Gaming console buying guide

From lifelike graphics, to portable hand-held devices, to the emergence of Virtual Reality, there's so much to enjoy about modern gaming.

Our guide contains everything you need to know to get the console that’s right for you, in the right price range, to suit your gaming tastes.

Here is our breakdown of the most popular consoles today.


Microsoft’s Xbox One has something to offer all ages and interests. There are more than 1300 games to enjoy, from platform games to sports and shooters.

You can play all the latest blockbuster franchises, like FIFA, Call of Duty and Halo 5, both solo or with friends or other gamers online through Xbox LIVE. The Xbox One is also more than just a gaming machine.

You can download your favourite streaming apps like YouTube, BBC iPlayer and Netflix, and use the Xbox media centre to download movies, TV shows, new (and old) games plus music directly to your console.

There are 2 Xbox One consoles to choose from:

Xbox One X

The Xbox One X is Microsoft’s latest and most powerful console. It offers 40% more power than any other console, and features immersive 4K gaming, where the visual quality is outstanding. Xbox One X works with all existing Xbox One games and accessories, plus Xbox LIVE. You also get a built-in 4K Blu-ray player to watch TV shows and movies in 4K Ultra HD. If you haven’t got a 4K TV, you can still enjoy better graphics on your Full HD TV. If you're a serious gamer, then the Xbox One X is probably already on your wish list.


  • 4K gaming and 4K Blu-ray player
  • 6 teraflops of graphical processing power for immersive visuals
  • Stream and record game clips in 4K at rapid 60 FPS with 326 GB/second memory bandwidth

Xbox One S

The Xbox One S is the standard version of the console, but it's still a great option for gamers. It’s not as powerful as the One X, but features HDR gaming, 4K streaming and a built-in Ultra HD Blu-ray player. It also comes in 500 GB and 1 TB storage options, so you can save plenty of movies, games and other content with room to spare.


  • Stream movies, TV shows and games in 1080p Full HD
  • 1.31 teraflops of graphical processing power for stunning visuals
  • Stream and record game clips in Full HD comfortably
  • Compatible with Xbox Live

Xbox Live and online gaming

You can play against friends or people from around the world using Microsoft’s Xbox Live online platform. All you need is an Internet connection and an Xbox LIVE Gold membership. For a monthly or annual fee, you can join the more than 1 billion multiplayer matches played every month. With an Xbox LIVE Gold membership, you also receive exclusive discounts on games through the Xbox store, as well as a selection of free games to play every month.

Xbox Play Anywhere

You can play a Play Anywhere digital title on both Xbox One and a Windows 10 PC at no extra cost. This lets you play a game on your console, and pick up where you left off on another Xbox One or PC, bringing all your saves, game add-ons and achievements with you.


Xbox One Controller
Available in wireless and wired versions, the Xbox One controller features the traditional Xbox A, B, X and Y layout. The controller features analogue sticks as well as a responsive D-Pad with built-in vibration feedback.

Backwards compatability

A large selection of both digital and disc-based Xbox 360 and original Xbox games can be played on Xbox One. These backward-compatible games are powered by an emulator of older Xbox operating systems which provide most of the features including screenshots, broadcasting and Game DVR. A variety of Xbox 360 games are also Xbox One X Enhanced, leveraging the additional power of the console for higher resolution visuals.

To play older games, just pop the disc into your Xbox One. You can also download a digital version of the game, which can be found in the ‘Your Games’ list.


The PlayStation 4, or PS4, is a firm fan favourite and, like the Xbox One, has something for gamers of all ages. There are thousands of titles across all genres to choose from, plus you get popular exclusives like The Last of Us and Uncharted.

Being a modern console, the PS4 goes far beyond gaming, and lets you access your favourite streaming apps, such as YouTube, Netflix and BBC iPlayer. You can also download music and movies. Play both Blu-ray discs and DVDs, plus there are improved parental controls which let you manage which games and content your family can access. It’s a great packaged entertainment system for the living room the whole family can enjoy.

There are 2 PS4 consoles to choose from:

PS4 Slim

As powerful as the original PS4 but slimmer and lighter, the PS4 Slim is available in 500 GB and 1 TB models, so you can store plenty of games, movies and other content.


  • Power consumption is 28% less than the original PS4
  • HDR visuals for awesome gameplay
  • Supports Playstation VR headset

PS4 Pro

The PS4 Pro is an upgrade in performance on the PS4 Slim, offering double the power and double the storage. All the original PS4 games are compatible with PS4 Pro, but games get a graphics and performance boost. New titles are also enhanced thanks to the supercharged graphics.


  • All PS4 games played on PS4 Pro display at a minimum of 1080p on a HD TV
  • Awesome graphics including 4K gaming and 4K streaming
  • Online gaming with PlayStation Plus and compatible with PlayStation VR gaming

Online gaming

You can join millions of people online for multiplayer gaming with the PlayStation Plus subscription service. Subscribers also receive two hand-picked PS4 games every month to download, which can be played for as long as the membership runs. PlayStation Plus also offers exclusive discounts to subscribers on the PlayStation Store.


You can play more than 100 virtual reality games on PS VR. You’ll enjoy crisp, Full HD graphics with a 360-degree gaming experience, while built-in audio and microphone provides total immersion in the game. PS VR requires a separate PS VR headset, and you’ll also need a PlayStation Camera.


DualShock controller
The DualShock controller has the familiar X, circle, square and triangle format, as well as new features like a built-in speaker and share button to record your gameplay and publish online. The controller is wireless, charged via USB and features built-in vibration for a more responsive playing experience.

Backwards compatability

Though PlayStation 4 does not allow backwards compatibility with disc-based PS1, PS2 or PS3 games, you can play older titles digitally on PS Now for a small subscription fee. There are more than 500 PS4 and PS3 games to enjoy both on your PS4 and Windows PC.

Nintendo Switch

The Nintendo Switch is a truly ground-breaking console. Not only do you get a range of classic exclusive titles, such as Super Mario, Mario Kart and Zelda, you can also play in both traditional mode on a TV, plus on-the-go as a handheld device.

When connected to the dock and TV, the Nintendo Switch offers HD gaming like a classic console. But you can easily detach it from the dock and add two Joy-Con controllers either side of the device and take it out with you like a classic Gameboy.


  • Multifunctional design lets you play both as console and handheld
  • Seamlessly carry on gameplay from TV to the handheld device
  • Up to 6 hours of gameplay when in hand-held mode

Switch accessories

The Joy-Con controllers can be used as a traditional controller, split into two controllers for multiplayer and as part of a steering wheel. You can also enjoy Wii-like functionality by holding each Joy-Con controller in your hand for boxing or tennis games, making games more active when you play them.

Online gaming

You can play with friends at your house or online, and it's possible to link up to eight consoles. A paid online service for Nintendo Switch is launching in late 2017, but online features will remain free of charge until it launches.