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How to Choose the Best Gaming Console in 2023

There are plenty of great options available if you're looking to purchase a new console for yourself, or as a gift for someone else. Whether you're looking for something that offers great single player story-driven games like the PS5, or prefer something more family-friendly like the Nintendo Switch, there's truly something available for everyone. Check out our full breakdown below of the most popular video game consoles available now, including information about each one, where you can purchase online, as well as whether or not you should consider PC gaming at home or on the go as an alternative.

For more information about prices, games, and accessories for each console, you use the links below to jump to each section:

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Best PlayStation Console - PS5

One of the most popular consoles this generation is the PlayStation 5, Sony's latest and greatest that followed the wildly successful PS4. It features upgraded 4K visuals with support for ray tracing, an ultrafast SSD, and the all-new DualSense controller that immerses you in your games through haptic feedback and adaptive triggers. The standard edition retails for an MSRP of $499.99 and comes with a Blu-Ray UHD disc drive for playing physical games and media, but a digital-only version is also available for $399.99 if you prefer to download your games directly from the PlayStation Store. You also now have the option of picking up the new PS5 Slim for $499.

PS5 Games

PS5 is known for its immersive single-player titles including The Last of Us series, God of War: Ragnarok, Marvel's Spider-Man 2, Horizon: Forbidden West, Returnal, and many, many more.

PlayStation Subscription

To enhance your PS5 experience for online multiplayer gaming, you may also want to pick up a PlayStation Plus membership, which is available as three different tiers starting at $79.99 per year. Learn more about the differences between PlayStation Plus Essential, Extra, and Premium.

PS5 Accessories

There are also a number of PS5 accessories you should consider adding such as additional DualSense controllers for co-op gaming, gaming headsets, and charging stations to keep your DualSense batteries topped up. The new PlayStation Portal was also recently released, but you can't buy it anywhere right now.

If you're looking for discounts over the holidays, check out our guide to PlayStation 5 Black Friday deals in 2023.

Best Nintendo Console - Nintendo Switch OLED

Nintendo's latest Switch model is the Nintendo Switch OLED, aptly named due to its larger 7-inch vivid OLED touchscreen display as compared to the original Nintendo Switch's 6.2-inch LCD screen. There are currently three models of Nintendo Switch, including the aforementioned Nintendo Switch OLED that retails for an MSRP of $349.99. Additionally, you can pick up the standard Nintendo Switch for $299.99, or the smaller portable-only Nintendo Switch Lite for $199.99. All three consoles can play the same games, so the decision as to which one you purchase comes down to playstyle and preference.

Nintendo Switch Games

Nintendo is known for its family-friendly and party-style games including Super Mario Wonder, Mario Kart 8: Deluxe, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, just to name a few.

Nintendo Switch Subscription

If you enjoy retro gaming, or playing multiplayer games online, you'll want to consider a Nintendo Switch Online subscription, as well. Plans start at just $19.99 per year and include access to a curated selection of classic Nintendo games across the NES, SNES, GameBoy, N64, and more. Additionally, some plans also include access to expansions and additional content for popular games such as Mario Kart 8: Deluxe and Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

Nintendo Switch Accessories

Additionally, there are a number of great Nintendo Switch accessories you can pick up to enhance your experience such as the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller, microSD cards for additional game storage, carrying cases, and more.

If you're looking for discounts over the holidays, check out our guide to Nintendo Switch Black Friday deals in 2023.

Best Xbox Console - Xbox Series X

The Xbox Series X and Xbox Series X are Microsoft's latest consoles for the current generation, with the Xbox Series X being the larger, more powerful version that enables true 4K gaming and 1TB of storage. Xbox Series X retails for an MSRP of $499.99, while the digital-only, slightly less-powerful Xbox Series S retails for $299.99. Both consoles have access to the same library of games, but you'll enjoy better visuals and performance on the Xbox Series X.

Xbox Games

Xbox has been making big waves recently, acquiring the massive publisher Activision Blizzard for $69 billion, as well as purchasing Bethesda in 2021, making them the sole owner of popular franchises such as Call of Duty, Fallout, The Elder Scrolls, Diablo, World of Warcraft, Overwatch, and many, many more. While Xbox Game Studios hasn't seen the same success over the past decade as compared to Sony's PlayStation Studios, it's slowly been building a stable of incredibly talented studios who will undoubtedly release some amazing titles in the future. For more information on what's available now, check out the best Xbox Series X|S games you can play in 2023.

Xbox Subscription

Xbox's main focus lately has been Xbox Game Pass — a Netflix-style subscription service that provides access to hundreds of popular games including Microsoft's first-party titles day-and-date, including Starfield, Halo: Infinite, Forza Motorsport, and more. Plans start at just $9.99 per month and also allow you to play online multiplayer games with your friends.

Xbox Accessories

If you're picking up an Xbox Series X|S this year, you may consider adding some popular Xbox accessories such as an additional controller for multiplayer gaming at home, a storage expansion card that allows you to store more games on your console, or a headset for online gaming.

If you're looking for discounts over the holidays, check out our guide to Nintendo Switch Black Friday deals in 2023.

Best Handheld Gaming PC - Steam Deck

For PC gaming, the Steam Deck has quickly made a name for itself, offering a console-quality experience on the go. There are three models of the standard Steam Deck available: the base 64GB model which retails for $399.99 and includes a carrying case, a 256GB model that retails for $529.99 and features faster NVMe SSD storage plus a carrying case, and the 512GB model that retails for $649.99 and features the fastest NVMe storage, anti-glare etched glass, and the carrying case, plus some Steam profile extras. You can also pick up the new Steam Deck OLED, which features an improved screen for an additional cost. Check out our comparison between the Steam Deck and Steam Deck OLED for more about the differences.

Steam Deck Games

The Steam Deck has access to thousands of games across Steam's PC storefront, many of which are optimized for the Steam Deck's power and portable form factor. While you can play many popular titles in your Steam library on the handheld, you can also opt to stream the entirety of your library over Wi-Fi, similar to the PlayStation Portal, allowing you to play games that aren't verified to run natively on the Steam Deck.

Steam Deck Accessories

Additionally, there are a number of essential Steam Deck accessories you'll want to consider if you're picking one up including docking stations that allow you to play your games on a TV or monitor, a screen protector, and microSD cards to expand your internal storage, allowing you to download and store more games locally.

Should You Buy a Gaming PC Instead?

Gaming PCs offer a much different experience than consoles, but some prefer the flexibility offered by a PC as you can upgrade individual parts and customize your experience far more than you can with standard consoles. You're also not limited to purchasing games from a single storefront as PC offers a variety of different merchants such as Steam, Epic Games Store, GOG, and more, often allowing you to shop around for the best sales on popular games.

However, the initial investment for prospective PC gamers is often much higher than simply purchasing a console that's ready to go out of the box. You can opt to build your own PC by purchasing individual parts and assembling it yourself, or you can buy a prebuilt PC that offers a more streamlined experience out of the box (although there's still quite a bit of configuration required after powering it on for the first time). If you prefer to play on the go, you can also purchase a gaming laptop, often far more powerful than standard laptops, that strikes a balance between power and portability.

There are often many games that can only be played on PC such as popular MMOs like World of Warcraft, MOBAs like League of Legends, and competitive FPS games like Valorant. Additionally, you can also opt for a service like Xbox's PC Game Pass which provides a library of popular games for you to download or stream to your PC.

What is the Best Console For Kids?

While Nintendo consoles are all designed with children in mind, the Nintendo Switch Lite is a great choice as it's a smaller, less-expensive console designed exclusively for handheld play and comes in a variety of different colors including turquoise, gray, yellow, coral, and blue. It features a 5.5" touchscreen display, 32GB of internal storage, and up to seven hours of battery life. The Nintendo Switch Lite retails for an MSRP of $199.99. It's worth noting that the Nintendo Switch Lite cannot be connected to a TV and does not feature detachable Joy-Con controllers like the other two models. Here are all of the main retailers currently selling this Switch model:

Additionally, the standard Nintendo Switch console is a great choice for children and families as you can play games in both handheld mode, as well as on the TV and in tabletop mode. The Nintendo Switch retails for an MSRP of $299.99 and features detachable Joy-Con controllers that allow two players to play on the same console.

Matthew Adler is a Commerce, Features, Guides, News, Previews, and Reviews writer for IGN. You can follow him on the site formerly known as Twitter @MatthewAdler and watch him stream on Twitch.

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