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The best video game consoles for 2024

  • Jan 08, 2024
  • pitchhigh
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Being a gamer is truly exciting in the current era, given the plethora of platform choices available. Whether you opt for the PlayStation 5 with its outstanding exclusive games or delve into the extensive game library of the Xbox Series X, which also offers the fantastic Game Pass deal, the competition between these two major consoles is surprisingly tight. Alternatively, if portability is crucial for you, you may be contemplating the reliable Nintendo Switch or even exploring the more experimental Steam Deck.

We've spent a considerable amount of time with all these systems and can safely say that whichever one you pick is a solid choice. From impressive visuals to smooth performance and the ability to take your gaming experiences on the go, these devices have something for everyone. Whatever your gaming needs are, we'll help find the right video game console for you. These are the best video game consoles to buy in 2024.

Playstation 5

The best gaming console

  • Speedy hardware
  • Excellent game load times
  • Solid storage
  • Lots of must-own exclusives
  • New controller with enhanced haptics
  • Awkward design, even on new model

Why you should buy this: It’s the latest iteration of one of the most popular consoles of all time and has the best exclusive lineup of any console to date.

Who it's for: Everyone.

Why we picked the PlayStation 5: With lightning-fast load speeds, a new controller, and a phenomenal lineup of titles (including fan favorites and new exclusives), the PS5 is the best plug-and-play gaming platform available.

First of all, the PS5 currently has the upper hand when it comes to games. PlayStation gamers have been enjoying Sony exclusives like God of War: Ragnarok, Horizon Forbidden West, and Marvel’s Spider-Man 2. Xbox fans, on the other hand, have been subject to a slimmer list of top-tier exclusive. Sony also has finally brought backward compatibility into the fold, too, and the PS5 will be able to play most PS4 games, so you won't miss out on late-gen titles like The Last of Us Part II and Ghosts of Tsushima. The PS5 simply has the best game library out there right now.

The PS5's solid launch lineup is only part of the equation, however. Slightly larger than the DualShock 4, the new DualSense controller refines haptic feedback, incorporating a precise sense of touch into the gaming experience that force feedback never achieved. If you're draining your stamina bar to pull back a bowstring or attempting to bust down a locked door, for example, the hand triggers can convey that tension. Of course, if you need a little more from your controller, you can always shell out for Sony's improved DualSense Edge controller.

Speaking of peripherals and hardware, both iterations of the console use AMD chips across the board, including an eight-core CPU running on a modified version of the Ryzen line. The PS5’s GPU also is from AMD and provides 10.28 teraflops of power, while supporting resource-intensive processes like ray tracing, which allows for more advanced lighting in games. It also comes with a 4K Blu-ray player, putting it in line with the Xbox One S and Xbox One X. In layman's terms, the PS5 is technically less powerful than the Xbox Series X, but still packs a punch and represents a massive upgrade from last-gen consoles.

On top of all that, the PS5 will soon have its own designated virtual reality headset in the PlayStation VR2 -- we haven't gotten a chance to give it a test run just yet, but the list of launch titles is very impressive.

If discs aren't your thing — or you simply want to save some cash — look no further than the PS5 Digital Edition. It retails for $100 less than the standard PS5 but is identical in terms of specs. The only difference between the two is that the Digital Edition has no disc drive, meaning Ultra HD Blu-rays are out of the equation, and you'll need to rely on digital downloads. Everything else, including the launch lineup, remains the same.

Xbox Series X

The best Microsoft gaming console

  • Gobs of potential
  • More storage than PS5
  • Accessible library through Game Pass
  • Good value
  • Lacking big exclusives
  • Difficult to fit in most A/V cabinets
  • Next-gen potential is untapped

Why you should buy this: It's the most powerful Xbox available right now, and Game Pass is an attractive value.

Who it's for: Players who want to play as many new games as possible with the best visual fidelity.

Why we picked the Xbox One X: The Xbox Series X is a tech powerhouse. The console features 12 TFLOPS of power and up to eight times more graphical performance than Xbox One, not to mention twice as much as the Xbox One X. The Xbox Series X also has 16GB of GDDR6 RAM and supports variable refresh rate, Variable Rate Shading technology, and a low-latency mode that allows for better responses out of your games. The power in this next-gen console is sure to wow gamers — that is when there are true next-gen games available for it.

Game lineup comparison is always at the forefront of the PS5 vs. Xbox Series X debate. The Series X launch lineup was a little lackluster at launch but it has been bolster in the years since — Halo Infinite has been a multiplayer hit, Starfieldis the top exclusive RPG, and Hi-Fi Rush was a darkhorse candidate for best game of 2023 for some. The launch schedule for 2024 hasn't entirely shaped up yet, but there are more great Xbox Series X games on the way.

In the meantime, Xbox Series X owners have no shortage of games to play. Xbox Series X will support every previous generation of Xbox games, similar to how Xbox One did. This means you’ll be able to play select Xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X games all on the new machine — a huge win for game preservation. The Xbox also is home to Game Pass, the best deal in gaming. With more than 100 heavy-hitting games on the roster and promises of Project xCloud integration, gamers can explore and test out new titles for a low monthly fee. The library isn't made up of last-gen throwaways, either; there are plenty of newer first-party titles that'd cost you a premium if you were to go out and buy them right now. Given Game Pass is available on PC as well, the Series X also allows for more cross-platform opportunities than Sony's offerings.

While the Xbox Series X is a powerful machine, it's also a surprisingly quiet one. The console's cooling architecture is incredibly efficient, so much so you might wonder if the console is even on at times. The Xbox One, by comparison, is as loud as can be.

Nintendo Switch

The best portable game console

  • Game at home or on the go
  • Sharp display
  • Unique multi-mode controller
  • Excellent game library
  • Great battery life
  • Limited internal storage
  • Some controller options are uncomfortable

Why you should buy this: You want a console gaming experience — but on the go with unmatched first-party support.

Who it's for: Everyone.

Why we picked the Nintendo Switch: Nintendo sidestepped the current console arms race by changing not how you use your console, but where. The Switch is a hybrid device that plugs into a TV, like the PS5 and Xbox Series X, but also works as a handheld.

While it doesn't quite have the oomph to play the latest 4K, 120 fps releases slated for next-gen consoles, the Switch can play Doom at a smooth 30 FPS anywhere you want, and that's more than enough for a lot of gamers. In addition to contemporary titles like Control, the Switch is a fantastic venue for reviving modern classics, such as The Witcher 3, L.A. Noire, and Dark Souls Remastered.

More than just a clearance house for lightly-aged AAA titles, the Switch also offers an ever-growing catalog of fantastic first-party games like Super Mario Odyssey, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and Animal Crossing: New Horizons, as well as excellent indies such as Stardew ValleyCeleste, and Ori and the Will of the Wisps. Add in some old-school Nintendo nostalgia with a growing list of NES and SNES games through Nintendo Switch Online, and the Switch is a well-rounded console.

The Nintendo Switch is also a great companion console for anyone who already owns a PlayStation or Xbox console. It can do things the competition can't, and offers a host of great titles that will likely never appear on a Sony or Microsoft system.

Nintendo Switch OLED

The best premium Nintendo console

  • Improved screen
  • Improved onboard audio
  • Much better kickstand
  • Cleaner dock design
  • No upgrades for TV
  • Storage is still small

Why you should buy this: The Nintendo Switch OLED is a mid-generation upgrade that boasts a bigger, better screen and a flurry of bells and whistles to warrant the price of entry at $350. It's ideal for those who are jumping into the Switch family for the first time, especially if you plan on primarily playing in handheld mode.

Who it's for: Players who want a better-looking screen in handheld mode or who play online while docked. It's great for users who plan on upgrading or who have never owned a Switch system before.

Why we picked the Nintendo Switch OLED: We picked up the OLED to take advantage of the bigger, more vibrant screen. It's fascinating just how much better the new OLED screen looks compared to the LCD display on the original model. And the larger 7.0-inch screen on the new OLED model is a major improvement, giving you a bit more mileage out of the device without increasing the size of the machine overall.

The Switch OLED is an excellent choice because it uses all the accessories from the previous model including Joy-Con controllers, dock, microSD memory cards, and, of course, games. This means users who are upgrading can use all of their old accessories on the new OLED model.

While the Switch OLED does play all the same games as the original Switch, games simply look better on the new machine — at least in handheld mode. When placing both systems side by side, it's easy to see the difference between the two screens. Since the OLED has a built-in LAN port in the dock, you'll be able to plug in an Ethernet cable to enjoy online gaming without some of the headaches that come with using Wi-Fi.

Users who like to play in tabletop mode will be pleased with the Switch OLED's new kickstand, which covers the entire backside of the system. This is a huge improvement over the thin, flimsy kickstand on the original model. Overall, the original Switch still gets the job done, but the OLED model is a significant improvement in more ways than one. Like the original Switch, the OLED won't run games at a higher fidelity but is perfect for those who love high-quality Nintendo games or ports of older beloved classics — especially in handheld mode.

Steam Deck OLED

The best handheld gaming PC

  • A massive library of Steam games
  • Best specs of any handheld system
  • Customizable controls
  • Disappointing battery life

Why you should buy this: It features a massive library of high-quality Steam games that look and run admirably.

Who it's for: Players looking for console-like performance and selection on the go.

Why we picked Steam Deck: The Nintendo Switch made us hungry for high-quality games on the go, but sadly, the system was never powerful enough to run fan-favorite third-party titles you'd find on PlayStation, Xbox, or PC. The Steam Deck makes that dream a reality, giving you access to a huge chunk of games available on Valve's platform without sacrificing too much quality. Sure, the games don't look and run as great as they would on a powerful PC, but the Steam Deck does a surprisingly good job of showcasing graphically intensive games in a way Nintendo Switch never could.

If you're debating between a standard Steam Deck and the OLED version, we think the upgrade is definitely worth the price bump. With a significantly improved screen, better battery, and small software tweaks that go a long way, the Steam Deck’s second draft makes kept it in the top spot for portable PCs.

Aside from featuring a robust lineup of games (that are shared across your Steam account), the Steam Deck offers plenty of control customization, a clean UI, and a reasonable price. We also can't overstate how nice it is to jump into the system and see all the games available that you've purchased over the years through Steam. Sure, not every game is compatible with the device, but practically every new release works on Steam Deck, making it well worth the purchase.

If you're looking for an even better Steam Deck experience,

Asus ROG Ally (Z1 Extreme)

The best Steam Deck alternative

  • Solid performance
  • Acceptable battery life
  • Beautiful, 120Hz screen
  • Flexible control scheme
  • Support for basically any PC game
  • Turbo mode drains battery quickly
  • Windows has a lot of quirks
  • Armoury Crate is a utility, not an OS

Why you should buy this: It's a surprisingly powerful handheld that really feels like a handheld PC.

Who it's for: Players looking for on-the-go gaming who need a more customizable experience.

Why we picked Asus ROG Ally: The ROG Ally is really the first true Steam Deck competitor. Looking at the Steam Deck vs. Asus ROG Rally, this new handheld is clearly a faster device and has some more serious hardware.

"At first pass, the Asus ROG Ally fixes almost every single problem I have with the Steam Deck," wrote Gaming Editor Giovanni Colantonio comparing the base models. "From a more comfortable design to a vastly improved screen, it’s the first device of its kind that doesn’t feel like a first-pass experiment."

You’re not getting PS5 levels of performance in the ROG Ally, but it’s a good illustration of the performance on tap. More of a gaming laptop compressed into a handheld device than a straight-up console, the ROG Ally definitely has its software quirks. But if you can get past that, it's a great device — perfect for anyone who needs a bit more control over their experience.

PlayStation 4 Pro

The best budget game console

  • 4K gaming for less than $500
  • Improves visuals on select PlayStation VR titles
  • Makes all games run slightly better than standard PS4
  • Looks good even on 1080p TVs
  • Supports all PS4 games
  • HDR can be difficult to set up
  • Very few titles offer 4K support at launch
  • No 4K Blu-ray Player

Why you should buy this: This last-gen console has a healthy catalog of top-tier games and the price tag has dropped since the release of the PS5.

Who it's for: Anyone who wants to game without breaking the bank.

Why we picked the PlayStation 4 Pro: While plenty of gamers are making the jump to the PlayStation 5, there's still a lot of life left in last-gen consoles. The PlayStation 4 Pro is still a serious gaming machine with a vast library of games, and the console's price tag (and the cost of games, accessories, etc.) only is going to continue to drop. The PS4 Pro is also slightly easier to find than the PS5, though, most modern consoles have suffered from low availability following the recent chip shortage. The PS4 Pro delivers an impressive playing experience for 4K television owners because of the enhanced graphics and sharper images for 4k-enabled titles.

We're not going to pretend that the PS4 Pro is close to matching the superior PS5, but it's still a worthwhile gaming experience. Aside from a handful of titles exclusive to the PS5, you're going to have access to most major titles out now and all the most popular free-to-play titles.

Price is a major factor when deciding whether to upgrade to a new system — there's no shame in snagging a last-gen console to play with until the PS5 becomes less expensive and more widely available.

Nintendo Switch Lite

The best budget portable game console

  • Comfortable design
  • Sharp and vibrant display
  • Solid battery life
  • Brings back the iconic D-pad
  • Affordable
  • Slightly smaller game library
  • No TV mode support
  • No motion controls

Why you should buy this: The Nintendo Switch Lite is the best handheld game console out right now, giving you access to all the latest and greatest Nintendo titles without the price tag of its hybrid counterpart.

Who it's for: Everyone

Why we picked the Nintendo Switch Lite: If you plan on only using your Nintendo Switch in handheld mode, the Nintendo Switch Lite makes for a great option at a slightly lower price point. It lacks the television docking support of the standard system but features a smaller size and a slightly better battery life than the updated Switch console that launched last year. It's compatible out of the box with nearly every Nintendo Switch game, as well, and is perfect for games like Pokémon Sword and Shield.

Ditching the Joy-Cons, the Switch Lite comes with an all-in-one design. It’s almost an inch shorter in width, making it more compact than the original. Coming in at 9.7 ounces, it’s lighter, but not so much that it feels flimsy. Being smaller than its predecessor, the button layout had to be altered slightly, but the console is still incredibly comfortable and easy to navigate.

There aren’t any obvious differences in gaming performance on the smaller console, either. Revving up the field in Rocket League or building your defenses in a tense Fortnite match will feel just as smooth on the Switch Lite display versus the original Switch’s screen. With no dock, HDMI support, or Joy-Cons, the Switch Lite doesn’t have TV support or motion controls, which slightly impacts your gaming options, but most of the Switch library is available.

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