The 8 Best Current Gaming Consoles of 2019

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Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

The Rundown

  • Best for Mobility: Nintendo Switch at Amazon, “Makes playing on the go easy.”
  • Best for Graphics: Xbox One X at Amazon, “If you’re looking to get the highest sense of realism from a current gaming console with the most powerful displays, the Xbox One X takes the cake.”
  • Most Popular: PlayStation 4 Pro 1TB Console at Amazon, “With close to 64 million sold worldwide, it’s hard to doubt the 62% market capture and user base of Sony’s PlayStation 4.”
  • Best for Families: Nintendo Wii U at Amazon, “ Most of its gaming library contains an E rating for Everyone.”
  • Best Value: Xbox 360 E Console at Amazon, “At just under $200, there’s no better current gaming console. Best for Games and Backward Compatibility: PlayStation 3 at Amazon, “Backward compatible with your old PlayStation games.”
  • Best for Games and Backward Compatibility: PlayStation 3 at Amazon, “Backward compatible with your old PlayStation games.”
  • Best Re-Release: Super NES Classic at Amazon, “Resurrects the glorious gaming era of the 1990s.”
  • Best Handheld: Nintendo 3DS XL at Amazon, “Boasts real 3D capabilities, a library of over 1,224 games, and is backward compatible with Nintendo DS games.”

Our Top Picks

Best for Mobility: Nintendo Switch

4.9

Upon its first reveal, the Nintendo Switch marketed itself as a mobile gaming system that not only could be played at home on your television, but also carried around and playable wherever you go. Nintendo’s innovative console makes playing on the go easy and comes with a disassembling controller with split screen options, so you can play with friends.

The Nintendo Switch has 50 third-party publishers in partnership for developing its future games. Hits like Mario Kart 8, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Mario Odyssey have given it a strong lineup. The Switch makes for a great system for parties with its mobile snap-off joy-con controllers – once out of its docking station, it acts like a tablet with its own dedicated screen that can be shared with others through split-screen multiplayer games.

Best for Graphics: Xbox One X

Xbox One X 1TB Console
Courtesy of Amazon.com
4.4

The Xbox One X capitalizes on its former Xbox One model with some of the most powerful tech you’ll find in a gaming system today. If you’re looking to get the highest sense of realism from a current gaming console with the most powerful displays, the Xbox One X takes the cake.

The Xbox One X contains six trillion floating point operations per second with 326GB/s and 12GB GDDR5 RAM, giving it the most graphical horsepower in rendering native 4K HD graphics at 60 frames per second. This makes games like Call Of Duty: WWII have a heightened sense of realism, detailing everything from flowing hair, rays of the sun and clothing fiber. All Xbox One games are compatible and run better on the Xbox One X in Full HD display as well. Microsoft even plans on bringing Original Xbox and Xbox 360 backward compatibility to the system too.

Most Popular: PlayStation 4 Pro 1TB Console

4.4

With close to 64 million sold worldwide, it’s hard to doubt the 62 percent market capture and user base of Sony’s PlayStation 4. It’s latest model, the PlayStation 4 Pro 1TB Console brings an updated version of the system with even more robust power.

The PlayStation 4 Pro version antes up the frame rates for its PS4 games – many to 60 fps – bringing 4K high definition gaming and video streaming, as well as twice the GPU power of a standard PS4. The PlayStation 4’s huge library includes 1,648 games, all of which can be played in HD with its Pro version. The system is also good for its multimedia functionality, playing Blu-ray discs, as well as streaming TV, music and more with dedicated apps and downloadable games on its PlayStation Store. Due to its popularity, there’s always someone willing to play online with you, so you’ll never miss out on the fun.

Best for Families: Nintendo Wii U

Nintendo’s been known as the flagship console that is the most kid-friendly, and the Wii U is no exception. Most of its gaming library contains an E rating for Everyone, and the games are often some of the most critically acclaimed for gameplay, art direction and just pure fun.

The Nintendo Wii U uses a gamepad controller with a screen in it, so if parents want to use the living room TV, kids can still play on their Wii U through its dedicated gaming screen without interference. It includes some of the most fun local multiplayer games, too, such as Mario Kart 8 and Super Mario 3D world – both capable of up to four players. The Wii U is also compatible with Wii remote controllers, so you don’t have to buy even more hardware to get in on the game with your friends and family.

Best Value: Xbox 360 E Console

At just under $200, there’s no better current gaming console you can get than the Xbox 360. Though it has spanned multiple models, the Xbox 360 E console comes with all the essentials: a wireless controller, built-in Wi-Fi, and one month of Xbox LIVE Gold (its premium online service for shopping and online multiplayer).

Though it holds only 4GB, the Xbox 360 E console is expandable with an added on media hard drive up to 500 GB. The Xbox 360 E console is a nice staple in the current gaming console market, with over 1,200 Xbox 360 games in its library and counting, on-demand HD movies, TV streaming, as well as a built-in DVD player so gamers will never get bored. Though the Xbox 360 is nearing its lifespan on the current market, its latest model is a well-established updated version of its former self, bettering it in every way from reliability to price, and assuring a long life to come as a complete console.

Best for Games and Backward Compatibility: PlayStation 3

You won’t find backward compatibility with its newer slimmer version, but the PlayStation 3’s original launch models are backward compatible with your old PlayStation games. Players can play their PlayStation One and PlayStation 2 games on this PlayStation 3 (and there'll be upscale imaging on the high-definition TV screen without worry).

Doubling as a Blu-ray/DVD player with built-in Wi-Fi, the PlayStation 3 currently has a library of over 1,400 games. This is not including its playable PlayStation 2 library of 3,874 games and PlayStation One with 2,513. The versatile and current gaming console still packs a punch, delivering a powerful home entertainment system not only good for gaming, but video chat, Internet access, digital photo viewing and digital audio and video.

Best Re-Release: Super NES Classic

When news dropped that Nintendo would be re-releasing updated classics of its former consoles like the NES and Super NES Classic, gamers rejoiced. The Super NES Classic resurrects the glorious gaming era of the 1990s with 21 different games, including Starfox 2.

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.

Best Handheld: Nintendo 3DS XL

The King of Handheld gaming systems first laid its groundwork with the Gameboy in 1989, but now bursts on the scenes of 2017 with the Nintendo 3DS XL. The dual-screen portable handheld system boasts real 3D capabilities, a library of over 1,224 games, and is backward compatible with Nintendo DS games.

Nintendo has come along way from its eight-bit handheld Gameboy system to its now robust and powerful face-tracking, 3D-capable, Wi-Fi-enabled Nintendo 3DS XL system. It can play local and online multiplayer, so you and other 3DS owners around the world or in the neighborhood can play games such as Super Smash Bros and Mario Kart 7. The Nintendo 3DS XL measures 1.5 x 7.1 x 5.1 inches, weighs 1.1 pounds and comes in a variety of unique colors.

Tested by

How We Tested

We bought three top-rated gaming consoles that our reviewers tested for 85 hours. We asked our testers to consider the most important features when using these consoles, from their price to their graphics. We’ve outlined the key takeaways here so that you, too, know what to look for when shopping.

What to Look for in a Gaming Console

Price - The newest gaming consoles can be pricey, but you don’t have to spend a lot for an exciting gaming experience. Nintendo’s mobile gaming system, Switch, for instance, is more than $100 cheaper than many of its competitors. You can also find great deals on classic systems.

Compatibility - If you’ve previously owned a gaming console, you should consider buying a new console that’s compatible with the library of games you’ve likely collected. For example, your PS4 won’t play games from older Sony consoles, but you can still access hundreds of older PlayStation titles using the PS Now streaming service. Xbox One, on the other hand, has much better backwards compatibility, not to mention a digital redemption scheme that lets you download newer versions of your existing games for free.

4K or VR support - How important is it to you to be able to play your favorite games in true 4K? If you’re answer is “very,” you’ll want a console that supports 2160p, like the Xbox One X, but if your answer is “not really,” you can settle for something else. The same goes for virtual reality, as not all systems will support it.

Test Results: Nintendo Switch (Best for Mobility)

4.9

What We Like

  • Perfect portable size

  • Easy to connect to TV

  • Long battery life

  • Great selection of games

What We Don't Like

  • Not a lot of storage

  • Additional accessories are expensive

Nintendo Switch
Nintendo Switch console
Nintendo Switch gaming console
Nintendo Switch monitor
Nintendo

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.

Test Results: Xbox One X (Best for Graphics)

4.4

What We Like

  • Extensive processor capabilities

  • Phenomenal 4K display

  • Portable Wi-Fi access

  • Can also be used to stream TV/movies

What We Don't Like

  • Long download times for games

  • Controller batteries run out quickly

  • Very heavy

Xbox One X
Xbox One
Xbox
Xbox One X gaming console
Xbox One gaming console
Xbox One X console

The Xbox One X came highly recommended by our testers for serious gamers looking for incredible display quality, tons of storage, and the added bonus of being able to use the device for streaming TV and video. “This console is able to process a massive open world video game worth ~40 GB of space,” explained one of our reviewers. “With such a huge game, graphics are still displayed in 4K and looks phenomenal.” Our testers didn’t like that downloading a game could be quite time consuming, and one of our reviewers wished the controller came with a USB wire for charging. Bottom line: “For the retail price, this 1TB device with 4K display, that is capable of multitasking on many different things is incredible,” gushed one of our reviewers.

Test Results: PlayStation 4 Pro 1TB Console (Most Popular)

4.4

What We Like

  • Huge library of games

  • Super easy setup

  • Incredible graphics

  • Doubles as streaming device

What We Don't Like

  • Updates and download speeds are slow

  • Additional membership fee for online access

“Though it has an expensive upfront cost, it pays out tenfold with a wide selection of games that fit anyone’s style, mind-blowing graphics, and a variety of entertainment options,” one of our testers declared of the PlayStation 4 Pro 1TB Console. Our reviewers also liked the simple setup — “You can easily get connected in under five minutes,” noted one tester. And while the online functionality, which you need to play most of the popular games, requires a $60/year membership, one of our reviewers explained its value: “It is worth noting, however, that you get a lot in return for this service, including free games every month that you keep for as long as your membership is active.” Our testers also mentioned long update times and download speeds, but felt the overall product was a great buy “for serious gamers.”