The best video gaming consoles of 2019

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

best gaming consoles dt of 150 gameconsoleIt’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 2019.

The best

PlayStation 4 Pro

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 unoptimized games make it the most technically impressive way to play the largest number of games on a console. Most major games offer some form of support for the system, whether it be improved framerate, 4K resolution, HDR support, or all three.

Read our full Playstation 4 Pro review

The best gaming console for 4K

Xbox One X

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

The best gaming console for portability

Nintendo Switch

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 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

The best gaming console for retro games

SNES Classic Edition

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 as 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 2019 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.”

Deals

Take a gander at the best deals on 4K TVs for February 2019

There's no doubt that a good 4K smart TV is the best way to take your home entertainment setup to the next level to enjoy all your favorite shows, movies, and games in glorious Ultra HD. We've got the best 4K TV deals right here.
Computing

In 2019, laptops are better than ever. Here are the best of the best

The best laptop should be one that checks all the boxes: Great battery life, beautiful design, and top-notch performance. The laptops we've chosen for our best laptops you can buy do all that — and throw in some extra features while…
Home Theater

8K TV: Everything you need to know about the future of television

4K TVs may seem relatively new, but there's another even higher-resolution display technology already here: 8K TV. Should you upgrade? We've got the answers to that question and more.
Emerging Tech

3D printers are better and more affordable. These are the best of 2019

On the hunt for a new 3D printer? We've got your back. Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned veteran, this list of the best 3D printers has what you're looking for.
Gaming

Wage war on a budget with these fun and free first-person shooters

We all know about Halo and Call of Duty by now, but what about quality titles that won't cost you upward of $60? Check out our picks for the best free first-person shooter games from Paladins to Quake Champions.
Gaming

Get creative and collect 15 coins with our Fortnite overtime challenges guide

The first Fortnite overtime challenges are now available. Use our guide to help you collect the hidden coins in the featured Creative mode islands and get closer to that free season eight battle pass.
Gaming

I'm canceling my backlog for Apex Legends. Be back never

Live service games like Fortnite and Apex Legends are eating up everyone's time, leaving other games out in the cold. While my backlog continues to grow, it seems the gaming industry is struggling to keep up as well.
Virtual Reality

Getting into VR is spendy. Which headset is truly worth your hard-earned cash?

Virtual reality has finally gone mainstream, but how do you find the best VR headset for you? Check out a few of our favorites, whether you want the best of the best or a budget alternative for your mobile device.
Gaming

Become a champion with our beginner's guide to Apex Legends

Jumping into Apex Legends for the first time? Need help becoming a champion? Our Apex Legends beginner's guide has 15 tips and tricks that will hopefully help your team make it into the champion's circle.
Gaming

Buy a new Switch console and get a $35 eShop gift card at some retailers

Multiple retailers are currently offering the Neon Blue and Red Nintendo Switch console with a free $35 eShop gift card. The system still costs the standard $300 and includes Joy-Con controllers and the dock.
Gaming

Thrive in the nuclear apocalypse with our Metro Exodus survival guide

Metro Exodus is a difficult shooter, especially if you're new to the series' blend of stealth, action, and scavenging. Here is what you need to know to survive the nuclear apocalypse.
Gaming

Here's where Xur is and what he has for wares this week in Destiny 2: Forsaken

The weekly vendor in Destiny 2: Forsaken always brings Exotic weapons and armor, some of the toughest loot to find in the game. Here's everything you need to know to track down Xur: Where he is, when he shows up, and what he's stocking.
Gaming

How do the revised Xbox One and PlayStation 4 consoles stack up?

Microsoft's new Xbox One S and Sony's PlayStation 4 "Slim" have bucked the generational gaming console trend. But which of these stopgap systems is worth spending your paycheck on?
Gaming

Here's our Champion's guide to picking the best character in Apex Legends

Apex Legends' use of heroes with different abilities helps separate it from other battle royale games. To help you choose your legend, we've put together a legend guide detailing their abilities, strengths, and weaknesses.