Consoles for playing video games are all the rage nowadays, and millions of sold units by different manufacturers prove that. To put it into perspective, PlayStation 5 broke the record for the best console launch in 2020. However, the handheld Nintendo Switch pulled ahead in the total number of units sold. This number also increased so significantly because of the gamers’ need to own more than one console due to game exclusivity. Also, their resell value and privilege of owning one due to their scarcity played a huge role. With their importance mentioned, these are our top picks for the best gaming console.
PlayStation 5 is the best console for gaming and supports 4K resolution/120 Hz refresh rate gameplay and 8K/60Hz display. Next up is its M.2 SSD, ensuring blazing-fast loading times, and haptic-feedback DualSense wireless gaming controller. It also dominates the game exclusives field, is backward compatible with PlayStation 4 games, and oftentimes even adds either FPS or graphical fidelity to them. The console comes in 2 versions. Those with the Digital Edition of the console get a powerhouse for cheap. In contrast, the Standard Version can also act as a media center with its 4K Blu-ray drive reader.
Microsoft Xbox Series X is the top gaming console rivaling the one above directly. It’s compatible with Xbox One and Xbox 360 games, and can power games in 4K resolution/120 Hz or 1440p resolution/higher framerates. Moreover, the console comes with 4K Blu-ray playback, Dolby Vision HDR, and HDR10 support, and HDMI-CEC compatibility. Besides an expandable 802 GB (of 1 TB) of internal storage, every, game, movie, and TV show bought in the Microsoft Store can be shared with your PC. The list of game exclusives is even larger since Microsoft bought Bethesda Softworks in March 2021.
Nintendo Switch is the best handheld console, unquestionably. We said it outsold PlayStation 5, which was due to the sheer popularity of its games. Plus, users were happy with its removable Joy-Con motion controllers and the ability to play games in docked (1080p) or portable (720p) mode. Cartridges for games are easy to switch, but you can also download digital games. Doing that also means you should upgrade its 32 GB of internal storage with an SD card of up to 2 TB of capacity. Downsides? No Bluetooth support and online games require a monthly subscription.
Microsoft Xbox Series S is the best budget gaming console that looks and performs differently than Series X. The performance is a tad lower, only pushing 4K resolution at 60 Hz. The main trade-off is that you’ll only get 364 GB of internal storage instead of 800+ GB on Series X. Luckily, you can expand that by 1 TB With a Seagate expansion card. But because the console lacks a Blu-ray disc drive, this space might get filled quickly. So, if all you want is to play Xbox exclusives or try hand-picked titles via Xbox Game Pass monthly subscription, get this one.
Nintendo Switch Lite is the perfect solution for Nintendo fans on a budget. It resembles Nintendo Switch, hence the name, but its screen is 13% smaller. The console is also thinner and thus easier to hold in your hands. Unfortunately, the reduction in price also means it cannot be docked, so you can only play games in 720p, and without two Joy-Con controllers. From our experience, the battery lasted a bit more than 7 hours. Moreover, you can only expand the external memory by up to 1 TB since that’s the ceiling for microSDXC cards sold in retail.
Xbox One X is the best last-gen Microsoft video game console, a direct rival to PlayStation 4 Pro below. As expected, they share a lot of features. They both support upscaled and native 4K, exist in abundance as refurbished and second-hand options and are backward compatible. However, we’ve found Microsoft Xbox One X to support a larger number of games in 4K 30Hz/60Hz natively. It also has 4 GB more RAM, clocking in at 12 GB DDR5, and identical internal storage, 1 TB HDD. What also sets it apart as dominant is the fact that it has a 4K Blu-ray drive player. Once again, you can access compatible Xbox content on your PC, since the two are linked.
PlayStation 4 Pro is the best last-gen gaming console, most often available second-hand or refurbished. It won’t beat PlayStation 5, but it’s a great alternative if you’re short on cash or the current-gen console isn’t in stock. PlayStation 4 Pro can push native and upscaled 4K resolution in 30 Hz/60 Hz, has 8 GB DDR5 RAM and comes with a DVD/Blu-ray optical drive (but not 4K Blu-Ray!) and 1 TB HDD. You can play PlayStation exclusives, it’s compatible with PlayStation VR, and can even run PlayStation 5 titles such as Spider-Man: Miles Morales.
Microsoft Xbox One S is an affordable last-gen gaming console that’s ideal for a media center. To clarify, its Ultra-HD (4K) Blu-ray player alone makes it cheaper than a dedicated Blu-ray home entertainment system. The console also comes with 8 GB GDDR3 RAM and has 3 storage options, 500 GB, 1 TB, and 2 TB. Furthermore, it can display content in 1080p natively, and upscale video (games and content) to 4K, albeit not in a very refined way. Microsoft Xbox One S doesn’t have a lot of game exclusives but supports Xbox Game Pass monthly subscription.
Nintendo 3DS XL is the best old-school handheld console, but the most advanced in the DS family. In other words, it’s backward compatible with Nintendo 3DS XL and 3DS games, as well as 2DS, 2DS XL, and New 2DS XL games. On the other hand, it comes with larger screen size, a built-in NFC reader, and a special C stick button on top of regular ZL/ZR buttons. Moreover, it has a more powerful CPU, netting smoother in-game performance and faster and more precise face-tracking 3D technology. New Nintendo 3DS XL also comes with amiibo figures built-in.
Sega Genesis Mini is the best retro gaming console, even though it was released in late 2019. Its design is identical to the one 16-bit Sega Genesis console released between 1988-1990, except slightly smaller. It comes pre-loaded with 422 top-rated games from that period, 512 MB of flash (internal memory), and 256 MB of RAM. Furthermore, it uses HDMI and a resolution of up to 1080p. For the ideal experience, get the official, specifically manufactured 6-button controllers, which are sold separately.