I'm probably repeating what others have said:
Was your $1100 PC required to play games? No, it's an enthusiast PC, way overkill for some. Let's say we wanted to play PC games at 1280x720 (consoles actually often render at lower res and then upscale) with max settings (the Xbox and PS3 won't run at max, but we'll do it anyway) and only 4x MSAA (which is superior to the AA in many console games). Also remember that a console only renders at 30 FPS, so we'll go for the same. Now, what would we need to match the beloved consoles?
I'd say a Phenom II X4 ~3 GHz (quad to ensure good perf in games like BC2, Dirt 2, GTA 4) with 4 GB RAM (hell, we could make do with 2 GB, I've done that in a gamer PC and avoided RAM bottlenecks) and an HD 5770 (might actually be overkill for that resolution).
With a nice PSU at ~500 W, a cheap case, a 1 TB hard drive and an optical drive, we're looking at ~$600
and that PC will probably be better for gaming than a console.
"But you need, likez, monittor and soundss and all that for pc!" Yes, but a console will need most of the same things. The keyboard and mouse will cost extra for a PC, but it's very little.
"But it r still nicht as cheap as PSthree!" No, but you're also getting better performance, more functions, more features, complete control of your experience (as opposed to the rules of a greedy company), and you won't have to pay for an extra PC. "What, won't have to pay for an extra PC?" Well, consider that most console gamers also need a PC for emails, office applications and other things. That PC will cost them not only the price of a crappy Dell, they'll also need monitor and accessories. They could hook it up to a TV, but will the average Joe do that? No, he most likely won't. Hell, I wouldn't, then I wouldn't be able to watch TV and use the PC simultaneously.
Then there are the games. Console games often cost 25-50% more than the PC version. There are exceptions, but that's all they are, exceptions.
As "the prick over the i" (sorry, Danish joke) people constantly claim that PC's need upgrades all the time. Well, they don't. If you buy a PC that's about 30% faster than a console the day that console comes out, you won't have to buy another PC until the next gen arrives. With optimizations, the consoles might be able to do what your PC does, but not much more. With scalable graphics in PC games, you can rest assured that your PC will play most games at some settings for the next 5 years. And if you stay at console resolutions, you could very well keep up with console graphics for the entire life of that console without upgrading anything.Edited by B!0HaZard - 4/23/11 at 4:16am