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Hot Take: PC Gaming Is Better on the Couch—Here's How to Get Started

Illustration for article titled Hot Take: PC Gaming Is Better on the Couch—Heres How to Get Started
Photo: Victoria Song

We’ve shown you how to build a living room PC, but where do you go from there? Early last week, while playing Borderlands 3 with some friends, it dawned on me: I basically use my PC like a console—and that’s really weird! Seriously, I’ve got an MSI Trident X Plus with an Intel Core i9-9700K and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti and it never leaves my living room. Because I spend all day sitting at my desk during the week, I’d rather avoid hanging around this shithole (my desk!) after work.

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By the time my shift ends and I am once again free to wander around the apartment, I’m tired of looking at Bad Screen and SO ready to get to my couch and start looking at Good Screen. And, to be honest, I mean it when I say Bad vs Good screen because my monitor legitimately sucks compared to my TV. While it does have 4K and HDR capabilities, I bought it on a whim one Black Friday two(?) years ago and neglected to consider the panel tech. Needless to say, it’s a TN (twisted nematic) display and the viewing angles leave A LOT to be desired.

It’s telling that Amazon no longer sells the monitor I’m referring to, the BenQ EL2870U, and has swapped it out for what seems to be a superior model. I’m talking about the BenQ EX2780Q, a 1440p 144Hz IPS (bless) gaming monitor with a built-in 2.1-channel speaker and 5W subwoofer—whaaaaaat. Oh, what I’d trade for an IPS monitor right now as I’m looking head-on at my TN writing this. The 4K resolution is first on my personal chopping block. There are few things less necessary for a 27-inch screen to have.

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As for the display I use now, if you can find one on sale, the 65" Vizio M-Series TV is my weapon of choice. Its native SmartCast operating system is slow, clunky, and terrible to navigate (like most smart TVs if we’re being honest), but once you’re equipped with a proper set-top box, it’s smooth sailing from there. Just plug it into your PC via HDMI and you’re good to go ... sort of. Once you’ve switched inputs, you might then realize using Windows with the same mechanical keyboard you use at your Gamer Station is not fun and actually pretty cumbersome.

To some extent, you can solve this problem by setting your PC to boot straight into Steam Big Picture mode at launch; friend of the blog Eric Ravenscraft taught us all how to do this back in 2014. Although you might say it’s kind of dated now, this six-year-old guide from Lifehacker will show you how it’s done. He’ll also tell you how to bypass the password login screen. Not sure that part is up to date, but if you need some help, leave a comment or hit me up directly on Twitter. We’ll figure this thing out together.

For the purpose of toggling between launchers, sorting through your games, pressing the big button that says ‘Play’ and literally nothing else, I recommend the Corsair K83. Designed to be used in tandem with your living room PC, the K83 keyboard comes with a USB dongle you can secure directly in your motherboard or stick inside your case ports. Either way, its connectivity over Bluetooth or 2.4GHz wireless is pretty fickle to say the least. Deffo hold onto that wired cable extension cable just in case. Otherwise, this thing sure beats slapping an unwieldy mechanical keyboard and SEPARATE mouse on your lap every time you want to boot up a game. It’s expensive, sure, but well worth the convenience.

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Like I said, though, you don’t want to use the Corsair K83 for gaming unless you’re playing something like Disco Elysium in which case quick reflexes don’t matter as much, so WHO CARES if you’re playing with a shitty trackpad. No one will ever find out. Your secret is safe with me. For everything else, like Borderlands 3 co-op for example, you’ll want a controller. I know, I know, gaming mice are better for aiming in first-person shooters and essential gear for competitive RTS and MOBA players.

But if you’re a certified Pro Gamer™, why did you keep reading past the part where I said I bought a pre-built PC? Check and mate. As far as controllers go, you can’t go wrong with the Xbox Elite. Whereas I’m stuck in the past like an old man who simply can’t get with the program, hanging on for dear life to my OG Elite series uno, I’m told the Elite Series 2 is now all the rage. To pair it with your PC wirelessly, you’ll need a special adapter. I’ve been through 4-5 of these at this point and it never gets easier to not break these little guys. However, it’s entirely possible I’m just too reckless with the boys to keep my dongles intact.

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Don’t forget, when you’re playing games online with friends, a headset with a decent mic is an absolute MUST. A few months ago I would’ve told you to cop the Razer Nari Ultimate, a set of ear speakers that’s ready to rumble thanks to its inclusion of HyperSense, a proprietary haptic feedback technology from Razer that vibrates the sides of your head for, you know, added immersion. But two years after reviewing that headset for ... a different website (you can find it, I believe in you), the battery life on my Nari is waning. Can’t say the same for my new baby, the wirelessly chargeable HyperX Cloud Flight S.

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The last thing you’ll need to start clocking those Gamer Hours from the unparalleled comfort of your couch is, well, a couch. My butt, for one, is reserved for the Ikea Knislinge, a cheap and moderately cozy faux leather sofa measuring 80 3/4" wide that is easy to wipe down and doesn’t cost enough to piss you off when your cat starts clawing at it mere hours after it’s assembled. It’s no West Elm, and it’s not trying to be. Plus, its pitch-black finish matches all the other products devoid of color mentioned in this post, not to mention the true tastemakers reading this’ goth wardrobes.

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