Skip to main content

The best games consoles: All the best systems available now

Friends playing the best games console
(Image credit: Roman Samborskyi / Shutterstock)

If you're looking for the best games console to play AAA titles in 2021, then we've got some good news and some bad news.

First, the good: there's never been a better time to be a console gamer, with both Sony and Microsoft recently releasing their brand news consoles, the PS5 and the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S, respectively. Meanwhile, Nintendo's ever-popular Switch games console continues to get some fantastic games as well.

So, there's a huge amount of choice out there if you're looking to buy a new games console. So, what's the bad news? Well, although the new consoles have been released, they can still be very difficult to get hold of. This is due to a combination of pent-up demand (gamers are desperate to upgrade from the previous generation of games consoles) and production issues due to the global Covid-19 pandemic.

However, we're here to help make your search for your next console as easy as possible. Below, we've listed the best games consoles available right now, and our built-in price comparison tool will tell you when they are in stock, and what the best price is.

The best games console of 2021

The best games console: PS5CB

(Image credit: Sony)

01. PlayStation 5

The best games console of 2021 - if you can find it

Specifications
CPU: AMD Zen 2-based CPU with 8 cores at 3.5GHz (variable frequency)
GPU: 10.28 TFLOPs, 36 CUs at 2.23GHz (variable frequency)
GPU Architecture: Custom RDNA 2
Memory interface: 16GB GDDR6 / 256-bit
Memory bandwidth: 448GB/s
Internal storage: Custom 825GB SSD
Usable storage: 667.2GB
IO throughput: 5.5GB/s (raw), typical 8-9GB/s (compressed)
Expandable storage: NVMe SSD slot
External storage: USB HDD support (PS4 games only)
Optical Drive: 4K UHD Blu-ray Drive (for standard edition)
Reasons to buy
+4K/120 gameplay, 8K/60 support+Revolutionary controller
Reasons to avoid
-Design won't be for everyone-825GB SSD is rather small

The PlayStation 5, Sony's latest games console, isn't just the best games console of 2021, but it's also one of the most in-demand gadgets ever made. The hype around this thing is incredible, and it means when stock comes into a store, it quickly gets snapped up.

So, is the hype justified? Yes. There's a reason why Sony is behind some of the best-selling consoles ever made (including the PlayStation 2, which remains the number one selling home console of all time), and the PS5 looks set to continue this legacy.

Compared to the Xbox Series X, the PlayStation 5 launched with a much stronger lineup of games, including Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Sackboy: A Big Adventure and Demon’s Souls (you can also play PS4 games on it), and while its specs on paper don't quite match up to Microsoft's new console, it's a brilliant performer that has already wowed us with its graphical capabilities. It's also got a super-fast custom solid state drive (SSD) for storing games on, and that means it can load up games in a matter of seconds.

It also comes in two versions, a standard model and a slightly cheaper digital edition, which foregoes the disc drive. The design of the console is certainly divisive, however, and it's so big you may have trouble fitting it under your TV - if you can buy it in the first place.

The best games console: Nintendo SwitchCB endorsed

(Image credit: Nintendo)

02. Nintendo Switch

The best games console for families

Specifications
Dimensions: 4 x 9.5 x 5.4 inch(W x L x H) with Joy-Cons
GPU: 768MHz (docked)/307.2MHz (undocked) Nvidia custom Tegra SOC
RAM: 4 GB
Max Resolution: docked 720p, undocked 1080p
Optical Drive: None
Storage: 32GB (expandable)
Portable battery life: approx 3 - 7 hours
Reasons to buy
+Can plug into TV or be used as a portable+Great exclusive games
Reasons to avoid
-Lacks power-Online isn't great

The Nintendo Switch is the best games console for families thanks to Nintendo's amazing lineup of exclusive games that will appeal to players of all ages. 

You've got classics like Super Mario Odyssey and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, along with the new Pokemon games for young (and old) players - as their appeal transcends generations.

It also has some great third party games such as Doom Eternal and Skyrim, plus amazing indie games like Hades. In many ways, the Nintendo Switch has righted the wrongs of its predecessor, the Wii U.

As the name implies, the Nintendo Switch can be used as a normal home console that plugs into a TV, but it can also be 'switched' to handheld mode, so you can play it while out and about. This gives it a versatility that the other consoles just can't match. On the downside, it's noticeably less powerful than Sony's and Microsoft's newest consoles, and its online service still feels a little underbaked.

However, if you're after some classic Nintendo charm, this is definitely the best games console for you.

The best games console: Xbox Series X

(Image credit: Microsoft)

03. Xbox Series X

The most powerful games console

Specifications
CPU: 8x Cores @ 3.8 GHz (3.6 GHz w/ SMT) Custom Zen 2 CPU
GPU: 12 TFLOPS, 52 CUs @ 1.825 GHz Custom RDNA 2 GPU
Die Size: 360.45 mm2
Process: 7nm Enhanced
Memory: 16 GB GDDR6 w/ 320b bus
Memory Bandwith: 10GB @ 560 GB/s, 6GB @ 336 GB/s
Internal Storage: 1TB Custom NVME SSD
I/O Throughput: 2.4 GB/s (Raw), 4.8 GB/s
Expandable Storage: 1TB Expansion Card (matches internal storage exactly)
External Storage: USB 3.2 External HDD Support
Optical Drive: 4K UHD Blu-ray Drive
Reasons to buy
+4K/60fps gameplay (4K/120Hz support)+Backwards compatibility for big range of games
Reasons to avoid
-Launch library is lacking-Minimal UI improvements

The Xbox Series X is one of two new consoles from Microsoft, with the company boasting that it's the most powerful console in the world right now. The specs certainly back that up, and like the PS5, it comes with an SSD for super-fast loading times.

It's also capable of 4K gameplay at high framerates for some of the most graphically-impressive titles you can buy right now. In many ways, it feels like Microsoft has learned from its mistakes with the Xbox One.

However, it doesn't have quite as many impressive exclusive games as the PS5, and with Halo Infinite, which was due to be the consoles major launch title, delayed until later in 2021, this meant the Xbox Series X isn't able to compete when it comes to games - for now, at least.

In the console's favour is excellent support for older titles, due to Microsoft's impressive implementation of backwards compatibility. It means if you own older games, you should find it easy to play them on the Xbox Series X. The PS5, on the other hand, only plays PS4 games when it comes to backwards compatibility, whereas the Series X can play Xbox One, Xbox 360 and even Xbox games.

Microsoft is also heavily investing in the Xbox Games Pass service. This is a subscription service that offers you a huge range of games to play for a relatively cheap monthly price. Microsoft is pitching it as the 'Netflix of games', and it gives you instant access to lots of titles for just £10.99 a month. If you play a lot of games, this can end up saving you quite a bit of money.

The best games console: PlayStation 4 Pro

(Image credit: Sony)

04. PlayStation 4 Pro

The best previous generation console

Specifications
Dimensions: 12.8 x 11.6 x 2.1 inch (W x L x H)
GPU: 4.20 TFLOPS, AMD Radeon™ based graphics engine
RAM: 8 GB of GDDR5, 1 GB DDR3
Max Resolution: 2160p
Optical Drive: DVD/Blu-ray
Storage: 1TB (expandable)
Reasons to buy
+Huge library of games+Native and upscaled 4K
Reasons to avoid
-No 4K Blu-ray support-More powerful consoles out there

The PlayStation 4 was a phenomenon, with Sony's last gen console easily beating the competition thanks to powerful components, affordable price and some of the best first-party games ever made.

Even better, a few years into the PS4's life, Sony released the PlayStation 4 Pro, a souped-up model that came with more power, allowing it to run games in 4K with extra bells and whistles. Older PS4 games also got a performance boost as well when played on the Pro.

In fact, the PlayStation 4 Pro is so impressive, that its games still look incredibly good compared to the newer PS5 and Xbox Series X. Pop on Uncharted 4, Spider-Man or the Last of Us 2 on a PS4 Pro, and you'd be forgiven for wondering why you'd need a newer PS5 at all.

Also, as the PS5 is so hard to buy at the moment, the PS4 Pro could be a much better investment, as it is readily available. And, as it's not longer the newest console out there, you're able to find some brilliant deals on it. Many of the PS5's most anticipated games are also coming to the PS4 (and PS4 Pro) as well, so if you want a Sony console, this may be your best bet, and will easily tide you over until the PlayStation 5 becomes easier to buy.

The best games console: Nintendo Switch Lite

(Image credit: Nintendo)

05. Nintendo Switch Lite

The best handheld console

Specifications
Dimensions: 3.6 x 8.2 x .55 inch
GPU: NVIDIA Custom Tegra processor
Screen: Capacitive touch screen / 5.5 inch LCD / 1280x720 resolution
Storage: 32GB (expandable)
Portable battery life: approx 3 - 7 hours
Reasons to buy
+Portable+Comfortable to hold
Reasons to avoid
-Limited to handheld games-Can't plug into TV

If you're looking for a games console to play on when you're out and about, and don't care about sitting in front of a TV to play, then the Nintendo Switch Lite is the console for you.

It's essentially a version of the Switch, but it can't be docked and connected to a TV. Instead, it has built-in Joy-Con controllers and a longer battery life, making it an ideal portable controller. It's also cheaper, yet can play pretty much any Nintendo Switch game - though be warned that some games made for multiplayer or that require the docked mode won't work.

Nintendo has been behind some of the best handheld consoles ever made, including the iconic GameBoy and dual-screen Nintendo DS, so it's no surprise that it has made a brilliant handheld console with the Switch Lite. For gaming on the go, there really is no other choice.

The best games console: Xbox Series S

(Image credit: Microsoft)

06. Xbox Series S

The best value games console

Specifications
CPU: 8-core 3.6GHz (3.4GHz with SMT) custom AMD 7nm
GPU: 4 teraflops at 1.565GHz
RAM: 10GB GDDR6
Frame rate: Up to 120fps
Resolution: 1440p with 4K upscaling
Optical: No disk drive
Storage: 512GB NVMe SSD
Usable storage space: 364GB
Reasons to buy
+Compact design, powerful specs+Silent
Reasons to avoid
-Small hard drive-No disc drive

The Xbox Series S launched alongside the Series X as a more affordable option. While the Series X is packed to the gills with the most powerful tech around, and comes with a price tag to match, the Series S has far more modest hardware.

It can play any game made for the Series X, but while the more expensive Xbox is designed for 4K, the Series X targets 1080p and 1440p displays instead. These lower resolutions still look great, but they don't require as much power, which in turn allows the console to be sold at a lower price than the Series X or PS5.

It means it's a very affordable way to play the next generation games, and it's a great choice for people who don't currently have a 4K TV. Even if you have a 4K display, the Series S can upscale games so they still look good, and some games can even be natively played at 4K.

So, you're getting an impressively powerful console in a compact design (it's the smallest Xbox ever made) and for a low price. Add in the Xbox Games Pass, and you've got an excellent value games console that can play a huge amount of games.

The best games console: Xbox One X

(Image credit: Microsoft)

07. Xbox One X

Still a powerful console

Specifications
Dimensions: 11.8 x 9.5 x 2.4 inch(W x L x H)
GPU: 6 TFLOPS, AMD Radeon™ based graphics engine
RAM: 12 GB of GDDR5
Max Resolution: 2160p
Optical Drive: 4K/HDR Blu-ray
Storage: 1TB
Reasons to buy
+Native and upscaled 4K+4K Blu-ray player
Reasons to avoid
-Lack of exclusives-Can be hard to get

Like the PS4 Pro, the Xbox One X is a super-charged version of the Xbox One. This means it can play any Xbox One game, but thanks to its more powerful components, it can play all these games at 4K resolution.

It's actually so powerful, that it's still a formidable console, and while it can't quite compete with the PS5 and Xbox Series X, it's actually a better 4K machine than the Xbox Series S.

So, if you're an Xbox fan and can't get hold of a Series X or Series S, the One X is a great choice that will let you play modern games with ease. Sadly, Microsoft has discontinued the One X, so while you can still easily buy one at the moment, that may not always be the case. With the Series X and Series S being hard to buy themselves, we hope Microsoft reconsiders this.

The Xbox One X is a great machine for third party games, however, Microsoft's exclusives are less impressive, and the PS4 Pro is a better choice if you're after a last-gen games console.

The best games console: Sony PS4 Slim deals

(Image credit: Sony)

08. PlayStation 4

The affordable all-rounder

Specifications
Dimensions: 11 x 10 x 1.5 inch(W x L x H)
GPU: 1.84 TFLOPS, AMD Radeon™ based graphics engine
RAM: 8 GB of GDDR5
Max Resolution: 1080p
Optical Drive: DVD/Blu-ray
Storage: 500GB or 1TB (expandable)
Reasons to buy
+Great exclusive games+VR support
Reasons to avoid
-No 4K

Throughout the PS4's life, Sony brought out some of the best exclusive games ever made, such as God of War, Uncharted 4 and Horizon Zero Dawn, and for those games alone, picking up the base model of the PS4 is well worth it if you missed those originally.

With a huge catalogue of games, a new lower price thanks to the PS4 Pro and PS5 launches, and support for virtual reality via PlayStation VR, the PS4 remains one of the best games console out there. It's no wonder that it's one of the most successful games consoles ever made.

In fact, its success has meant that Sony is continuing to release excellent games for it, even with the PS5 now out. While it's starting to show its age - it can't output 4K, for example - this is a great affordable games console which can play some of the best games ever made.

The best games console: Xbox One S

(Image credit: Microsoft)

09. Xbox One S

The best games console on a budget

Specifications
Dimensions: 11.6 x 8.9 x 2.5 inch (W x L x H)
GPU: 917 MHz, AMD Radeon™ based graphics engine
RAM: 8 GB of GDDR3
Max Resolution: 1080p (max 2160p for video)
Optical Drive: 4K/HDR Blu-ray
Storage: 500GB, 1TB or 2TB
Reasons to buy
+Affordable console+4K Blu-ray player
Reasons to avoid
-Lack of first party games

If you're looking for the best games console on a budget, which can still play modern games, then the Xbox One S may be worth considering. Microsoft's struggles with the Xbox One are well documented, but the One S revision at least gets some things right.

For a start, it comes with a 4K Blu-ray drive, which means this is a good media playing console as well. You also get a decent library of games, and if you have a 1080p TV, they look and run pretty good, and the price is now the lowest it's ever been.

However, unlike the PS4 above, the Xbox One S doesn't have such a good selection of first party games. It will allow you to play Xbox 360 games, however, which gives you more options.

For a budget console, or a cheap media player for your living room, then this is a good choice. For the latest games, or the best exclusives, you'll want to look elsewhere, however.

Related articles: