The Best Current Gaming Consoles Based on Graphics and More
The new generation of consoles is here, with stunning graphics, powerful specs and loads of games to play. The big three dogs are Sony PlayStation 5, Microsoft Xbox Series X, and Nintendo Switch.
All three consoles are suited to their specialties, with the PS5 having the advantage of exclusive releases at launch, the Series X is graphically powerful on paper, and the Nintendo Switch is the ideal portable device. You shouldn’t be remiss in owning all three, although most people choose between the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 (if they can find them in stock).
If you’re not much of a console gamer, you might be interested in our list of the best gaming PCs. For everyone else, read on for our take on the best gaming consoles you can buy today.
Best games: Sony PlayStation 5
Sony’s PlayStation 5 represents a significant improvement in visual quality over its predecessors, more than five times that of the original PlayStation 4 and more than double that of the revolutionary PS4 Pro version. The result is game worlds that are smooth, crisp and highly detailed. With native 4K resolution up to 120fps on supported displays, with compatibility with 8K content in the future. It also offers a much smoother gaming experience thanks to its fast SSD storage, which dramatically reduces loading times.
In addition to the power boost, the new Dual Sense controller is an exciting innovation that includes precise tactile feedback and adaptive and resistive trigger buttons for a more immersive gaming experience. The PS5, available with or without a disc drive, also has a solid lineup of launch games, including excellent exclusives like Spider-Man: Miles Morales and Demon’s Souls. The rival Xbox Series X is slightly more powerful on paper and has a more compact, entertainment center-friendly design among other perks, but the PlayStation 5 offers past reasons to invest in new hardware these early days.
Best for Mobility: Nintendo Switch
Since its initial unveiling, the Nintendo Switch has marketed itself as a mobile gaming system that can not only be played on your home TV, but also portable and played anywhere. The innovative Nintendo console simplifies the game and comes with a detachable controller with split screen options for you to play with your friends.
Nintendo Switch has 50 third-party publishers working together to develop future games. Hits like Mario Kart 8, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and Mario Odyssey have given it a strong lineup. Switch is a great party system with its movable Snap-On joy-con controllers – when removed from the dock it acts like a tablet with its own screen that can be shared with others in a split multiplayer screen.
Best Graphics: Microsoft Xbox Series X
Xbox Series X is the most powerful home console ever, delivering up to 12 teraflops of graphics performance for highly detailed native gaming in 4K gaming at up to 120 frames per second on supported displays. Equally Impressive: With the super-fast custom SSD, you can load games quickly and switch between open games in seconds thanks to the unique Quick Resume feature.
Microsoft’s console is compatible with a number of previous Xbox One, Xbox 360, and original Xbox games, but there are currently no major new exclusives to justify the $ 499 asking price. It’s impressive hardware with great potential, though it may be in 2021 before we start seeing games that really take advantage of this powerful new Xbox.
Best for affordable gaming: Microsoft Xbox Series S
If you were to choose just one game console from this list, the Xbox Series S is probably the most profitable option for most people. It’s a good budget alternative to the X Series that brings much of the same experience to the table, albeit with some limitations. The console can handle games at 1440p at 60fps or 120fps, but not 4K. Storage space is somewhat limited to 512GB, but can be expanded with an expansion card.
The true value of the console comes from its ability to play the same games as the Xbox Series X. It is also backward compatible, giving you a wide variety of games. Perhaps the most convenient feature is that you can use the S series with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, giving you access to a large library of games for a monthly fee.
Best handheld: Nintendo Switch Lite
Nintendo Switch Lite is a cheaper and more portable option for gamers who want to try the best Nintendo games on a budget. It ditches the dock and Joy-Cons from Nintendo’s original Switch, establishing itself as a wearable device, and comes in a number of pop-up colors like bright turquoise or banana yellow.
At two-thirds the price of a standard Nintendo Switch, the barrier to entry is much lower, but it comes with some sacrifices. Notably, the Switch Lite doesn’t connect to a TV, so you can only play in portable mode. Aside from the lack of a built-in stand, this severely limits local multiplayer, but there are also a handful of improvements over the OG Switch.
The design fits better in the hand and the small size makes it easier to take with you on the go. There’s an actual directional pad that works better than the OG Switch’s directional buttons, especially in platforming or fighting games. These upgrades make the Switch Lite perfect for those who game exclusively in handheld mode and are looking for a better option on the go.
Best streaming platform: Google Stadia
Google’s Gaming Experiment isn’t technically a console, it’s an online streaming service that lets you play anywhere and on any device. If you have a strong enough internet connection, you can stream games like Destiny 2 directly to your phone, PC, Smart TV or Chromecast. For the weakest Internet gamers, there are options to reduce the graphics resolution to improve performance. In addition to third-party cross-platform games, Google has opened its own development studio to create exclusive games for Google Stadia. With many other companies venturing into cloud-based gaming, Stadia’s premise is an interesting concept for gamers who wonder what games could look like in the future.
From a hardware perspective, Google has created a Stadia-specific controller that can connect directly to Wi-Fi to reduce latency. However, you don’t need to buy an official Stadia controller from Google – you can get an external controller like an Xbox One Elite or Dual shock 4 instead.
Using Google’s controller makes it easier to use the social features that Stadia is experimenting with. Stadia aims to build on the foundation of platforms like Twitch by combining gaming, streaming and social media into one place. Google has a lot of work to do to make Stadia a major player in the video game world, but the premise is certainly intriguing.
Best Re-release: Nintendo Super NES Classic
When the news that Nintendo was releasing updated classics from its previous consoles like the NES and Super NES Classic, gamers rejoiced. The Super NES Classic revives the glorious gaming era of the 90s with 21 different games, including Star fox 2.
With the home console’s original 16-bit look (only smaller), the Super NES Classic acts as a kind of clock when the game reaches its peak. Some of the best two-player games of the era are included and ready to play, such as Super Mario Kart and Street Fighter II Turbo. Definition games like Meagan X, Earthbound, Kirby Super Star and Super Mario RPG are also returning.
Any gamer looking to relive their childhood or introduce new players to a simpler time when the internet first opened up should pick up a classic Super NES. Includes two wired Super NES Classic controllers for multiplayer.
The best portable gaming console to buy is the Nintendo Switch. It’s a flexible and versatile option that works just as well in portable mode as it does when connected to a TV and full of interesting AAA games. For those focused on graphics, we love the sheer power of the Xbox Series X, although the PS5 has better exclusive features at launch and benefits from the unique Dual Sense controller. Both will still be great.