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Because a new console generation has just begun, your list of the Best Current Gaming Consoles to choose from is constantly growing. All of the new consoles have excellent graphics, powerful processors, and a large number of games to choose from, though there are few exclusives at launch. Sony, with the PlayStation 5, Microsoft, with the Xbox Series X, and Nintendo, with the Switch, are the three big dogs.
The PS5 had an advantage in exclusives at launch, the Series X was power graphically potent on paper, and the Nintendo Switch was the ideal portable device. Owning all three isn’t a bad idea, though most people will choose between the Xbox Series X and the PlayStation 5. Everyone, in our opinion, should purchase a Nintendo Switch; it is the best option for the mobile gamer.
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Best Games: Sony PlayStation 5
With more than five times the graphical output of the original PlayStation 4 and more than double that of the half-step PS4 Pro revision, Sony’s PlayStation 5 (Check latest price on Amazon) offers a significant visual upgrade over its predecessors. On supported screens, the result is smooth, crisp, and ultra-detailed game worlds delivered in native 4K resolution at up to 120 frames per second, with 8K content compatibility coming soon. It also offers a much smoother gaming experience thanks to its fast SSD storage, which significantly reduces load times.
Aside from the increased power, the new DualSense controller is a fascinating innovation, with precise haptic feedback and adaptive, resistance-providing trigger buttons for a more immersive gaming experience. The PS5 has a strong lineup of launch games, including excellent exclusives like Spider-Man: Miles Morales and Demon’s Souls, which are available with or without a disc drive. On paper, the Xbox Series X is a bit more powerful and has a more compact, entertainment center-friendly design, among other advantages, but the PlayStation 5 offers more compelling early reasons to invest in new hardware.
GPU: AMD Radeon RDNA 2 | CPU: AMD Ryzen | Storage: 825GB SSD | Optical Drive: Yes | Dimensions: 15.4″x4.1″x10.2″ | Weight: 9.9 Lbs
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Best for Mobility: Nintendo Switch
The Nintendo Switch (Check latest price on Amazon) was introduced as a mobile gaming system that could be used not only at home on your television, but also carried around and played wherever you went. Nintendo’s innovative console allows you to play on the go and includes a detachable controller with split-screen capabilities so you can play with friends.
The Nintendo Switch has partnered with 50 third-party publishers to develop future games. It has a strong lineup with games like Mario Kart 8, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and Mario Odyssey. With its mobile snap-off joy-con controllers, the Switch is a great system for parties–once out of its docking station, it acts like a tablet with its own dedicated screen that can be shared with others via split-screen multiplayer games.
GPU: Nvidia Custom Tegra Processor | CPU: Nvidia Custom Tegra Processor | Storage: 32GB Internal | Optical Drive: No | Dimensions: 4″x9.4″x.55″ | Weight: .88 Lbs
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Best Graphics: Microsoft Xbox Series X
The Xbox Series X (Check latest price on Amazon) is the most powerful home console ever, with up to 12 teraflops of graphics performance for ultra-detailed native 4K games running at up to 120 frames per second on supported screens. The super-fast custom SSD also enables rapid game loading and allows you to switch between open games in seconds thanks to the unique Quick Resume feature.
Microsoft’s console is backwards compatible with a wide range of previous Xbox One, Xbox 360, and original Xbox games, but it currently lacks any major new exclusives to justify the $499 price tag. It’s impressive hardware with a lot of potential, though we may have to wait until 2021 to see games that truly take advantage of this powerful new Xbox.
Best for Affordable Gaming: Microsoft Xbox Series S
The Xbox Series S (Check latest price on Amazon) is likely to be the most profitable option for most people if they have to choose just one gaming console from this list. It’s a good low-cost alternative to the Series X, providing a lot of the same functionality with some limitations. The console can play 1440p games at 60 or 120 frames per second, but not 4K. With 512GB of storage, it’s a little on the small side, but you can expand it with the expansion card.
The console’s true worth comes from the fact that it can play all of the same games as the Xbox Series X. It’s also backwards compatible, allowing you to play a variety of games. The fact that you can use the Series S with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, which gives you access to a large library of games for a monthly fee, may be the most cost-effective feature.
GPU: AMD Custom Radeon RDNA 2 | CPU: AMD Custom Ryzen Zen 2 | Storage: 1TB SSD | Optical Drive: Yes | Dimensions: 5.9″x5.9″x11.9″ | Weight: 9.8 Lbs
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Best Handheld: Nintendo Switch Lite
The Nintendo Switch Lite (Check latest price on Amazon) is a less expensive, more portable option for gamers looking to play all of Nintendo’s best games on a budget. It does away with the dock and Joy-Con from the original Switch, establishing itself as a handheld-only device, and it comes in a variety of vibrant colors, including bright turquoise and banana yellow.
There’s a much lower barrier to entry at two-thirds the price of a standard Nintendo Switch, but it comes with a few trade-offs. The Switch Lite, for example, does not connect to a television, so you can only play games in handheld mode. Local multiplayer is severely limited due to the lack of a built-in kickstand, but there are a few improvements over the original Switch.
The smaller size makes it easier to take with you on the go, and the form factor feels better in the hands. There’s a real directional pad that works better than the directional buttons on the original Switch, particularly in platformers and fighting games. These improvements make the Switch Lite ideal for anyone who prefers to play in handheld mode and is looking for a more portable option.
GPU: NVIDIA Custom Tegra processor | CPU: NVIDIA Custom Tegra processor | Storage: 32GB Internal | Optical Drive: No | Dimensions: 3.6″x8.2″x.55″ | Weight: .61 Lbs
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Best Streaming Platform: Google Stadia
Google’s gaming experiment isn’t a console; rather, it’s an online streaming service that allows you to play games on any device, anywhere. You can stream games like Destiny 2 to your phone, PC, Smart TV, or Chromecast if you have a strong enough internet connection. If you have a slow internet connection, you can lower the graphical fidelity to improve performance. Google has opened its own development studio to create Google Stadia exclusives, in addition to multiplatform third-party games. With so many other companies dabbling in cloud-based gaming, Stadia’s premise is an intriguing concept for gamers interested in the future of gaming.
In terms of hardware, Google developed a Stadia-specific controller that can connect to WiFi directly to reduce latency. However, you don’t have to buy Google’s official Stadia controller—a third-party controller like the Xbox One Elite or Dualshock 4 will suffice.
If you choose Google’s controller, you’ll have easier access to Stadia’s social features. Stadia intends to build on the foundation laid by platforms such as Twitch by bringing together gaming, streaming, and social media in one location. Google still has a long way to go in terms of establishing Stadia as a major player in the video game industry, but the concept is intriguing.
GPU: Vega 56 | CPU: Custom Intel CPU | Storage: N/A | Optical Drive: No | Dimensions: 4.3″x6.4″ | Weight: 9.45 Oz
Best Re-Release: Nintedo Super NES Classic
Gamers rejoiced when it was announced that Nintendo would be re-releasing updated classics from its previous consoles, such as the NES and Super NES Classic (Check latest price on Amazon). With 21 games, including Starfox 2, the Super NES Classic brings the glorious gaming era of the 1990s back to life.
The Super NES Classic acts as a kind of timepiece for when gaming was at its peak, with the original look and feel of the 16-bit home console (only smaller). Super Mario Kart and Street Fighter II Turbo, two of the best two-player games of the era, are included and ready to play. Megaman X, Earthbound, Kirby Super Star, and Super Mario RPG are among the classics that have returned.
The Super NES classic is a must-have for any gamer who wants to relive their youth or introduce new gamers to a simpler time when the Internet was just getting started. Two wired Super NES Classic controllers are included for multiplayer action.
GPU: Mali-400 MP | CPU: ARM Cortex-A7 | Storage: 512GB Flash Storage | Optical Drive: No | Dimensions: 10″x2.68″x8″ | Weight: 2.12 Lbs
The Final Word
The Nintendo Switch is the best handheld gaming console available. It’s a flexible, versatile option that works just as well in handheld mode as it does when docked in your TV, and it’s jam-packed with AAA games. We like the Xbox Series X‘s sheer power for those who care about graphics, though the PS5 has better exclusives at launch and benefits from the unique DualSense controller. However, both will look fantastic.