The best gaming consoles
- Video game consoles are next-level awesome these days. Not all consoles and gamers are alike, however, and it's important to select the right one for your needs and tastes.
- Of all the consoles out there, the PlayStation 4 Pro is our top pick for most gamers. A great game library, 4K Ultra HD output, compatibility with popular streaming services, VR capability, and an excellent gamepad make this console the best plug-and-play system out there.
- Black Friday and Cyber Monday are fast approaching, and many products in this guide will likely be on sale. You can check out our Black Friday and Cyber Monday deal coverage on Insider Picks here. We're also covering all of the latest Black Friday tech deals here.
Video games were popularized decades ago in public arcades, where kids and adults alike spent many hours and quarters playing titles like "Galaga," "Contra, Donkey Kong," and "Pac-Man" on bulky standing machines with built-in joysticks and flickering CRT monitors. It wasn't long before people started dreaming of the day when they could play their favorite games right at home, however, and so the gaming console was born.
Consoles have become a staple of consumer technology since popular models like the Atari 2600 and the Nintendo Entertainment System blazed a trail back in the late '70s and early '80s, but these devices have come a long way from the old 8-bit 2D graphics of decades past. Gaming machines today boast a mind-boggling array of features and advanced hardware to create highly detailed virtual worlds and cinematic experiences, with the latest models even allowing the use of a VR headset for unparalleled immersion.
Not all consoles and gamers are alike, however, and it's important to select the right one for your needs and tastes. Serious gaming enthusiasts should look for a system with 4K capability for use with Ultra HDTVs (such as the PS4 Pro or Xbox One X), although even if you don't have a UHD television, the improved hardware inside these machines delivers better overall performance and the consoles are future-proofed if you decide to upgrade to a 4K TV later.
For kids, families, and more casual players, on the other hand, a simpler console that offers a more social and user-friendly gaming experience may be more suitable. Portability is another consideration, especially for children or people who are on the move a lot and want to take their games on the go. In this case, handheld systems like the Nintendo 3DS XL or even hybrid machines like the Switch are a solid option.
To help you decide which gaming platform is right for you, we've researched and picked out the five best systems available on the market today, from beefy 4K machines to home consoles and portable devices aimed at more casual users. We've graded our selections based on hardware specs, game libraries, price, and special features like 3D or VR capabilities, among other things.
Here are the best gaming consoles you can buy:
- Best gaming console overall: PlayStation 4 Pro
- Best gaming console for multimedia: Xbox One S
- Best video game console for casual players: Nintendo Switch
- Best portable gaming system New Nintendo 2DS XL
- Best gaming console for enthusiasts: Xbox One X
Updated by Lisa Sabatini on 11/27/2019: Updated prices, links, and formatting.
The best gaming console overall
The best gaming console for multimedia
The best video game console for casual players
The best portable gaming system
The best gaming console for enthusiasts
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