The popularity of console gaming continues to rise, and it has become a staple in entertainment technology for a long time now. Although PC gaming is still considered the most popular platform for game development, 2020 saw console gaming outperform PC gaming in the global market with a 28% market share.
Whether you are part of the legions of console gamers and you are interested in learning more about the parts that make such a machine work or you are planning to build your own, this article will break down the basic components that make up the system.
Naturally, this is the most crucial part of your console and its input devices. Both your main device and its controllers will have what is called a printed circuit board (PCB). This is the board where every component goes to make your system boot up and work effectively. Without it, there’s no way to put your parts together. It’s important to place and orient your attachable components to fully utilise the board’s layout, and also to ensure that no short circuits occur. PCBs must meet fundamental manufacturing requirements in order to be approved and be used in full-fledged electronics, such as gaming consoles.
Operating System and Drives
Two of the most important parts in your machine will be your OS and your storage drives. The OS literally runs everything: rendering graphics, performing user functions, and saving data, to name a few of its functions. Every operation relies on this, including your Basic Input Output System (BIOS).
Supporting it is your storage drive, which can either be a hard drive (HDD) or solid-state drive (SSD). HDDs are the ‘old reliable’ in terms of storage, providing greater capacity and competitive prices. The newer and pricier SSDs, however, generally outperform their predecessor in terms of speed, lifespan, and durability.
Some other key points of interest are your controllers and buttons. This is how the user interacts with the console and inputs the commands. Whether your input devices are wired or Bluetooth-tethered, they should have analogue sticks, directional pads, and command buttons. Some more in-depth types also include shoulder buttons and touchpads, though this isn’t always necessary for basic functionality.
The way controllers have been built is largely based on the setup that most gamers are looking for. Aside from the core focus of being able to control characters and menus on-screen, users look to gamepads as a way to game with more comfort. Even Valve has revealed that 48 million Steam players play with using a controller.
As the name dictates, this converts any data your console is producing and lets the user interpret it. This pertains to your speakers and your screens. Essentially, only portable consoles really have built-in screens, as home gaming systems are connected to external monitors or TVs. There are also occasions when gamers use separate sound devices for their audio.
That said, some manufacturers build small speaker systems in their consoles or controllers, such as the PS4. A more practical way to accommodate output that should be present in all consoles through the audio out slots (for speakers or headsets) and visual ports such as DVI, VGA, HDMI, or DisplayPort. Some of these even ensure that audio output is already transmitted through the same cable as the video.
Processor, RAM, and Power Supply
The processor is the brain, and it needs to sit perfectly in your PCB to function to an optimal level. Without it, your OS literally won’t run. Supporting this is the Random Access Memory, which allows the device to store real-time data and complete tasks quickly. RAM ensures your processor doesn’t crash and burn.
Of course, you need a power supply to power all these electrical components. Both systems need to be plugged in and those that have battery power rely on the power supply to actually turn on.
Finally, let’s discuss the casing. This is your protective coating for all the components, and it’s also a way to set your aesthetic or brand for the console. The way you build your housing unit for the console determines its usability in terms of structure, heating, and space.
Of course, there are other small bits that connect all of these and comprise the entire system, but these are the major parts that basically make up the console.