The best gaming consoles

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Thanks to a new generation of fantastic gadgets produced by industry titans Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft, video game console sales continue to surge.

Both Sony and Microsoft have established sales records with their PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S consoles, which are approaching 18 months old. In October 2021, Nintendo introduced the Switch OLED, an improved version of its portable system that continues to sell well five years after its initial introduction.

A new video game system is an investment, with prices ranging from $200 to $500. The greatest game console for you will depend on your budget, your preferred types of games, and if you need a gaming console to be the center of your entertainment or whether you want to stream.

For the past 15 years, I’ve been playing with and testing video game hardware, and I’ve spent a lot of time with the latest consoles since they were released. Based on our hands-on expertise and previous assessments, I’ve broken down what each of the major platforms excels at and which you should choose.

Here are our choice for the best gaming consoles:

The best gaming consoles

PlayStation 5 (Standard)

Overall, the best gaming console
Pros: Lightning-fast solid-state drive, industry-leading graphics, and the DualSense controller.
Cons: The large design takes up a lot of space, it has slightly less storage and raw graphics power than the Xbox Series X, and it is out of stock due to high demand.

The PlayStation 5 provides the ultimate console gaming experience thanks to its strong technology and Sony’s blockbuster exclusives.

With its M.2 solid state drive (the fastest storage format to date), DualSense controller, and capability for 4K resolution at a 120Hz refresh rate (the number of times a screen’s image refreshes per second), the PS5 set a new bar for video game consoles when it was released in November 2020. In April 2022, the PS5 received a long-awaited upgrade that added variable refresh rate.

In addition to a growing selection of PlayStation 5 exclusives, the platform provides access to hundreds of PlayStation 4 games that are backwards compatible. PS5 players who subscribe to Sony’s PlayStation Plus program will immediately gain access to over a dozen iconic PS4 games, with new games added to the PS+ catalog each month.

When possible, the PS5 will automatically upscale PS4 games, increasing frame rates and overall resolution. Even games like “The Last of Us Part II” and “Ghost of Tsushima,” which support the strong PS4 Pro, benefit from PS5.

The DualSense controller’s unique characteristics, including as haptic vibration feedback and a built-in microphone, are used in PlayStation’s exclusive game brands like “Ratchet & Clank,” “Spider-Man,” and “God of War.” These unique titles and features give the PS5 an advantage over the Xbox Series X, making it difficult to overlook for players looking to play the most recent blockbuster releases.

Sony is still working on making PlayStation’s digital game library as extensive as Xbox Game Pass and Xbox Live. PlayStation Plus Premium will begin in June 2022 and give players access to a larger game catalog than Xbox Game Pass, but it will not include freshly released titles like Microsoft’s program. When compared to the Nintendo Switch, online play and interacting with friends on PlayStation is still a breeze.

The best gaming consoles

PlayStation 5 (All Digital)

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Because of its 4K Blu-ray playback and support for most streaming apps, the PS5 outperforms the Switch as a home entertainment device. If you plan on utilizing your console as a streaming media center as well, the Xbox Series X is a better option.

The PlayStation 5 is available in two versions: a normal unit for $500 and a Digital Edition for $400. Although the Digital Edition lacks a Blu-ray drive, the consoles are otherwise identical. If you want to buy physical games or have a collection of old PS4 titles, we recommend getting the standard edition.

The best gaming consoles

Nintendo Switch OLED

The best portable gaming system
Pros: Excellent pricing; Joy-Cons come with two controllers right out of the box; popular Nintendo games; portable and docked modes.
Cons: Online play is limited in comparison to Xbox and PlayStation, and Joy-Con drift issues necessitate controller repairs or replacement on occasion.

The Nintendo Switch OLED is a terrific value for a handheld console, with TV capability and a large library to please all types of gamers.

The Nintendo Switch’s hybrid portable design has made it extremely popular; you can carry it with you and play games in 720p on the little screen, or you can connect it to your TV with the bundled dock for a full 1080p HD gaming experience. The $350 Switch OLED is the most recent version of the console, with a larger, brighter OLED screen, a better kickstand, and somewhat better audio for $50 more than the original.

Both the Switch OLED and the normal Switch come with two removable Joy-Cons that can be used as separate motion controllers, making them ideal for playing with a friend on the go. Rather than Blu-ray discs, Nintendo Switch games are packaged in durable cartridges that are easy to keep and transport. The console also includes MicroSD card expansion, allowing you to expand the 32GB internal storage by up to 2TB to hold more digital games.

The $200 Switch Lite is a great option for solitary portable gaming, but it doesn’t connect to a TV and doesn’t have removable Joy-Con controllers. The Lite’s portable screen is only 13% smaller than the regular Switch, and it’s slimmer and easier to grasp. The battery on the Switch Lite lasts roughly seven hours, while the standard and OLED Switch models can last up to nine hours.

If you want to share your Switch with friends or family, the Switch OLED is well worth the extra money. The added portable controllers, dock, and TV output on the standard Switch are already worth the money, plus choosing OLED will give you all of the quality of life enhancements that Nintendo made four years after the initial Switch was released.

Regardless, the Switch remains a capable home console with a vast library that is ideal for families. Popular series such as “Super Mario,” “The Legend of Zelda,” and “Pokémon” are exclusive to the Nintendo Switch, while many old games have been updated for the handheld.

The best gaming consoles

Nintendo Switch Lite

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No other portable gaming system comes close to the Switch’s library and value – it’s just a matter of whether you want to go for Switch OLED, Switch, or Switch Lite.

Of course, if you only want to play games while traveling, you can use a video game streaming service like Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, Google Stadia, or Amazon Luna to stream games to your smartphone and play with a controller.

The best gaming consoles

Xbox Series X

The best multimedia gaming console
Pros: Strong gaming hardware, 4K Blu-ray playback, Dolby Vision HDR for streaming apps, and the ability to share movie and TV show purchases with Windows via Microsoft account.
Cons: Dolby Vision isn’t available while playing Blu-ray discs, and movies purchased from the Xbox store can only be streamed to the device, so no offline viewing is possible.

With its 4K Blu-ray player, Dolby Vision streaming, and easy library sharing with Windows, the Xbox Series X shines as an entertainment centre.

With support for 4K Blu-rays and the majority of popular streaming apps, the Xbox Series X is a multimedia powerhouse. Unlike PlayStation, Xbox allows you to download movies and TV shows from Microsoft’s digital store, allowing you to develop an entertainment library that you can easily share with other Windows PCs and tablets.

Dolby Vision, a high dynamic range (HDR) format that helps compatible TVs increase image quality with improved color accuracy and contrast, is also supported by Xbox Series X. The feature is compatible with both video games and streaming apps such as Disney Plus and HBO Max. Blu-ray discs can’t use Dolby Vision on the Xbox Series X, although they can use the more standard HDR10 format.

Because the Xbox Series X is HDMI-CEC compatible, you should be able to manage it using your TV remote if your smart TV supports the technology. With support for 1440p resolution (as well as 4K) and customizable refresh rate on supported TVs, the Xbox Series X offers a little more customization than the PS5.

Furthermore, due of its slightly quicker CPU processor and greater graphics processor, the Xbox Series X is arguably more powerful than the PlayStation 5 in terms of performance. However, most gamers prefer the PS5 because of its exclusives and unique DualSense controller. Even said, if you’re looking for a living room centerpiece, the Xbox Series X will provide the best possible gaming and movie experience.

Xbox is getting some big exclusive games, especially since Microsoft bought Bethesda Softworks for $1 billion, the studio behind “Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim,” “Doom,” and “Fallout.” In 2021, Microsoft released “Halo Infinite” with a free multiplayer mode, helping it become the franchise’s most successful launch yet. Later on, Microsoft’s $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision-Blizzard should deliver exclusive Xbox versions of games like “Call of Duty” and “Diablo.”

The best gaming consoles

Xbox Series S

The most affordable gaming console
Pros: Great price for modern technology, Xbox Game Pass support, and thousands of Xbox One and Xbox 360 games are backwards compatible.
Cons: No disc drive for games or Blu-rays; 364GB storage space soon fills up; can only be upgraded with a Seagate special storage card.

The Xbox Series S offers exceptional value for less money than the Xbox Series X, thanks to Xbox Game Pass, backwards compatibility, and Microsoft’s online services.

With a few notable trade-offs, this less expensive Xbox console can play all of the same games as the more capable Xbox Series X. Because the Series S lacks a Blu-ray disc drive, you’ll have to rely on digital games stored on the console’s solid state drive.

After installing the operating system, the Xbox Series S has 364GB of storage space accessible for games, and you can buy an expansion card to add another 1TB. While this isn’t as much as the Series X’s 802GB of storage, it’s still a lot more than the original Nintendo Switch’s 32GB.

The Xbox Series S and Switch are both the same price, but gamers on a tight budget will benefit more from the Xbox’s multimedia features and other perks, particularly Xbox Game Pass. For $10 a month, Game Pass allows customers access to a library of over 100 games, including early access to major Microsoft games like “Halo: Infinite” and “Gears 5.”

Because the Xbox Series S lacks the graphics performance of the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, it’s recommended to save up for those systems if you’re concerned about visual quality. Unlike the Switch, the Series S does offer 4K resolution playback.

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