The best video gaming console of 2018

One game console is better than the rest, and we're not afraid to say it

best gaming consoles dt of 150 gameconsole

It’s a great time to shop for the best gaming console. There are several choices in improved hardware, such as Sony’s PS4 Pro, Microsoft’s Xbox One X, and sub-platforms like PlayStation VR. If you’re on a budget, the original versions of these consoles are now sold at more affordable prices.

Of course, the war between Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo carries on. This console generation is quite competitive, and there are reasons to pick every one of these — but we think Sony’s PlayStation 4 Pro is the best gaming console you can buy in 2018.

PlayStation 4 Pro

Our pick

PlayStation 4 Pro review
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Why should you buy this? It’s the best version of the most popular console and has the highest number of high-fidelity games.

Who’s it for? Everyone.

How much will it cost? $400

Why we picked the PlayStation 4 Pro:

The PlayStation 4 Pro is the best version of the most popular game platform available today. With 4K, HDR 10 compatibility, and the PlayStation 4’s exclusive game library, it is currently the best plug-and-play gaming platform.

A very large majority of both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One libraries are available on both platforms. Though both platforms have popular exclusive franchises, the PlayStation 4 (Pro or standard) sees more exclusive games each year. The PS4 also has access to a small number of less well-known indie games and niche titles, such as Japanese role-playing games, that the Xbox One does not.

That’s the main reason for our pick. The PS4 has the best games, and the PS4 Pro makes them look as stunning as possible. The Xbox One X is technically even more powerful — but it lacks must-have exclusives. There’s just not as much to play.

Picking PlayStation 4 also opens the door for you to pick up PlayStation VR, which, as we’ve noted, is the most affordable premium VR headset available. Microsoft, meanwhile, has confirmed that VR support is not coming to the Xbox One X.

While it can be difficult to take advantage of the PlayStation 4 Pro’s advanced features, namely HDR support, the improvements it provides to even un-optimized games make it the most technically impressive way to play the largest number of games on a console. Depending on how well its adopted by developers — and whether 4K and HDR catch on — the PS4 Pro could represent the future of console gaming.

Read our full Playstation 4 Pro review

Xbox One X

The best gaming console for 4K

Xbox One X review controller system
Les Shu/Digital Trends

Why should you buy this? With a 4K Blu-Ray player and HDR, it offers access to both great new games and high-resolution video.

Who’s it for? Players who want to play games and watch movies at the highest possible image quality.

How much will it cost? $500

Why we picked the Xbox One X: 

Sony led the charge on the mid-generation console update with the PS4 Pro but, by taking its time, Microsoft gave us the better hardware in the Xbox One X. It offers the same 4K Blu-ray and HDR video playback as the One S, while also bringing that visual enhancement to games. Microsoft wasn’t exaggerating when they told us that the Xbox One X is the most powerful home gaming console ever sold. It won’t be getting VR, however — which may disappoint those hoping it could be an inexpensive entry point to high-quality VR experiences.

The PS4 may still have a stronger gaming library than the Xbox One, but the Pro’s improvements are only noticeable in games that have been specifically enhanced for it. The Xbox One X has proven far better at using its extra horsepower to improve the visuals of all games on the platform, enhanced or not. Microsoft is also doubling down on investing in first-party studios, such as Rare, which recently released Sea of Thieves, and the company recently acquired big-name studios like Ninja Theory and Playground Games, as well.

For those of us who haven’t made the jump to 4K, both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One S are great consoles with large game libraries. You will be able to play the vast majority of new and upcoming games, including a few exclusive franchises like Halo, Gears of War, and Forza. Plus, if you are (or were) an Xbox 360 owner, a very large number of last-gen console’s games are now compatible with the Xbox One, which could expand your game library and keep at least some of your old games in rotation.

Read our full Xbox One X review

Nintendo Switch

The best gaming console for portability

why we buy games twice on the nintendo switch mario kart lifestyle portability

Why should you buy this? You want a full console gaming experience, but on the go.

Who’s it for? Everyone

How much will it cost? $300+

Why we picked the Nintendo Switch:

Nintendo sidestepped the current console arms race by changing not how you use your console, but where. The Switch is a hybrid device that plugs into a television like the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, but also works as a handheld.

While it doesn’t quite have the oomph to play the latest 4K, 60 fps releases for Xbox One or PS4, the Switch can play Doom (2016) at a smooth 30 fps anywhere you want to, and that’s more than good enough for a lot of gamers. In addition to contemporary titles like the Wolfenstein II port, the Switch has also proved itself as a fantastic venue for reviving modern classics, such as Skyrim, L.A. Noire, and the upcoming Dark Souls Remastered.

More than just a clearance house for lightly-aged AAA titles, the Switch also offers an ever-growing catalog of fantastic first-party games like Super Mario Odyssey and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, as well as excellent indies such as Stardew ValleyCeleste, and Dead Cells. Add in some forward-looking experiments with Nintendo Labo, and the Switch is looking like an incredibly well-rounded platform with something unique to offer everyone.

It’s also a great companion console for people who already own a PS4 Pro or Xbox One X. It can do things they can’t and offers many appealing titles that will never appear on them.

Our full Nintendo Switch review

SNES Classic Edition

The best gaming console for retro games

The SNES Classic Edition and both of its controllers laying against the corners
Mike Epstein/Digital Trends

Why should you buy this? It has 20 of the best games ever made for only $80.

Who’s it for? Nintendo fans old and new, and those who grew up with video games.

How much will it cost? $80

Why we picked the SNES Classic Edition:

The 16-bit era saw Nintendo at the peak of its creativity, releasing popular acclaimed games like The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past and Super Metroid alongside cult hits like Earthbound. Third-party companies didn’t take a backseat, with Square Enix’ Final Fantasy VI and Konami’s Super Castlevania IV among the best games of the entire decade.

With the plug-and-play SNES Classic Edition, you can experience all over your favorite classic Super Nintendo games like you remembered them. There’s even a CRT filter option mimicking the look of your old television.

With the addition of a save-state feature, playing old Nintendo games on the SNES Classic is significantly less frustrating than it was 25 years ago, and when you’re ready to sit down and game with a buddy, classics like Super Mario Kart and Street Fighter II Turbo: Hyper Fighting give you a chance to compete for bragging rights.

The SNES Classic Edition is also the only way to play Star Fox 2, a game Nintendo canceled just before its original release date. To unlock it, you just need to beat the first level of the original Star Fox, though it will be very tough to pull yourself away from that game once you start playing.

Our full SNES Classic Edition review

How we test

Choosing the best gaming console in 2018 is, honestly, more philosophical than technical. Since gaming PCs currently produce the highest framerate and highest resolution, picking the best gaming console comes down to a number of factors including its design, features, and game library.

We do test them, of course. We’ve spent a lot of time playing video games on these consoles and even more thinking about what they can do. We make sure that everything we like about these products works and delivers like advertised. That includes playing all kinds of games, checking the quality of the internet connectivity, factoring in quality and quantity of exclusives, and checking if developers are currently making games for the platform.

4K, HDR, and buying game consoles

Two of our recommendations, the PlayStation 4 Pro and the Xbox One X, support high-resolution gaming that can take advantage of emerging display standards, 4K and High Dynamic Range (HDR). Most people, aside from enthusiastic A/V fans, do not have a 4K TV yet, and fewer still have HDR, which is currently broken down into some sub-standards.

Given that there’s a relatively small selection of games for each console that take full advantage of these features, we currently do not recommend that you buy a new TV for the sake of high-resolution console gaming. Currently, no game console requires you to own a 4K or HDR-compatible TV, so you can buy that new console and hold off on buying the TV until you’ve done more research, found games you feel are worth upgrading for, or are otherwise ready to commit.

If you do decide to purchase a new TV for the sake of the console, you should look for a 4K TV that runs at 60Hz and supports HDR 10, as opposed to HDR “Premium.”

Gaming

Faction-based PvP, new Vault openings coming to ‘Fallout 76’ after launch

Bethesda is already hard at work on post-launch content for Fallout 76, which launches November 14 on PS4, Xbox One, and PC. Faction-based PvP is in the works, and new vaults will open over time.
Cars

Where are you going this weekend? These 5 off-road vehicles say 'anywhere'

The body-on-frame SUV is going extinct, but there are still several options for buyers looking to skip the asphalt. To help you sort the good from the bad, we've rounded up the best off-roaders currently available.
Deals

The best Nintendo Switch deals and bundles for November 2018

Looking to score Nintendo's latest hybrid console? We've smoked out the best Nintendo Switch deals right here, including discounts on stand-alone consoles as well as bundles that feature games like Fortnite and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
Gaming

Immerse yourself in a new universe with these incredible PSVR games

The PSVR has surpassed expectations and along with it comes an incredible catalog of games. There's plenty of amazing experiences to be had so we've put together a list of the best PSVR games available today.
Home Theater

PlayStation Vue adds more local channels, bringing the total to over 600

PlayStation Vue is Sony's answer to live TV without the need for a cable or satellite TV subscription. To help you understand the service, its plans, and numerous features, we've created this handy guide.
Gaming

How to Install an SSD in a PlayStation 4 or PS4 Pro

SSDs are much faster than mechanical hard drives, which is what the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 4 Pro come with. Here, we show you how to replace it with an SSD, which will allow you to boot to the OS faster and load games quicker.
Product Review

'Hitman 2' goes in for the kill with more of everything you love

IO Interactive and Warner Bros introduce us to ‘Hitman 2’, a sequel that embraces what made the series so unique and exceeds at delivering a more polished and complex experience.
Gaming

Everything we know about 'Anthem', including new details on Javelin classes

BioWare announced an upcoming action role-playing game called 'Anthem' at EA Play 2017. Here's everything we know about the game so far, including gameplay, DLC, and when you'll be able to play it.
Gaming

The best HTC Vive games available today

So you’re considering an HTC Vive, but don't know which games to get? Our list of 25 of the best HTC Vive games will help you out, whether you're into rhythm-based gaming, interstellar dogfights, or something else entirely.
Gaming

‘Tetris Effect’ makes the undying classic feel new again

Tetris is a game that everyone knows. The classic puzzler has appeared on just about every device since 1984. With music and visual flourishes, Tetris Effect remarkably manages to elevate the iconic game to new heights.
Gaming

Hacker finds Steam bug that unlocks free games, collects $20K for reporting it

Security researcher Artem Moskowsky discovered a Steam bug that allowed him to generate infinite free keys for any game. Instead of abusing the exploit, Moskowsky reported it to Valve, which gave him a $20,000 reward.
Gaming

‘Overwatch’ gunslinger Ashe is now available on all platforms

Blizzard announced Ashe as the latest Overwatch hero at BlizzCon 2018. The gunslinger has a history with McCree and makes use of a lever-action repeating rifle and a robotic sidekick.
Gaming

‘Marvel’s Spider-Man: Turf Wars’ sees Spidey confront the villainous Hammerhead

The second part of Marvel's Spider-Man's The City That Never Sleeps DLC swings into action on November 20. Titled Turf Wars, the new storyline is focused on Hammerhead, who is waging war across New York City.
Gaming

Mount up: Latest ‘Fortnite’ update adds powerful turret weapon, Food Fight LTM

The latest update for Fortnite added a Mounted Turret weapon to the battle royale mode. The weapon features unlimited ammunition, but it can overheat if fired too long without interruption.