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Looking to add a new gaming console to your collection? It can be difficult to choose between what’s currently on the market. Are you looking to play the buzziest games of the year with the best hardware possible? Or would you prefer to take all of your games on the go with you? Whatever you’re looking to do, there’s a console that fits your needs perfectly. But these pricey systems can make it difficult to choose — you don’t want to plunk down your hard-earned cash for something that doesn’t work for you.
If you’re having trouble deciding which video game console is right for you, we’ve lined out the best ones available right now. Before you lock in your choice, see what’s out there (and how it can fit into your gaming lifestyle and budget).
The PS5 is a colossal white tower of gaming goodness that continues to be one of the most highly sought-after consumer electronics of all time. These things fly off the shelves (when they even hit them), and continued stock shortages have made owning one a status symbol.
When it comes to hardware specs, the PS5 and the Xbox Series X are just about equals. However, the PS5 does beat it out in expandability due to its ability to use off-the-shelf SSDs. The big differentiator between the two is console exclusives. So far, most gamers agree the PS5 beats Xbox on a title-for-title basis, but it’s still early in the generation, so the winner is far from clear.
The PS5 also introduced the DualSense controller, which adds adaptive triggers and haptic feedback to an updated version of the familiar DualShock layout. It’s the most significant change to Sony’s gamepad design since the introduction of the DualShock and can add to immersion depending on how developers use it.
Overall, the PS5 is a great system, but only time will tell if it’s as successful as its predecessor.
Xbox Series X
The Xbox Series X barely squeaks by the PS5 to take the title of most powerful gaming console. In practice, most people won’t be able to tell the difference between the two, but if you want the best, you’ll want to grab the Series X.
Unlike the PS5, which stands on its own, Microsoft sees the Xbox Series X (and S) as part of the greater Xbox platform. So, if you invest in this console, you’ll also find benefits on PC and with cloud gaming, especially if you subscribe to Xbox Game Pass.
Unfortunately, the Xbox Series X feels less like a new console and more like a more powerful Xbox One X. Microsoft played it safe this generation, and even the console’s OS is shared with previous-gen hardware. It’s faster and can play Xbox Series X|S optimized games, but it’s missing some of the excitement that usually comes with a hardware upgrade.
Xbox Series S
Suppose you’re looking for the console that’s the best bang for your buck. In that case, you should check out the Xbox Series S. For $300, you get a system that can play the latest games, run streaming apps and which has backward compatibility with all Xbox One and select Xbox and Xbox 360 titles.
Anything the Xbox Series X can do, the S can do too. However, it targets 1080p instead of 4K. This means it’s significantly less future-proof than its bigger brother. That being said, there’s no greater value in the video game world, making the Series S an excellent gateway for those looking to get into gaming without a huge commitment.
Nintendo Switch OLED
The Nintendo Switch OLED is the best version of the console, and for $50 above the price tag of the base model, you get a much better screen, audio, kickstan and dock. But, unfortunately, it’s only really worth the premium if you play it in handheld mode since there are no upgrades for TV functionality.
The Switch is effectively a completely different ecosystem than what the PC, PlayStation and Xbox share. Most of its best games are exclusive to that system and concentrate more on gameplay than graphics. Unfortunately, the hardware is relatively weak compared to even today’s phones, and you often have to look past performance issues and muddled visuals.
However, the Switch continues to capture the magic for which Nintendo’s systems are known. It’s also the only place you’ll find Nintendo’s first-party titles, which continue to be lauded as some of the best made.
Nintendo Switch Lite
The last true handheld available from a major game company is the Nintendo Switch Lite (no, the Steam Deck doesn’t count). It slashes $100 off the base Switch’s price, but you lose TV mode. If you’re only interested in playing the Switch undocked, then the Lite model is a great way to save a few bucks while still having access to 99% of the games developed for the platform.
The biggest drawback of the Switch Lite is that there’s no going back if you decide you want to play in TV mode. The circuitry to output video to the dock just isn’t there, and there’s no way to upgrade it later. However, it is the cheapest “console” out right now, and aside from the lack of video output, you get the full Switch experience.