best video game consoles

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If the pandemic has proven anything, it’s that video games are very popular. Being stuck at home highlighted this, as widespread shortages have made it incredibly hard to find the latest consoles, and entire Twitter accounts have sprouted up dedicated to alerting people when more consoles come in-stock.

The thing about video games is that they’re actually quite affordable compared to other forms of entertainment, considering the long hours that people will put into a game versus a movie or show. And the latest consoles aren’t just for playing video games, but also offer apps like Netflix and Hulu, making them comprehensive entertainment devices for your living room. Below is a list of the best consoles to buy right now—if you can find them, of course.

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Best Gaming Console

PlayStation 5

Microsoft’s Xbox is, according to available statistics, the most popular home entertainment console in the United States. But globally, the PlayStation reigns supreme. And even though Microsoft will soon own popular games like Call of Duty, it’s expected that many such titles will remain available on PlayStation, at least for the next few years. Sony has its own roster of exclusives too, from God of War to Demon’s Souls and Spiderman.

From a hardware perspective, both the PlayStation 5 and Xbox are comparable. What your decision will really come down to is whether you like the exclusives on the PlayStation versus those on Xbox. Microsoft recently announced the much-anticipated game Starfield, which was previously set for a PlayStation release, will be exclusive to its console. So you’ll want to evaluate the library on both consoles. The disk-less PS5 is $100 more than the comparable Xbox Series S, but offers better performance on high-end games.

  • 4K graphics.
  • Solid exclusive games.
  • More expensive than Xbox.

Best Microsoft Gaming Console

Xbox One X 1TB

The Series X is Microsoft’s flagship console released last year. With support for high-end 4K graphics and new rendering techniques like “ray-tracing” (think, more realistic shadows in video games), the Series X is a beast of a video game console (which can also stream TVs and movies from your favorite services). Microsoft owns many iconic video game franchises, from Halo to Fallout, and recently announced it’s adding franchises like Call of Duty to its arsenal of in-house titles. That means they could someday become exclusive to Xbox—Microsoft offers an attractive monthly subscription service called Game Pass under which hundreds of games can be downloaded and played for just $15 a month a la Netflix. It might want the best titles to become exclusive to boost Game Pass. That makes the Xbox a solid choice over PlayStation, though many of these games may remain available on Sony’s competing console (where you still have to pay individually for many top titles), and the PlayStation has its own popular exclusives.

Unlike the more affordable Series S, this console includes a disk-drive and more powerful graphics.

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  • Features a disk-drive.
  • 4K graphics capabilities.
  • Expensive.
  • Disk-drive may not be necessary for most.

Best Portable Game Console

Nintendo Switch 32GB

This is the original Nintendo Switch. Unlike the previous pick, this one comes in cheaper and for those savings you’re getting a smaller screen that’s 6.2 inches instead of 7-inches. If you expect to play your Switch mainly in docked mode, connected to a TV, then you would be fine buying the standard Switch. Some people simply don’t enjoy playing on-the-go, as a small screen can be harder to see and in docked mode you can more easily play with a dedicated controller.

Nintendo also offers the Switch Lite for $199, but that console has a small screen and cannot be connected to a TV, so we don’t recommend it.

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  • Smaller screen than the Switch OLED model.

Best Premium Portable Game Console

Switch OLED

The Switch is a solid gaming device for fans of iconic Nintendo franchises like Mario and Zelda, which are exclusive to the company’s own devices. But the console doesn’t come anywhere close to competitors as it relates to graphics capabilities. It’s best for children and adults who grew up playing Nintendo, not necessarily gamers interested in more high-intensity games like the first-person shooter Call of Duty and other similar titles.

The Switch is a standout in this list because it can be used as a standard console connected to your TV or as a handheld, making it the most versatile and one you might want to buy alongside another console for on-the-go play. Animal Crossing is a game that’s fun for all ages, and can help kill time on your next flight.

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  • Good for kids and travel.
  • Low-end graphics don’t compare to other consoles.

Best Budget Game Console

Xbox Series S

As the name implies, the Series S is Microsoft’s latest console—sans disk drive. This means that you can only play games that you download over the internet. Most people should be fine with this option in 2022, but there are still some out there who like to own physical copies of the games and other media they purchase. If that really matters to you then you’ll want to buy the Series X instead. Something else to consider is that the Series S is slightly less powerful than the Series X—you can play games at around 1080p instead of 4K as on the higher-end console. But many games being released today aren’t taking great advantage of the Series X hardware anyway. You’ll still get a great, nearly comparable gaming experience on the entry-level Series S.

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  • Good value.
  • Graphics performance is slightly lower than the Series X.

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