What follows here it T3's top picks of the best game consoles available to buy today. We've selected a series of systems at a variety of price points and intended usage scenarios, too, meaning that no matter your budget, and no matter if you want a powerful portable or multimedia home console, we're sure you'll find something that suits your gaming needs.
Why stop your console gaming after you leave the couch? Take your home console gaming experience anywhere, any place you want with Nintendo Switch. Or enjoy the freedom of dedicated portable systems like the PlayStation Vita, Nintendo 3DS, 3DS XL, and 2DS that let you slay dragons, outrun zombies, or win the Stanley Cup while on the bus, during school break, or on a plane. Many of the larger franchise games on systems like PS4 and Xbox One also have companion apps for your smartphone or tablet, letting you do everything from chatting with teammates to customizing your in-game gear to participating in the thick of the action.
If you really want to take the next step and become part of the game itself, enter the realm of virtual reality. Oculus Rift and PlayStation VR are two popular options that will put you in the centre of immersive, realistic game environments like you’ve never seen before. Explore vivid worlds as if you were really there, with full 360 degrees of freedom.
Marking the largest jump in the technology of the gaming world since the move from arcades to home consoles, the Nintendo 64 was launched to critical acclaim thanks to the sheer innovation of introducing home gamers to the experience of 3-dimensional environments. Alongside the original PlayStation, this console helped usher in the modern era of video gaming as we know it, and it did so in excellent fashion. It also had the benefit of improving upon concepts introduced by its predecessor, the SNES – namely the Mario Kart and Starfox franchises. It’s also worth noting that, at the time of its release, Time Magazine named the N64 Machine of the Year.
Sony couldn’t have dreamt up a better follow-up to their original home gaming console than the PlayStation 2. In fact, this console still sits at the top in regards to numbers, having sold more than any other console in existence – home, handheld, or otherwise. It’s true, however, that those numbers may have been helped by the fact that there weren’t much in the way of competitor’s releases for years – though not by much, as the performance of the gaming machine stands on its own. This console was also the birthplace of some of the most memorable games of all time, including a concept that seemed too strange to work, but ended up being a smash hit: the Disney/Square Enix action RPG, Kingdom Hearts.
Nintendo was the last to release a fifth generation console with their Nintendo 64, and when they finally released their console in North America, it came with only two launch titles. Partly to curb piracy and partly as a result of Nintendo's failed disc projects with Sony (as SNES-CD) and Philips, Nintendo used cartridges for their console. The higher cost of cartridges drove many third party developers to the PlayStation. The Nintendo 64 could handle 3D polygons better than any console released before it, but its games often lacked the cut-scenes, soundtracks, and voice-overs that became standard on PlayStation discs. Nintendo released several highly acclaimed titles, such as Super Mario 64 and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, and the Nintendo 64 was able to sell tens of millions of units on the strength of first-party titles alone, but its constant struggles against Sony would make the Nintendo 64 the last home console to use cartridges as a medium for game distribution until the Nintendo Switch in 2017.
During its life, the Jaguar managed to make a few cases for a purchase with a couple of solid efforts from id software, Rebellion, and psychedelic visual artist Jeff Minter. Atari's mismanagement of the hardware and company, its lack of internal development teams, its inability to secure key third-party developers, a disastrously terrible pack-in title called Cybermorph, and the fact that the Jaguar system was insanely difficult to program efficiently all played a part in the system's demise.
A handheld game console is a lightweight device with a built-in screen, games controls, speakers,[10] and has greater portability than a standard video game console.[3] It is capable of playing multiple games unlike tabletop and handheld electronic game devices. Tabletop and handheld electronic game devices of the 1970s and 1980s are the precursors of handheld game consoles.[11] Mattel introduced the first handheld electronic game with the 1977 release of Auto Race.[12] Later, several companies—including Coleco and Milton Bradley—made their own single-game, lightweight tabletop or handheld electronic game devices.[13] The oldest handheld game console with interchangeable cartridges is the Milton Bradley Microvision in 1979.[14] Nintendo is credited with popularizing the handheld console concept with the Game Boy's release in 1989[11] and continues to dominate the handheld console market.[15][16]

Nintendo is reinventing the brand’s consoles with Switch. Think of Switch as a combination of a conventional console and the Nintendo DS. In that, it’s a gaming console that is also highly portable but is better than either a conventional or a portable console. The Switch has its own library, which is already filled with excellent titles like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Splatoon 2. The Switch is arguably the best family-friendly gaming console released after 2016. It’s affordable, portable, and offers a unique gaming experience regardless of age. You can use it at home or take it with you to school or work.


Current-gen consoles offer top-tier gaming and premium graphics but for an equally premium price. If you’re watching your budget, consider second-generation consoles like the Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii U or PlayStation 3. You can also opt for a handheld console. Though they lack the power of high-end consoles, the New Nintendo 2DS and 3DS XL both have extensive game libraries and great functionality, and they let you game anywhere.
One of the Master System's quirkiest (and coolest) features, though, was the 3D Glasses peripheral. The thick, wraparound shades may have looked a little clunky from the outside, but the effect was positively stunning. Sadly, like the Master System itself, the peripheral was under-supported with just over a half-dozen games, including Maze Hunter 3D and Space Harrier 3D.
^ Mehegan, David (May 8, 1988). "Putting Coleco Industries Back Together". The Boston Globe. p. A1. ISSN 0743-1791. Archived from the original on September 24, 2015. Retrieved April 23, 2014. (Subscription required (help)). When the game [Telstar] crashed hard, earnings fell 50 percent in 1977 and the company lost $22 million in 1978, barely skirting bankruptcy after Handel -- then chief financial officer -- found new credit and mollified angry creditors after months of tough negotiation.
^ "Coleco Industries sales report" (Press release). PR Newswire. April 17, 1984. Archived from the original on November 4, 2013. Retrieved November 3, 2013. 'First quarter sales of ColecoVision were substantial, although much less that [sic] those for the year ago quarter,' Greenberg said in a prepared statement. He said the company has sold 2 million ColecoVision games since its introduction in 1982.
^ Buchanan, Levi (March 20, 2009). "Genesis vs. SNES: By the Numbers". IGN. Retrieved October 31, 2013. Nintendo moved 49.1 million Super NES consoles over the course of the generation and beyond, far surpassing the Genesis, which sold a still impressive 29 million units. [...] The Master System sold an anemic 13 million to the NES count of 62 million.
Before Mario, before Sonic, arcades around America were making the waves with hits like Space Invaders, Frogger and Pitfall! People were excited about a new technology where they could control little 2D worlds in front of them and play games. Atari saw this as an opportunity and lead the way to a consumer market that allowed video games to be played at home with its Atari 2600 gaming console. The gaming industry got so big it became an unregulated beast, with dozens of games and peripherals that wound up saturating the market and creating the infamous video game crash of 1983. If you’re a historian or want to see where it all started, get the Atari 2600.

Though they have been relegated to a game developer role, Sega used to be one of the most prolific console producers in video game history. Their biggest problem was that they tended to tackle technologies that were a bit before their time and, therefore, not consumer- or developer-friendly. The Sega Saturn was one such console. It enjoyed moderate success and boasted an impressive technological package, but the lack of support and unreasonable complexity led to a lack of original titles, resulting in a game library comprised largely of arcade ports. Still, the system was an excellent attempt at being on the cutting edge of gaming, even if it wasn’t strictly a win for Sega.
Probably the best example of a system that was marred by bad timing, the Dreamcast should, from a technological standpoint, go down as one of Sega’s crowning achievements. Unfortunately, after a largely successful release, the console was eclipsed by news of the upcoming release of the PlayStation 2. Regardless, the Dreamcast was a wonderful gaming machine and afforded many the opportunity to play some of the most immersive and stylized games of their time – including a port of the extremely popular arcade game, Crazy Taxi. Though it was another step in Sega’s inevitable downfall, the Dreamcast was a much better console than for which it was given credit.
Still, from Resident Evil 4 to F-Zero GX, Super Smash Bros. Melee to Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem, and from Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader to Pikmin 1 and 2, GCN was home to a stellar lineup of fantastic games -- titles that could not be found on any other system. And ultimately, it's the software and not the design of the system or its installed base that really counts, which is why GCN easily earns a spot on our list.
"Before writing about games for a living, I worked full time as a technician at a cable TV company in Connecticut and was a game hobbyist on the side. When the NFL went on strike in 1982, we thought it'd be a goof to offer a "replacement" to "Monday Night Football" by getting some local kids to play Intellivision Football on our public-access channel and do play-by-play over it. When "MNF" came back on after the strike ended a couple of months later, the public-access director started getting calls asking where our "show" went, so we started doing a sports-based video-game show as a regular thing for a while, taking calls and demonstrating some of the new games. We had no idea people would be so into it."
"Finding the good videogames on Saturn was like a game in itself. By the end of the system's short life, stores rarely carried more than one or two copies of even the biggest games and so my friends and I would go on massive road trips around the state to track them down. I still remember the joy we had when we found Panzer Dragoon Saga. That single copy got passed around until everyone had a go before we set off in search of the next rare release."
In 1996, Nintendo released the Game Boy Pocket: a smaller, lighter unit that required fewer batteries. It has space for two AAA batteries, which provide approximately 10 hours of game play.[41] Although, like its predecessor, the Game Boy Pocket has no backlight to allow play in a darkened area, it did notably improve visibility and pixel response-time (mostly eliminating ghosting).[42] The Game Boy Pocket was not a new software platform and played the same software as the original Game Boy model.[43]
The Nintendo Switch won our testers over with its lightweight feel, “perfect” size, and “amazing” library of games. “It's like having a modern Game Boy but with better games and graphics,” raved one of our reviewers. Our testers also loved that it easily connects to the TV and has an extensive battery life. One of our reviewers declared, “For a casual gamer, you don't need any other consoles.” You’ll need to buy a memory card, though, according to our testers, as space for downloaded games is limited.
Looking at the system's library (which is nearing 2,000 titles at the time of this writing), there are a number of games that were not only breakout releases, but have defined what we're playing today. Grand Theft Auto III and Guitar Hero are two that paved the way for some of this generation's most popular genres, and when you're talking about software as an art form, you needn't look any further than titles like Ico and Shadow of the Colossus.
The Sega Dreamcast was considered one of the most innovative consoles of its time. It was the first gaming system with a built-in modem for online play and Internet support. Creative games like the fast-paced Crazy Taxi and Jet Set Radio (along with the cinematic experience of Shenmue) opened a new world of gaming innovation. Before the XBOX entered the fray, Microsoft offered support to the system, and HALO was originally planned for it. Sadly, on January 31, 2001, Sega announced the discontinuation of the Dreamcast. There is still a dedicated fan base for the Sega Dreamcast where a small handful of independent developers are still making homebrew games for the system. 
eBay offers a wide range of games for all systems. Best-selling new releases like Batman: Return to Arkham or LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens, as well as classic old-school RPG video games like Baldur's Gate or The Elder Scrolls series are affordably priced on eBay. As technology moves at a rapid pace, many consoles get discontinued and become impossible to buy at regular stores. Here's where eBay comes in. Here can find an ongoing auction for any kind of game console you can think of. Looking for a video game from your childhood? It's yours again with a few clicks! With eBay, there's no such thing as obsolete software because you can always buy the obsolete hardware to go with it!
^ Tabuchi, Hiroko (March 23, 2010). "Nintendo to Make 3-D Version of Its DS Handheld Game". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved April 4, 2010. 'We wanted to give the gaming industry a head’s up about what to expect from Nintendo at E3,' said Ken Toyoda, chief spokesman at Nintendo. 'We'll invite people to play with the new device then.'

The massive popularity of Let's Plays on YouTube and game streaming on Twitch has brought capturing game footage to the mainstream, so both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 feature built-in capture options. The Kinect lets you record clips just by saying "Xbox, record that," and thanks to the latest update you can easily capture what you're playing just by double-tapping the Xbox button on your gamepad and pressing X or Y to save a screenshot or video clip. You can also snap the Game DVR app to the side of the screen to record up to five minutes of footage on demand.


With the 7800 launch, Atari put a focus on "budget" gaming, with many games selling for less than $19.99. Because the system was all ready to go back in 1984, most of the launch titles were arcade titles from several years prior. The system was very capable in visuals as seen in games like the bundled Pole Position II. But its sound system lacked: the system designers created a cheap sound chip that could be included in cartridges, but to keep costs low, Atari limited the sound chip in very few titles. With Nintendo locking up third-parties with its two-year exclusivity agreement, Atari also had a hard time convincing third-party companies to produce games for its console – as a result, the company went after the rights to popular games that were available only for computers.
N64 fans will cry foul and suggest that GoldenEye made first-person shooters possible on a console, but it was Halo that modernized the genre. Almost every FPS that came after Halo utilized its control scheme and a modified version of its health system. But where Halo truly succeeded was in providing console gamers with the first-of-its-kind 16-player LAN battles. Halo was the first shooter that made PC gamers jealous and it signaled the beginning of a power shift in the genre.
You could also pick up a mini retro console like the NES Classic Mini or the SNES Classic Mini. These come preloaded with games, which means you can't buy extra titles for them, so they're a bit more limited. They're also less powerful than modern consoles, don't connect to the internet, and are designed with retro-loving big kids in mind. Still, little ones will probably still find them fun too.
^ Mehegan, David (May 8, 1988). "Putting Coleco Industries Back Together". The Boston Globe. p. A1. ISSN 0743-1791. Archived from the original on September 24, 2015. Retrieved April 23, 2014. (Subscription required (help)). When the game [Telstar] crashed hard, earnings fell 50 percent in 1977 and the company lost $22 million in 1978, barely skirting bankruptcy after Handel -- then chief financial officer -- found new credit and mollified angry creditors after months of tough negotiation.
T3 has reviewed all the best video game consoles going, from Microsoft's 4K powerhouse the Xbox One X, through to Sony's rival PS4 Pro, and onto Nintendo's hot hybrid, the Nintendo Switch, and we've tucked hundreds of hours under our belt playing their best games, too. As such, our tech experts are perfectly positioned to help you find your perfect gaming console.
The hybrid design system of the Switch isn’t a gimmick. You can plug the Switch to a TV, unlike any other portable console that came before. Once plugged in, you can play multiplayer games like the ever amazing Mario Kart. The control paddles are removable, so you can use it as a conventional gaming console. Plus, multiple people can join in on the play with a single console. You will have to pay for Nintendo’s online multiplayer games, but it’s far cheaper than what the Xbox Live offers. The Switch is really a one of a kind gaming console you can own and there’s none other like it in the market right now.

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.

With the original look and feel of the 16-bit home console (only smaller) the Super NES Classic acts as a sort of timepiece for when gaming was reaching its peaks. Some of the best two-player games of its era are included and ready to play, such as Super Mario Kart and Street Fighter II Turbo. Defining games such as Megaman X, Earthbound, Kirby Super Star and Super Mario RPG return, too. Any gamer wanting to relive their youth or introduce new gamers to a simpler time when the Internet was first starting should get the Super NES classic. Included are two wired Super NES Classic controllers for multiplayer action.


Though Sony’s PlayStation overshadowed it in sales, the Nintendo 64 had a stable fan base from its previous generational consoles. The Nintendo 64 was one of the first consoles that not only allowed up to four controllers for multiplayer but also introduced the world to rumble control capability with its Rumble Pak functionality. Even to this day, debatably, the Nintendo 64 is one of the most accessible multiplayer systems around, perfect for those millennial parties yearning for nostalgia and simple offline multiplayer fun.
Its strengths as a gaming console are its downfall when it comes to reliving the system in today's generation: most of, if not all, of the biggest hits on the Colecovision were games that Coleco didn't own. The company held very few gaming intellectual properties, instead putting all its money behind licensing other publishers' products. Telegames produced an official Colecovision compilation featuring emulated games for the Windows platform, but it lacked many of the titles that made the platform a popular system to own in the early ‘80s.
But to say that you need to buy a controller is of course, a very wide approach, which you will quickly learn if you look around on the website. Maybe you think that you can just go to whatever website and point at a random PS4 controller and say that this one is exactly the one you need. But it will rarely be that easy, because you will often see that there are many options, so it can be hard to choose. One of those options is a Sony Dualshock 4. And when you are that far in, you also need the right colour, and here you can, for example, choose the fresh Steel black colour. It is black, but it also has a nice grey overlay, and will definitely stand out next to the original PS4 controller that you got with the console.
"The N64 presented me with a key experience in my 30+ years of gaming that I will never forget – and will likely never experience again that same way. It was that first moment I stepped out into the 3D world of Super Mario 64 and just "played around" in the castle garden. I had played 3D games before Mario 64, but there was something different here; a unique feel and sense of complete freedom of movement that just seemed so "right." I knew that gaming had changed forever."
^ Starting with Microsoft's fiscal quarter ending June 2014 (Q4), the company stopped divulging individual platform sales in their fiscal reports.[24][25] Microsoft stated it will shift focus to the amount of active users on Xbox Live starting in late 2015.[26] Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella unveiled at a December 3, 2014 shareholder presentation that 10 million units were sold.[27] Third-party estimates suggest sales reached approximately 25-30 million worldwide by late 2016.[28]
The Magnavox was the very first videogame console ever released, predating even the Atari Pong. A hybrid of both analog and digital circuitry, the Odyssey is the absolute starting point for all subsequent gaming platforms. Although lacking color video output or sound, the Magnavox still managed to sell over 300,000 units. The Odyssey used a cartridge system, although the games more closely resembled computer chips than actual games. The controllers were essentially boxes with horizontal and vertical axis knobs on both sides with very dense wires between them and the base console.
The Nomad was released in October 1995 in North America only.[34][35] The release was five years into the market span of the Genesis, with an existing library of more than 500 Genesis games. According to former Sega of America research and development head Joe Miller, the Nomad was not intended to be the Game Gear's replacement and believes that there was little planning from Sega of Japan for the new handheld.[36] Sega was supporting five different consoles: Saturn, Genesis, Game Gear, Pico, and the Master System, as well as the Sega CD and 32X add-ons. In Japan, the Mega Drive had never been successful and the Saturn was more successful than Sony's PlayStation, so Sega Enterprises CEO Hayao Nakayama decided to focus on the Saturn.[37] By 1999, the Nomad was being sold at less than a third of its original price.[38]
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