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If you want to play video games in this day and age there have never been more options. You can grab a smartphone or hop on a game streaming service and be playing in no time. However, for most people who play video games as a primary form of entertainment, there are two choices: PC vs console.

Consoles are purpose-built gaming machines that offer plug-and-play gaming with no need to mess about with game settings. They are also pretty affordable, or at least their initial price tag is. 

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PCs, on the other hand, offer complete hardware flexibility and, if you spend enough, the sort of gaming horsepower that no console can match. Except perhaps right as a new generation of consoles launches.

While the PC platform is, in general the home of premium video game performance, gamers often baulk at the perceived price of being a PC gamer. The question is whether that perception is accurate. The answer, as we’ll see, depends on how you look at things.

The Hardware Costs

There’s no two ways about it. The amount of money you have to hand over to take a console home is less than you’d pay for an equivalent or better gaming PC. As a console’s lifespan rolls along, that fact changes. Since the console hardware doesn’t change, new PC hardware becomes more powerful at a lower price. So eventually a similar asking price for the console will net you a PC with better specifications.

Why are consoles so much cheaper? There are a few reasons for this. Console makers get preferential hardware prices because they build millions and millions of consoles. Console makers also don’t need to make a profit on their consoles. Often they either break even or take a loss on each unit. 

This is acceptable because of something known as the “attach rate”. In the case of a console, this refers to the games, services and accessories users must buy to get any real use out of their machine. So even if the console hardware itself doesn’t make any money, there’s instant profit from the sale of the first game, accessory or subscription.

With PCs, every component has a profit margin. The individual manufacturers need to make a return on the hardware or there’d be no point. The end result of this is that, from a performance-per-dollar point of view, PCs are more expensive than consoles. However that’s not the whole story. It would be more accurate to say that PCs cost more upfront. But if we look at the cost over the lifespan of a typical console, that picture changes. 

The Software Costs

Because consoles are a closed platform, game developers need to pay for the privilege of releasing games on that system. This comes in the form of a fee attached to every copy sold. Rather than take a hit to their own profits, that cost is passed on to the console gamer. So you’ll find that, at launch, console games cost more than the same title on PC.

That’s not all! Since several different distributors compete for PC game sales, you’ll hardly ever pay retail price for a PC game. Whether it’s a pre-order discount or price cuts mere months or even weeks after launch, there are always amazing deals to be had on PC games. Console games, in contrast, tend to hold their full price for much longer. They also don’t enjoy price cuts nearly as deep as those on PC when they do go on sale.

This is where the main equalizer in the price of gaming on PC vs console comes into play. However, this clearly depends heavily on how many games you buy. 

For argument’s sake, let’s say that a console game costs $10 more than the PC version on average. If you buy one game a month for five years, that would be $10 x 12 months x 5 years. Equalling $600.

If you had added that $600 to your initial console purchase and bought a $1000 PC instead, your total expenditure would have been the same. These days, a $1000 can buy a pretty decent gaming laptop or desktop. However that’s just one area of hidden cost that console gamers have to contend with.

Online Services Costs

Since the PC offers an open platform, players don’t have to pay for functions such as multiplayer to a third party.  On consoles, online multiplayer is usually reserved for a subscription service, which is in addition to any actual game subscriptions you might have to pay.

Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft have all sweetened the deal by adding discounts and “free” digital games into the mix. So whether that’s worth the cost will be up to individuals. However, the bottom line is that if you want to play online at all the fee isn’t optional.

So the value added aspects don’t carry that much weight. If you add the difference in monthly online multiplayer subscriptions to the average difference in game prices, it further equalizes the price difference between PC and console hardware over the console life cycle.

Upgrade Costs

Next, we need to factor in the cost of upgrading a PC. First of all, upgrades to PC over the course of it’s console equivalent generation is optional. At least when it comes to cross-platform games. 

A rather recent development with consoles is the mid-generation upgrade. Which gave us the PlayStation 4 Pro and Xbox One X. Neither of these were essential upgrades, but they did offer a fairly affordable bump to graphical power. 

The CPUs for these mid-generation machines were virtually unchanged. So if you did the same thing to your PC mid-generation and only upgrade the GPU, then you’d spend about as much (or less) as you would on a new, updated console. From that point of view upgrading has a negligible effect when comparing PC vs console.

Do You Need A PC For Other Things?

The next important consideration when calculating comparative cost is whether you need a computer for anything besides gaming. If you do need a computer for more than gaming, then the console’s cost is in addition to that of a non-gaming PC.

In that case, you might as well add the costs together and get the gaming PC. If you don’t need a PC at all, then we can leave it out of the cost comparison.

A Different Perspective On Costs

As we’ve seen, if you look at the total cost of ownership over the lifespan of the typical console, the cost differences of PC vs console aren’t nearly as dramatic as they’ve been made out to be. Of course, PCs can be incredibly expensive at the high end, but this is not a comparison of extremes.

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Why Building A Gaming Pc Is A Terrible Idea Right Now

Building a gaming PC is an absolutely terrible idea at the moment. Prices in just about everything are through the roof (though who knows when they’ll come down), and new products are just about to be launched. Instead of dropping, prices are climbing, with high demand and low supply providing the essential economic forces to create unaffordable prices.

1. Insane GPU Prices

The most recent iteration of the cryptocurrency craze has pushed the prices for graphics cards through the roof. Because these cards can be used to mine cryptocurrency, all but the most pathetic graphics cards are selling for a fortune. In fact, if you have one collecting dust, now might be a nice time to get rid of it. Year-old cards are selling for above their retail MSRP at launch, and anything being sold at a reasonable price is snapped up instantly. Some outlets have taken drastic measures, either strictly limiting the number of cards you can purchase or attempting to maintain a “gamers only” policy.

In addition to the outrageous prices, there’s a ton of variability in the market. If the cryptocurrency bubble pops, we’ll get some relief here. But Bitcoin’s drop at the beginning of the year didn’t have an immediate impact on GPU prices.

2. Expensive DDR4 RAM

The effect of RAM on a gaming PC has been the matter of some debate over the years. But the near-universal accord has been that faster memory helps performance, and gamers want at least 16 GB. So if you’re building a gaming PC, you’re going to want the fastest RAM you can reasonably afford.

Unfortunately, that might be DDR-nothing at the moment. The newest RAM, DDR4, is currently prohibitively expensive for most gamers. Extremely strong demand in the smartphone industry is causing OEMs to build tons of DDR4 for mobile devices, leaving comparatively little production capacity for desktop DDR4. This means that the relatively short supply comes with a twist: instead of falling, prices just keep rising.

Rumor has it new fabrication facilities will come online in China soon, but who knows what will come of that. Worse still, the slower and more plentiful DDR3 RAM has spiked in price as well, with trends rising towards a price tag twice as high as launch MSRP.

3. Product Life Cycles and New Launches

The second generation of AMD’s Ryzen processor is just over the horizon, with a rumored launch in March or April 2023. We’ll get new motherboards to match, and we might see pricing moves by Intel in response. Intel’s Coffee Lake processors have already been released, but motherboard manufacturers have been slow to provide a ton of board variety. We’re likely to see more boards come out shortly to support the newest chips. Nvidia is also primed to release its GeForce 20xx series graphics cards in three to four months.

If you wait until late spring or early summer, we expect you’ll have your pick of brand-new processors, motherboards and graphics cards.

Conclusion: Be Patient

Pre-built gaming PCs have been slightly less sensitive to fluctuating parts prices, and NewEgg and Microcenter have attempted to woo their gamer audience by bundling core PC parts together, hoping to avoid miners. With those deals, you might get a decent machine for a comparatively affordable price. But if you can afford to wait, you should.

Alexander Fox

Alexander Fox is a tech and science writer based in Philadelphia, PA with one cat, three Macs and more USB cables than he could ever use.

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Ford’S Transit Connect Is Much More Than Just A Van

Ford’s Transit Connect is much more than just a van

When is a van not a van? When it’s an affordable Ford family-carrier targeting Baby Boomers with misty-eyed memories of old nameplates. The American automaker has resurrected the Ford Transit Connect Wagon brand for a whole new seven-seater, and it looks set to challenge two of the industry’s current obsessions: Millennials and SUVs.

Indeed, unlike the industry’s usual obsession with Millennial drivers, this one is for the 50+ bracket. Nonetheless, even with that targeting in Ford’s message, the 2023 Transit Connect Wagon could well find favor among younger families too. Based, as the name suggests, on the Ford Transit van, there’ll be not only space for hobbies, kids, or grandkids inside, but a range of new engines at the front.

That includes a brand new 1.5-liter EcoBlue diesel, which Ford says should be good for 30 mpg on the EPA’s highway run. Alternatively, there’s a new 2.0-liter four-cylinder gas engine with direct injection. That has Auto Start-Stop as standard, and like the diesel will be paired with a new 8-speed automatic transmission.

Ford isn’t saying quite how much either variant will cost at this point, but it is talking up the affordability in general. According to the automaker, it expects the 2023 Transit Connect to be one of the most affordable seven-passenger vehicles on the market in the US when it arrives at dealerships. That offers up an unusual challenge to what has been one of the most enduring segments of the past few years.

While sales of sedans and other body types have stumbled, SUVs and crossovers have proved more than popular among new car buyers. Typically, owners praise the flexibility of their design and cargo capacity, along with the higher-than-average seating. It’s a skew that automakers have been happy to accommodate, too, with the mass-market names rolling out numerous sizes of model from tiny crossovers through to vast seven or eight seaters.

Meanwhile, companies more commonly associated with luxury and sports cars have added SUVs to their ranges too, often finding the new, larger models quickly come to eclipse sales of their traditional cars. Jaguar, for example, bucked its historic trend with the F-PACE SUV in 2023, only to see the luxury crossover become the best-seller in its line-up. The new 2023 Jaguar E-PACE we drove recently is expected to quickly enter the top three of the automaker’s best-sellers, though some industry experts predict it could well overtake the F-PACE entirely and become the most popular of Jaguar’s cars.

Nonetheless while crossovers and SUVs have found popularity, they’ve also generally settled on premium pricing. That’s both the case in the dealership, where the bigger cars tend to be more expensive than sedans and hatchbacks, and at the pump. The larger, heavier vehicles typically prove more thirsty, even if they’re not carrying the full complement of which they’re capable.

Ford’s strategy with the 2023 Transit Connect, therefore, is a cunning one. Finding a seven-seater that isn’t a huge minivan or an SUV in the US is tough, given the country’s ongoing antipathy toward wagons in general. Similarly, finding an affordable way to transport that many people is also tough. While SUV and crossover sales are unlikely to go anywhere, at least not any time soon, there’s almost certain to be a market out there among drivers needing seats but not wanting to cough up the levels of cash a sizable truck would demand.

If the Transit Connect has ambitions in redirecting SUV sales, it also bucks the trend in terms of audience. Ford is explicitly targeting a demographic that, for the most part, automakers have been happy to let simmer unchallenged for some time now. The market-wide fear that younger drivers will give up on car ownership altogether has arguably led car-makers to neglect their more willing customers.

While coaxing Millennials out of ride-sharing and off public transit might be a perennial focus for the auto industry right now, in reality there’s still plenty of hay to be made from Baby Boomers. The 50+ demographic is – at 111 million people in the US – still bigger than both the Millennial and Gen X categories, at least when compared individually. Meanwhile, research by AARP suggests that, far from the lease reluctance of their younger counterparts, one in three Boomers is planning to pick up a new car within the next three years.

Many of the messages that would once have been attached to crossovers and SUVs, about flexibility, cargo capacity, and practicality, are now being attached to the new Transit Connect. And, while Ford may not come out and say it explicitly, downsizing from larger, gas-guzzling vehicles to something more frugal and easy to park is a known priority among older demographics.

What seems on the face of it to be a simple van conversion, therefore, arguably has far more importance for the state of the industry today. SUV and crossover sales continue to flourish, but the margins they command mean automakers like Ford are arguably bypassing buyers on a tighter budget. Those customers are instead likely to head into the used marketplace, something all of the car companies are keen to curtail as investors watch closely at new car sales. The 2023 Ford Transit Connect may look like a compact van, but it’s carrying a whole lot more weight than you might first expect.

You Can Build A $500 Gaming Pc With Cyber Monday Deals

Building at this time of year is great. You can stack the deals to get nice parts at big discounts. The results put prebuilt desktops in the same price range to shame. And happily, the gravy train has kept rolling through Cyber Monday. Right now you still can roll a system capable of 1080p Ultra at 60fps, with an easy path for future upgrades, for $500 or less. All the parts are new and are sold by first-party sellers only.

Have different needs? You can also move up to $800 for a 1440p build or scale down to under $400 for 720p, too. Just check out the example builds below.

This article is part of a series we’ve done on the cheapest Black Friday gaming PC you can build. For fun, you can compare this year’s results to 2023, 2023, 2023, 2023, 2023, and 2023. If you’re a returning reader, this year’s take is a little different, as you’ll see. After a couple of years of pandemic-induced austerity, it’s party time.

The $500 1080p Ultra Cyber Monday gaming PC build

This build doesn’t cut corners unless you’re trying to stick tight to $500 or below (the latter is a possibility if you live near a Micro Center). In fact, drop the graphics settings and you can go up to 1440p. You also get a sweet bonus of three free games, thanks to two AMD promotions.

As typical for suggested gaming PC builds, the cost of a mouse and keyboard aren’t included in the list. But for the sticklers out there, you can mentally add another $33 for a budget mouse and mechanical keyboard to the total.

Build notes

Also available from B&H at the same cost, but without the free copy of Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves.

This motherboard requires flashing to a newer BIOS to work with Ryzen 5000 processors. You can request a free loaner boot kit from AMD for this purpose. A local computer shop may also be able to perform this service for a fee.

Price is after $20 mail-in rebate. MIR must be filed within 21 days of purchase.

Price is after $20 mail-in rebate. MIR must be filed by 12/30/2023.

Promotion valid with purchase of a qualifying AMD CPU from AMD, Amazon, Micro Center, or Newegg.

Promotion valid with purchase of a qualifying AMD graphics card from AMD, Amazon, Micro Center, or Newegg.

This system nets you a build with a solid 6-core, 12-thread processor, a micro-ATX Wi-Fi motherboard that supports RGB and ARGB fans, 16GB of DDR4-3600 memory (Ryzen 3000 and 5000’s sweet spot for RAM speed), our top recommendation for NVMe Gen 3 SSDs, a power supply rated as Tier B on this respected list, on-board Wi-Fi, and a solid airflow case. And yes, the Windows 10 license is included—no cheating here. (Full disclosure: I was tempted to.) The key comes from PCWorld’s affiliated software store, so it’s above board.

Oh, and again, this build also includes three bonus games (technically four). This is a lot for a build between $500 and $600. Remember the prebuilt mentioned above? That has a weaker lower core count processor, much weaker graphics card, half the memory (and slower memory at that), and no free software. This build smokes it, even without any RGB fans.

The main caveats? You need to flash the motherboard’s BIOS to a newer version before the Ryzen 5 5500 will work in it. You can request a free loaner boot kit from AMD for this purpose. A local computer shop may also be able to perform this service for a fee. (Or a good friend for free, if they like you.) This build also only supports PCIe 3.0, but SSDs and graphics card running at that standard’s speeds will still be plenty fast for a long while.

Areas for improvement

Storage: A 500GB SSD will fill up pretty quick, especially if you play big blockbuster AAA games. If you can afford it, buy the 1TB version of the Crucial P3 ($63) instead.

Additional fans / alternative case: My original pick, this $53 DIYPC case, included several RGB fans but sold out by Black Friday proper. (Alas.) The Cooler Master model listed above has only one included fan, so you can either buy more fans yourself for optimal airflow, or pay about $10 more for the Bitfenix Nova Mesh, which comes outfitted with four RGB fans.

Suggested upgrades:

CPU Cooler: This build relies on the included stock cooler that comes with the 5500. But using a more powerful aftermarket air cooler will improve your temps and possibly performance if you live in a warm (or downright hot) location. There aren’t really any on sale, so our recommendation would be a well-known, solid performer like the be quiet Pure Rock 2 ($40).

Memory: 16GB will hold work for many people who primarily game and don’t have a lot of things open at the same time. But if you’re a browser tab hoarder (hi), stepping up to 32GB of RAM ($85) isn’t much more expensive right now. 

Motherboard: An ATX motherboard will support more expansion cards, like an internal game capture card and/or a sound card. Newegg has these $100 Gigabyte B450 Aorus Elite, $105 ASRock B450 Steel Legend, and $120 Gigabyte B450 Aorus Pro Wi-Fi models that are worth a look.

Storage: Whether you stick with the suggested 500GB SSD or move up to a 1TB model as your boot drive, it doesn’t hurt to still have more storage available. This $50 2TB Seagate Barracuda HDD runs at 7,200RPM, making it a faster option. (For a spinning platter drive, anyway.)

Alternatives Micro Center variant – $473

Swap in this $130 Ryzen 5 3600 CPU + Gigabyte B450M Wi-FI motherboard combo (available in-store only), opt instead for this $50 Montech X1 case, and ditch the Windows 10 license for Linux, and you’ve got yourself a very nice sub-$500 gaming PC. Even if you keep Windows, you’ll still sit at $539 total, which is cheaper overall.

Bare-bones variant – $502

If you must slash costs, you could switch to this $70 motherboard without Wi-Fi, drop to 8GB of memory, and install Linux instead for $70 in savings. Don’t nerf the RAM that hard, though. Saving that $10 isn’t worth it.

The $800 1440p Cyber Monday gaming PC build

During Black Friday, this build was a cool $756, but even with discounts not being quite as good on Cyber Monday, $800 is still a fantastic price for a PC with these specs.

Build notes

This motherboard requires flashing to a newer BIOS before it will work with Ryzen 5000 processors. You can request a free loaner boot kit from AMD for this purpose. A local computer shop may also be able to perform this service for a fee.

Promotion valid with purchase of a qualifying AMD CPU from AMD, Amazon, Micro Center, or Newegg.

Promotion valid with purchase of a qualifying AMD graphics card from AMD, Amazon, Micro Center, or Newegg.

This 1440p build sports a 6-core, 12-thread processor that supports PCIe 4.0, an ATX board capable of powering RGB and ARGB fans, 16GB of DDR4-3600 memory (Ryzen 3000 and 5000’s sweet spot for RAM speed), our top recommendation for NVMe Gen 3 SSDs, on-board Wi-Fi*, and a solid airflow case. A Windows 10 license is included, too, and comes from PCWorld’s affiliated software store. Plus, it qualifies for three bonus games. Thank you, AMD.

(*Update: A previous version of this article had the wrong variant of this motherboard linked – the correct version is now reflected in the list above. Thanks to reader @coups79 for the catch.)

At this price point, trimming corners with a cheaper CPU just doesn’t make sense. Better to invest a little bit more money to future-proof with PCIe 4.0 support. Cutting down on memory and storage capacity feels stingy, too. And while the Cooler Master case from the $500 build is a respectable budget option, the acrylic side panel could scratch easily—this Cougar model will remain looking good for longer.

Only two caveats exist for this build. First is the power supply—if you have the money, upgrade to something with more longevity and a higher wattage, like this $80 Thermaltake GF1 80+ Gold model. It’ll survive this build (likely another one after, too) and support a beefier graphics card later on, if you so choose. Second, you’ll need to flash the BIOS before the Ryzen 5 5600 will work in the motherboard.

Suggested upgrades:

CPU Cooler: A more powerful air cooler will improve your temps and possibly performance if you live somewhere warm. There aren’t really any good sales, so our recommendation defaults to a well-known solid performer, like the be quiet Pure Rock 2 ($40).

Memory: Never met a browser tab you didn’t leave open (hi friend)? Stepping up to 32GB of RAM ($85) doesn’t cost much more.

Storage: 2TB SSDs don’t cost too much more right now, and if you want go to for blistering speed, PCIe Gen 4 models have hit all-time lows.

The $390 Fortnite Cyber Monday gaming PC build

Build notes

Was available for $114 during Black Friday week on 11/22/22. Alas.

This motherboard requires flashing to a newer BIOS before it will work with Ryzen 5000 processors. You can request a free loaner boot kit from AMD for this purpose. A local computer shop may also be able to perform this service for a fee.

Price is after $10 mail-in rebate. MIR must be filed by 12/30/2023.

Promotion valid with purchase of a qualifying AMD CPU from AMD, Amazon, Micro Center, or Newegg.

If you only need a computer for Fortnite and other lightweight games, the Ryzen 5 5600G and its beefy integrated graphics can shoulder that burden easily. It’s a much nicer APU-based system when compared to previous cheap Black Friday gaming PC builds, and has built-in Wi-Fi, too.

But as configured, it’s somewhat limited. The power supply will restrict you to budget graphics cards, should you want to upgrade to a discrete GPU in the future. And the amount of RAM and the storage drive are relatively low. Highly recommended upgrades would be the Cooler Master MWE 550W 80+ White Non-Modular ($35) and 16GB of DDR4-3600 RAM ($45). New total cost: $413, which is still very affordable for a system you can further upgrade down the road with little fuss.

The cheapest Black Friday gaming PC build possible

This one’s for my homies, who like to see how deep I can cut to the bone. (UPDATE: My homies just pointed out that I goofed on this one! Oops. Fixed now.) I put it together for Black Friday, and surprisingly, it’s still available for Cyber Monday, too.

Build notes

Price is after $10 mail-in rebate. MIR must be filed by 12/30/2023.

Price is after $20 mail-in rebate. MIR must be filed by 12/30/2023.

Promotion valid with purchase of a qualifying AMD CPU from AMD, Amazon, Micro Center, or Newegg.

This modest 4-core, 8-thread CPU build notably lacks a graphics card. Is this a gaming PC in the strictest of terms? Nope, but this is actually what the pandemic reduced us to back in 2023 and 2023. Think of this build as a reflection of how times have improved. Even if you can’t play it, you still get a free game with the Ryzen 5 4500.

Plus, GeForce Now is a great service (and one we’ve talked up many times elsewhere on the site). If you can game on a productivity PC for free because of it, who’s to argue with such cost savings?

Whoops! My original pick had one glaring error: No integrated graphics. At all. You would have had no signal out. I was a little too lost to APU land during my dive down the rabbit hole.

But hey, guess who just showed up in place of the 4500? That’s right, the 4600G, which—wait for it—is an APU with integrated Vega graphic cores. You know, the very same ones that showed up again in the 5600G, because AMD decided to break all our hearts. (In truth, the decision was likely a constraint of pandemic supply issues, etc.) So that means yes, you CAN game pretty decently on this machine, too. It just won’t have the same legs as the 5600G over the long haul, so frankly, I’d choose that one over this build’s 4600G.

And before anyone asks, yes, I could cut deeper. You can get under $300 by going down to 256GB storage and choosing a cheaper case with no front mesh panel. And giving up the Windows license for Linux gaming. But that’s asking people to suffer over the long haul, and I don’t believe in that.

Ethernet Vs. Wifi In Gaming: Is There A Real Difference?

A common question in PC gaming is the choice between playing over ethernet cables (wired) or Wi-Fi (wireless). While there is a simple answer to that question, ultimately a lot of different circumstances and variables come into play that can make either option a valid one. Stick around to find out which is right for you.

Ethernet vs. WiFi: Basic Differences

The most basic difference between ethernet and WiFi connections is obvious. One requires you to physically tether yourself to your router, which isn’t ideal on a laptop, while the other allows you to use your connection from anywhere within range.

For many people the question of ethernet vs. WiFi just boils down to simple convenience, and this is as far as the argument goes. In fact, people who attend universities or live in shared housing may be literally unable to use ethernet, making WiFi the best and only option for them.

However, there’s quite a bit more to discuss than that, especially when gaming or using other low-latency applications.

Ethernet vs. WiFi: Performance and Reliability

There are multiple factors that affect performance of these standards. The kind of cabling you use for ethernet and the supported WiFi hardware of your devices, for instance, can make a huge difference in the performance and reliability of these standards!

In most cases, however, ethernet is by far the most reliable solution for gamers. This is because WiFi routers do something called “QoS,” or Quality of Service, wherein traffic is shaped and prioritized based on how the router perceives its importance.

Many mainstream wireless routers, such as the one you get from your ISP, may not view your games as a latency-sensitive application, instead prioritizing voice and video over your gaming traffic. This is especially bad on slower connections (5mbps and below) where there’s not much bandwidth to share, and using an unoptimized wireless setup for your games here will result in frequent packet loss (lag spikes), increased ping (delayed response time) and general connectivity issues.

It is important that gaming traffic is able to be prioritized, and non-gaming-oriented WiFi routers often fail to do that.

By connecting directly over ethernet, however, users don’t need to worry about prioritization. And thanks to the fact that you’re hard-wired to the router, you won’t generally need to worry about packet loss and unplayable pings since you’re on a stable, reliable connection.

For people with high-end connections, they’ll also enjoy higher download speeds than offered by most WiFi standards (more on that in a bit), since ethernet cables (especially Cat-5 and higher) are typically much faster than what your average-joe WiFi connection has to offer.

Gaming online means that there will inevitably be some level of latency between you, the server and the other people you’re playing against, but using an ethernet cable minimizes latency and interference as much as one can gaming over that distance.

So the common wisdom would be that ethernet wins, now and forever, right?

Ethernet vs. WiFi: New Solutions on the Market

The debut of the 802.11ac standard has brought some of the benefits of wired to contention. Since very, very few consumer Internet connections exceed 1Gbps, there is no longer a severe download/upload speed bottleneck by using WiFi. There are notable improvements in latency as well, but there are two key issues:

The 802.11ac standard does not protect from wireless interference or an overcrowded network, which is the usual cause of poor/inconsistent gaming performance on WiFi.

The 802.11ac standard also suffers from having much less range which lessens the convenience angle of WiFi by a notable margin, especially when compared to the 802.11g standard.

On a non-congested network with minimal interference, Wi-Fi over 802.11ac or 802.11g should be fine … in most circumstances. However, if you’re playing competitive and are looking to seriously improve your game, you need consistent performance from both your PC’s hardware and your networking setup.

Here are a few articles around the site that can help you do that:

Finally, I leave you with this last bit. Do you game wireless or wired? Casually or competitively? Do your experiences contradict this article? Is there something not considered here? Do you need help figuring out gaming performance issues on your network? Comment below and let us know!

Christopher Harper

I’m a longtime gamer, computer nerd, and general tech enthusiast.

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The Cdc Says A Shorter Covid Quarantine Is Better Than None

This post has been updated.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has updated the COVID-19 quarantine protocols we’ve come to know and dread this past year. Until now, the CDC has stood by its recommendation that anyone who has been exposed to COVID-19 should self-isolate for a period of 14 days. Now, the health agency has added two additional self-isolation scenarios, both of which shorten that quarantine time with some added caveats.

Now, anyone who thinks they may have been exposed to the virus has three options for self-isolating. The CDC still strongly recommends that people adhere to the established 14-day quarantine period, which is based on evidence that the virus can incubate for up to 14 days before an infected person shows symptoms.

But the CDC now says that individuals can choose to quarantine for just 10 days, and end their isolation at that point if they haven’t yet shown symptoms. This is based on the fact that most (though not all) people who are going to display COVID-19 symptoms will start experiencing them before this point. Research over the past several months has found that the median incubation period for the virus is five days, and, on average, 97.5 percent of people exposed to the virus show symptoms by day 12.

Finally, a person can also choose to self-isolate for just seven days, and then get a COVID test (rapid or PCR). If that test comes back negative, they can end their isolation.

With these new options, it’s important to remind ourselves of the distinctions between quarantine and the other processes we’ve become most familiar with over the past eight months: Quarantine is the practice of self-isolating when you may have been exposed to COVID-19, so you don’t pass it on unintentionally; social distancing is the practice of remaining physically distant from those not in your household in order to reduce the likelihood of catching or transmitting COVID-19; and finally, isolation is staying away from all other people because you definitely have COVID-19 and are contagious.

The revised CDC guidelines in this case address quarantine procedures only. The social distancing measures we’re all familiar with now—physical distancing, masking, and regular hand washing—remain in place.

This shift might help make the quarantine period more palatable and doable, especially as we enter the holiday season. In theory, anyone who travels for the holidays—or even just spends time in close contact with people they don’t life with—should quarantine before and afterward to limit risk of transmitting COVID to others. Health officials hope that offering individuals options that seem less daunting than two weeks will lead to more people self-isolating and testing. While two weeks is still the safest quarantine period, the new guidelines may encourage some level of precaution among people who otherwise wouldn’t have isolated themselves at all.

“Reducing the length of quarantine may make it easier for people to take this critical public health action by reducing the economic hardship associated with a longer period, especially if they cannot work during that time,” Henry Walke, the incident manager for the CDC’s COVID-19 response, said in a press call on December 2.

Last week, Walke told The Wall Street Journal that the organization was considering a shorter isolation period. “We do think that the work that we’ve done, and some of the studies we have and the modeling data that we have, shows that we can, with testing, shorten quarantines,” Walke said.

“Fourteen days has always kind of been the magic period,” Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, told Popular Science. “It was the best way to capture the time from exposure to development of disease.”

As our understanding of COVID-19 and our ability to test for it changes, he says, nobody should be surprised to see quarantine guidelines evolving. “We should anticipate that we’ll have continued refinements in a whole range of the guidances as we learn more,” he says.

“It’s been a very long and tough year for many people,” says Michelle Patch, a professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing. If science supports the idea of shortening quarantine times, she says, that—coupled with weeks of positive news about COVID-19 vaccine development—might help raise morale during the holiday season and encourage people to continue practicing social distancing measures.

The key is in communication, Benjamin says. “The more we can refine [public-health guidance] and then articulate it in a way that everybody can understand, we’re much more likely to get better compliance. And if we get better compliance, at the end of the day we’ll get better disease control.”

A version of this article was originally published on November 25. It has been updated.

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