Your Complete Guide to Game Consoles
(& 2020’s Must-Have Gaming Accessories)
We’re all spending a majority of our time indoors these days, and finding mental escapes wherever possible is definitely helpful for our mental health. That’s why we love video games. Visiting and playing in other worlds (where consequences rarely exist) isn’t just for teenagers. There’s truly a video game system and game out there for everyone to enjoy.
If you’re looking for a segue into the world of video game consoles, but have no idea where to start, we want to help. We’ve compiled a list of the most popular video game consoles and why we think they’re great. All of these consoles are great for different reasons, but some may suit certain people better than others.
If you’ve already got one of these consoles, stick around; we’ve got some sweet accessory recommendations to up your game. (Pro tip: They also make excellent last-minute shopping ideas for any gamers you know that deserve a gift.)
PLAYSTATION VS. XBOX
The debate of Playstation vs. Xbox is one as old as the systems themselves and as long as both companies continue to produce gaming consoles, the debate will probably never end. In the following sections, we are not attempting to determine which console is better, because it is completely a matter of personal preference. Each system has its own pros and cons and which to buy boils down to your gaming preferences, which games you like to play, how you want to access your games, and any additional equipment you might want to try.
The Sony Playstation is best known for the wide variety of exclusive games available on the system, including popular series like Uncharted and The Last of Us. The Playstation’s easy navigation system allows you to seamlessly switch tasks, too; whether you want to play games, watch your favorite streaming service, or listen to your Spotify playlist.
The PlayStation also has its own VR gear. If you’ve ever wanted to try out games like Beatsaber, the PlayStation makes that possible.
The biggest pulls for Xbox systems are the Game Pass subscription and the hardware capabilities. Game Pass is a $15 a month subscription that gives you access to a library of games, which is updated frequently. When new, exclusive games come out on the Xbox, like new editions of Halo and Gears of War, they’re updated to the library and ready to play almost immediately. Buying games on the Xbox also gives you access to stream them on your PC; and vice versa.
Or, if watching movies or playing games in 4K is your thing, you can take advantage of Xbox’s powerful software to watch Blue-rays and streaming services in 4K and HDR.
PS5 & XBOX SERIES X:
The Next-Gen Consoles We’ve Been Waiting For
With the recent release of both the PS5 and the XBox Series X, the console wars of 2021 are just getting started. Gamers across the globe have been eagerly awaiting the release of these cutting-edge consoles, and word on the street so far is that these systems are well worth the wait. Read on to see what sets these consoles apart from their previous iterations, and get a total breakdown of the high-powered upgrades that has gamers lining up to buy these consoles faster than stores can stock their shelves. Our prediction? These two new releases will keep Sony and Microsoft fans happily bickering over the pros and cons of each platform for years to come.
Our Cross-Platform Staff Picks:
- Fortnite (Playstation, Xbox, Switch, PC & Mobile)
- Assassin’s Creed Valhalla (Playstation, Xbox, PC & Stadia)
- Call of Duty WWII (Playstation, Xbox & PC)
- Rocket League (Playstation, XBox, Switch & PC)
PLAYSTATION 5 VS. PLAYSTATION 4 PRO
Looking to spend your Christmas money on a new console, but not sure if you should go with the PS4 Pro while the PS5 is too tough to find in stores or suck it up and wait a little longer? We’re here to help you figure it out.
First things first- let’s talk price. The PS4 Pro has a launch cost of $399, while a fully-loaded PS5 costs $499– $100 more.
That is, unless you opt to forgo the disc drive and get the PlayStation 5 Digital Edition instead. The diskless Digital Edition also costs $399.99, but still offers the cutting-edge technology that’s made the PS5 release so eagerly anticipated.
If you’re okay with sticking to PS4 games for a bit, though, keep an eye out for deals: with the popularity of the PS5, stores are likely to offer bundles and other cheaper options to incentivize potential PS4 Pro buyers.
Moving on to specs: the PS4 Pro boasts an eight-core x86-64 AMD Jaguar CPU, a 4.2 teraflop AMD Radeon GPU, 1TB of HDD storage space and 8GBS of RAM.
This console allows a decent jump for gamers looking to power up their original PS4 a bit, offering 4k streaming from multiple services. However, it can’t support 4K for every game offering and typically caps out at 30fps.
Compare that to the PS5, which can achieve up to a whopping 120fps in 4K on certain games. Most PS5 games run at roughly 60fps in 4K, which is still twice the speed of the PS4 Pro. This is achieved through the PS5’s custom RDNA 2 GPU with 10.28 teraflops of power, AMD Zen 2 Based CPU, 4K Blu-Ray drive, and custom 825GB SSD. The solid-state drive allows for ray-tracing, running native 4K visuals and the new spatially-based Tempest 3D audio system with ease.
If you’re determined to have the most cutting-edge Sony tech available, there’s no question that the PS5 is it. The PS4 Pro is a great update to the original PS4, but the PS5 represents the future of gaming. This updated console offers specs unlike any we’ve ever seen from the company before, and its backwards compatibility means their huge library of games will be accessible for generations to come.
Playstation-Exclusive Staff Picks:
- Demon Souls series
- Spider-Man: Miles Morales
- BugSnax (Family-friendly!)
XBOX SERIES X VS. XBOX ONE X
Gamers trying to choose between the Xbox Series X and the Xbox One X have their work cut out for them. When looking at price alone, the difference is immediately apparent: the older XBox One X is only $250, while the Xbox Series X is currently priced at $500. That means getting the newest generation will cost you literally double the cost of a single Xbox One X. If you want a console primarily so you can play multiplayer with someone who lives with you (like a spouse, sibling or parent), you might want to consider buying two Xbox One X instead of trying to share one XBox Series X.
However, the Xbox One X boasts some seriously-impressive specs on paper. It’s a fact that the Xbox One X is the most powerful game console currently available. If you’re really into gaming in 4K and/or HDR, there’s nothing on the market like it. Graphic geeks are sure to be impressed by this console’s performance with even the sharpest, most detailed graphics out there. But even hardcore gamers confess the difference in graphic quality isn’t immediately apparent in most gamers, so it depends on what’s most important to you. The good news is, you’re covered for games with both consoles. Microsoft plans on making their most popular games, like Halo Infinite, available on PC and Xbox One in addition to the Xbox Series X, so you won’t miss out on many exclusives; no matter what generation you go with.
Xbox-Exclusive Staff Favorites:
- Cyberpunk 2077*
- Halo Infinite (2021 Release)
- Fable series
*out now for PC, PS4 & XBox One X: Xbox Series 1 & PS5 release in 2021
Last on our list, but certainly not least, the Nintendo Switch is a full-powered, dual-purpose console and big crowd-pleaser. Switches have been flying off the shelves in recent months, and with good reason. They’re fantastic consoles for all ages, and their unique functionality truly sets them apart from the other consoles. The biggest draw of the Nintendo Switch is its portability. Place it in the dock, and you play through your television, just like a traditional gaming console. But if you remove it from the dock, you can play all your games on the go, right where you left off. Anytime, anywhere.
Bring it on road trips, airplanes, the DMV, and everywhere else and never miss a moment of gaming again. The Switch is made by Nintendo, and the newest editions of some of our favorite childhood games can be played on it- like Mario Party, Mario Kart, Super Smash Brothers, Animal Crossing, and Pokemon.
Playing games with multiple people is also effortless using the Switch. The screen is surrounded by 2 JoyCons, one on either side. These can be removed and used as two controllers, making multiplayer a built-in feature. If you already love the Nintendo Switch, try some of our favorite accessories to make your gaming experience even more enjoyable.