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Best Game Consoles: The top portable and home entertainment stations

What’s the best games console you can buy today? Today that’s a tricky question as console gaming can take on many different forms, and it can be difficult to know which one to go for as a result.

This is where our team of experts step in. Our team of experts has tested a wide range of games consoles, ranging from the latest generation of AAA-busting beasts to smaller, more affordable choices. Based on these reviews and experiences, we’ve collated this list of our favourite games consoles. 

Not every console is going to work for everyone, so we’ve made sure to include a good selection. These range from the latest generation of world beaters from Microsoft and Sony to a selection of handheld options for gamers on the go. 

We’ve also taken the time to focus on the important things people look for when buying a games console. These include how well the console is made and their overall design, alongside how well they perform in a range of different games in terms of both graphical performance and load times. We also factor the selection of titles on offer on each console.

To get the best results possible, our team has used each console extensively, and tested each of their respective features over a lengthy period of time to determine a verdict based on both specs and real world experience. 

If you can’t find a games console you like, be sure to check back with us as as we constantly update this list as and when we get new devices in for review.

How we test

Learn more about how we test games 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
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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 undoubtedly one of the best games consoles we’ve reviewed. We found it is immensely fast, with the 12 teraflops of power able to power 4K output at 120Hz, which allows for both detailed and buttery-smooth gameplay. Console exclusives such as Forza Horizon 5 particularly wowed us, with them acting as a clear demonstration of the power the Series X features. In addition, its internal SSDs allowed games to load pretty much instantly, which we found especially useful. Testing, Doom Eternal, for instance, the game loaded in six seconds, which put it firmly ahead of any other next-gen console.

Microsoft has also bundled some clever quality of life features with the Series X that seriously impressed us during testing. For instance, the Quick Resume function allows for games to be stopped in a suspended state if you decide to open something else, but if you wish to return to your original game, you can pick up right where you left off. Moreover, there is also three generations’ worth of backwards compatibility as the Series X can play nearly every Xbox One game, as well as a good selection of Xbox 360 and original Xbox games.

Intriguingly, one of the biggest selling points of the Series X however isn’t the console itself, but the vast games library on offer with an Xbox Game Pass subscription. It provides instant access to over 100 games for what we would consider a reasonable monthly fee, and also acts as a handy way for you to get access to future first-party games such as Starfield and Redfall with day-one downloads, without paying for each game individually.

Whilst we found the Series X to look rather sleek with its matted black shell, it’s also quite a tall console with a non-descript cuboid shape. It’s also quite expensive in the world of consoles, but if you’re someone who’s strapped for cash, and you’re looking for the very best gaming experience, then the Xbox Series X is the console to go for.

Reviewer: Jade King
Full review: Xbox Series X Review

PS5

A fantastic console with a wealth of first-party games
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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

If you want a solid selection of exclusive titles, as well as an incredible gaming experience, then the PlayStation 5 will definitely serve you well.

We found it to offer a large amount of internal horsepower with a total of 10.28 teraflops of power which provided a marvellous gaming experience, especially with benefits such as hardware-accelerated ray tracing helping to make games look magnificent. Alongside this comes blazing fast SSD load times, and an 825GB internal capacity will be good for installing a handful of games, although you can expand this with a compatible PCIe Gen 4.0 M.2 SSD if you so wish.

The PS5 also features clever improvements such as 3D Audio which can help to increase immersion in games, as well as notable gains inside the all-new DualSense controller. Highlights include Adaptive Triggers and Haptic Feedback that we found were a great help in increasing immersion within games. Moreover, its 4K output at a max of 120fps is excellent, that is, on the next-gen titles that support it.

Unfortunately, it’s hard to get away from the sheer size of Sony’s latest gaming console. Its white design may look pretty space age, but it’s absolutely huge, and whilst it can be placed either horizontally or vertically, you will need a lot of space to store the PS5. The port selection on offer is good though with both USB-C and USB-A present on the front interface, giving you some good options for connectivity for any additional peripherals such as controllers and headsets.

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, much like the standard PS5 at the moment.

Reviewer: Jade King
Full review: PS5 Review

Nintendo Switch

The best value portable console
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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 be nearly five years old, but it still offers an excellent value-for-money option if you want the versatility of a home console you can also take on the go.

We found it offered a brilliant user experience, with the ability to flit between docked and portable play being particularly joyous. The gameplay on offer is particularly stellar, with the Switch also being jam-packed full of classic Nintendo titles including Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Super Mario Odyssey. Recent times have also seen future classics such as Nintendo Switch Sports join the fold, which is a reminder of the Wii days, which backs up the marvellous first-party options available for the Switch.

Alongside the raft of games and the fun and portable form factor comes the versatile JoyCon controllers, which we found offered an engaging gaming experience with both conventional and more motion-based titles such as party game 1-2-Switch available to get stuck into. They also pack in haptic feedback, as well as an NFC reader and a gyroscope, which gives them some serious power.

The UI on offer with the Switch is pleasingly simple, as well as being game-focused, too. With a capacitive touchscreen also comes more convenient navigation than with a standard controller, with most functions being a few taps away. There’s also seamless switching between users, which is rather useful if you’ve got more than one user account loaded on your Switch.

All in all, the Nintendo Switch is a shining example of how to do a hybrid console right, and if you’re after a fun and engaging gaming experience whether you’re out or at home, this is a great choice. Just watch out for the less-than-optimal AAA gameplay.

Reviewer: Stuart Andrews
Full review: Nintendo Switch Review

Steam Deck

Best portable gaming PC
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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

If you’re after the versatility and power of PC gaming in a more handheld-friendly form, then the Steam Deck is your best option.

We found it to pack some serious power for its form factor, with its all-AMD core helping it along to play some of the latest AAA titles such as Horizon Zero Dawn on ultra settings at around 30fps. Do note though, with some games, lowering the quality settings to medium will offer significantly better performance, as we experienced in the likes of Dying Light. During testing, the Steam Deck was also pretty much silent, and its thermal performance was also excellent, with no noticeable temperature increases occuring.

Its 7-inch 800p resolution display is perfectly serviceable for gaming on the go and offered good contrast and vibrancy during our checks. Our colorimeter measured a total 575 nits of brightness, alongside a solid 1213:1 contrast ratio. Do note though, that the screen may not look as sharp when you connect the Steam Deck up to a larger display as the image will be stretched, and in portable mode, its performance in lower-light scenes wasn’t the best.

The actual portability and convenience of a handheld device is ultimately why many will buy the Steam Deck, and we’re pleased to say it’s a major plus point of the device. While it does weigh a bit at 669g, which is more than the Nintendo Switch, the team Deck doesn’t feel too heavy, especially as it appears that Valve has done an excellent job at distributing the weight of the device.

This is by no means a perfect device though, as we found its battery life to be short when playing games, with more intense titles being capable of draining the steam Deck’s battery in around two hours or so. If you’re okay with gaming in short bursts though, then the Steam Deck will certainly serve you well.

Reviewer: Ryan Jones
Full Review:Steam Deck Review

Xbox Series S

The best value home console
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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

The Xbox Series S is the best choice for people who want next-gen gaming at a cut price.

It may not be as powerful as the Xbox Series X or PS5, but Microsoft’s more affordable console is still capable of outputting at 1440p, complete with ray-tracing. We found it to offer some stunning visuals within games, with sharp images and great lighting, as well as the extra resolution bump compared to 1080p gaming for instance.

With the Xbox Series S, much like with the Series X, comes the extra convenience of Xbox Game Pass and its vast library of titles that gives you instant access for a reasonable monthly price to over 100 AAA games and a lot more. In addition, its UI is familiar and easy to navigate with us finding games categorised into those, for instance, that are optimised for Series consoles, and those that aren’t.

The console itself is smaller than the Series X by some way, as well as being noticeably dinkier than the older Xbox One S, with it featuring a sleek white shell that can be placed basically anywhere. With that smaller stature comes the sacrifice of a disc drive, however, so if you want to play games or any other forms of media via a physical medium, you’ll have to pick up the more expensive Series X.

In addition, the Series S only features a 500GB SSD that, whilst blazing fast, is highly limiting in its capacity, providing you with space to install only a handful of games at any one time. You can install more storage, but at the moment, the only way of installing it is with a proprietary storage card Seagate has manufactured especially for the new Series consoles, which can get pretty expensive.

With that being said though, the Xbox Series S is still the best games console available for those on a budget who still want to experience the power of next-gen, as long as you can live with the smaller storage and lack of a disc drive.

Reviewer: Ryan Jones
Full review: Xbox Series S Review

Nvidia Shield TV (2019)

A cloud-streaming TV box for PC gamers
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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) technically isn’t a games console, but more of a premium Android streaming box. With a quick download of Nvidia’s own GeForce Now, however, the Shield TV transforms into a capable cloud gaming system.

With the Shield TV, you get a few different ways of playing your favourite titles, as you can either download Android games onto it to play locally, stream your PC thanks to integration with your Steam and Epic Games libraries, or utilise a GeForce Now subscription. The latter will allow grant access to some serious PC power for a monthly subscription to play the latest AAA titles at some seriously high settings.

When loading up the likes of Hitman 2 for instance, we found the experience on the Shield TV to be especially smooth and fun, with no performance lag or dropouts at all. Do note though, that the performance of any game on a cloud gaming platform such as GeForce Now depends on how good your internet connection is. As long as it’s stable and quick, you should get a great gaming experience.

The actual device itself features 4K HDR output, complete with the powers of both Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos. You do need a supported display to take advantage of such features, but if you have one, then our games should look and sound fantastic. With its revamped remote, you do also get access to Netflix via a dedicated button, as well a raft of other movie and TV streaming services.

The Shield TV is also quite a small device, meaning it can be placed basically anywhere and looks a lot sleeker than previous generations as a black cylinder compared to a mini Xbox This is a lot more pleasing to look at, and means the system will blend in with your existing setup nicely too.

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

Nintendo Switch OLED

A premium Switch with a jaw-dropping screen
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Pros

Cons

The Nintendo Switch OLED is the latest iteration of the firm’s brilliant hybrid console, and represents a great option for anyone wanting to try out the convenience of a Switch, combined with the power of an OLED panel.

Its screen is an immense upgrade on the original LCD, even if its resolution is capped at 720p. We found it to look brighter than the original LCD, with especially bright and vivid colours that were also much more accurate. During testing, playing Breath Of The Wild revealed the extra punch of the OLED panel with more detailed skies and forests, alongside better contrast when switching between the a dark, shadow-laden cave and daylight.

In addition, to this, the bezels are noticeably thinner on the Switch OLED, in turn offering a better screen to body ratio, alongside the same good looks as the original Switch. Beyond that, there isn’t too much new stuff around here internally, as the Switch OLED packs the same power as its older brother, which ensures some great all-round performance, especially when used in portable mode. The older internals do lead to some dicier performance in docked mode when connected up to larger displays, as pixels can look visible with images sometimes noticeably fuzzy. You do get some improved storage capacity here though, which is especially handy for installing more games on the main drive, and Nintendo’s selection is also pretty good, as the Switch OLED works with every single original Switch game, as well as those found on the Switch Lite.

There has been a small redesign beyond the smaller bezels with the Switch OLED, with a new and sturdier kickstand present that spans the entire back of the device, as opposed to a small leg on one side. We also found the plastics used on this new model to feel sturdier than the original, and its speakers sound noticeably better with more volume and detailed sound. The dock has also been redesigned and features an Ethernet port alongside some handy cable channels for those who are after a cleaner-looking setup.

All in all, the Switch OLED is a useful choice for those wanting a Nintendo Switch with a much better OLED display. Beyond that, it’s much the same experience as the original. For those who want a capable home console though, you may want to look elsewhere, given the fact there have been no performance upgrades for the Switch OLED, which can lead to some meagre performance when it’s in docked mode.

Reviewer: Ryan Jones
Full review: Nintendo Switch OLED Review

Nintendo Switch Lite

The best budget-friendly portable games console
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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 console on our list, which makes it an ideal choice for those on a budget, as well as for children.

It looks particularly bright and fun, with a funky yellow plastic outer shell, although if this isn’t to your taste, the Switch Lite is available in a couple of other colours, including turquoise and grey. This is a much smaller footprint console than the full-fat Switch, which we found made it nicely portable. It’s lighter 275g weight also made it easier to hold, especially for younger children during our checks.

The display on the Switch Lite is a denser 5.5-inch panel, complete with the same 720p resolution as the original. We found its pixel density of 267ppi to actually be higher than the original Switch, which allowed for a much sharper display in the real world. Generally speaking, you won’t be losing anything in terms of picture quality, even with a 0.7-inch reduction in overall size.

It’s worth indicating at this juncture that the Switch Lite isn’t compatible with every other Switch game, unlike the Switch OLED, given one big difference: the Joy-Cons aren’t detachable. This means that a select few titles such as 1-2-Switch and others that need motion controls won’t work, unless you shell out on extra Joy-Cons. Other than that, the entire library is open to you, meaning all the best Mario, Zelda and Pokemon games are all within easy reach.

In addition, the console features decent battery life, ranging from four to seven hours, depending on what you’re asking your console to do. At the top end, it means you’ll get roughly a working day’s worth of playtime out of the Switch Lite before it needs to be charged. If you’re only playing for a couple of hours a day, it’s likely you could get several days’ worth of charge out of this little guy.

Whilst it may not have detachable Joy-Cons and slightly shorter battery life than the standard Switch, the Switch Lite is a great option for those who want the fundamentals of Nintendo’s latest console with a fun gaming experience, complete with a sturdy and colourful outer shell and a great selection of games.

Reviewer: Jade King
Full review: Nintendo Switch Lite Review

Playdate

An excellent homage to consoles of old
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Pros

  • An inspired celebration of retro gaming
  • Perfect size for portable gaming
  • A surprisingly varied array of games included
  • The crank is fun to use

Cons

  • No backlight
  • No Bluetooth at launch

The Playdate occupies an odd place on our list as one of the best retro-inspired games consoles, despite being the most recently-released console on our list.

It’s a homage to the retro games consoles of old, with its yellow plastic frame an obvious nod to the iconic original Game Boy. Weighing just 86g, we found it to be incredibly portable, and fun to whip out for a few minutes of gaming. The Playdate features a simple button layout with just two buttons, a D-pad, as well as an intriguing crank on the side that we found to add an interesting mechanic to the games that support it, with good precision on offer.

The selection of games available with the Playdate is varied, with there being 24 in total that we found to offer a fun experience, whether it’s the Asteroids-inspired Hyper Meteor, the crank-driven Crankin’s Time Travel Adventure, or the side-scrolling detective thriller Saturday Edition. There’s sure to be a title that everyone will enjoy, especially given how captivating we found the gameplay to be.

There is also the ability to make your own games with the clever Playdate Pulp feature, which is a browser-based way to create your own games, and means that basically anyone, even with basic coding knowledge has the potential to make a game. Moreover, you can also stream the Playdate’s output with Playdate Mirror, a feature we found has seamless connectivity and can even be used with either Xbox Series X or PS5 controllers. 

The only real issue we had with the Playdate was its display. While its dinky 2.7 inch display is perfectly serviceable for the most part, the fact there isn’t a backlight means that you can’t really make use of the console if you’re not in close proximity to any direct light sources. While the Playdate is a great retro inspired console, the pack of a backlight did feel like it brings the old experience a little bit too close to home at times.

Reviewer: Thomas Deehan

Full review: Playdate review

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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.

Trusted Reviews test data

You can see a detailed breakdown of the test data we collected reviewing the consoles in the table below. Keep in mind some of the comparisons won’t be like for like as there’s a big difference between a home and portable games console.

Brightness
Black level
Contrast
White Visual Colour Temperature
sRGB
Adobe RGB
DCI-P3

Comparison specs

You can see a detailed breakdown of each console’s specifications in the table below. Keep in mind some of the comparisons won’t be like for like as there’s a big difference between a home and portable games console.

UK RRP
USA RRP
EU RRP
CA RRP
AUD RRP
CPU
Manufacturer
Screen Size
Storage Capacity
Front Camera
Battery
Battery Hours
Size (Dimensions)
Weight
ASIN
Operating System
Release Date
First Reviewed Date
Resolution
Refresh Rate
Ports
GPU
RAM
Connectivity
Colours
Display Technology
Screen Technology
Touch Screen
Convertible?

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