Best gaming console in 2024 - every major system tested and ranked

Best gaming console
(Image credit: Nintendo, Microsoft, Sony, Future)

Whether you’re new to console gaming or just looking to upgrade your current system, making sure that you get your hands on the best gaming console for your individual needs is almost essential. Many gaming consoles offer far better value than a fully-fledged gaming PC, letting you experience all the latest and greatest releases for less.

Current-generation consoles such as the PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X, and Xbox Series S have been on the market for well over three years now, meaning that they are all readily available worldwide and can often be found on sale or in fantastic bundles with top accessories and beloved games. These aren’t your only options though, as there are also the likes of the Steam Deck (which is effectively just a portable PC) and Super Pocket to consider.

It’s no secret that the process of picking out a new console can be pretty overwhelming due to just how many factors there are to consider, ranging from your desired price point to the level of performance that you want to achieve. Of course, it’s also important to consider the overall design of the console plus the draw of any platform exclusive titles that you’re desperate to play. Luckily, we've tested every major console on the market right now and assembled this useful guide to outline your best choices when picking out a new system.

Best gaming consoles - The quick list

Best gaming console in 2024

Why you can trust TechRadar We spend hours testing every product or service we review, so you can be sure you’re buying the best. Find out more about how we test.

Best gaming console

PS5 placed horizontally on a dark wooden table

PlayStation 5 (Image credit: Shutterstock/Mohsen Vaziri)
The best gaming console

Specifications

CPU: AMD Zen 2-based CPU with 8 cores at 3.5GHz (variable frequency)
GPU: 10.28 TFLOPs, 36 CUs at 2.23GHz (variable frequency)
GPU Architecture: Custom RDNA 2 'Oberon'
Memory interface: 16GB GDDR6 / 256-bit
Memory bandwidth: 448GB/s
Internal storage: Custom 825GB SSD
Usable storage: 667.2GB
IO throughput: 5.5GB/s (raw), typical 8-9GB/s (compressed)
Expandable storage: NVMe SSD slot
External storage: USB HDD support (PS4 games only)
Optical Drive: 4K UHD Blu-ray Drive (for standard edition)

Reasons to buy

+
4K plus 120Hz support
+
Leading controller 
+
Plenty of exclusive games

Reasons to avoid

-
Very bulky
-
The internal drive fills up fast 
Buy it if

You love PlayStation exclusives: The PS5 has some of the best console-exclusive games on the market. There is also backward compatibility with the PS4's wide library so you will always have a ton to play.

You want to play in 4K: The PS5 is capable of producing a 4K resolution picture at 30 fps, 60 fps, and even 120 fps in supported titles. This can look absolutely stunning with the right TV or monitor setup.

Don't buy it if

You have limited space: While a more compact model is now available to buy, it's still pretty large and the original PS5 model is truly massive. If space is a concern then you'll be better off with a smaller system like the Xbox Series S. 

With a library of incredible exclusives including Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, Stellar Blade, and The Last of Us Part 1, the PS5 is absolutely one of the best consoles that you can buy right now. It might not be quite as powerful as the Xbox Series X on paper, but it still offers superb performance and in a wide range of first and third party titles. You can even expect to experience certain games with ray tracing and at resolutions up to 4K

The included controller, Sony’s DualSense Wireless Controller, is also a major highlight with a seriously comfortable form factor and fantastic haptic feedback. Priced at $499.99 / $479.99, you’re getting plenty of value here compared to the competition. Purchasing games through discs can be great value, but there is also a cheaper digital version priced at $399.99 / $379.99 which cuts out the disc drive if you wish to solely expand your collection of games via the digital store. 

It is worth nothing that the console’s storage may become an issue if you buy lots of digital games, however. Although the console comes packed in with 667.2GB of usable space out of the box, which does sound quite large, this will fill up very quickly given the large file sizes of many of the best PS5 games. Picking something up from our guide to the best SSD for PS5 can go a long way to help alleviate this issue.

A new PS5 model is out now, too, which has effectively replaced the digital and disc version of the base model. This revision is much slimmer, has a slightly more appealing design, and provides an option to purchase a detachable Ultra HD Blu-Ray disc drive. Read our full breakdown of all the differences in the new model to learn more.

Best performance gaming console

Xbox Series X

(Image credit: Future)
The most powerful gaming console

Specifications

CPU: 8x Cores @ 3.8 GHz (3.6 GHz w/ SMT) Custom Zen 2 CPU
GPU: 12 TFLOPS, 52 CUs @ 1.825 GHz Custom RDNA 2 GPU
Die Size: 360.45 mm2
Process: 7nm Enhanced
Memory: 16 GB GDDR6 w/ 320b bus
Memory Bandwith: 10GB @ 560 GB/s, 6GB @ 336 GB/s
Internal Storage: 1TB Custom NVME SSD
I/O Throughput: 2.4 GB/s (Raw), 4.8 GB/s
Expandable Storage: 1TB Expansion Card (matches internal storage exactly)
External Storage: USB 3.2 External HDD Support
Optical Drive: 4K UHD Blu-ray Drive

Reasons to buy

+
Game Pass is great value
+
Dolby Vision and Atmos support
+
Up to 4K 120Hz gameplay

Reasons to avoid

-
Lacking many compelling exclusives
-
UI is a bit dated
Buy it if

You want the most powerful console: The Xbox Series X is more powerful than any other system on the market right now. If power is your only priority, this should be your choice. 

You want to play Game Pass games: The Xbox Game Pass subscription service is excellent value for money and offers hundreds of great titles for a low monthly price. 

Don't buy it if

You want to play PS5 exclusives: There are some highlights, but the Xbox Series X's library of exclusive games is a bit of a let down compared to the many brilliant titles available on PS5.

From a raw technical perspective, the Xbox Series X is comfortably the most powerful console currently available and is therefore our top pick if pure performance is your number one concern. A lot of the best Xbox Series X games look and sound phenomenal, thanks in no small part to the stellar implementation of Dolby Atmos surround sound and Dolby Vision - which compliment the console’s high-end specs very well.

Priced at $499 / £479, the Xbox Series X is far better than what you would be getting for that price in the gaming PC or gaming laptop market. Like the PS5, the Xbox Series X also has 4K support and compatibility with desirable graphical features like ray tracing. As the system utilizes Gen 4.0 NVMe SSD tech for its storage, it is also unlikely to struggle when it comes to storage speeds any time soon. 

The one area where the Xbox Series X may disappoint is in its software library, which lacks the many compelling console exclusives that you can find on PS5. Xbox Game Pass, however, does help make up for this, offering players the chance to tap into a wide range of titles for a low monthly price. There is also excellent backwards compatibility, far better than what the PS5 offers, which allows you to play games dating all the way back to the original Xbox. 

That's not to say that the Xbox Series X lacks a handful of decent exclusives of its own, of course. Forza Horizon 5 is one of the best racing games on the market, while simulator fans will surely appreciate the hardware-intensive and stunningly beautiful Microsoft Flight Simulator. There are loads of multi-platform releases to consider too, including the brilliant Lords of the Fallen and Sonic Superstars.

Best budget gaming console

Xbox Series S console

(Image credit: Future)
The best budget gaming console

Specifications

CPU: 8-core 3.6GHz (3.4GHz with SMT) custom AMD 7nm
GPU: 4 teraflops at 1.565GHz
RAM: 10GB GDDR6
Frame rate: Up to 120fps
Resolution: 1440p with 4K upscaling
Optical: No disk drive
Storage: 512GB NVMe SSD
Usable storage space: 364GB

Reasons to buy

+
Extremely compact design
+
Plays all Xbox Series X games 
+
Very quite while in use

Reasons to avoid

-
No 4K support
-
Small SSD gets filled very quickly
-
No disk drive
Buy it if

You want good value for money: The Xbox Series S offers the ability to play all Xbox Series X games in 1440p for a very affordable price. 

You want a compact system: The Xbox Series S is a fraction of the size of its larger sibling, making it ideal for those with cramped gaming spaces or playing on the go. 

Don't buy it if

You want to play in 4K: The Xbox Series S can only output at a maximum resolution of 1440p. If you own a 4K monitor or gaming TV, you should look at the Xbox Series X instead. 

At just $299.99 / £249.99, the Xbox Series S presents incredible value. That’s before additional discounts, too, where we frequently see that price slashed to as low as $249.99 / £199.99 or the addition of bundled games to bolster the package.

While this low price point makes it an obvious choice for the best affordable gaming console, you should keep in mind that you are making a number of concessions when picking the Xbox Series S over its larger sibling or the PS5. For a start, the machine lacks a physical disc drive and is limited to a 1440p resolution instead of the 4K output of the Xbox Series X. This means that games will not look quite so sharp, especially if you’re using a 4K monitor or expensive gaming TV

The 512GB SSD may also begin to fill out quicker than expected if you're downloading many of the larger titles that are available on Xbox Game Pass. This can be solved by the addition of a Seagate Xbox Storage Expansion Card, but this is an expensive solution if you’re after the higher capacity models. Alternatively, a slightly pricier Series S model is now available in Carbon Black, which offers 1TB of storage space for $349.99/£299.99.

This console still lets you enjoy all the great current-generation Xbox games like Forza Motorsport and Starfield for a fraction of the Xbox Series X's price. It also makes for a perfect media streaming centre, offering native apps for Netflix and Disney Plus where the 1440p resolution of this console helps make images look far crisper than your standard 1080p picture.

Best handheld gaming console

Nintendo Switch OLED

(Image credit: Future)
The best handheld console

Specifications

Dimensions: 4 x 9.5 x 5.4 inch(W x L x H) with Joy-Cons
GPU: 768MHz (docked)/307.2MHz (undocked) Nvidia custom Tegra SOC
RAM: 4 GB
Max Resolution: 1080p (docked); 720p (handheld)
Optical Drive: None
Storage: 64GB (expandable with MicroSD)
Portable battery life: approx 3 - 7 hours

Reasons to buy

+
Large 7-inch screen 
+
Beautiful and vibrant OLED display 
+
Enhanced speakers and kickstand 

Reasons to avoid

-
Upgrades only apply to handheld mode
-
Processing power is the same 
Buy it if...

You want the definitive handheld experience: Compared to the original Nintendo Switch, the Nintendo Switch OLED benefits from a stellar display, improved speakers and a much better kickstand.

You want to download games: Among its other upgrades, the Nintendo Switch OLED features double the internal storage of the base model making it ideal for digital titles.

Don't buy it if

You can find the original model much cheaper: Despite the improvements of the Nintendo Switch OLED, the original Nintendo Switch could still present a fantastic value option if you manage to find it in a steep sale.

The Nintendo Switch OLED is easily the definitive model out of Nintendo's current consoles. Its internal processing power might be the same as the standard Nintendo Switch model, but its screen has been upgraded significantly. With a bigger 7-inch OLED panel, the best Nintendo Switch games look better than ever before when playing in handheld mode.

At $349.99 / £299.99, the Nintendo Switch OLED is more expensive than the standard Switch model, but is still much more affordable than Sony and Microsoft's current-gen consoles, the PS5 and Xbox Series X. Of course, it's worth noting that the Nintendo Switch OLED isn't as powerful as these rival consoles, and those who play games ported to the system from other platforms may see them struggle slightly at times in comparison.

Screen improvements aside, it's also worth noting that the Nintendo Switch OLED includes a wider kickstand as well as improved speakers, meaning that it's easier to play in tabletop mode and games sound better when the system isn't docked. You don't need to worry about having a small gaming library, either, as all Nintendo Switch games are compatible with the OLED model.

Despite the many upgrades found in the Nintendo Switch OLED, there are still some circumstances where buying the older original Nintendo Switch Model is still advisable. This includes getting your hands on any potential limited edition designs, such as a the cute Animal Crossing Switch, or if you can manage to snag one of the cheapest Nintendo Switch bundles and deals.

Best gaming console for kids

Nintendo Switch Lite

Nintendo Switch Lite (Image credit: TechRadar)
The best games console for kids and families

Specifications

Dimensions: 3.6 x 8.2 x .55 inch
GPU: NVIDIA Custom Tegra processor
Screen: Capacitive touch screen / 5.5 inch LCD / 1280x720 resolution
Storage: 32GB (expandable)
Portable battery life: approx 3 - 7 hours

Reasons to buy

+
More portable than Switch
+
Plenty of bright colors to choose from
+
Design is comfortable to hold

Reasons to avoid

-
Does not dock to the TV 
Buy it if...

You need a durable handheld: The Nintendo Switch Lite is made of thick and durable plastic. The fact the Joy-Cons are built-in also means they cannot be lost. 

You want good value for money: The Nintendo Switch Lite is considerably cheaper than the Nintendo Switch OLED and plays all the same games.  

Don't buy it if

You want to play games on the TV: Unlike the Nintendo Switch or the Nintendo Switch OLED, the Nintendo Switch Lite doesn't dock to the TV in any way. This is one for portable play only.

The Nintendo Switch Lite is our number-one choice for those who want a console for kids and families. Not only does it have a lower asking price than the standard Nintendo Switch and Nintendo Switch OLED models at $199.99 / £200, its smaller size is ideal for little hands (or just those who prefer a more compact system). Beyond that, there are plenty of bright, cheery colors to choose from, such as blue, pink, purple, and yellow.

With a thick plastic construction, we found that the Nintendo Switch Lite is more durable than the standard Nintendo Switch model which means that it should hold up a little better in the long-term. Unlike the regular Switch, the Joy-Con controllers can't be removed, which means that they can't get lost. 

The screen is on the smaller side - especially when compared to the Nintendo Swithc OLED model - but it still runs at the same 720p resolution as the Nintendo Switch and OLED. Its performance is the same, too, so you don't need to worry about games running slower just because you're using a smaller system.

However, it's worth keeping in mind the Nintendo Switch Lite's major limitation - it can't be docked and connected to a TV in order to play in TV mode. Instead, its a solely portable system. Although this might not be a problem for children, it is definitely worth bearing in mind for other potential buyers.

Best gaming console for PC gamers

Steam Deck

(Image credit: Future)
The best handheld console for PC gamers

Specifications

CPU: Zen 2 4c/8t, 2.4-3.5GHz (up to 448 GFlops FP32)
GPU: 8 RDNA 2 CUs, 1.0-1.6GHz (up to 1.6 TFlops FP32)
RAM : 16 GB LPDDR5
Resolution : 7-inch 1280 x 800px
Refresh rate: 60 Hz
Internal storage: 64GB eMMC; 256GB NVMe; 512GB NVMe SSD
Expandable storage: MicroSD card compatible

Reasons to buy

+
Very good performance
+
Library of games is enormous
+
Excellent construction 

Reasons to avoid

-
Load times are slow
-
Doesn't have a large battery life
Buy it if...

You have a good Steam library: If you already use Steam on PC, then you're likely to own a good number of games that would be supported by the Steam Deck.

Gaming laptops feel too expensive: The Steam Deck is a cheaper alternative to gaming laptops with similar specifications, so if you're looking to take your PC gaming with you on the go, this is a more accessible option.

Don't buy it if

A good battery life is a must: While the Steam Deck impresses when it comes to software performance that comes at a major cost to battery life which is sometimes less than two hours when playing intensive titles. 

If you're looking for a powerful gaming PC that can be tucked in your bag (or a large pocket), the Steam Deck is well worth considering. It's as powerful as a high-end gaming laptop, but its portability and price make for an overall enticing package. 

Price wise, you can expect to pick up the most basic Steam Deck model for $399 / £349, but this rises to $649 / £569 for the highest-end version. Regardless of which one you choose, you'll be getting your hands on some top-notch hardware that's perfect for gamers looking for more portable gaming options.

The Steam Deck is available to purchase via Valve's Steam client . The library of games players can get their hands on is absolutely enormous as the list of Steam Deck Verified titles continues to grow. Some of these even include ports of games originally released on consoles, such as Spider-Man: Miles Morales, offering another way to play popular AAA games on the go.  

It's worth noting that the Steam Deck's battery life isn't fantastic, and particularly with more intensive games, players can expect to run out of charge relatively quickly. On the cheapest model, for example, the battery life can last between two and eight hours depending on what you're playing and what settings you're using. However, with that said, the we think that this trade-off is worthwhile thanks to how well games look and run. 

The Steam Deck operates using a modified version of the Linux operating system, which means that it can be docked to a compatible laptop docking station in order to use it as a complete Linux PC, so there's some versatility there. However, the use of the Linus OS also means that you can't expect every game to run without issues, but there are definitely enough Steam Deck Verified games to keep you busy.

Best gaming console for retro gamers

Super Pocket

(Image credit: Future)
The best console for retro gamers

Specifications

Screen: 2.8” IPS 320 x 240
Ports: 3.5mm Headphone Jack, USB-C Charging Port, Evercade Cartridge Slot
Dimensions: 4.12 x 0.43 x 6.62 inches; 0.71 Ounces

Reasons to buy

+
Portable and aesthetically pleasing 
+
Excellent emulation and controls
+
Compatible with Evercade cartridges

Reasons to avoid

-
Small screen
-
Fiddly rear shoulder buttons
Buy it if...

You're interested in playing Evercade games:
The Super Pocket's low price point also makes it the cheapest way to play Evercade games.

You're looking for a retro-focused portable system: The Super Pocket is as portable as it gets, and is excellent at what it does. 

Don't buy it if

You're looking for a larger console:
The Super Pocket's miniature size might not be the most comfortable for people with larger hands, or those who'd prefer a bigger screen to look at.

There's no doubt that the Super Pocket is our top pick for retro gamers, boasting top-notch performance for retro gaming. During our testing, we didn't notice any slowdown or graphical issues. 

It's a very small system, with a 320x240px IPS screen which measures around 2.8” (~7cm). This, admittedly, may feel tiny in comparison to the Nintendo Switch OLED’s 720p display and 7" (17.8cm) size, but it looks fantastic.

At the time of writing, there are two different versions of the Super Pocket available to buy. The Taito Edition is mint green and black, while the Capcom Edition is instead yellow and blue. 

The color schemes aren't the only difference between the two, however, as both come with a unique library of included games, with 18 on the Taito version and 12 on the Capcom version. Those who pick up the Taito Edition Super Pocket can dive into classics such as Bubble Bobble and Space Invaders, while gamers who pick up the Capcom Edition can play titles such as Mega Man and Final Fight. Games look vivid, and with alternative display options (such as the ability to add CRT lines), you can tweak your experience further.

These built-in games aside, the Super Pocket also has an Evercade cartridge slot, which is certainly one of the handheld's most exciting features. With this, players can keep up with all of the latest Evercade releases, and the Super Pocket offers the cheapest device to access them on.

Best Gaming Console - FAQs

Is the PS5 or Xbox Series X cheaper?

The PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X both sell for around $500. If you have strong opinions about the included controllers, subscription services, or exclusive games available for each console,  then you should use this to make your choice instead of the price. Also keep an eye out for any potential deals on each console.

Which gaming consoles is the most powerful?

The Xbox Series X is the most powerful console. In practice, the difference between this and the PS5 is very minimal, though. Both consoles are able to output 4K visuals while maintaining consistent frame rates and both also support high-end features like 120Hz.

Is the Nintendo Switch OLED better than the Nintendo Switch?

The Nintendo Switch OLED is an upgrade in terms of its screen and boasts more storage than the Nintendo Switch, but when it comes to raw performance there isn't any substantial difference.

How we test gaming consoles

We test and review gaming consoles in much the same way as any other bit of gaming gear and hardware here at TechRadar, and that is to say: extensively.

However, each of the picks on our best gaming console list here requires different attention and testing. For example, we will live with a home console like a PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X so we can use it like any gamer or fan would, putting it through its paces as an everyday machine. For handheld gaming consoles like the Nintendo Switch OLED or Steam Deck, we'll make sure to take the device out and about on our commutes or on trips to test the battery life, portability, and more.

We'll also do deep dives on the hardware and tech inside: how the storage holds up on a console, how fast games load and can be transferred, and how bespoke technical elements (like the DualSense controller's haptic feedback on PS5, for example) perform. 

All this, and more, helps us get the best idea of what a gaming console is like, and how each offers differing experiences. Putting them through their paces extensively means you can trust our recommendations and reviews.

Dashiell Wood
Hardware Writer

Dash is a technology journalist who covers gaming hardware at TechRadar. Before joining the TechRadar team, he was writing gaming articles for some of the UK's biggest magazines including PLAY, Edge, PC Gamer, and SFX. Now, when he's not getting his greasy little mitts on the newest hardware or gaming gadget, he can be found listening to J-pop or feverishly devouring the latest Nintendo Switch otome.

With contributions from