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There is no such thing as the “best game console,” but figuring out which one is right for you is more in reach. There are seven systems that you could reasonably call “current gen,” and others, such as Valve’s Steam Deck, further muddying the waters. Engadget staffers play games on pretty much every console you can think of, and a few that you might not have thought about for a very long time.
For some, nothing but the highest-specced system will do; others just need the cheapest way to play the latest games; maybe you value portability over everything; or maybe you haven’t played in years and are looking for a system for your family to enjoy together. There are endless use-cases for a games console, and that’s why we’ve put together this article.
We’ve reviewed and evaluated every console in here, some more than once, and tried to categorize the “best gaming console” for specific needs. You’ll find 10 picks in here, with all of the big players represented, and two best “high-end consoles,” each for different reasons. We hope by the end of this guide, you’ll be much closer to deciding on the perfect console for you.
Best high-end console: PS5
The PlayStation 5 delivers the most stunning graphics and seamless performance of any current-gen gaming console. Sony stuck with the traditional hardware-upgrade cycle for the PS5, significantly improving processing power and visual fidelity over the previous generation, and introducing a new gamepad packed with immersion mechanics. The DualSense, Sony’s latest controller, is a standout feature: It offers intense and precise haptic feedback along the grips, and has adaptive triggers, meaning tension in the R2 and L2 buttons changes as players equip various weapons and tools. This is something that the Xbox Series consoles simply don’t have.
Meanwhile, the PS5 offers a library of console exclusives including God of War: Ragnarök, Returnal, the Demon’s Souls remake, Insomniac’s Spider-Man series, every The Last of Us game and re-release, and a litany of Final Fantasy titles. PlayStation Plus Premium, the highest tier of Sony’s monthly subscription service, adds cloud streaming, freebies and a catalog of games to download at any time. Premium costs $18 a month or $120 annually, and there are cheaper tiers with fewer perks in the Plus ecosystem.
The PS5 may look a little funny sitting next to your TV, but truly, it’s what’s inside that counts. And hey, that’s why companies like dbrand exist. – Jessica Conditt, Senior Reporter