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Best Gaming Consoles

On a quest to play even more games? These five consoles will have you looting rewards in no time.

Craving a chance to crash on the couch and spend a Sunday afternoon duking it out in Super Smash Bros.? Or maybe you want to invite your buddies over for a multiplayer game of Diablo III.

Whatever your jam is, these are the top gaming consoles that’ll have you up all night battling gods, solving puzzles, and leaving the competition in your pixelated dust.


Best Consoles for Gaming

ConsolePriceHard DriveBest FeatureLearn More
PlayStation 4 Slim$$$1 TBPlayStation VR compatibilityView on Amazon
Xbox One S$$$1 TB4K supportView on Amazon
Nintendo Switch$$$32 GBSmall and portableView on Amazon
NES Classic$N/A30 1980s classic gamesView on Amazon
Nintendo 2DS XL$$4 GBLow price pointView on Amazon
ConsolePlayStation 4 Slim
Hard Drive1 TB
Best FeaturePlayStation VR compatibility
Learn MoreView on Amazon
ConsoleXbox One S
Hard Drive1 TB
Best Feature4K support
Learn MoreView on Amazon
ConsoleNintendo Switch
Hard Drive32 GB
Best FeatureSmall and portable
Learn MoreView on Amazon
ConsoleNES Classic
Hard DriveN/A
Best Feature30 1980s classic games
Learn MoreView on Amazon
ConsoleNintendo 2DS XL
Hard Drive4 GB
Best FeatureLow price point
Learn MoreView on Amazon

(P.S. If you’re a PC gamer, we’ve got guides for building your own gaming PC and buying a beast-mode gaming laptop.)

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1. PlayStation 4 Slim

Best Virtual Reality System

Cost: $$$


  • Blu-ray and DVD player
  • 1 TB hard drive

We’ll be the first to admit that we’re hardcore PlayStation fans. Mostly it comes down to Sony’s set of exclusive, PlayStation-only games. Who could say no to the new God of War or Horizon Zero Dawn? Not us.

But along with a lengthy list of exclusive AAA and indie titles, the PlayStation 4 brings lots to get hyped about, including 4K on the (pricier) PlayStation 4 Pro.

Virtual reality (VR) still feels relatively new in the gaming world, but Sony’s PlayStation VR (PSVR) system made us believers.

We popped the VR helmet on for a game of Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and were stunned at how immersive the game felt, especially how easy it was to get used to the controls. (Dual-wield battlemage? You got it.)

But one area where the PlayStation 4 lets us down is the controller battery life. It feels like we have to keep our controllers constantly plugged in. (But we really like the touchpad design.)

You may also feel limited by the lack of cross-play on the PlayStation 4. This means you won’t get to team up with players on other consoles (or PCs) for multiplayer games. However, Sony is (finally!) relenting a bit and starting to allow cross-play on select games. We’re crossing our fingers for cross-play support on more titles in the future.


  • Blu-ray and DVD player
  • One of the best VR systems
  • Support for exclusive AAA and indie titles


  • Controllers with short battery life
  • No 4K support (PS4 Pro supports 4K)

Games you can play only on PlayStation 4:

How much internet speed do you need to game?

You’ll need at least 5 Mbps for gaming, but other factors can make a great game go bad just as much as your internet speed. Find out what to look for in our internet gaming guide.


2. Xbox One S

Best for 4K Graphics

Cost: $$$


  • 4K Blu-ray player
  • 1 TB hard drive

If you’re feeling nostalgic about your favorite Xbox 360 games but also can’t wait to get your hands on new releases, the Xbox One is likely more up your alley.

The Microsoft-made console lets you play older games on the newest console (a.k.a. backward compatibility). PlayStation, on the other hand, struggles with backward compatibility, which breaks our hearts until our favorite games are remastered à la Final Fantasy X.

Xbox One also offers a more robust library of cross-play supported games—though you can’t yet play every Xbox One game on Windows 10, sadly.

But one area where PlayStation trumps Xbox is VR. While you can technically jump into a VR game thanks to an Oculus Rift app, it’s not quite as immersive as the PSVR.

And by “not quite as immersive” we mean you’re basically in a virtual reality room where your Xbox games show up on a screen. If that feels a little too much like Inception for you, you’re not alone.

That aside, if you’re an Electronic Arts (EA) fan, the Xbox One comes with yet another perk that might sway you. The EA Access program adds more than 50 games to your Xbox One library, but best of all it gets you early access to new EA titles and 10% off EA digital purchases. Of course, you’ll need to subscribe to rake in all these benefits.


  • 4K support
  • Early access to EA games
  • Play Anywhere program that supports cross-play


  • No UHD Blu-ray support (Xbox One X supports it)
  • No full VR support

Games you can play only on Xbox One:

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3. Nintendo Switch

Best for Gaming on the Go

Cost: $$$


  • Up to 1080p resolution
  • 32 GB of storage

We were right there with the rest of the gaming community, foaming at the mouth when the Nintendo Switch released. This console may look small, but it’s the ultimate hybrid of portable and couch gaming in a tiny package.

Speaking of hybrid, you can detach the two Joy-Con controllers and challenge a friend to a game of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. The possibilities are endless (as long as you can get a comfy grip on the small Joy-Cons).

We’d say the Switch is more a traditional console than a portable one, though gaming with it on the couch does have a couple downfalls.

We hinted at the tiny Joy-Cons, which can be a pain (literally) to keep a grip on for longer than a couple rounds of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. That kind of makes a Switch Pro Controller a must-have for anyone with larger hands.

Also, if you love to test the waters in multiple games, the 32 GB storage space just won’t cut it. You’ll need to fork out some cash (again) for a microSDXC card to store more games.

Planning on the Switch to keep your pre-teen entertained during your next family vacation? Beware of the Switch’s short battery life when taken off its dock. Sadly, you can’t count on it to last you through both the wait time at the airport and your flight, let alone the ride to grandma’s house.

Still, the miles-long list of Nintendo Switch exclusive games is more than enough to keep us attached to this handheld portal to the lands of Pokémon trainers and Goombas.


  • Lots of exclusive game titles
  • Small size for portability
  • Ability to hook up to your TV


  • No VR or 4K support
  • Small storage space
  • Short battery life

Top 10 games you can play only on the Nintendo Switch:

Wait, what happened to the Wii?

We loved the Wii, but this family-friendly console had to quickly face the music around 2011. That’s when game publishers like Nintendo, Atari, and EA stopped creating games for the Wii. RIP.

You can still buy a Wii U online, though. Just don’t expect to play most new releases on it.


4. NES Classic

Best for Retro Games

Cost: $


  • 30 preloaded games
  • HDMI connection
  • 3 display modes

Ready to go retro? The NES Classic is a dream come true for those who miss the golden days of gaming in your living room with the kid next door.

It comes preloaded with dozens of your favorite childhood games so you can relive huddling on your best friend’s twin bed playing Donkey Kong. Even the console brings back memories with its gray-and-black design.

We’ve been waiting for Nintendo to hop on the classic gaming console remake bandwagon for a long time. Now that they have, we’re pleased as punch. The NES Classic plays childhood classics like Super Mario Bros. 3 and Final Fantasy.

There is one huge downside—or should we say a short side? The cable connecting your controller to the console is about two feet long, which means you’ll have to channel your inner 13-year-old and sit on the floor while you play. (Unless you have lengthy HDMI and power cables.)

This is a huge bummer for two reasons: we hate sitting so close to the screen, and it makes the NES Classic’s updated graphics less enjoyable.

Dear Nintendo: TVs are no longer the tiny, old school CRT things of the past. We’ve got 60-inch LED screens up in here, and sitting two feet away from 60 inches of full-screen, pixelated glory can be really hard on the eyes. Just sayin’.


  • Large lineup of popular 1980s games
  • Updated ports—including an HDMI connection to the TV
  • 3 different display modes


  • Short cable from controller to console
  • No option to add more games
  • No Home button on the controller

What games do you get with the NES Classic?

  • Balloon Fight
  • Bubble Bobble
  • Castlevania
  • Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest
  • Donkey Kong
  • Donkey Kong Jr.
  • Double Dragon II: The Revenge
  • Mario
  • Excitebike
  • Final Fantasy
  • Galaga
  • Ghosts ’n Goblins
  • Gradius
  • Ice Climber
  • Kid Icarus
  • Kirby’s Adventure
  • Mario Bros.
  • Mega Man 2
  • Metroid
  • Ninja Gaiden
  • Pac-Man
  • Punch-Out!! Featuring Mr. Dream
  • StarTropics
  • Super C
  • Super Mario Bros.
  • Super Mario Bros. 2
  • Super Mario Bros. 3
  • Tecmo Bowl
  • The Legend of Zelda
  • Zelda II: The Adventure of Link

Relive the ‘90s with the Super NES Classic.

If you grew up gaming in the 1990s, the Super NES Classic might be more of a home run. It comes at a higher price than the NES Classic, but you still get some of the most popular two-player games of that decade. We’re talking Star Fox 2, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, and Super Mario Kart. Our inner ‘90s child is cheering.


5. Nintendo 2DS XL

Best for Budget Price

Cost: $$


  • Plays 3DS games
  • Amiibo support
  • 4 GB storage

For the price point, we’re not sure anything beats the highly portable Nintendo 2DS XL. Sure, you could pay more for the 3DS XL, but since most DS games don’t include 3D support anyway, it’s probably not worth the extra cost.

How does it compare to the Switch? Well, you’ll get crisper, richer graphics with the Switch. But the portability and game library on the 2DS keep us coming back.

Sure, the 2DS’s software is certainly showing its age—as is its blurry 400 x 240 resolution—but the 2DS’s lineup of games rivals that of the Switch. Plus, we’ve found it to be far more portable.

At about 6.4 x 6.3 inches, it’s about the size of your cellphone. That makes it easier to carry along during your train ride to work than the Switch, which is a little big to just shove in with the rest of your stuff.

But our favorite thing about the 2DS is the game library. Don’t be confused by the names—the 2DS XL lets you play any 3DS games. That includes some of our favorites, like The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, Super Smash Bros., and Pokémon Sun and Moon.


  • Affordable price
  • Amiibo support
  • Large lineup of games


  • Low resolution
  • Older system

Top 10 Games for Nintendo 2DS XL


Want to know more?

What gaming console has the best graphics card?

The Xbox One X is hands down the gaming console with the best graphics card. The Xbox One X graphics card boasts:

  • 6 teraflops
  • 326 GBps bandwidth
  • 12 GB of GDDR5 memory

Yup, all those tech specs make playing your favorite 4K Blu-ray or graphics-rich RPG a breeze.

What’s the best gaming console for non-gamers?

If you’re a non-gamer, the best gaming console really depends on what you want or need. We love these consoles:

What’s better: Xbox One or PS4?

The Xbox One is better for allowing cross-play between it and Windows 10, while the PS4 tends to have a better game library, including exclusive AAA and indie titles. If you want to dive into VR, the PS4’s PSVR system is miles ahead of Xbox too, That said, if you’ve got the cash for the fancier models, the Xbox One X makes a huge performance leap past the PlayStation 4 Pro.

What’s the difference between Xbox One and Xbox One S?

The main difference between the Xbox One and Xbox One S is 4K support: the One S supports 4K Ultra HD and 4K Blu-ray videos. The One S also has a more powerful processor—even though it’s almost half the size of the Xbox One. You’ll also notice the One S comes with an updated controller complete with grippy texture and twice the range of the old Xbox One controller.

Can I play Xbox One games on the Xbox One S?

Cue the cheers because yes, you can play your old Xbox One games on the new Xbox One S (and Xbox One X). That includes all digital downloads and discs, though you’ll need to re-download your old games before you can pick up a controller and play.

Which console is best for streaming video in 4K?

The Xbox One S is the best console for streaming video in 4K. It comes with 4K Ultra HD and 4K Blu-ray support—plus it’ll amp up the graphics with any 4K games too.

What’s the best cheap gaming console?

If you’re looking for a cheap gaming console, we recommend going with the oldies-but-goodies: PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Not only will you pay less for the actual console, but you’ll likely fork over fewer dollars for the games too.

However, if you don’t trust a used console or still want the latest and greatest games, the Xbox One S rings in about $50 cheaper than the PlayStation 4 Slim. And it comes with superb 4K support—not to mention you get to play games like Halo: The Master Chief Collection, Ashen, and Sea of Thieves.

Author -

Catherine has a degree in journalism and an MBA, and has spent the last 10+ years writing everything from Okinawa travel columns to internet guides and reviews. She's a lead writer on internet and technology for and believes the internet is a necessity, not a luxury, that everyone should have access to. You can also find her on Twitter: @CMReviewsIt.