Once upon a time, there were only a couple of consoles to choose from. Now there are tons with different features, various capabilities, and price tags.
Having a choice means getting a console that perfectly suits your budget and gaming tastes, but it can make the search more difficult. Exclusive games might seal the deal, but most upcoming games in 2022 are multi-platform anyway. There are also resolution and frame rate capabilities to consider, not to mention portability. All in all, it’s not always a straightforward pick.
Cyber Monday is on November 28 this year, so getting a grip on what you should be hunting for is important. Whether that be the best Cyber Monday PS5 deals, Nintendo Switch Cyber Monday deals, or Cyber Monday Xbox Series X deals, there will be plenty of fantastic discounts, so let’s make sure we can find the best one for you.
That's why we've put together this list of the best gaming consoles available right now, alongside explainers on what you can expect from each to make your choice easier.
Read on for the best gaming consoles available right now.
Best gaming consoles
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Coming in a standard edition or, slightly cheaper, digital edition (which comes without a disc drive), the PS5 is Sony’s latest PlayStation console - and it’s as impressive as you would hope.
Sony has re-imagined the critical parts of the PlayStation experience with the PS5. There's a simpler setup, new, well-thought-out user interface, the revolutionary DualSense controller, and added bonuses for PS Plus members. The result is a console that feels like a genuine step up from the PS4 family that came before it, so we can’t help but be impressed.
Thanks to titles like The Last of Us Part 1, Gran Turismo 7, Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales and Demon’s Souls, the PS5 outshine its new-gen counterpart, the Xbox Series X, with first-party games. However, the PS5 library also boasts plenty of excellent third-party games. There are also plenty of new PS5 games in the pipeline to get us excited about the future, alongside the upcoming PSVR 2 in February.
Thanks to backward compatibility, the PS5 gives access to the best PS4 games, many being first-party exclusives. Some also benefit from improvements on PS5, too. That said, the PS5’s backwards compatibility isn’t quite as comprehensive as the Xbox Series X's, which can play select titles from every Xbox generation. However, the PS5 is a clear improvement on what the PS4 offered, and it feels like a solid investment. We’re confident this experience will improve with age.
You may be tempted to buy a 4K/120Hz TV with HDMI 2.1 to take full advantage of the console’s peak capabilities. But, even without one, you’ll enjoy unbelievably fast load times and a gorgeous new UI that builds on what Sony has done in the past.
The PS5 caters to both primed and ready new-gen gamers and tepid PS4 owners looking to dip their toes into the future of gaming - and, for the latter, it’s a console that so seamlessly bridges the gap between the last generation and the next that you probably won’t need to boot up your PS4 ever again.
From extensive upgrades like the super-fast NVMe SSD and powerful GPU that enable higher frame rates and ray tracing to subtle touches like the built-in microphone on the DualSense controller that can serve as a quick stand-in for a headset, the PS5 feels like it was built for ease of use as well as pure power. It's one of the absolute best gaming consoles right now.
Buy this if you want: A taste of new-gen gaming without losing your PS4 games, you're tired of loading screens and want higher frame rates, and you plan on buying a new-generation game console in the coming months.
Anything the PlayStation 4 can do, the PlayStation 4 Pro can do slightly better. However, the PS4 Pro sits below the PS5 in terms of power and capability.
The PlayStation 4 Pro plays all the same games as the standard PlayStation 4, so if you're upgrading, you won't have to start your library afresh, and you won't need to pay any more for new 4K games either. You may, however, see an improvement in how they look and perform compared to the standard PS4 - though they won't look or function as well as they would on PS5.
The PlayStation 4 Pro was the most powerful console in the PlayStation lineup (until the PS5), capable of outputting native and upscaled 4K in games. Even games released before the Pro that weren't specifically patched can make something of this console’s greater power – you’ll find images look a little sharper, and games will run more smoothly, thanks to the PS4 Pro’s Boost Mode.
Like the standard PS4, this console has an excellent library of games, some fantastic exclusives, and PSVR support. The PS4 Pro still has cross-generation games coming to it, like Horizon Forbidden West and the God of War Ragnarok. Just don't expect this to last much longer; we're already seeing plenty of new-gen exclusives.
Though it's capable, not every game will output native 4K on the PS4 Pro – many of them will be upscaled as the console doesn't have quite the degree of power required to maintain native 4K resolution and run a large game with consistent frame rates. If you want that, then the PS5 is probably a better option.
The PS4 Pro also has the same problem as the PS4: there isn't good backwards compatibility for previous console generations. There's also no built-in Ultra HD Blu-ray player, so if you're looking for a console that will play your physical 4K media, this isn't the one. It will, however, still play standard Blu-rays and DVDs and can stream in 4K from compatible services.
If you don’t have a 4K HDR TV and super sharp visuals aren’t something that will drastically improve your enjoyment of a game, then this console might not actually be worth the extra cash you’ll splash on it, particularly if you already own a standard PS4 console. But it is a cheaper gateway to 4K gaming than the PS5.
Buy this if you want: Native 4K and HDR gaming, PlayStation exclusives, VR gaming, native 4K for under £350/$400.
Available in standard or slim versions, the PS4 is the baseline console offering from Sony, sitting underneath the PS4 Pro and the new PlayStation 5 in terms of power. Since launching nine years ago, the PlayStation 4 has been a fan favourite, cementing its place as the second bestselling home console of all time.
The console’s single biggest strength is its exclusive games. PlayStation continues pushing narrative-driven single-player titles such as Uncharted 4, Spider-Man, God of War, and Horizon Zero Dawn in a world of increasingly service-based online titles. The PS4 also offers access to new PlayStation games for the next while, as many new releases are also cross-generational - but don’t expect this to last.
It’s also only one of the only two consoles (apart from the PS5) that offer access to virtual reality experiences. That said, you will have to purchase the PlayStation VR headset separately if you want to take advantage of this capability. It's worth noting, however, that PSVR 2 won't be compatible with the PS4.
If you’re interested in 4K resolution, you won’t find that here. While even the budget Xbox One S offers 4K upscaling, the base PS4 and PS4 Slim is resolutely 1080p, and it doesn’t play Blu-ray discs either. The PlayStation 4 also isn’t great with backwards compatibility. While Sony has made the PS5 backwards compatible with PS4 games, the PS4 doesn't do the same for PS3 beyond cloud streaming. So, if you’re hoping you’ll be able to play your old PlayStation 3 library with ease, you can’t.
If you’re looking to enter the PlayStation ecosystem in the most affordable way possible and like the company’s exclusives, this is the console to go for. However, it’s worth noting that cross-generational games will only last for so long, and even those are slowly becoming PS5 only. God of War Ragnarok is out now and that was the last first-party cross gen game we're currently aware of.
Buy this if you want: The latest generation games but don’t need 4K, you want PlayStation exclusive games (but don't mind missing out on a few PS5 exclusives like Returnal), console VR, and a console for under £250/$250.
The Xbox Series X is the latest and arguably greatest Xbox console. The new Xbox is super-fast, surprisingly quiet, and delivers the kind of performance that we’ve previously only seen from high-end gaming PCs, ensuring that games old and new look and perform better than ever before.
The best gaming PCs never come at this price tag for the same specs, and the Xbox Series X manages to pack a lot of power for under $500 / £450 / AU$750. The result is a technically impressive console with drastically reduced load times and significantly improved visual fidelity in games. It also employs numerous quality-of-life features to make your gameplay experience more pleasurable.
However, while the Xbox Series X’s raw hardware power is hard to deny – and its new time-saving features are certainly welcome – it lacks in some critical areas. The game library isn’t quite as enticing as the PS5’s, offering few enticing ‘must-have’ exclusives right now which aren't also on Xbox One. However, some new Xbox Series X games, like Starfield and Fable, are coming that could change this.
We advise picking up an Xbox Game Pass subscription to get the most out of the Xbox Series X. That enables you to access hundreds of games for a monthly fee, like Halo Infinite, helping Xbox stand apart from its competitors. With mobile cloud streaming available as part of Game Pass Ultimate, the Xbox can finally offer portability that steps on the toes of the Nintendo Switch (but only slightly).
The Xbox Series X’s backwards compatibility is also a major selling point of the console, and it’s more comprehensive than what the PS5 can offer, giving access to all previous games on the Xbox platform and making a move to the new generation absolutely seamless.
Microsoft’s flagship console is as powerful as you’d expect, then, but we’d hold off on buying one until its games library becomes more substantial unless you’re already heavily invested in the Xbox ecosystem or want the best Xbox console experience possible right now. It's one of the absolute best gaming consoles right now.
Buy this if you want: You want minimal loading times and smoother gameplay, a great audiovisual multimedia experience, to keep access to your older Xbox games and accessories and more control over your storage.
The Xbox Series S is a new-gen console that takes a radically different approach. It's designed to offer the same generational leaps as the Xbox Series X, such as high frame rates, ray tracing and super-fast load times, at a considerably lower price – and inevitably, this means it comes with a few key compromises.
The Xbox Series S removes the Series X's 4K HD Blu-Ray drive. It has significantly less storage than the Series X and targets a resolution of 1440p for gaming and upscales to 4K when connected to an ultra HD display. Some titles are capable of native 4K, such as Ori and the Will of the Wisps, but this machine is designed to run games at a lower resolution. While these might be too many compromises for some, it's a much cheaper and smaller device that plays the same games.
Games on the Xbox Series S are impressive, with smoother frame rates, increased resolutions (when compared to Xbox One and Xbox One S) and faster load times... even if they don't look quite as pretty as they do on the Series X due to the lack of 4K output.
That said, for gamers who have no qualms about buying games digitally, or subscribing to Xbox Game Pass, you’re getting the full suite of new-gen features on Microsoft's cheaper console. The Xbox Series S is a great entry point into new-gen gaming without the sizable financial outlay required to own a full-blown new-gen console.
As we've alluded to already, there are drawbacks to consider. If you prefer to purchase games physically or have amassed a large collection of physical Xbox One games over the years, the Xbox Series S's lack of a disc drive may put you off. It's only available with 512GB SSD storage, too – there's no higher-capacity option. And while this SSD is dramatically faster than the old mechanical drives in the Xbox One X and Xbox One S, it can fill up fast.
The other factor that may deter people from buying Microsoft's more affordable Xbox is the fact that it outputs at 1440p for gaming. This lower resolution is a firm favorite in the PC gaming space due to the superior image quality it provides over 1080p and the lower amount of graphical grunt it requires, which has allowed Microsoft to create a lower-spec machine that still boasts new-gen features.
If you own an Xbox One X, the drop to 1440p from native 4K can be noticeable, and the Xbox Series X is the console for you if you're after the outright best image quality possible. That said, because the Xbox One X was able to deliver games like Forza Horizon 4 at 4K/60fps and is still capable of some sumptuous visuals, it's easy to think the Xbox Series S is a step back – but it's not.
Looking at the system's internals, the Xbox Series S separates itself from the One X with its vastly more powerful CPU and more technically capable GPU, courtesy of AMD's RDNA 2 architecture which enables cutting-edge features like ray tracing. Yes, the Series S has fewer teraflops than the Xbox One X (four compared to six), but teraflops are no longer the defining factor in determining GPU power.
For Xbox One owners looking to upgrade without breaking the bank, the Xbox Series S is a great option if you can accept what it's been designed to achieve. If you've already got the Xbox One X and a 4K display at home, we suggest considering the Xbox Series X instead.
Buy this if you want: You're on a budget but still want to experience new-gen gaming, you plan on mostly getting games from Xbox Game Pass and Xbox Live Gold, and you're tired of sitting through long loading screens.
Looking for an entry-level console but not interested in what PlayStation has to offer (or in the new-gen)? Why not look at Microsoft’s Xbox One S. This console has superseded the original Xbox One for many reasons – it has a much smaller and sleeker design and is just a little bit more powerful.
Something this console can do that the standard PS4 console can’t is upscaled 4K. The Xbox One S’s 4K capabilities aren’t at the same level as the PS4 Pro, PS5, Xbox One X or Xbox Series X, as the 1080p images are largely just stretched to fit a 4K screen without any clever checkerboarding, but this rudimentary upscaling is reasonably impressive in a console with price starting from only £170/$190.
The Xbox One S may not be as powerful as the Xbox Series X, sure. Still, it offers access to plenty of new Xbox games, such as Psychonauts 2 and Forza Horizon 5, as many new Xbox releases are cross-generational. Just don't expect this to last too much longer; we're slowly seeing studios shift towards dropping last-gen hardware, something which also applies to the PS4.
At present, Xbox doesn't have many exclusives to write home about. Still, to make up for this disappointing exclusive line-up, Xbox consoles do have much better backwards compatibility capabilities than PlayStation consoles. On Xbox One S, you’ll be able to purchase and play original Xbox and Xbox 360 titles, many of which have become key classics.
If you ever owned an older Xbox console and still have the games from that, or you really want to catch up on a bunch of excellent titles you missed out on, then the Xbox One S is a great way to do this. Also, thanks to Smart Delivery, if you decide to upgrade to an Xbox Series X/S later, you can take many of your games with you and play them on your new console.
An area where the Xbox One S completely outstrips its direct counterpart, the PlayStation 4, is overall home entertainment – while both consoles can stream from various entertainment apps like Netflix and Amazon, the Xbox One S also has a 4K Blu-ray player built in.
The newer PS5 and Xbox consoles (with the exception of the Series S) also have this capability, though, so it’s not quite as essential as it was when these consoles were released. However, given the low cost of the Xbox One S, if you’re looking for a basic games console and want to continue using your large physical Ultra HD Blu-ray collection, the Xbox One S will definitely win your favor here as it's one of the cheapest ways to pick up an Ultra HD Blu-ray player.
One issue Xbox has compared to PlayStation is exclusive games. Where PlayStation has quite a robust collection of exclusives, Xbox is somewhat lacking. Franchises such as Halo, Gears of War and Forza might call this platform home, but their critical reception hasn’t quite hit the heights of Horizon Zero Dawn and Uncharted. What it does have on its side is Xbox Game Pass, which for a monthly fee, gives access to a rotating library of games.
Though it offers upscaled 4K, the Xbox One S’s upscaling method is far less intelligent than the checkerboard method used by the PlayStation 4 Pro, so if you’re looking for a truly polished 4K experience, it’s best to splash the extra cash on the PlayStation 4 Pro, an Xbox Series X/S or a PS5.
We recommend looking at the Xbox Series S (above) before picking up an Xbox One S. This digital-only, cheaper alternative to the Xbox Series X offers the benefits of next-gen gaming with a price tag not far off that of the Xbox One S.
Buy this if you want: Affordable but upscaled 4K, an Ultra HD Blu-ray player, excellent backwards compatibility, and a console for under £250/$250.
Key reads: Make sure you read our full Xbox One S review as well as our picks of the best Xbox One games to see what you could be playing. Think this is the console for you? These are the best Xbox One S deals right now.
The Nintendo Switch OLED gives the standard Switch a pleasing upgrade - but it won't appeal to everyone.
The Nintendo Switch OLED boasts a seven-inch OLED screen, which provides perfect blacks and accurate colors while offering a larger picture than the standard Switch, alongside enhanced speakers, which sound fantastic. The OLED also provides 64GB of internal storage (twice as much as the Switch and Switch Lite) and a redesigned kickstand.
However, the Nintendo Switch OLED is an inherently flawed product due to the console's original hybrid design: dock the Switch OLED, and the benefits of the sumptuous new 7-inch display, redesigned kickstand, and enhanced speakers vanish. All great new additions, but this is only an upgrade when played portably.
What's more, the Nintendo Switch OLED doesn't offer 4K or any difference in internal specs - so don't expect it to offer power anywhere near that of PlayStation or Xbox consoles. You'll still have access to Nintendo exclusives, but, like with the standard Switch, the console's third-party offering is less substantial than that of the Xbox and PlayStation consoles.
If you’re a first-time Switch buyer, this is undoubtedly the model to buy, but the improvements to the Switch OLED will benefit only handheld and tabletop mode users. If you’re thinking of upgrading, don’t expect to find a Nintendo Switch Pro.
Buy this if you want: A console that can be played on your home TV and taken on the go, access to Nintendo-exclusive games, and a screen bigger and better than on the standard Switch.
Key reads: Looking to know more about the console? This is our full Nintendo Switch OLED review. We also have a list of the best Switch games the console has to offer. Think you're ready to Switch it up? Find out where has Nintendo Switch OLED stock.
The Nintendo Switch is now five years old and still very popular, thanks to its hybrid capabilities. It allows you to use it as a handheld and home TV console.
On Switch, you'll find a quickly growing library of games that’s the most diverse offering from Nintendo in years. From thrilling exclusives like Super Mario Odyssey and Breath of the Wild to essential indies like Stardew Valley or Hades, Nintendo's Switch offers varied experiences.
It doesn’t have anywhere near the same power as the Xbox Series X or PS5 (or even the standard PlayStation 4 and Xbox One S), and it certainly won’t play games in 4K or support HDR (in fact, its screen is a pretty low-res 720p). So, if you’re looking for a console that will win the spec wars, you definitely won’t find it here.
You’re also less likely to find the latest and greatest third-party games on this console as a result. It has titles like Doom, Skyrim and LA Noire, but these often arrive much later than other platforms. We're slowly watching that change, but the latest and greatest releases may still not make it here, purely due to a lack of power. Be aware that you're likely to need to purchase a separate microSD card for this console at some point, as its internal memory is restrictive.
The Switch offers portability and exclusive titles that you won't find on either Xbox or PlayStation. So if you're a Mario or Zelda fan, then it's worth picking up a Switch as you won't find these adventures on any other platform. If the standard Switch model is a bit basic for you, then it's worth checking out the Nintendo Switch OLED above for a bigger screen and more vivid colors.
Buy this if you want: A console that can be played on your home TV and taken on the go, access to Nintendo exclusive games, and you don’t need the highest resolution and the most powerful specs.
Key reads: Looking to know more about the console? This is our full Nintendo Switch review. We also have a list of the best Switch games the console has to offer. Think you're ready to Switch it up? These are the best Nintendo Switch deals at the moment.
The Nintendo Switch Lite is a dedicated handheld alternative to the original Switch, boasting the same power as the original but in a smaller - and lighter - package.
It's also worth noting that the Lite is a solely handheld device, and, while you can connect Joy-Cons to it, it's meant to be used by a single player. That means you can't dock it, and it doesn't actually come with any Joy-Cons in the box. It also means that you can't play all the games in the Switch library - mainly those that require docked mode or are party games. While Joy-Cons will attach, the screen is a bit too small to play properly.
The Switch Lite is for those who aren't particularly fussed by the Switch's docked mode and would instead take their games on the go. The smaller screen makes for more comfortable portable play. Like the Nintendo Switch, you may need a separate microSD card for this console at some point as its internal memory is restrictive, but that's easily rectified.
Buy this if you want: A more portable, comfortable alternative to the Nintendo Switch.
Key reads: Looking to know more about the console? This is our full Nintendo Switch Lite review. Interested in the handheld? Check out the cheapest Nintendo Switch Lite prices and bundle deals.
Valve Steam Deck
The most recently released (handheld) console on this list, Valve's Steam Deck, is probably the closest we’ve come to a console/PC hybrid. Looking like a turbo-charged Switch, the Steam Deck, as you may expect, runs Steam games. This is great news for PC gamers who already have an extensive library, and there’s enough power inside this chunky handheld to run graphically-intensive games like God of War and Elden Ring. Where it really shines, however, is with indie games.
It runs Steam OS, which is a Linux distro. While it offers a user-friendly interface similar to those found on the Switch and PS5, you can also use it in desktop mode, allowing you to install and run various non-Steam applications, effectively turning it into a super-portable PC.
When reviewing it, we did find some drawbacks that PC gamers will be familiar with but may frustrate console gamers. For a start, it can get noisy, especially when running heavy-duty games, as the fans work hard to keep the components cool. Battery life is also poor - we’re talking less than two hours while playing AAA games. However, Valve has done a great job pushing out software updates that have helped reduce these issues. If you stick with less intensive indie games, battery life lasts a much more respectable four to six hours.
People jumping from a Switch may find it heavy to hold and confusing to use. Still, the operating system's openness and raw power make the Steam Deck one of the best consoles you can buy now - especially for PC gamers.
Buy this if you want: To take your PC games on the go but don't fancy picking up a gaming laptop.
Key reads: Looking to know more about the console? Check out our full Steam Deck review. Interested in the handheld? Here's why you should buy a Steam Deck instead of a gaming laptop.
Which is the best console for gaming?
Currently the top two gaming consoles are the PS5 and the Xbox Series X. In the TechRadar Choice Awards we awarded the PS5 our Console of the Year award. But the Nintendo Switch is also a fantastic games console for those who want the option to take their games on the go.
What is the newest games console?
The newest games console on our list is the Steam Deck, which had seen a staggered release for those who pre-ordered across 2022 but is now openly available.