How Do Gaming Consoles Work Anyway: An Interactive Guide

Gaming PCs are expensive, and I think it is safe to say that without gaming consoles, many people will not be able to enter the gaming market. Consoles offer a powerful gaming performance at good prices, but a lot of people ask the question, how exactly do consoles work anyway? Let’s get into it.

Gaming consoles use the same components that are found in PCs. That being said, they use those components differently to deliver great performance at cheaper costs. Consoles also offer convenience; simply plug the console in, follow the setup wizard, put your game in and enjoy.

There is a lot to discuss regarding consoles and how they work, what they do, how they achieve great performance, and what we can look forward to in the future. So, for everything that you need to know about how consoles work, keep reading. Don’t forget to bookmark this page.

Setting Up Your Console

So, you have just bought your new console and have taken everything out of the box. Great stuff, but where do you start? Don’t worry; the process does not have to be daunting and tiresome. We have you covered with our 11 easy steps on how to set-up your new console.

Regardless of which platform you are on, you will have to have an email address that you will be using to create your gamer profile and tag. This isn’t necessary if you are not going to play online, but it is required if you wish to connect your console to the internet.

  1. First, connect the HDMI cable to your console.
  1. Connect the HDMI cable to your TV, be sure to know which port you use to avoid having to flick through the sources on your TV.
  1. Connect the power cable to your console and power source.
  1. Switch the console on.
  1. Plug in the ethernet cable from your internet router to the console if you have one.
  1. Pair the controller. On PlayStation, you will need to connect the USB cable to the controller and PlayStation, then press the big PS button. On Xbox, you need to switch the controller on and push the pair button on the console. For both, follow the controller setup wizard if applicable.
  1. Go through the easy setup wizard on the console, don’t worry, it is simple.
  1. If you do not have an ethernet cable, you will have to connect wirelessly. Simply do a scan for your router on the console, enter the password for your router, and you should be connected.
  1. If you are connected, you will be prompted to sign in or sign up to your respective platform, select the relevant option.
  1. Download your desired game or put the disc in if your games are on disc.
  1. Enjoy.

If you are creating a new profile, I just want to give you some advice. You want to choose a name that represents who you are while still keeping some of your anonymity. Being anonymous is especially important for kids.

Having a gamer tag representing who you are and your personality will prevent you from regretting your choice, like so many people do. While yes, you can change your name, you can only do it once for free, and then you have to pay every time after that.

If your kids are going to be playing games online, try to teach them not to give out any personal information, and perhaps it would be best just to monitor them for the first few weeks. This is to see how they act because while gaming online is incredibly fun, we still need to take our precautions, especially with our children.

What Does A Gaming Console Do?

A gaming console, as its name would suggest, plays video games. With that being said, consoles do a lot more than just play games, and then this section, we are going to walk through what exactly you can do on your console. We will be covering both the Xbox and PlayStation consoles, but later on, in this article, we will talk a little bit about the Nintendo Switch console.

Play AAA Games Efficiently

Not only can consoles play games, but they can also play those games relatively efficiently. Consoles tend to deliver great performance, especially when you consider their price, and in fact, it is very hard to build a PC for the same price that can compete with the console. This is even harder with the new consoles set to launch with the PS5 and Xbox series x.

Be sure to check out this article where we discuss why PCs are more expensive than consoles. To read it, click this link.

Consoles Are Media Players

Consoles aren’t just for playing games; they can also be used as media players. In fact, I know a few people who use them for that sole purpose and only play games every now and then.

Not only can you play Blu-ray discs on the PS4 and Xbox one, but they also come equipped with all the apps that you need to stream your media, such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu YouTube, Spotify, and more. One of the greatest streaming apps that consoles offer is CrunchyRoll, but that is just my personal opinion.

Consoles also offer some streaming apps that are specific to certain countries. So, if you live in a country with Netflix and its own streaming service, like BBC player in the UK, you can use your console to stream from that app.

Web Browser

Consoles also have the ability to surf the web via their web browsers, but if I am completely honest, on most consoles, this feature is very slow. This is because, as we will be discussing later on in this article, the hardware that consoles use is built for running games primarily.

All of that being said, you can still run your console as a web browser for Facebook and things like that, which is pretty cool, even if the feature is not used that often by console gamers.

What Components Does A Console Use?

To understand exactly how consoles work, we first need to understand the components that go into them. If I were to give you a little spoiler right now, I would say that the components are very similar, if not exactly the same, as what a PC uses. So, let’s take a look at what components go into a gaming console.

  • Firstly, the console starts off with the motherboard, much like a PC does. The motherboard acts as the Hub, where all the components Meetup to work together. I hope that makes sense.
  • The console then has a CPU, but this is where things get a little bit different from what a PC uses. Most consoles use what is known as an APU, which is a CPU and GPU that act as one component.
  • The RAM on a console is also slightly different to that on a PC. Where a PC uses two sets of RAM for two different things, a console has 1 set of RAM and will use it for all operations.

Why Do Consoles Use AMD?

Consoles have used AMD for the longest time. Some people think that they still use AMD because of trust in the business relationship. This is only partially true. Here is the real reason why console manufacturers use AMD.

While it is nice to assume that businesses work together solely based on trust, the real reason why consoles use AMD is that AMD makes great APU chips. They also do so for consoles at a great price. This is why consoles can offer the performance that they do at the price they do.

Do Consoles Have Operating Systems?

While consoles and PCs are very similar, consoles do not use traditional operating systems such as Windows or Linux. That being said, we can answer the question of whether or not consoles have operating systems and whether or not you can install one on your console.

Xbox does, in fact, use a custom Windows 10 operating system but consoles like Nintendo and PlayStation have their own operating systems. They are designed and developed by in-house developers.

Can You Install Windows On A Console?

There was a time where you could hack the PS3 and Xbox 360. This hack allowed you to install your own operating systems on the consoles. The most common OS to use was Linux.

Hacking a console goes against most manufacturer’s terms of service. So, once you hack into a console to install the operating system on it, That console can no longer be used online, and you forfeit the ability to receive updates for your games.

All of that being said, all the new consoles have become even harder to hack into, but I can only assume that with the PS5 and Xbox series X, eventually someone will hack into them, but it will be difficult and not worth it in my opinion.

Why installing An OS On A Console Is Not Worth It

There are many reasons why hacking into a console to install an operating system is not worth it, and in this section, I just want to highlight a few of those reasons.

  • Lose the ability to play online.
  • Won’t receive updates for your games.
  • It cannot be used as a media player anymore.
  • Playing games that are not built for the console will run terribly.

The thing that stands out the most for me is the fact that you won’t be able to play games on the console that are developed for PC and have them running properly. This is because a gaming console and a PC, as we discussed earlier, are built from the same parts but built differently.

So, what you will be doing is breaking your console for no reason. This actually leads us into our next section.

Making Games For Console Vs PC

Making games for consoles and making games for PC is very different for developers. How components work in a console or PC is referred to as the architecture, and developers need to build the game according to those architectures.

There used to be an old saying that console games are developed “direct to metal”. Let Me explain.

What is direct to metal?

Ok, so when a game is built for PC, the game is built into the software. This is the best way that I can explain it. So the game needs to bypass things called API’s and stuff like that.

Console games are built straight into the hardware, and this is why a lot of the time, it takes longer to install games on consoles. Not much is known about the PS5 and Xbox series X, but we can assume that games developed for those consoles are also developed “direct to metal”.

Because of how they are built, console games require fewer resources to run, which is part of why gaming consoles can perform at the levels they do at the price they cost as opposed to PCs.

PC operating system vs Console

Another reason why consoles perform the way they do it’s because of their operating systems. The OS is often designed to use as little resources as possible, which means that most of the console hardware is being aimed at running your games.

A PC uses its resources to do multiple things at once. A console does not do that, and that’s why you might find that using a console’s web browser is extremely sluggish; it is because the hardware resources are structured in a way to benefit games first.

Do Games Sell Better On Consoles Or PC?

This question is a bit of a tricky one, and there are a lot of factors that we need to consider when thinking about which games sell better on which platform. I will try my best to give you an answer based on what I have seen.

If you thought that Pc games sell more because the platform has a larger player base, this is not true. Games that are released on all platforms tend to sell better on consoles because with consoles, there is no way to use pirated copies of games, and you need to consider that the PC platform has a larger variety of games for their players to choose from.

See, the answer isn’t as straightforward as some people might have thought. What stands out the most for me is the fact that PC players have a larger library of games to choose from. Even though they have the larger player base, that player base is split up among many different games.

So the answer to this is, games tend to sell better on consoles.

Can Console Access The Internet?

If you have bought a console and want to use it to access the internet, perhaps for media streaming, online gaming, or even just browsing the web, the short answer is yes, you can access the internet.

To access the internet on your console, you first need to connect the console to your router. This can be done wirelessly or via an ethernet cable. I highly recommend using an ethernet cable. You can use either a CAT5e or CAT6 cable.

Why Do Consoles Charge For Multiplayer?

This topic has had a lot of controversy around it, with some gamers and journalists saying that consoles have no reason to charge for multiplayer. Others tend not to have a problem with it at all. While I can give you the information as to why they charge for multiplayer, I will not be giving you an opinion in the section.

Sony and Microsoft charge for multiplayer because it is a way for them to finance their online servers’ construction and maintenance. These servers cost money to run, and they cost money to build. So gaming platforms need to charge a fee so that they can afford the upkeep of the servers.

Sony and Microsoft throw in a free game or two every month for those that are subscribed to the multiplayer services. Those games keep getting better as these two companies try to compete with each other, but Microsoft has just thrown a huge spanner in the works with their game pass. Sony has responded with the new PlayStation Plus service for PS5.


This is a service by Microsoft that has hundreds of games. The games include AAA games and indies. Most notably, all of Microsoft’s first-party games go onto game pass on day 1. For ultimate, you pay $14.99, and this gives you access to multiplayer, all the games on the service, Xcloud game streaming, and more.

PS Plus Club

Sony has announced this service, which will make its way to the PS5. The service is a library of all the favorite games that were given away on PS4 and more.

What Is The Oldest Gaming Console

There was a time when gamers were restricted to PC gaming, and this was rather expensive at the time, and so one company decided to launch a gaming console for the lounge and for the family to use.

The Atari console was the first console to be mainstream. The Atari console was extremely popular, and in fact, we have an article telling you everything you need to know about the Atari and Atari games. You can find that article here.

Can Console Gamers Play With Their PC Friends?

For the longest time, gamers were restricted to playing only with other gamers on the same platform. In recent times, this has changed.

You can play games with your friends across most platforms today because of something called cross-play, and we have actually spoken about cross-play a few times as it is one of my favorite features to come out in recent years.

In this section, we are going to talk about cross-play. We are actually going to go pretty in-depth into the topic, and we are going to discuss what cosplay is, how it works, and how you can use it to play games with your friends who are on different platforms to you.

What Is Crossplay

People like to think of cosplay as a feature, and I also call it a feature many times, but it is actually a lack of features within multiplayer servers. It always used to be that there were restrictions on multiplayer servers; to me, that was a feature. All that cosplay is, is the removal of those restrictions in the servers.

Not all games use cross-play in the same way. You might find that in some games, your Xbox friends can play with their PC friends but not any other platforms and that is the same with PlayStation.

Then, standing out amongst all of this is Call Of Duty Modern Warfare and War Zone. They shook everything up when they released the game that allows any player on any platform, except maybe for mobile, to play with any of their friends on any input device. Basically, you can use a mouse and keyboard on Call Of Duty Modern Warfare and War Zone, even if you are on console.

How Do You Access Cross-play

Any game that supports cross-play has a setting that allows you to enable or disable the feature, but some games actually warn you when you start up the game. This is a safety measure for anybody who does not want to come up against players who are on different platforms.

All you have to do is enable the settings in the game, and then you are pretty much set. Now let’s figure out how to find your friends who are on different platforms.

How To Add Your Cross-play Friends

What most games do to streamline this process is they give you a gamer ID within their game. It could be the same as your platform Gamertag, or it could be slightly different. An example of this is your “Rocket ID” in Rocket League.

All you have to do is find out what your friend’s name is within that game, then search for them and then add them. Once you have done this, you will be able to squad up with your friends, and you will be able to use in-game chat. I have a secret method of how to use discord to talk with your friends across all platforms. Well, it isn’t really a secret but more of a tip.

For this, you would need two pairs of headphones, one of them should be in-ear, and the other should be your normal gaming headsets. What you can do is access discord on your mobile phone and enter chat parties. Have one of the inner ear headphones in your ear and your gaming headset over them.

It will take some time to get used to this, but it does not really affect your game. All it does is allow you to be in a discord chat party while still being able to hear your game, and as cross-play gets more popular, this technique is also growing in popularity.

We can only hope that discord launches on consoles one day. It will allow gamers to choose whichever console they want and still be able to sit in parties with their friends, which is a huge part of gaming these days.

The Nintendo Switch

This console deserves its own small section. The Switch is a revolution in handheld consoles as it can be portable and/or placed in its docking station for home use. It is not as powerful as the PS4, PS5, XSX, or Xbox One, but it does have a great selection of AAA games.

The setup is similar to that of the other consoles mentioned in this article, but you will need to connect to the internet wirelessly when it is in handheld mode.


That brings us to the end of this article. As we always do here at Never Press Pause, we took a simple question, answered it for those that are in a rush, and then went in-depth on the topic. Be sure to check out some of our other articles if you are curious about how things work, comparisons, and what is best for your gaming experiences.

David Sacks

I have worked in the IT industry since 2011 and have been an avid gamer my whole life. My first consoles were the sega genesis and the Nintendo SNES. I play both console and PC games, I love both. I decided to become combine my passion for gaming with my passion for writing.

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