I tend toward PC in principle, but sometimes I argue the other side to help keep both sides honest and help bring out both sides' strongest arguments.
First, these non-gaming applications can be done with a cheap eight-year-old PC with a Core 2 Duo and Intel integrated graphics. I'm told just dropping a video card into a PC with a CPU that old isn't enough to run AAA games from the present generation (2014 and later), which would quickly become CPU-bound. Second, these can be done with a laptop, and I've seen no evidence that people routinely upgrade a laptop with a separately purchased MXM video card. Third, a console can be used while someone else is using the family PC.
Coincidentally, I recently upgraded my PC from a 7-8 year old Core 2 Duo, and even before that upgrade I was still playing AAA games, like Dying Light, just not at the highest settings. If you think about the age of the hardware in the current generation of consoles it's roughly equivalent to an 6-8 year old PC, although they are optimized and coded better for gaming than PCs, but AAA games with cross-platform support to PC still work quite well on older machines. As I said before the tech upgrade cycle for PCs has slowed considerably. I thought my old PC was around $800 when I bought it and the only non-original part was some really cheap RAM I added once, and I used it for more than just gaming.
The main reason I upgraded my PC was not because I felt lacking for games, but because I was running into compatibility issues with Win7. That may reinforce some people's belief that PC are inherently buggy and consoles are not, but mind you most people have a PC around for other uses anyway, and these can happen to any older PC regardless of its gaming use. For example my wife's parent's upgraded their laptop twice in the period of time I had my old PC, they are not gamers [or very tech savy] but they still spent more money than me on their PCs, irrespective of gaming usage.
Third, a console can be used while someone else is using the family PC.
Of course, but the original assertion was only that a console (singular) is much cheaper than a gaming PC (singular). If a family desires two devices over one despite the PC's versatility to do both, that's their issue not the PC.
First, though Steam has sales. PlayStation Store also has sales. Second, console games have historically been more likely than PC games to support same-screen multiplayer with two to four gamepads, and if you have more than one gamer in the house, one copy of a $60 game that supports multiple gamepads is cheaper than three copies of a $30 game that requires a separate copy per player. Third, if everybody were to wait for the sale instead of buying in release month at full price, publishers would have no money to continue to fund development of high-production-value games.
Sure, one $60 game and sitting on the couch together is cheaper than two or three PC games. but similar to my last response I think that's changing the parameters of the original assertion that consoles are always cheaper than gaming PCs. I will give this, consoles can be cheaper depending on the specific use.
PlayStation Plus and Xbox Live Gold cost $60 per year. But in addition to online matchmaking, this includes rental of a rotating selection of games (PlayStation Plus Free Games and Games with Gold respectively). What's the analogous way to try PC games?
Consoles make you pay that yearly subscription if you want to get full use out of your games and PCs do not. If you want to compare apples to apples then you have add those costs in. If you own a console with a $60/year subscription for 6 years you'd have an extra $360 to off-set the additional PC sticker price, subsequent PC upgrades (if needed), or pocket it.
If you want to rent games on PC you can sign up with Gamefly, but it would cost more. Steam allows users to trial games and gives full refunds within a certain time, which is a good substitute for "renting."
Or you could go for a pre-owned PlayStation 4 console with a 500 GB HDD, which costs $280 (source). Which accessories were you including in the price?
Fair enough. I was looking at a new PS4 Pro w/ one controller ($400 at most retailers) then add extra controllers at ~$50 each. The specs of even a cheap gaming PC will likely have tech capabilities more in line with the $400+ PS4 Pro if we want to compare apples to apples. If you want to go used or older generations then the costs for consoles go down. If one doesn't mind that sacrifice consoles can be cheaper, although I suspect they would be upgrading to the next gen console sooner, and they still pay the same yearly online subscription discussed above.