With previous “console exclusives” such as God of war comes to PC and consoles like PlayStation 5 are still hard to come by, you may have wondered if you should dive into the vast, terrifying world of PC gaming. But console gaming can be hard to move away from because it’s always had one big advantage over PC: comfort. Consoles are built for the couch and living room; PCs are built for offices.
No one can be blamed for not wanting to sit at a desk in their spare time, especially in this era of more remote working. So how do you combine the world of comfort with PC gaming? Of course you build your own computer lab for your living room.
Lucky for you, I have a bit of experience transforming my living room into a niche gaming setup. Let’s take a look at what items you’ll need if you want to put a PC in your living room, and how each will fit into your project.
The most important thing you need in your setup is of course the PC itself. You could buy a mini PC, which takes up less space in your living room and looks like a router (the AMD Ryzen should work fine). However, this type of PC does not have a dedicated graphics card, which causes problems if you want to play modern games.
It may not be the sexiest option for your living space, but I recommend just putting a desktop tower in your living room and telling respectable guests it’s a fancy-looking subwoofer. For my living room PC, I use an old work desktop that I replaced last year, and it works. But if you want to go all out, you can build a PC using a resource like PCPartPicker or you can buy a pre-built PC from a website like iBuyPower.
I’ve gone both ways in the past and recommend the pre-built option. It’s easy, the PC just works when you plug it in, and you can pay for it in installments of months or years.
TVs and monitors
You’ll need some kind of display to keep your PC running, which is the second most important purchase on this list. While you can use any old HDMI TV you have laying around – I’m using an old 2017 55-inch 4K TCL display, for example, and it works fine most of the time – be aware of potential latency issues when playing. Using my setup, I’ve run into issues with certain games that can make them difficult to control, and take a lot of fun out of the experience.
If you want to do this well, you want to look for a TV with low latency. Two common recommendations are the LG Class C1 Series OLED and the Samsung Class QN90A Neo QLED. Both are expensive but have very low latency.
Even with a great TV, you may experience some input lag. Consider messing with your in-game settings – disabling vsync is usually where I start – to ease your experience.
Lapboards and keyboards
One of the big problems with living room PC gaming is figuring out where to put the keyboard and mouse, as both traditionally require a flat surface to use. Then a lapboard comes in handy.
A lapboard is exactly what it sounds like: a piece of furniture that sits comfortably on your lap and provides a flat surface to put things on. If you’re using a lapboard for PC gaming, you have two main options: one with a built-in keyboard and one without.
The most versatile of those two options is a regular lapboard. The LapGear BamBoard has a built-in mouse pad and a place for a keyboard or a laptop. You don’t just use this for PC gaming, but you do need a wireless keyboard. Your mileage will vary there depending on what kind of switches you like, but the Corsair K57 will do the job just fine.
While less versatile, a lapboard with a built-in keyboard is the simplest option. I use the Corsair K63 wireless keyboard and lapboard combo. (The combo I got has been discontinued, but you can buy the lapboard case and an accompanying keyboard from Corsair’s website.) It’s easy to charge and turn on or off, and the built-in mouse pad is roomy measure. It’s also padded on the underside, so it’s comfortable to have on my lap for hours at a time.
Regardless of the surface you’re going to use for your keyboard, you’ll need a mouse to operate your PC. And unless your desktop will be right next to you, you’ll probably want a wireless mouse with a USB dongle.
For my setup I use the Corsair Harpoon RGB wireless mouse. This thing can be either wired or wireless depending on your needs. And, crucially, it does a great job turning itself off if I forget, saving battery for when I really need it.
If you play PC games in your living room, chances are you want a controller. Not only is it more comfortable than using a mouse and keyboard on the couch (even with a lapboard), but many games these days simply play better with a controller.
The ideal here is the Xbox Elite Series 2 controller, but it can be a bit expensive. If it’s too much, consider a regular Xbox Series X controller or a custom controller. (Most PC games use Xbox button prompts.)
Otherwise, try the Steam Deck
The Steam Deck is the best non-desktop option out there, and you should give it some serious thought before you pull the trigger on the items above. Not only is it a portable PC that can play quite demanding games, but you can also connect it to your TV and connect a number of devices to it.
The Steam Deck won’t help you transform your living room (a bonus for some), but if you’re just looking for a way to play PC games on the couch, it’s an excellent option for just $399. you end up choosing the cheapest Steam Deck, we recommend buying an SD card for more storage space.)