What’s the best gaming console? Well, for as long as game consoles have existed, there have been arguments over which is best. We’ll let you in on a little secret… It’s potentially the most subjective discussion in technology right now. Despite that, we’re here to help you narrow down exactly what the best console is.
Granted, that will change depending on your gaming priorities, budget, and who you plan to play with. In particular, if you’re looking for a console to play with the whole family, the best console will likely differ from the one for a solo player, and, if you’re looking for the best handheld gaming console, we’ve got a separate guide for that.
Whatever your intentions, we’ve used all the latest consoles extensively. We’ve combined our experiences and our vast knowledge of gaming knowledge on the whole before highlighting the very best below. We’ve also looked at what you need to know about each of them. Ultimately, whichever one you buy, you’re going to be delighted. Still, some prior knowledge of their strengths and weaknesses will help you get the best from your budget.
What’s the best gaming console?
We think the best console overall is the PlayStation 5 (buy now). It edges out the competition thanks to some great exclusive games that really push the hardware, the PlayStation 5 also has a unique controller in the DualSense, giving you a feeling of more immersion. The console itself has a divisive look, but its system user interface is a delight to use, refining what worked well for Sony consoles before. If you only want to own one console, this is the one to go for.
Other console recommendations
If the PlayStation 5 isn’t quite right for you, here are some other console recommendations:
The Xbox Series S (buy now) is highly affordable for an under-the-TV console, the Xbox Series S is also ridiculously small for what it can achieve. It’ll play all the Xbox Series X games, albeit not in 4K, and Xbox Game Pass makes it a continuing bargain. You’ll need to budget for some external hard drive space to get the most from it, but it’s worth it, thanks to the plethora of Xbox exclusives to catch up on.
The Nintendo Switch (buy now) is best for families thanks to its excellent game library, Nintendo continues its reign as the best option for families. Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros will divide families in the best way. At the same time, there are immersive experiences from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and its forthcoming sequel. The standard Switch console will suit most families with the OLED model excessive for family play and the Switch Lite is no good for groups.
The best gaming consoles you can buy today:
1. PlayStation 5
With plenty of exclusives to check out, an extensive back catalogue, and a great controller, the PlayStation 5 is a powerhouse of a console.
- Rock solid 4K/60fps gameplay and very fast
- DualSense has huge potential
- Storage will fill up very quickly
- Nothing to match the Xbox Series X’s Quick Resume
|PlayStation 5 specs
|4K Blu-ray Drive (disc-less version also available)
|AMD Zen 2-based CPU with 8 cores at 3.5GHz
Sony retains its reputation for being cool with the PlayStation 5. That exterior takes some getting used to, but there’s no denying it feels futuristic. Alongside that is its DualSense controller, which adds haptic feedback and adaptive triggers, so you feel more in control. It’s a delight to squeeze gently down to fire a gun in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II and feel more drawn into the action or leap through the skies of New York as Spider-Man in a more tactile manner.
Other exclusives like God of War: Ragnarok and The Last of Us remind you of the strong storytelling of games, with each looking a delight on the hefty console. Storage could be much better, with only 667GB of usable space, so you’ll have to go through the faff of upgrading the storage yourself. Still, it’s relatively inexpensive compared to usual gaming upgrades.
- Read more: Sony PlayStation 5 review
2. Xbox Series X
A substantial refinement of what worked so well for the Xbox One, the Xbox Series X is the most powerful console around and bundles in Dolby Vision and Atmos support. Game Pass is a great money saver;
- Quick Resume is great (when it works)
- Ridiculously powerful
- 1TB SSD will fill up fast
- Unusual shape wno’t fit in all media centers
|Xbox Series X specs
|1TB NVMe SSD
|4K Blu-ray drive
|8x Cores at 3.8GHz Custom Zen 2 CPU
The Xbox Series X is far from the most stylish console being a literal giant black box. Nor does its user interface stand out being the same as the Xbox One before it. Still, it’s powerful and has Dolby Vision and Atmos support out of the box if your TV can handle it. It has the advantage of working with almost all your previous Xbox One accessories too, but that can mean you feel like you’re using a refined version of your old console rather than something new.
Xbox Game Pass also offers plenty of Xbox One and back catalogue titles, but it’s a fantastic value proposition given you simply pay a monthly fee for dozens of games. Titles like Halo Infinite and Forza Horizon 5 look great, even if exclusives are thin on the ground outside the big hitters. There’s a fond familiarity here that works well for it.
- Read more: Xbox Series X review
3. Nintendo Switch OLED
The Nintendo Switch OLED won’t match the prowess of the big two, even with its gorgeous screen, but its catalogue of familiar favourites and a few curve balls make it an ideal bonus console.
- OLED displays are simply much nicer to look at
- Much, much improved stand
- Larger display only shows up the limitations of 720p more
- Unchanged performance and battery life
|Nintendo Switch OLED specs
|Nvidia Custom Tegra SOC 768MHz
Nintendo knows how to flourish while doing something different. The standard Switch is a delight, but the OLED adds even more to it thanks to its large 7-inch display. It’s the perfect size to highlight how bright and vibrant OLED looks with games like Super Mario Odyssey, Mario Kart 8, and Animal Crossing: New Horizons looking gorgeous. The console itself can be used either in docked mode, hooked up to your TV or on the move if you don’t mind some lightweight battery life of around 3-4 hours, depending on what you’re playing.
Other upgrades include enhanced speakers and a better kickstand for those rare times you want to play multiplayer without a TV. It’s far from a powerhouse system, but the games available are the kind to stick in your mind for a long time to come, including The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild which can steal your attention for weeks if not months.
- Read more: Nintendo Switch OLED review
4. Xbox Series S
Less powerful than the Series X, the Xbox Series S makes up for it by being the smallest console we’ve seen in a while yet still allowing you to play the latest games.
- A affordable but legitimate next-gen upgrade
- Xbox Game Pass represents one hell of a deal
- 512GB SSD won’t go the distance
- No true 4K performance
|Xbox Series S specs
|512GB NVMe (364GB usable)
|8-core 3.6GHz custom AMD 7nm
In every way, the Xbox Series S is the Series X’s little sibling. It’s not as powerful, so you won’t get 4K performance from this device, plus it lacks an optical disc drive. Leaving you reliant on internal storage is a brave move when there’s only 364GB to play with. However, you can upgrade it with some pricey proprietary external storage. Despite those issues, it’s an incredibly accessible way of enjoying Xbox Series X games for less with 1440p resolution keeping most people happy.
It’s also tiny, so you can easily take it between locations, while there’s always Xbox Game Pass to keep you entertained with a never-ending wealth of games. If you’re a stickler for the best graphics, you’ll need to spend the extra for the Series X, but the majority will appreciate the cheaper Series S’s charms. Tag on an Xbox controller from the previous generation, and you have the perfect multiplayer setup for less.
- Read more: Xbox Series S review
5. Nintendo Switch
As powerful as the Nintendo Switch OLED, the original Switch is perfect for family gaming time or couch co-op with your mates.
- Brilliant as both a home console and a portable
- Joy-Cons are genius
- Hidden costs of ownership add up
- Online service could be better
|Nintendo Switch specs
|Nvidia Custom Tegra SOC 768MHz
The Nintendo Switch is starting to feel a little long in the tooth and less shiny than the OLED equivalent. This is the best option if you’re looking to mainly play Mario Kart 8 on the big TV while partaking in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild or Bayonetta 3 during some downtime. It has the same battery life as the OLED but without the enhanced speakers or OLED display.
It costs slightly less, so hooking it up to your TV setup is the ideal solution here, so you won’t have to worry about the situational upgrades. You can still always opt to take it with you to make your commute more enjoyable. Either way, the focus here is on the strength of the games over the hardware performance, and that’s just fine with his kind of catalogue of games.
- Read more: Nintendo Switch review
6. Nintendo Switch Lite
If you solely want a portable console, the Nintendo Switch Lite keeps costs down while looking cute and allowing you to play Nintendo’s rich catalogue of games.
- Very comfortable to hold (unless you have giant hands)
- Great colour options and fun
- Battery life still isn’t great
- Won’t play games that need JoyCons
|Nintendo Switch Lite specs
|Nvidia Custom Tegra processor
Realised you’ll probably never dock your Nintendo Switch? If you want a pure portable experience, the Nintendo Switch Lite is it. It’s small and lightweight, therefore easy to toss in your bag, with a wide selection of colours to add a personal touch. It won’t dock with your TV, so its controls are built into the unit. You’ll never see 1080p quality here with the screen sticking to 720p, but the games still look sharp.
It’s particularly well suited for the only child gamer in the household or if you have a regular commute that could be spruced up with Link or Mario. Most Switch games work with the Switch Lite but look out for titles that require the rarely used Joy-Con infrared sensor, as these won’t work. Other than that, this is a cute addition best suited for smaller hands and those who like to play solo.
- Read more: Nintendo Switch Lite review