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Which video game console should I get? Your guide to the best gaming consoles

Updated Jan 4, 2024 - Trying to decide which is the best game console to buy? Whether choosing for yourself or as a gift, picking the best gaming system is never easy. Compare Xbox, PlayStation, and Nintendo consoles along with new, used, and refurbished options to make the perfect choice in line with your budget.

In the ever-expanding universe of video gaming, choosing a game console is a major decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Whether you’re a new gamer looking to explore, or you need information to buy someone else the perfect gift, you should learn a bit about each major console to make the best decision. From the latest powerhouse consoles boasting cutting-edge technology to cost-conscious options in older models, there is truly a console for everyone and something to fit every budget.

In this guide, we’ll dive into the best video game consoles of the year, comparing industry giants like the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, then exploring affordable alternatives including the ever-popular Nintendo Switch and some value-rich refurbished versions of the latest consoles. Join us as we unravel the pros and cons of every major device so that you can find the perfect video game console for you.

Top gaming consoles of 2024

Most gamers have years of experience on the platforms they choose to play, tending to stick with their favorite consoles and video game franchises. What games you want to play should weigh considerably into your choice of what console to get, as some game series are available exclusively on one system or another.

That’s why, for each of these top-tier consoles, we’ll talk about not only the capabilities of the system, but also some of the most popular games you can play on them. We’ll also mention the prices you can expect to pay for a brand-new console and explore some cost-effective alternatives.

PlayStation 5

First released in 2020, the Sony PlayStation 5 has emerged as a true titan in the gaming world, helping to define what players now expect from a modern console. With its cutting-edge hardware and top-selling game titles, the PS5 offers stunning visuals and immersive gameplay. The PS5 is also backward-compatible with the previous generation, meaning you can still play PS4 games on it.

  • Controllers: The standard controller for PS5 is called the DualSense Wireless. It has advanced features like adaptive triggers, haptic feedback, and a built-in microphone. Other controller options are also available for the console, including the PS VR2 — a next-generation virtual reality gaming experience. 

  • Games: The PS5 boasts a compelling library of games, including exclusive titles like Marvel's Spider-Man 2, God of War: Ragnarök, Returnal, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, Gran Turismo 7, and Final Fantasy XVI. Many games popular on Xbox are also available on PS5, such as Madden, Assassin's Creed Valhalla, and Resident Evil 4.

  • Price: There are a few different editions of PS5 consoles, but the most economical version sells for $449.99 brand new. You can of course buy more expensive editions and accessory bundles as well.

The PS5 stands out as a leader in the gaming industry with exciting games, innovative play styles, and sheer power in its technological capabilities.

Xbox Series X

The Xbox Series X is the latest high-powered gaming console from Microsoft. It came out around the same time as Sony’s PS5 in 2020, and both consoles offer similarly stunning performance with quick load times. The gaming experience is therefore equally impressive on them both, but some gamers prefer the Xbox for Microsoft’s impressive game library that allows game streaming and rentals. Some people also prefer the more compact size of the Series X over the PS5’s rather bulky profile.

  • Controllers: The Xbox Series X continues with Microsoft’s tried-and-true design for handheld controllers, known for precision as well as ergonomic comfort. The new controller improves further with refined geometry, textured grips, and a hybrid D-pad for superior control.

  • Games: This console shines with Microsoft’s impressive legacy of games and the Xbox Game Pass, which offers a rotating catalog of playable content including day-one game releases. Notable exclusives include Halo Infinite, Forza Motorsport 7, Gears 5, and Starfield. Many games are also available on PS5 and Xbox, like those in the ever-popular Call of Duty franchise.

  • Price: The Xbox Series X starts at 499.99, with different bundles and editions costing more from there. However, there is a budget-friendly alternative in the Xbox Series S — a slightly less high-definition console that only plays digital games from the Xbox online library (no hard disc games) — starting at $299.99.

Together, the Xbox Series X/S deliver tantalizing options for a dynamic gaming experience — offering precision design, an expansive library of games, and many ways to play. With these consoles, Microsoft continues to solidify its position at the forefront of the gaming industry.

Nintendo Switch OLED Model

The Nintendo Switch OLED Model is an updated version of Nintendo’s trademark hybrid console. This console can “switch” between TV mode (typical gaming console mode) and a handheld mode, which resembles a gaming tablet. The OLED model features a higher-resolution screen and a more vivid display than the original. A major boon of the Nintendo Switch is its broad appeal to a variety of gamers — players of all ages and those who prefer either at-home gaming or on-the-go versatility.

  • Controllers: The Switch OLED uses Nintendo’s innovative Joy-Con controllers, which are interchangeable and motion-sensing to allow for a variety of different play styles. Traditional controller designs and accessories like steering wheels are also available for purchase.

  • Games: A major selling point of the Switch is Nintendo’s long legacy of exclusive games. The newest iterations include Super Mario Bros. Wonder, Splatoon 3, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, and The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom.

  • Price: With a starting price of $349.99, the Switch OLED Model is notably more affordable than its top competitors released by Sony and Microsoft. But the OLED is actually the most expensive of the three Switch models — including the original Switch and the Nintendo Switch Lite.

The Nintendo Switch fully encapsulates Nintendo's commitment to accessible and enjoyable experiences for every type of gamer, and the OLED Model comes at a price point making it a particularly compelling choice among today’s top gaming consoles.

Best game consoles to buy on a budget

Now that we’ve discussed the best gaming consoles on the market and looked at the price tags, you may be wondering how you can afford to get into gaming. Keeping in mind that you’ll still have to spend money on all your favorite games and perhaps some extra accessories, it’s not unreasonable to worry about breaking the bank with this hobby.

Luckily, several options can save you money without compromising on the quality of your entertainment. One of the best ways is to look at refurbished video game consoles. These units are professionally restored to work like new, so a refurbished Xbox Series X or PlayStation 5 can still deliver your dream gaming experience at a portion of the retail price. Besides refurbished units, you might consider buying a previous-generation console that supports long-time favorite games.

Xbox One

The Xbox One, even years after its initial release in 2013, continues to be an ideal choice for gamers on a budget. With its extensive library of games that includes both new and classic titles, you won’t soon get bored playing this fantastically popular console. It even serves as an all-in-one entertainment system, supporting various streaming services and media apps.

The Xbox One’s pricing is significantly lower than its next-gen counterparts, and you can further reduce your costs by purchasing a refurbished Xbox One from a certified seller. You may even consider refurbished accessories and used Xbox games to fully maximize your gaming budget.

PlayStation 4

As the 2013 predecessor to the illustrious PS5, the PlayStation 4 remains an attractive option for budget-conscious gamers. The system offers an extensive and varied game library featuring many of the past decade’s most acclaimed titles. Its robust hardware still offers a high-quality gaming experience, making it a great entry point to the gaming hobby. Like the Xbox One, the PS4 can double as an entertainment hub with streaming services and a web browser.

As an older console, prices for PS4s have come down considerably, but you might find the best savings on a reliable console by looking at certified refurbished PS4s. These restored units offer the full PlayStation experience at a reduced price, without the guessing game that can happen when purchasing a regular used device.

Nintendo Switch

The standard Nintendo Switch remains a fantastic budget-friendly alternative to more expensive consoles, especially if you love Nintendo’s famous games or if you value the portability of the Switch handheld. Though the OLED Model offers a noticeably enhanced display, all the same games and the same versatile play modes are available on the original Switch.  As with other consoles, you can save even more by buying a refurbished Nintendo Switch at a lower price point.

Buying new vs. used vs. refurbished game consoles

Deciding which type of game console to get may only be the first part of your buying decision. You must then choose from new, used, or refurbished versions to call your own. It is a crucial choice that depends not just on cost, but other factors like warranty and reliability as well. Here are some key points to consider with each option:

  • Brand-new consoles offer the latest technology and a full manufacturer’s warranty, delivering peace of mind and a top-of-the-line gaming experience. They also understandably command the highest price tag. 

  • Used consoles from a private seller are much more affordable than buying new ones. However, they come with risks of unknown wear and tear or hidden defects, and there is no such thing as a warranty on them.

  • Refurbished video game consoles, on the other hand, strike a balance between used and new by offering a cost-effective solution without compromising on quality. Certified renewed devices even come with guarantees on their performance.

Many seasoned gamers find refurbished consoles to be the best bang for their buck, and Back Market is one of the leading sources for renewed electronics. Back Market refurbished devices come with a minimum 1-year warranty and a 30-day money-back guarantee, making them an ideal choice for dedicated gamers on a budget.

Interested in selling your old console?

Another great way to save money and budget for a new gaming console is to sell an old one if you have it. This is especially true if you decide to upgrade from an older generation Xbox or PlayStation to a new one. To learn more, check out some of our popular trade-in options:

If you decide to sell your gaming console to Back Market, you’ll start by answering a few quick questions online, then get a free quote in just a couple of minutes. If you choose to accept this offer, you’ll pack and ship your console, and we’ll even cover the shipping cost. Once the item is received, you’ll get a direct cash deposit that you can use for anything, including buying your next game console.

Choose the best console for you

At the end of the day, choosing a video game console — be it the cutting-edge PlayStation 5, the powerful Xbox X Series X, the versatile Nintendo Switch OLED, or one of their time-tested predecessors — depends on your individual gaming preferences and your financial constraints.

Start by considering the types of games you want to play, then weigh the benefits of each type of console, and calculate how much you can afford to spend. Also, factor in your payment from selling an old console if this is an option for you. Finally, consider waiting for Nintendo Switch deals, Xbox deals or PlayStation deals that are frequently advertised throughout the year. In the end, the result will be finding the perfect match for your own gaming lifestyle.

Miguel G.

Written by Miguel G.,  Sr. Tech Copywriter (US)

Miguel is always looking for new ways to provide unique perspective on popular tech and has taken his writing to the refurbished industry to promote sustainability. Outside of creating content, you might find him travelling the globe, coaching a fitness class, or cheering on his favorite sports teams (Go Dolphins!)

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