What is the best game console? Should you go for the PS4 or Xbox One? Or maybe go for a handheld hybrid like the Nintendo Switch? What about portable consoles like the 2DS XL or Switch Lite, or a gaming-focused streamer like the Nvidia Shield?
Game consoles are must-haves for many of us, but they're expensive and each offers something slightly different, be it the graphical power, design or game availability. It can be confusing if you're not a hardcore gamer, but that's where we at Tech Advisor come in; we've ranked the best games consoles available right now to give you an idea of what to buy.
But, for those on the hunt for the ultimate game console, carry on reading.
Should I buy a games console now or wait for Black Friday?
Black Friday is one of the biggest sales events of the year, and in 2019 takes place on 29 November. We're already seeing some great consumer tech deals and expect them to continue right into January, with Black Friday deals followed by Cyber Monday deals, Christmas deals, Boxing day deals and then we've got the January sales.
That's both good and bad, of course, because how do you know that a product won't drop in price the very next week? The truth is you can never be entirely sure, but we're now close enough to the main event that many retailers have already begun their Black Friday sales. Of the big UK retailers, Currys has started its Why Wait? sale, guaranteeing that products won't drop any further in price for Black Friday, while Amazon has a range of Black Friday Countdown deals, with its main event starting on 22 November.
They aren't the only ones, and we've been busy hunting down the best PlayStation deals, best Xbox deals and best Switch deals so that you don't have to. While prices may go down further for Black Friday, some discounts will also end sooner, so unless you're sure that a product will be discounted it's always best to take a deal at face value: if you think the product is worth that amount of money, go for it. Sometimes it doesn't pay to hold out for something that will never happen.
The prices listed below for each product in this feature are updated automatically, and include the latest early Black Friday deals and sales.
Xbox One X
The Xbox One X is massively powerful and comes at a steep price - it's the most expensive console on the market right now. But compared to the equivalent gaming PC, it’s exceptionally good value for money. It offers true [email protected] gameplay across a range of games, and even if you don't have a 4K TV, you will see a significant boost in graphical performance.
Ultimately, the One X isn’t for everyone, but if you have a 4K TV that can take advantage of that extra graphical power, you’re in for a real treat.
The latest console from Sony is the PS4 Pro and it will be a must-have for those loyal to the brand, although the PS4 Slim is also an option.
The PS4 Pro can output not only dynamic 4K, but also HDR video, both possible thanks to the upgraded GPU featured in the high-end console. And the 4K resolution isn't limited to video playback like the Xbox One S, although Sony admits many games are upscaled and not native 4K.
The lack of a 4K Blu-ray drive is a little strange, but the PS4 Pro does feature a larger 1TB hard drive. It's the most powerful Sony-branded console on the market, but its specs don't quite match up to the Xbox One X.
Nintendo's most popular console right now is predictably unusual. The Switch is a sort of handheld/home console hybrid - you can connect it to your TV to play on the big screen, or take it with you on the go as a high-powered handheld, with various different control configurations for each setup.
You don't always get to play the latest AAA titles on the Switch due to the lack of graphical power available, but there is a huge array of Nintendo exclusive and indie titles available to buy or download.
It's the only console where you can play the latest Zelda and Mario titles, and the best bet if you want versions of huge games like Skyrim that you can take with you on the go.
Xbox One S
It's not the high-end variant, but the Xbox One S is a great console for the majority of gamers.
It's smaller and lighter than the Xbox One and the power unit is built-in which is also a nice touch. Although the Xbox One S supports 4K resolution, it's limited to video playback so you'll have to hold out for the Xbox One X for 4K gaming (or get the PS4 Pro).
Read more about the Xbox One S.
The new PS4 Slim is pretty much exactly what it says on the tin, a smaller version of the original PS4 in a smaller (more rounded) design.
Exisiting PS4 owners won't need to upgrade as the internals are almost identical. Although the new slim PS4 has HDR support, that isn’t a exclusive as it’s also been introduced to the launch PS4 with a software update.
Nvidia Shield TV
The Nvidia Shield TV costs £189.99/$199.99 for the 16GB variation, which may seem expensive for a media streamer, but the games on the system are fairly cheap and storage can be expanded via USB. Android games available on the device start at £0.79/$0.99, while the more advanced games may set you back up to £10.
While the Shield offers all the same features that a standard media streamer would (on-demand TV, etc) it also offers a number of Shield-exclusive games that are pretty power-intensive.
It also has a game streaming service that costs £7.49 a month, but provides you with a vast library of games to play, which is good value for money. You also have the option to buy the latest games to play directly on the Shield via GeForce Now, too.
Read our Nvidia Shield TV review.
Nintendo Switch Lite
The Nintendo Switch Lite is a great handheld device that provides the core Nintendo Switch experience in a compact, travel-friendly form factor. The 5.5in display is smaller than that of the standard console, but it’s not small enough to ruin the immersive experience on offer and, rather crucially, it's small enough to fit into the majority of pockets.
But while the focus on portability is great, Nintendo has sacrificed many of what fans consider to be the defining features of the Switch, including the hybrid nature of the console, the removable Joy-Cons and the advanced motion controls that came with them.
So yes, it’s the cheapest way to get into the Nintendo Switch ecosystem and yes, it does provide a better portable experience than the standard console, but it doesn't offer the full Nintendo Switch experience.
Read our full Nintendo Switch Lite review
New Nintendo 2DS XL
Nintendo's best 3DS yet doesn't even support 3D, which says a lot about how well fans have taken to the stereoscopic 3D effect.
The New 2DS XL takes the clamshell design of the New 3DS XL and takes away the stereoscopic screens to bring the price point a bit closer to the budget-friendly 2DS, while adding a few tweaks and refinements along the way.
At £129.99/$149.99 this is a very affordable entry point into the 3DS family, and gives you access to the entire DS and 3DS game library - check out some of our favourites to see what you can expect.
Read our New Nintendo 2DS XL review.
SNES Classic Mini
The SNES Classic Mini brings the nostalgia of classic Nintendo games to the big screen in a new, mini build. You get access to 21 classic SNES titles built-in, so no need to worry about digging out your cartridges from storage! It follows on from the hugely popular NES edition, but with key improvements including longer controller cables and new features like Rewind.
Whether the games line-up suits your taste, we don't know, but we think you're getting excellent value for money here - 21 games including the unreleased Star Fox 2, two controllers and hours of nostalgic enjoyment.
Let's face it, this is a must for any old-school Nintendo fan.
Read our full Nintendo SNES Classic Mini review
Sega Mega Drive Mini
Just like with Nintendo's SNES Classic Mini, there’s very little to dislike when it comes to Sega's Mega Drive Mini.
This is another cute replica of a much-loved console, complete with true-to-original controllers and a huge range of popular games including plenty of classic titles - many of which are two-player. A pair of controllers are included in the box, and they even have a decent length of wire.
All this for an affordable price makes the Mega Drive Mini a winner in our book.
Read our full Sega Mega Drive Mini review
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