Which Gaming Console Should You Get?
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Last Updated on July 14, 2021 by Gabriel Goddy
Gaming enthusiasts are always crazy about which console is the best. While every console has its strong and weak points, there is that one console that fits you almost perfectly. In this guide, we’ll tell you all you need to know about gaming consoles.
At its core, a video game console is a highly specialized computer. In fact, most systems are based on the same central processing units (CPUs) used in many desktop computers. To keep the cost of the video game system within reasonable limits, most manufacturers use a CPU that has been widely available for long enough to undergo a significant decrease in cost.
Why would people buy a game console instead of a computer? There are several reasons:
- A video game console is less expensive than a tricked-out computer designed to run video games. Current generation consoles cost between $200 to $500, whereas a fully-loaded gaming computer can cost more than $10,000.
- Consoles tend to load games faster than most PCs — expensive gaming computer rigs are the exception, of course.
- Video game systems are designed to be part of your entertainment system. This means that they are easy to connect to your TV and stereo.
- There are no compatibility issues, such as operating system, DirectX drivers, correct audio card, supported game controller, resolution, and so on.
- Game developers know exactly what components are in each system, so games are written to take full advantage of the hardware.
- The degree of technical knowledge required to set up and use it is much lower. Most game consoles are true “plug and play.”
- Most video game systems have games that allow multiple players. This is a difficult process with a typical home computer.
Embedded Components of a Video Game Console
Video game consoles are embedded systems, comprising many components all serving a specific function, allowing the system to take input from the player and relay the outputs on a screen display. Present-day video game console systems generally consist of these embedded components:
- User control interface
- Operating System
- The storage medium for games
- Video output
- Audio output
Video Gaming Today
While video game consoles made today all provide their unique features and vary in performance, each console comprises a similar embedded foundation.
Each video game system incorporates a form of a user control interface for the player to interact with the game. We’ve seen video game user control interfaces go from joysticks, to pad controllers, to wireless controllers, and we’re even beginning to be introduced to all new ways of interacting with video games, like with virtual reality headsets for example. And while the concept of pushing buttons or moving the controller to control the game may seem simple on the exterior, a lot is happening behind the scenes.
Video game consoles rely on CPUs (central processing units) to calculate various aspects of the game and control how the game responds to user input. It is essentially processing the game’s instructions and handles game logic in the form of movement or interaction with objects.
The CPU is also very important as it passes information to the GPU, or graphics processing unit. The GPU is responsible for translating instructions taken by the CPU and rendering what is seen on the screen by controlling the formation of images in a frame buffer.
The GPU functions by utilizing the graphics memory or VRAM (video random access memory), which stores the video and image data, and subsequently determines how the objects within the game look to the viewer.
The RAM within the system is vital to the overall interworkings of the system because it stores the game data that the CPU uses to make its calculations.
Games within the last decade are often stored using CD-ROM or DVD-ROM, a major upgrade from the past era of replaceable cartridges. These discs, especially the DVD-ROM or Blu-ray DVD drives can store a higher quantity of video game software data. We also see current systems using SSD cards for saving games and personal data.
Video game consoles today also provide a video signal that allows them to be hooked up to a screen display and depending on the type of television and HDMI cable used, the quality of the image and video from the video game can be affected.
Types Of Gaming Consoles
- PlayStation 5
Why you should buy this: It’s the latest iteration of one of the most popular consoles of all time and has the best launch lineup of any console to date.
With lightning-fast load speeds, a new controller, and a phenomenal lineup of launch titles (including fan favorites and new exclusives), the PS5 is the best plug-and-play gaming platform available.
First off, the PS5 currently has the upper hand when it comes to games. PlayStation gamers have been binging titles like Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Demon’s Souls, and Godfall since the get-go, while Xbox fans have been stuck clamoring for Xbox exclusives like Halo Infinite and The Medium, both of which have been delayed until mid-2021.
Sony also has finally brought backward compatibility into the fold, too, and the PS5 will be able to play most PS4 games, so you won’t miss out on late-gen titles like The Last of Us Part II and Ghosts of Tsushima. The PS5 simply has the best game library out there right now.
The PS5’s solid launch lineup is only part of the equation, however. Slightly larger than the DualShock 4, the new DualSense controller refines haptic feedback, incorporating a precise sense of touch into the gaming experience that force feedback never achieved.
If you’re draining your stamina bar to pull back a bowstring or attempting to bust down a locked door, for example, the hand triggers can convey that tension. The new technology, combined with ongoing support for PSVR, makes for a more immersive gaming experience.
Speaking of peripherals and hardware, both iterations of the console use AMD chips across the board, including an eight-core CPU running on a modified version of the Ryzen line. The PS5’s GPU also is from AMD and provides 10.28 teraflops of power, while supporting resource-intensive processes like ray tracing, which allows for more advanced lighting in games.
It also comes with a 4K Blu-ray player, putting it in line with the Xbox One S and Xbox One X. In layman’s terms, the PS5 is technically less powerful than the Xbox Series X, but still packs a punch and represents a massive upgrade from last-gen consoles.
If discs aren’t your thing — or you simply want to save some cash — look no further than the PS5 Digital Edition.
- Xbox Series X
The Xbox Series X is a tech powerhouse. The console features 12 TFLOPS of power and up to eight times more graphical performance than Xbox One, not to mention twice as much as the Xbox One X. The Xbox Series X also has 16GB of GDDR6 RAM and supports variable refresh rate, Variable Rate Shading technology, and a low-latency mode that allows for better responses out of your games. The power in this next-gen console is sure to wow gamers — that is, when there are true next-gen games available for it.
There’s no discussing the Series X without acknowledging the delay of Halo Infinite. Microsoft pinned the launch of the game to the Series X over a year ago, but the game missed its deadline and isn’t set to arrive until next year, leaving loyal fans feeling left in the dust.
Sure, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla and NBA 2K21 look phenomenal, but we need some exclusives! Luckily, there will likely be a slew of great games for Xbox Series X down the road, including the long-awaited Halo Infinite, State of Decay 3, a new installment of Fable, and plenty of other titles.
In the meantime, Xbox Series X owners have no shortage of games to play. Xbox Series X will support every previous generation of Xbox games, similar to how Xbox One did. This means you’ll be able to play select Xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X games all on the new machine — a huge win for game preservation.
The Xbox also is home to Game Pass, the best deal in gaming. With more than 100 heavy-hitting games on the roster and promises of Project xCloud integration, gamers can explore and test out new titles for a low monthly fee.
The library isn’t made up of last-gen throwaways, either; there are plenty of newer first-party titles that’d cost you a premium if you were to go out and buy them right now. Given Game Pass is available on PC as well, the Series X also allows for more cross-platform opportunities than Sony’s offerings.
- PlayStation 4 Pro
While plenty of gamers are making the jump to the PlayStation 5, there’s still a lot of life left in last-gen consoles. The PlayStation 4 Pro is still a serious gaming machine with a vast library of games, and the console’s price tag (and the cost of games, accessories, etc.) only is going to continue to drop. The PS4 Pro also is widely available, so you won’t have to peruse multiple stores or online outlets to find them in stock. This console delivers an impressive playing experience for 4K television owners because of the enhanced graphics and sharper images for 4k-enabled titles.
We’re not going to pretend that the PS4 Pro is close to matching the superior PS5, but it’s still a worthwhile gaming experience. Aside from a handful of titles exclusive to the PS5, you’re going to have access to most major titles out now and all the most popular free-to-play titles.
- PlayStation VR
PlayStation VR isn’t technically a standalone gaming console, but it might as well be with the way it completely transforms gaming on the PS4. A new PlayStation 4 and a headset bundle comes in a lot cheaper than a gaming PC and either an Oculus Rift or HTC Vive headset, making it the most affordable virtual reality gaming option by a long shot.
It should come as no surprise that the PlayStation VR headset does not have the technical capabilities of its full VR counterparts. The headset sports a pair of 960xRGBx1080 RGB displays — one for each eye — and runs off the PS4’s AMD Radeon GPU, which is far less powerful than the minimum required specs for a Vive- or Rift-compatible PC. It also has a 100-degree field of view, which is slightly smaller than the Rift and Vive. That being said, PlayStation VR achieves that feeling of complete immersion that comes from a “full VR” device, as opposed to mobile-powered options like Google Cardboard.
Haven read through this guide, selecting the gaming console that suits you best shouldn’t be much of a hassle. We’ve been able to simplify and show you the best consoles out there.