So you’re thinking about getting a new video game console, but you still haven’t decided which console you want to get. This late into the current console cycle, you have so many options; your decision gets complicated, quick because each provide great experiences.
If you are on a budget, you need to figure out which console makes the most sense for you and your wallet. But, if you have funds in your budget and you’re all about performance, get the best bang for your buck. And, if you’re a parent researching what console to get for your kids, you’ll need to find out the best kid-friendly system.
In this post, I’ll go through each console’s main pros and cons.
With the Slim’s release, it has replaced the original version as the new base console. The PS4 Slim is a smaller, sleeker version of the original PS4. The Slim now has a rounder body, but the big difference is in height. Unlike the original PS4, which had less than ideal power and eject buttons, the PS4 Slim now has dedicated physical buttons which are different sizes, so you know which one is which.
Moving on from the console itself, the Dualshock 4 controller received a minor update. It’s a little brighter gray all around but maintains the same aesthetic from the original controller. Also, there’s a small window on the touchpad that lets you see the light bar from the front side.
There’s not much different when compared to the original PlayStation 4 save for two things. First, Sony removed the optical audio port on the back side. If you have a dedicated audio setup for gaming or a soundbar to play audio through, the Slim won’t work. The second difference is a better wifi chip. The old model’s Wi-Fi chip is compatible with 2.4ghz connections; however, the Slim supports 5 gigahertz Wi-Fi for better internet connection.
These devices are VR capable through Sony’s Playstation VR. It’s the only console on the market (as of this post) that supports VR at lower prices than the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive. It’s said that VR runs fine on all PS4’s
It doesn’t support 4K, but, with firmware updates, all PS4 models now support HDR for apps and games.
Buying Advice: Bottom line, you’re not getting a vast improvement over the base ps4. It’s more of a refresh. If you already have an original ps4, there’s no reason to buy the PS4 Slim.
If this is your first console, this is an excellent entry into the PS4 on a budget. You have access to the best library of exclusive titles.
If you’re looking into VR, all PS4 consoles (even the old model) are capable of utilizing PSVR. At this point, it’s about how much you’re willing to spend.
Better hardware performance than the PS4 and PS4 Slim
Existing games will get upgraded for free
No 4K/UHD Blu-Ray Support
No native 4K Gaming
When it comes to design, the PS4 Pro, like the PS4 Slim, trades the glossy surface for a matte black finish. They carried over the physical power and eject buttons from the PS4 Slim which is nice, so you know which button is which. Another minor change from the Slim is a USB 3.0 port on the back of the console. It comes standard with a 1TB hard drive which is a plus since it’s easy to burn through 500GB on the base PS4.
Under the hood, the CPU is about 30% more powerful than the Slim. It sports a 4.20 Teraflop AMD Processor that help support the performance of 4K, HDR, and better VR performance.
With all that 4K capability, the PS4 doesn’t support a 4K Ultra HD Blu-Ray drive. So If you’re planning on playing your entire 4K Blu-Ray collection, this won’t be the console for you.
Another drawback of the Pro model is no native 4K gaming. While the PS4 has no problem outputting games in 1080p, It depends on the game. Some are between 1080p-4K and upscaling. And other games have a specific 1080p mode. Despite no native 4K, the Pro will still produce impressive graphics.
When it comes to your buying decision, the PS4 Pro is pretty much the main competition to Microsoft’s Xbox One X mainly due to price but also because its right under the One X regarding power and 4K ability. You’re getting a console that is capable of delivering most games at an upscaled 4k resolution for $100 less than the One X.
Buying Advice: If you’re looking for something that has excellent graphical performance, 4K and HDR support, VR experience, and you don’t care about a 4k Ultra HD drive, get the PS4 Pro.
If you don’t have a PS4 at all, it will be a future-proof investment. It has the largest hard drive capacity of the PlayStation line and better performance over the PS4 Slim for only $100 more.
Microsoft followed Sony’s lead and released their own smaller console. With improvements inside this new form factor, it makes for an alternative to the PS4 Slim. The Xbox One S is the most budget-friendly option in the home console market. To set it apart from the PS4, the Xbox One is emphasized for being an all-in-one media console.
What does “all-in-one” media console mean exactly?
Well, it means that the console can stream shows through Netflix or Hulu. And you can play 4K Blu-Rays through an Ultra HD Blu-Ray player.
Also, you can record and share screenshots and clips from your gameplay, live stream to platforms such as Twitch, and stream your cable or satellite box through your Xbox.
Design-wise, The Xbox One S has a sleek white shell. It comes with a slightly redesigned Bluetooth controller, internal power supply, and hardware that allows the system to display games in HDR and upscaled 4k with 4K TVs. Despite the added 4K capability, the gaming experience is similar to the old Xbox One model.
If you’ve previously owned an Xbox or Xbox 360, the Xbox One consoles have an impressive library of classics through their backward compatibility feature. There’s a great chance some of your favorites from previous consoles are compatible, but in case they’re not, Microsoft is continually updating the backward compatibility list.
Buying Advice: If you bought the old Xbox One model, there’s no need to upgrade to the One S.
Sure the 4K and HDR is nice, but it’s a minor drop in the bucket. Unless you have a newer TV that supports these resolutions, you won’t be able to take full advantage.
If this is your first Xbox One console, and you don’t want to shell out a bunch of money, this is the sweet spot into the Microsoft ecosystem.
The Xbox One X is the most powerful console on the market. It uses a 6 Teraflop AMD GPU to produce true 4K gaming and now has 12 gigabytes of RAM, 4 more gigabytes than the One S, that enables it to load games quicker.
With all this power, comes a price…literally. The Xbox One X starts at a whopping $500. But, at $500 you get a console that pretty much has all the good things from the Xbox One S but in a powerful console.
Even though the X can run games at native 4K, it comes with some strings attached. It pretty much depends on two things; a 4k TV with HDR (self-explanatory) and specific enhanced games. If you want to play in HDR, you’ll need an Xbox One X enhanced title, and this alone can mean different things. For one, a game can offer partial enhancements in the form of HDR, or you can get full enhancement which will mean 4K visuals and HDR. Check the Xbox One X enhanced complete list to find out which game supports this feature.
Buying Advice: The decision here is pretty much in line with the PS4 Pro. If you already have an Xbox One, stick with what you have.
If you’re looking for the best graphical performance and looking for having the most up-to-date console, buy the Xbox one X.
Even with that, it’s still hard to justify the $500 price tag. It’s just way too expensive for the system alone. If you’re really set on getting the X, look out for console bundles which lump games in with the console.
And finally, we have the Nintendo switch which is the most unique console of the three. The Switch to is doing something that none of the other consoles are doing.
How different can this console be?
Well, It’s a hybrid console meaning you can play it on your TV, and you can play it as a handheld on the go. This system isn’t a graphical powerhouse like all the PS4 Pro or the Xbox One X. It barely hits 1080p (900p to be exact) on its games when it’s docked, and the screen’s 720p in handheld. But what it does at a subpar graphical resolution, it makes up for in almost everything else.
For starters, the controllers are versatile. The two Joy-Cons that come with the Switch right out of the box are separate controllers themselves which means you’ve got two player local multiplayer without needing to buy another controller in both docked mode and undocked portable mode. Don’t like playing with a controller in each hand? No problem. You can put them in a grip that comes in the box which makes it feel like a more traditional controller.
Beyond the controllers, you can connect up to eight other Switch consoles together for local multiplayer which is something that no other console can do. It’s up to the developers to force every single Switch to need a cartridge when connecting for local multiplayer. Otherwise, one cartridge is shared between all connected Switch’s.
Since Nintendo is more inclusive when it comes to developers making games for their console, you now have more access to 3rd party games as well as access to Nintendo exclusives like Mario, Zelda, Xenoblade, and more.
One drawback of the Switch is the internal storage. The console has 32 gigabytes of internal memory. If you plan on buying a game, like The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild digitally, for example, expect the game to take up roughly 40% of the 32GB internal memory. Count on spending a few extra dollars on a micro SD card to expand your storage capacity.
Parent’s shopping consoles for kids May want to consider the Nintendo Switch. Of the three consoles, the Switch definitely leans towards the younger audience thanks to its list of kid-friendly titles.
In addition to games, parents have access to parental controls through a dedicated app that can be set up from a mobile phone. This is good if you want to set options like time limits for your kids.
Buying Advice: Buy this console if you’re someone who doesn’t care much about graphics.
Also buy this console if you’re okay with spending a little bit of money for a console experience that’s different, fun and portable.
When considering what console to buy, the first thing you want to look for is exclusive games. It’s true that many titles can be found on all three systems, but each console has their own set of games that you can’t play on other consoles.
For example, on the Xbox, you can only play titles like Halo, Gears of War or State of Decay. For the PlayStation 4, you can play games like Horizon Zero Dawn or The Last of Us Part 2. And Nintendo’s Mario and Zelda can only be found on the Switch.
Also, you need to determine the genre of games you’re into. The PS4 is big in Action Adventure games and Role Playing, whereas the Xbox One dominates racing and shooters. Picking a console that’s lacking in the genre-specific games you like can be costly.
At the end of the day, decide what types of games you like and make sure that the consoles support them.
Do You Prefer Multiplayer or Solo Play
With today’s consoles, multiplayer has taken over as the primary form of play. It’s important to know what type of play you’re into. Are you someone that likes to play online with other people? Or are you the type that enjoys playing by yourself with few interruptions?
Even though Microsoft has excellent titles for solo play, the Xbox One benefits players more through online multiplayer. PS4 is a bit of the opposite. It has more solo player games, but you can still have just as much fun playing online. The Switch, on the other hand, favors both single-player games and local multiplayer with many titles catering to solo play, families, and parties.
Streaming & Entertainment
For casual players or someone who just wants to have an all-in-one media system, this may be an important decision. The Xbox One has been marketed to be the all-in-one media center.
The Xbox One and PlayStation 4 can play media such as Netflix, Hulu, Blu-Rays, and DVDs. You can watch your entire physical movie catalog without buying a separate disc player. But the Xbox One pulls ahead in this category with the added benefit of a 4K UHD player.
What’s your Gaming Budget?
There’s no doubt that current consoles give us the best gaming experience to date, but it comes at a price.
If you’re on a budget, you need to consider how much you’re willing to spend. Consoles themselves are already expensive. But you also have to take into account accessories, online services such as Xbox Live, PlayStation Plus or Nintendo Live, games, and any extras to enhance your gaming experience.
Looking for deals on bundles may be beneficial. Often, you can find a major retailer selling bundles with a game included for the price of the console itself; sometimes, instantly saving you at least $60.
Gaming for Kids
If you’re a parent shopping for a console for your child, you really need to consider the game selection for the console before you buy.
In this case, the Switch may be the best choice for kids as the selection of games are more kid-friendly than the PS4 and the Xbox One. That’s not to say that the PS4 and the Xbox One don’t have its share of kid-friendly games. But, these consoles were not initially made for younger audiences.
Also, take into account what parental control options are available such as time limits, game restrictions, internet restrictions, etc.