much as I loved the ASUS TUF Gaming FX505DY, the lack of performance when connected to a 4k HDR monitor meant it wasn’t quite enough to convince me to give up my console. As a second gaming device though, and as a replacement for my ageing HP laptop, the ASUS TUF FX505DY is an excellent choice. I absolutely recommend it as a daily-driver to take to the office or out on the road.
The ability to play triple-A games (albeit at a compromise between visual fidelity and frame rates) on long journeys and overnight stays has been revolutionary. The keyboard is very good for typing on, and the excellent multitasking performance of the Ryzen 5 has been brilliant for my usual productivity tasks. With more than enough storage for plenty of games and a huge library of music and video, the TUF has proven itself an excellent workhorse. If your current laptop is in need of a refresh, the extra cost for this gaming laptop is worth every penny.
Without a doubt, though, I would definitely ditch my console for a more powerful desktop system. I’m a sucker for a bunch of pretty pixels, and after seeing just how good the graphics effects are on a PC at ultra settings in modern AAA games, I’m prepared to throw money at manufacturers to get those same graphics running in 4k HDR at 144Hz+.
In just a short space of time, I’ve fallen in love with the amazing amount of choice in the PC market. Games are more numerous, the prices are better, there are so many customisation options, there’s a thriving indie market, and the varied choice of controls opens up whole new genres of games that you just can’t get or that aren’t as good on a console. Factor in the availability of components that already surpass what is expected of the next generation of consoles, and it’s not hard to see why people take such pride in their RGB equipped gaming masterpieces.
In closing, if you have been contemplating making the switch to PC gaming, you should absolutely do it. PC gaming is a hobby that, once you get invested in it, can be incredibly rewarding. If your pockets are deep enough, you can build yourself (or have built for you) an incredible, extremely customised gaming machine that is leaps and bounds above anything consoles can offer, but as the ASUS TUF FX505DY has proven, even a modestly priced system can provide a far superior experience and a versatility that you just can’t get with a console.
I’m still a massive fan of console gaming, as it makes gaming accessible to everyone, and it has that simplicity of use that means anyone can plug one in and get up and running in no time, but PC’s have closed that gap, and having experienced how much more refined and accessible the alternative is these days, I’m happy to become a self-appointed convert to the PC master race.