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Best Gaming Console 2020 – Buyer’s Guide

So you’re finally thinking of buying a video game console and you want to know what the best one is. If you’ve done any preliminary research, then you’ll know that, while there are only a few major players in this market, it’s actually pretty difficult to make a choice. All of them seem pretty good and they all have rather ambiguous model names, making it hard to tell the difference even across brands. What’s the difference between the Xbox One S and the Xbox One X? And what about the PS4 and the Xbox One in general? Are there certain games that only work on certain consoles and not on others? If you wanted to buy the perfect gaming console, which would it be?

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I can’t tell you what the perfect gaming console is, really, since there is no such thing as a perfect anything. But I can tell you which are the best for different purposes and then you can pick the one that meets your needs.Another thing I can tell you is, among the major players, there isn’t really a bad console. At least none so bad that the others are lightyears ahead. It really all comes down to what matters most to you. And I would like you to remember that, as you read this review. All of the current gaming consoles on the market fit some roles very well. Some of them fill more roles than others, while others have practically taken over a particular niche. But that niche is still important enough that the gaming console is a viable choice, even if it lags in other areas. At the end of the day you should pick whichever console fits your preferences.I can’t tell you what your preferences are! But I can list for you which consoles do what well. I’ll rank them from best to not-so-best (I don’t want to say worst – as I mentioned, they are all pretty good). If you want to learn a little more about each, then you can read their individual in-depth reviews below. If you want to know even more about gaming consoles in general, then you can read the even more in-depth buyer’s guide that comes at the end.

Best Video Game Consoles – Quick Ranking

Product ImageNameRatingsPrice 
Xbox One S 1TB All-Digital Edition Console (Disc-Free Gaming) - DiscontinuedCheck Price On Amazon
Xbox One S 1TB All-Digital Edition Console (Disc-Free Gaming) - DiscontinuedCheck Price On Amazon
Xbox One S 1TB All-Digital Edition Console (Disc-Free Gaming) - DiscontinuedCheck Price On Amazon
Xbox One S 1TB All-Digital Edition Console (Disc-Free Gaming) - DiscontinuedCheck Price On Amazon

1. Sony PlayStation 4 Pro – Best Overall

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The PS4 Pro’s design is derivative of the standard PS4 that preceded it, though we wouldn’t say that it’s an exact copy. Actually, a common running joke about the PlayStation 4 Pro is that it looks like 2 PS4s stacked one on top of each other. As a result, the PS4 Pro takes up way more space than its predecessor.Sony also did a bit of work on the interior. The 8 Jaguar cores of the AMD processor are now clocked at 2.1GHz instead of 1.6GHz. RAM capacity remains the same with 8GB of GDDR5 but it is now running up to 218GB/s against 176GB/s for the standard PS4. The hard drive, at 1TB, has 500 more gigabytes than the standard version. There is also a more powerful 802.11ac Wi-Fi antenna, as well as a Bluetooth 4.0 receiver/transmitter.As for the controller on the PS4 Pro, some changes were noted over the predecessor, though it still is, at its heart, a Dual Shock 4 controller. The touchpad has a light bar to tell you which player you are, and the buttons feel a lot lighter and more responsive. The switch between Bluetooth and wired mode is also seamless in the controller.The performance of the PS4 is high enough that, if you play VR games or have a 4K TV, you’ll notice the difference over other screens. The data transfer process from an earlier PS4 is easy, as all you need to do is hook them together with an Ethernet cable. It can, however, be a slow process. That said, this console’s increased processing power improves the performance across the table, including HDR, 4K, and VR games, which are growing each year. That improved performance can come in a variety of ways. Either you have games playing at 30fps at a 4K resolution, or you have more refined textures, or the ability to play a 1080p game at a higher fps.Those with 1080p resolution TV screens may not be able to enjoy the improvements meant for 4K TV owners, but they will enjoy better frame rates in their favorite games.Those with 4K television will see the biggest advantages by far, including older games playing in native or upscaled 4K with HDR.The VR experience is also bound to improve with the PS4 Pro. They run better on this console and titles with PS4 Pro Mode activated look better and have faster frame rates.

Pros
  • Great performance improvement on all game titles
  • Great 4K output
  • 1TB hard drive
Cons
  • No Blu-ray player
  • Not all games output in native 4K

2. Xbox One S – The Best Gaming Console for Multimedia

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The Xbox One S is a feat of engineering that wows anyone who decides to give it a try. It manages to put a powerful power supply and a 2TB hard drive in a chassis that’s at most 40% as large as its predecessor, the Xbox One. The only sad part is that we may never know just how Microsoft did it. It probably has a lot to do with rearranging the parts on the inside and making for better airflow so the entire console is more densely packed but also more efficiently cooled. It might also include employing Santa’s elves, and a bit of magic.The console also has an interesting overhaul over its predecessor in terms of the exterior design. Physical buttons have replaced capacitive for turning the console on and ejecting game discs, and the USB 3.0 ports have been moved to the front face of the console. Unfortunately, the Kinect port from its predecessor is conspicuously missing – you’ll need to buy a separate adapter if you want to use Kinect.The console is normally only sold in white, so you don’t get much variety there. So at first blush, there aren’t many style options. However, they do have special edition consoles in different color schemes that coincide with game releases. You can also have a 3rd party skin installed on your Xbox, and controllers can be customized through Microsoft’s Xbox Design Lab program.Microsoft said that the chip on the Xbox One S is the same as that of the Xbox One that preceded it. However, the disc drive is Ultra HD Blu-ray capable of 4K and HDR.The Xbox One S does very well with Ultra HD televisions, though we wouldn’t put it on the same level as the PS4 Pro. It is capable of 4K resolution, either upscaling games for you or offloading that task to your television. It also loads content much faster, even at the higher resolution, than the Xbox One, which was slower despite dealing with standard resolutions.If you use your gaming console to stream apps like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Video, and YouTube, then you will be happy to know that each of these apps has a 4K version running on the Xbox One S.When it comes to games, they look much better than they do on the Xbox One, even though they’re only upscaled on the One S. This console will run your favorite titles smoothly, ensuring a great experience. Something interesting to note, however, is that Microsoft does not intend to make any exclusives for the Xbox One S.The Xbox One S controller looks almost exactly the same as the Xbox One controller. However, it natively supports Bluetooth, and is the first Microsoft controller to have this support. That means you can use it not only on your console but on your PC as well.The One S controller also has a textured grip, which makes it more comfortable to hold for long stretches, unlike the controller to the Xbox One. It also has a more powerful wireless antenna that makes it possible to sit farther away from the television than you could from the Xbox One. It comes in many different color variations, as well as in some really cool limited designs like the Cyberpunk 2077 edition.Older Xbox One controllers will also work on this console, which is great for those who are used to them. The only thing I would have preferred on this new controller is rechargeable batteries.

Pros
  • Great performance improvement on all game titles
  • Great 4K output
  • 1TB hard drive
Cons
  • No Blu-ray player
  • Not all games output in native 4K