A new video game generation has only just began, which means it’s time to pick your next console. But what are the best game consoles that you can currently buy?

After reviewing all of the latest and great consoles that launched in the past few years, we’ve decided to rank them in this buying guide. What’s the most powerful console? Which is the best on a budget? Which version of the Nintendo Switch is best for you? We’ve answered all of those questions (and more) below.

And if you fancy yourself a PC gamer instead, check out our Best Graphics Card, Best Gaming CPU and Best Gaming Laptop pages.

How we test

Learn more about how we test game consoles

Every game console we review goes through a series of uniform checks designed to gauge key things including build quality and performance.

We’ll play multiple games on the hardware, while comparing the performance to rival consoles (and predecessors) to see whether it’s worth the investment.

We’ll also evaluate the software, as well as the line-up of games when deciding on a final score.

Xbox Series X

A powerful console, aided by the fantastic value of Game Pass

Pros

  • Sleek and premium design
  • Xbox Game Pass offers a stunning level of value
  • Quick Resume is a game changer
  • SSD makes games and applications faster than ever

Cons

  • User interface and overall design is very familiar

The Xbox Series X is one of the best game consoles that you can buy. It’s packing some seriously powerful specs, capable of playing games in 4K up to 120fps. The likes of Forza Horizon 5 demonstrate how fantastic games can look on this console, while the ultra-fast SSDs also make games load up in a blink of an eye.

But the biggest selling point of the Xbox Series X is the optional Game Pass subscription, which gives you access to large library of games for a reasonable monthly fee. What’s more, future first-party games such as Starfield, Redfall and Scorn will all arrive on Game Pass on launch day, so you don’t need to miss out by avoiding the expensive upfront cost.

Of course, the Series X isn’t perfect. It’s very expensive and it’s not exactly the best look console we’ve ever seen. But when you consider that Microsoft has signed up the makers of Elder Scrolls and Call of Duty, there’s no worry that this console will have a lack of games compared to its rivals.

Reviewer: Jade King
Full review: Xbox Series X Review

PS5

A fantastic console with a wealth of first-party games

Pros

  • Absurdly powerful
  • User interface is refined, accessible and easy to use
  • DualSense controller feels like a true leap forward
  • Backwards compatibility for PS4 games

Cons

  • The console is overly bulky
  • Lags behind Series X and S when it comes to loading times

Sony has continued its strong form into the current generation with the PS5, with the new console capable of a 4K performance while also packing features such as ray tracing. Sony has also made a big deal out of the SSD speeds, which can load up massive worlds in a couple of seconds.

The PS5 may not have a killer feature like Game Pass right now, but the haptic feedback of the DualSense controller is still mighty impressive. And there are already plenty of great games here such as Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart, Demon’s Souls and Miles Morales. Sony is showing no sign of slowing down either.

There’s also a PS5 Digital Edition available for £359.99 if you’re not fussed about having a disk drive, although it’s admittedly difficult to find in stock.

Reviewer: Jade King
Full review: PS5 Review

Nintendo Switch

The best value portable console

Pros

  • Gaming whenever, wherever you want
  • Bright and colourful screen
  • Versatile Joy-Con controllers
  • Some truly incredible games

Cons

  • Overpriced accessories
  • Expensive games

The Nintendo Switch may have launched five years ago, but it’s still one of the best game consoles, especially for portable play. It’s cheaper than the OLED model, more versatile than the Switch Lite and no other company has even come close to rivalling it – at least until the Steam Deck arrives.

The Switch also has an impressive line-up of games, including Breath of the Wild, Animal Crossing: New Horizons and the recent Pokémon Legends: Arceus. And don’t forget this console’s versatility, as you can be used as a portable or even docked up to the TV so you can play the likes of Mario Kart on split-screen.

The Switch is arguably starting to show its age, relying on the cloud to play modern third-party games if you’ve got a fast enough internet connection. But there are still some exciting games in development for the Switch, including Breath of the Wild 2 and Splatoon 3.

Reviewer: Stuart Andrews
Full review: Nintendo Switch Review

Steam Deck

Best portable gaming PC

Pros

  • Excellent performance for a portable
  • Light enough to play games on the go
  • SteamOS is packed with useful features
  • Open-platform PC offers oodles of potential

Cons

  • Limited storage space
  • Poor battery life for AAA games
  • Incompatible with popular multiplayer games

Nintendo has dominated the portable gaming market for decades, but there’s finally a worthy challenger. The Steam Deck allows you to play PC games on the go, with enough power under the hood to play modern AAA games such as Elden Ring, Dying Light 2 and Horizon Zero Dawn, albeit with dialled back graphics settings. 

Since this is technically a PC, operating on Linux and packing an AMD chip, you’re able to fiddle with graphics settings or even use mods, just like you can with a standard gaming PC. Of course, it’s not going to be able to compete with a high-end gaming system, but that’s perfectly understandable given its portable design and affordable price. 

It’s not perfect, as it’s currently incompatible with major multiplayer games such as Destiny and Fortnite and battery life isn’t fantastic with demanding AAA games. But its design, performance and software are so good that this is comfortably the best games console (if you can call it that) for portable PC gaming. 

Reviewer: Ryan Jones
Full Review: Steam Deck Review

Xbox Series S

The best budget games console

Pros

  • Major performance upgrade on Xbox One S
  • Small and stylish design
  • Next-gen SSD reduce loading times dramatically
  • Incredible value considering the specs

Cons

  • 500GB storage is far too small
  • Lacks a disk drive
  • No support for Wi-Fi 6

If you’re concerned about the rising cost of game consoles, then the Xbox Series S is your best option. It supports a 1440p resolution and ray tracing, and even has speedy SSDs for instant loading times. It may be incapable of hitting a 4K resolution for most games, and lacks a disk drive if you like to buy physical games, but those are fair compromises considering the cheap price.

It also benefits from the absurdly good value of Game Pass, sharing the exact same library of games as its more powerful sibling. Yes, that means you’ll be able to play the likes of Halo Infinite, Starfield, The Elder Scrolls and all of the upcoming Call of Duty games.

However, its stingy 500GB of storage space can’t be ignored. In order to install multiple games on the drive, you’re going to have to invest in a memory card, and that certainly isn’t cheap. But even with that added to the shopping cart, this is still one of the best game consoles available for those on a budget.

Reviewer: Ryan Jones
Full review: Xbox Series S Review

Nvidia Shield TV (2019)

A cloud-streaming TV box for PC gamers

Pros

  • 4K and HDR visuals looks incredible
  • Cinema-quality audio
  • Redesigned remote
  • GeForce Now cloud streaming is a game changer

Cons

  • No app for Now TV
  • Requires strong internet connection for cloud gaming

The Nvidia Shield TV (2019) is a left-field choice on this list, as it isn’t technically a gaming console. Instead, this is a premium Android streaming box that lets you watch all of your favourite TV apps in 4K. But with Nvidia’s GeForce Now app integrated, it’s also capable of streaming PC games via the cloud.

GeForce Now is a free to sign up to, linking up to the likes of your Steam and Epic Games Store accounts in order to access your game library. There’s a modest list of games that are actually supported, but there are some big hitters here including Fortnite, Cyberpunk and Control. Of course, you’ll need a fast internet connection in order to ensure a fast performance, which is the platform’s greatest limitation.

You can also choose to pay £8.99 per month to the upgrade the performance to 1080p at 60fps, or £15 per month (£89.99 per 6 months) to get games running in 4K HDR. Those subscription costs aren’t exactly cheap, but it’s decent value when you consider you’re getting the performance of £2000+ gaming PC.

Reviewer: Ryan Jones
Full review: Nvidia Shield TV (2019)

Nintendo Switch OLED

A premium Switch with a jaw-dropping screen

Pros

  • OLED screen offers a huge upgrade
  • Bigger screen, but still very portable
  • Stand is a lot sturdier now
  • Increased storage capacity

Cons

  • No performance upgrade
  • No substantial upgrades for docked mode

The Nintendo Switch OLED is the latest iteration of the popular portable console, with a brand new OLED panel taking the visuals to new heights. Colours look far more vivid and natural here compared to the standard Switch, making the likes of Breath of the Wild and Metroid Dread look outstanding.

Unfortunately, the Switch OLED isn’t more powerful than the OG hybrid console, which means there’s no real reason (aside from a new Ethernet cable on the dock) to buy this version if you mainly play via the TV.

But for those who love portable play, the Nintendo Switch OLED is definitely worth considering, despite the never-ending rumours an incoming Switch Pro.

Reviewer: Ryan Jones
Full review: Nintendo Switch OLED Review

Nintendo Switch Lite

The best budget-friendly portable games console

Pros

  • Design is robust, attractive and easy to use
  • Already boasts a fantastic library of games
  • Increased battery life compared to the base model

Cons

  • Nature of console means certain games are no longer supported
  • Local multiplayer is far harder to achieve without docking

The Nintendo Switch Lite is the cheapest portable games console on this list, making it an ideal option for children. It loses the ability to dock to a TV like the standard Switch, but it’s still a great option for on-the-go gaming.

Since the Joy-Cons are fused to the sides of the handheld console, it’s not capable of playing select games that require complex motion control, but it otherwise shares the same game library as the Switch and Switch OLED. Yup, that means you can play all of the best Mario, Zelda and Pokémon games here.

But it’s worth remembering that its inability to connect to the dock means you won’t be able to play multiplayer games such as Mario Kart and Smash Bros on the TV for some split-screen action.

Reviewer: Jade King
Full review: Nintendo Switch Lite Review

FAQs

What is the most popular gaming console?

The Nintendo Switch has the most sales out of all of the game consoles on this list, but that’s an unfair metric since it’s been out for a longer length of time. The PS5 and Xbox Series X are seeing lots of sales, but have been impacted by the ongoing GPU shortage.

Which games console is best for families?

The Nintendo Switch arguably has the best library of family-friendly games, with the likes of Mario Party and Mario Kart available. Although the Xbox Series S is a good option too, since it’s available at a low price and can be paired with Game Pass to access a large library of games.

Which console has better graphics?

The Nvidia Shield TV technically offers the best graphics if you subscribe to the most expensive GeForce Now tier. But if we’re talking about traditional consoles, it will be between the PS5 and Xbox Series X.

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