In this buying guide, you will find the updated ranking of the best video game consoles, with hi-end, portable and retrogaming models, to understand which one to buy based on your preferences and style of play.
If you are deciding which console to buy in 2021, in this guide we have selected the best models for all price ranges and for different features, to help you choose the one that best suits your needs.
For the most passionate gamers, we will tell you which are the best consoles among the best-known brands. So if you too are undecided between PlayStation, Xbox and Nintendo, here you can find some interesting ideas to make the right choice.
Best Gaming Consoles Quick Ranking
|Top||PlayStation 5 Console||Best Overall||View on Amazon|
|Top||Xbox Series X||Best Gaming Console for Multimedia||View on Amazon|
|Top||Xbox Series S||Best Hybrid Gaming Console||View on Amazon|
|Top||PlayStation 4 Pro 1TB Console||Best for Portable Play||View on Amazon|
|Top||PlayStation 4 Slim||Best Android Gaming Device||View on Amazon|
|Top||Xbox One X||Best for Gaming Addicts||View on Amazon|
|Top||Xbox One S||Best Starter Console||View on Amazon|
|Top||Nintendo Switch||Best for Classic Game Lovers||View on Amazon|
|Top||Nintendo Switch Lite||Best for Online Gamers||View on Amazon|
|Top||Nintendo 2DS - New Super Mario Bros. 2 Edition||Best iOS Gaming Device||View on Amazon|
If you are looking for a portable console and you don’t know which one to choose because you want to make fun with yourself without having to use your smartphone, we will help you find the model that’s right for you. And we have also identified some interesting proposals for families looking for a portable device suitable for children.
Finally, we have also included the best retro gaming console models with digital games included, for old school videogame enthusiasts and for collectors.
Now let’s see which one to choose, in this ranking of the best gaming consoles with related main technical specifications, starting from the top of the range.
1. Playstation 5 – Best Overall
The Playstation 5 is the best console of 2021, equipped with ray tracing, 3D audio and an innovative gamepad. It is aimed at all console players who want to keep up with the times to enjoy the latest generation games and exclusive Playstations.
There are two models available for the PS5: the standard version with a disc drive and 4K Blu-ray, and the Digital Edition a driveless, with only the 825GB SSD. The price between the two varies by around 100 euros.
In terms of performance, the new PS5 is truly impressive. Thanks to the RDNA 2 GPU, the 3.5 GHz AMD Zen 2 octa-core processor, the 16 GB of GDDR6 memory and the NVMe SSD, PS5 guarantees load times in the order of a few seconds and 4K graphics at 60 fps or 120 fps depending on the titles.
We can use 2 game modes: the Performance Mode gives priority to high frame rates by giving up ray tracing and high resolution, useful in the most frenetic and competitive games, while the Resolution Mode sacrifices fps for spectacular and extremely realistic graphics.
PS5 is equipped with 3D Tempest audio technology, compatible with any headphones and TV speakers. It is very similar to Dolby Atmos quality with the spatiality of the sound projecting directly into the gaming experience.
A note of credit goes to the Dualsense controller, similar to the Dualshock 4 but with important innovations. The adaptive triggers offer a different resistance depending on the action performed in the game, such as aiming with weapons of different weight or pressing the pedals of a car, giving greater involvement. The microphone is built into the gamepad itself and we find a convenient button that allows you to disable it.
With the PS Plus membership, you will have access to the new PS Plus Collection, which includes 20 thick PS4 games to be recovered right away, such as Bloodborne, God of War and The Last of Us Remastered. At launch, however, we find a dozen new PS5 games between exclusive and non-exclusive, including Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Demon’s Souls and Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War.
2. Xbox Series X – Best Gaming Console for Multimedia
Technically speaking, the best console in the world is the Xbox Series X , which is Microsoft’s next-generation model, with truly powerful and fast hardware. It is recommended for gaming lovers looking for a cutting-edge gaming experience with the ability to enjoy Blu-ray content and various 4K streaming services.
The aesthetic is different from previous generations, the design is a modern tower, very reminiscent of the classic gaming PCs. The controller, on the other hand, remains very similar, but with greater responsiveness and a button to share photos and videos of your games.
In terms of hardware performance, Xbox Series X is very similar to PS5, slightly more powerful. The RDNA 2 GPU develops up to 12 teraflops, the 8-core AMD Zen 2 processor runs at 3.8 GHz, and the NVMe SSD is 1 TB. This results in lightning-fast loading times and stunning 4K HDR images up to 120 fps. Like PS5, it will be able to support any future 8K titles.
Xbox Series X, along with Series S, is the only next-generation console to support Dolby Vision, an HDR format with superior contrast and colour accuracy, which combined with ray tracing offers brilliant and realistic images. Dolby Atmos is also present, for an enveloping three-dimensional sound experience.
At launch we find few games available and none exclusive, we miss Halo Infinite which will not be released until 2021. Backwards compatibility, however, it allows you to play many games and by subscribing to Xbox Game Pass you access a catalogue of hundreds of titles that are constantly updated.
In 2020, Microsoft bought development company ZeniMax Media, to increase the number of games available in the Game Pass. Among these stand out some of the most important video games in the world, such as Elder Scrolls, Fallout, Doom and Quake.
3. Xbox Series S – Best Hybrid Gaming Console
The Xbox Series S is an excellent video game console for TV for value for money. This is the second next-gen console from Microsoft, the younger sister of the Xbox Series X, with lower performance and digital-only. It is suitable for anyone looking for a low-priced console to play the latest generation titles.
Storage is the main trade-off of the Xbox Series S, having a 512GB SSD, the actual availability of which stops at 364GB. If you don’t intend to install and play many titles at the same time, you won’t have many problems.
It is designed for gaming at 1440p at 60fps, with the ability to go up to 120fps. As for the technical specifications, the main difference compared to the Xbox Series X is the GPU, an AMD RDNA 2 from 1.56 GHz that reaches a power of 4 teraflops. We also have the option of upscaling to 4K, but with these features the strength of the Xbox Series S lies in gaming at 1440p / 1080p.
Thanks to the SSD the loading times are very fast compared to previous consoles, and there is also a feature called Quick Resume. This is one of the biggest innovations, as it allows you to quickly switch from one game to another, picking up exactly where you left it.
The games available at launch are limited, the best choice is to subscribe to Game Pass to have access to many important titles. Support for Dolby Vision and Atmos also makes Xbox Series S perfect for enjoying 4K streaming content, offered by apps like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney Plus.
4. PlayStation 4 Pro – Best for Portable Play
Among the best video game consoles is the PS4 Pro which has support for 4k, HDR 10 compatibility, and a good number of exclusive games. It was the best console for a long time, right up to the release of the PS5, and is still highly recommended for all types of gamers.
On the PS4 Pro, the games are displayed in Ultra HD high definition, not only for native 4k titles but also for other games, thanks to the good upscaling ability. HDR technology is also effective in increasing the dynamic range of the video, making the gaming experience more exciting.
It is true that the technical characteristics are lower than the rival Microsoft Xbox One X, but the real strength of the Sony Playstation system lies in the exclusive games that arrive on the market every year, and that grow more and more. Some examples are Persona 5 Royal, Final Fantasy 7 Remake, Ghost of Tsushima, and The Last of Us Part II.
By choosing the PS4 Pro you will also have access to the PlayStation VR, which is a virtual reality system that does not cost a lot, but with a premium character. Microsoft has confirmed that Xbox One X will not have VR support, so that’s all the more reason to choose Sony’s platform.
The only real weakness of this console is the recent release of the new PS5 model, which offers better performance and a more modern experience. The PS4 Pro is still a great choice for those not interested in constantly keeping up with new releases.
5. PlayStation 4 Slim – Best Android Gaming Device
If your budget doesn’t allow you to get to the Pro version of the Sony Playstation 4 or the new PS5, the basic version of the PS4 is still a respectable purchase, and one of the best-selling consoles.
The catalogue of available games is full of exclusive titles and top-of-the-range options. In recent years Sony has pushed hard on storytelling single-player games like Uncharted, Spider-Man, God of War, Horizon Zero Dawn, and The Last of Us.
There is also support for VR, with an external headset to be purchased separately. This is not an option on Microsoft’s platforms, so if you want to try the virtual reality experience in the future, Sony is your only option at the moment.
Lacks support for native 4k and 4k upscaling. With the PS4 the resolution remains 1080p, which may or may not be a limitation (depending on the resolution of your TV or gaming monitor).
It should also be noted that the PS4 does not accept PS3 games, so for anyone who is about to make the leap from the old version, know that you will basically have to trash your entire collection.
If you are about to buy a new gaming console, and you want one of the latest generations but without spending too much money, the PS4 slim is the one we recommend.
6. Xbox One X – Best for Gaming Addicts
Before the arrival of the new Xbox X Series, the Xbox One X was Microsoft’s best console, and also the most powerful console on the market. The technical characteristics in fact exceed the PS4 Pro , of which this console is the direct rival, and we recommend it above all to those who will be able to take advantage of the integrated 4K Blu-Ray player.
It offers more native 4k resolution games than the PS4 Pro, and the 4k signal is more stable thanks to the more advanced internal hardware. So if you are looking for the best 4k consoles, the Xbox One X will give excellent satisfaction.
Note that this console does not offer compatibility with a VR set and that the number of exclusive games is much less than the Playstation, so be careful before buying and check the stock that interests you most, to understand if the games you interest in are supported on this console.
Many gamers who download 4k games directly to the Xbox One X’s 1TB hard drive find themselves filling up the disk space quite quickly, so we also encourage you to consider purchasing an external hard drive.
This Microsoft console is not cheap, but it is also very technically advanced. There is also support for FreeSync technology, which ensures smoother gaming with compatible gaming screens.
7. Xbox One S – Best Starter Console
For those looking for the best game console for price-quality, in addition to the slim PS4, there is also the Xbox One S. Among the home consoles, this Xbox version has a definitely better design than the original Xbox One, and is also more powerful at the hardware level.
One quality that sets this console apart from Sony’s direct rival is the ability to read BluRay discs in 4k and perform 4k upscaling of games in full hd. The image is, therefore, more detailed than on the PS4. Another detail is the quality of the wireless controller, one of our absolute favourites.
There aren’t many games exclusive to Microsoft’s platform, but one of the advantages of this console is better compatibility with games for previous versions. On the Xbox One S, it is in fact possible to buy and install the games of the original Xbox and Xbox 360.
If you are looking for a console that offers 4k output at an affordable price, with an integrated BluRay player, the Xbox One S is the right choice.
8. Nintendo Switch – Best for Classic Game Lovers
The Nintendo Switch is arguably the best Nintendo console, and it’s also the best handheld console of the moment. It can be used by playing games with the built-in screen or connected to your home TV. It is therefore the most versatile console by type of use and allows us to take our favourite games everywhere. The docking system for the TV
is particularly ingenious, which allows you to insert the console inside the base when you want to take advantage of the big screen.
On a technical level, of course, it is less advanced than the Sony PS4 Pro or Xbox One X, and for example, with this Nintendo console, it will be impossible to play in 4k 60 fps. The video quality is still high and good enough for most less avid gamers.
The Nintendo platform offers a range of games ranging from the most modern titles to timeless classics. There are first-party titles like Super Mario Odyssey, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and Animal Crossing: New Horizons, and you can also find NES games for retro gaming lovers. From the point of view of the options offered, the Nintendo Switch is one of a kind.
For those who want to venture into the world of virtual reality, there is the Labo Kit, which uses the Switch screen to offer a virtual reality experience.
9. Nintendo Switch Lite – Best for Online Gamers
If you intend to use the Nintendo Switch only on the go and are never connected to your home TV , then it is worth saving some money and relying on the Lite version.
The Nintendo Switch Lite is a handheld console with an integrated screen, the game catalogue is about the same as the Switch, and it is also slightly better for the built-in battery life.
The games that we will be able to install are those in the Switch catalogue that support handheld mode. It will not be possible to play titles that are exclusively available for dock mode.
The screen is smaller than that of the Switch, precisely to promote portability. We recommend that you also take into account the purchase of a separate microSD card because the internal memory of the Nintendo Switch Lite could run out quite quickly.
We also recommend it to players who already have an Xbox or PS4, because it offers completely new games compared to those of other platforms, and allows you to enjoy gaming even outside the home.
10. Nintendo 2DS – Best iOS Gaming Device
The Nintendo 2DS is the budget version of the Nintendo 3DS (without 3D). It is a portable console suitable for children, to have access to the 3DS games catalogue without spending big bucks (also exists in the 2DS XL version).
Precisely to make it usable by a much younger audience, the 2DS does not offer the locking mechanism of the 3DS and is, therefore, a single piece of plastic without hinges. It is also sturdy enough to withstand falls from a certain height.
Now that the catalogue of games on the Nintendo e-store is populating with interesting titles, we find that 2DS is a good competitor among the best portable consoles for children. It is not pocket-friendly like other consoles, but it is more robust and offers fewer breaking points.
We recommend it to those looking for a real console to carry around, rather than leaving their smartphone or tablet in the hands of a child who wants to play with a digital device.
11. Nintendo Classic Mini – Best Portable Game Console
The Nintendo Classic Mini (NES) is a good console for family gaming and is the miniaturized version of the Nintendo console released in 1980. It is a faithful representation of the original console, has 30 pre-installed 8-bit games and is connectable to the TV at home via the HDMI cable.
The games are faithful to the original version, and it is possible to save a game on the memory slots when you want to stop the game.
There are many titles available, and at such a low price it is worth having this little condensed history of video gaming, if you are a true fan you will certainly not be disappointed.
Nintendo has included classic 8-bit games from the 80’s gaming era, with Balloon Fight, Bubble, Donkey Kong, Final Fantasy, Mario Bros., Pac-Man, Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda and many more.
The controllers are wired first, of course, to keep prices low but also to be true to the original. The cables are a bit short, so we find ourselves having to move the sofa or sit on the floor in front of the TV.
It’s really fun to play together, and there’s support for PLAYER 1 and PLAYER 2, so you can get friends and family involved and play some classic games from the last century.
12. Super Nintendo Classic Mini – Best Budget Game Console
The Super Nintendo Classic Mini (SNES) is the best retro gaming console of the moment, with the 21 best games, which were originally produced for the Super Nintendo, already installed inside the package.
They are 16-bit games, so with better graphics than the 8-bit NES, and these games are currently unavailable on any other platform, so the only solution if you want to bring these titles back to life is to buy this console retro gaming.
We have titles like StarFox 2, Super Mario World, The Legend of Zelda, Final Fantasy III, Earthbound and Donkey Kong. There is also an (unofficial) method to add games that are not included in the package, it requires a bit of hacking but for those interested, know that it can be done.
The mini console is literally the size of the palm of a hand and must be connected to the TV via an HDMI cable. In the box, we find included the two controllers that must be connected to the console via cable (which honestly is a bit short).
Fun is guaranteed, and the price is fair. For a console with such qualitative games and high build quality, it is a purchase that is worth tackling as a childhood memory, for the collection of objects of historical value or simply as an original gift.
13. C64 Mini – Best Budget Portable Game Console
For those who remember this classic from the 80s, the C64 Mini is the mini version of the Commodore 64, one of the best-selling personal computers ever and a true icon in the history of computing.
The C64 Mini is built to scale, does not have a working keyboard, comes with a joystick controller that is the same (or close to) the original, works only as a retro gaming console, and can be connected to the TV via the HDMI cable.
The games released at the time for the original Commodore 64 were thousands, and here we find only a few. There is a good amount of options already pre-installed, to relive the games of the era on our 4k home screen.
For more experienced computer scientists, there is also the possibility to read the ROM files of the Commodore 64, via the USB port on the device. You will have to use BASIC and type the commands (via an external keyboard connected to the C64 mini).
14. SNK NEO GEO Mini – Best Retro Game Console
For arcade nostalgics, here is a mini version of the gaming consoles that used to be in arcades. It has a built-in 3.5-inch screen and comes complete with working controllers and buttons, and they work really well too.
At first glance, this small plastic console looks like a toy of little interest, and it seems almost impossible that it can function well as a gaming console. Instead, as soon as we take it out of the box and start trying the first 1vs1 fighting games, we find it excellent from the point of view of use .
The controls are responsive and easy to learn, even if they are small we still find ourselves able to comfortably perform all the special moves of the favourite characters. The screen is very bright, and it is also perfectly visible from different angles.
Really, the gameplay experience is great, and we are amazed at the smoothness of the game. Then when it’s off, it’s a really nice item to have on the shelf.
It is less suitable for connecting to an external screen, the quality of the image output through the mini HDMI port is not good, so we do not recommend it for playing retro games in the living room with the TV (Nintendo is better for that).
15. Sony Playstation Classic – Best Sony PlayStation
For retro gaming lovers, or for those who want to give an original gift to an enthusiast, this retrogaming console is highly recommended. The Playstation Classic is the miniature version of the first Playstation, without a disc drive, with 20 pre-installed games, and the possibility of connecting to your home TV.
Real fun for lovers of the classic, you can play titles such as Destruction Derby,
Final Fantasy VII, Grand Theft Auto, Metal Gear Solid, Resident Evil Director’s Cut and Tekken 3.
The two controllers supplied must be connected to the mini-console via cable, which is long enough to reach the sofa. We would have preferred the convenience of wireless, but we understand that this choice would not be on the subject.
An aspect that will certainly be improved if there are later versions, is the absence of the HOME button on the controller because every time we want to exit a game we have to get up and physically press the RESET button on the console.
The key difference between the Playstation Classic and Nintendo’s retro gaming consoles is that Sony has preferred to go for more 3D and modern titles, so on Nintendo, you will have the classic very retro 2D game, while Playstation covers a range of games that in the 90s they were trying to offer a more three-dimensional experience.