With the Nintendo Switch doing remarkably well and Microsoft poised to release the Xbox One X, you could be forgiven for being stumped when it comes to your next console choice - especially on the build up to Christmas. The PS4 Pro is even winking at you from another corner of your local game store.
That's why we look at the three major games consoles and their variants to see which would best suit you.
- Nintendo Switch vs Wii U: What's the difference?
- Xbox One X vs PS4 Pro: What’s the difference?
- Best games console: PlayStation, Xbox or Nintendo?
Nintendo Switch vs PS4 vs Xbox One: Hardware
The Nintendo Switch is markedly different from its rivals in hardware terms. Without going too deep into the specifications, it has a mobile processing architecture from Nvidia that is a heavily modified Tegra X1 chipset, while the PS4 and Xbox One consoles all opt for more conventional computing power.
On the Switch, games such as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey run in 900p on the Switch in TV mode and 720p in handheld mode. Some games, such as Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, have the potential of running in 1080p/720p 60fps. Most Xbox One S and standard PS4 games run at 1080p these days, with some achieving 60fps.
The PS4 Pro and Xbox One X are capable of stretching that resolution up to 4K at 60fps.
Where the Switch has a distinct advantage over its direct rivals is in portability. It doubles as both a home console and handheld games machine so is the only one you can take on your travels with you, to play the exact same games on its built-in 6.2-inch screen.
Nintendo Switch vs PS4 vs Xbox One: Disc drives and storage
The Xbox One S, Xbox One X, PS4 Pro and PS4 have physical disc drives, with the Xbox One consoles also able to play 4K Ultra HD Blu-rays. Weirdly, Sony, even as a founding member of the Blu-ray Disc Association, decided against adding a 4K Blu-ray deck to its latest consoles. They are still able to play conventional 1080p Blu-rays, but not Ultra HD discs.
The Nintendo Switch can do neither. The Japanese firm has opted to dispense with discs altogether, with games coming on cartridge instead, much like the 3DS and Nintendo consoles of yore.
Games are also available via download stores, but considering how stingy Nintendo has been with on-board storage, you'll have to invest in a microSD card to store more than a couple at a time.
The Xbox One S can be spec'ed from 500GB to 2TB, although the 1TB version is the max you'll find in stores these days as the 2TB model was an initial launch edition in 2016. The Xbox One X also comes with a 1TB drive.
The latest PS4 and PS4 Pro can be spec'ed up to 1TB. All Xbox and PlayStation machines have the ability to increase the storage through third-party hard drives - via external USB 3.0 HDDs. In addition, all PS4 models can be expanded through swapping the internal 3.5-inch internal drives.
The Switch, on the other hand, comes with 32GB of built-in storage. Zelda takes up around half of that if you buy it from the Nintendo eShop and Mario Odyssey fills it almost entirely.
Nintendo Switch vs PS4 vs Xbox One: Games
When it comes to quantity of games, the Xbox One and PS4 consoles clearly win hands down thanks to being around for more than three years apiece. The Nintendo Switch is relatively just starting its life cycle.
The Switch's line-up is expanding at a rapid pace though, and the confirmed games list going forward is looking healthy.
Quality is more subjective. Nintendo has some bone fide triple-A titles out now or coming up that you won't find on any other platform (save for the defunct Wii U), such as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Super Mario Odyssey.
Of course, both Xbox and PlayStation have their own exclusives, with Forza Motorsport 7 and Sea of Thieves out or coming soon for the Xbox One and Uncharted: The Lost Legacy for PS4. The PlayStation also has the superb Horizon Zero Dawn, which is about to get a massive downloadable content addition.
The area where Nintendo Switch needs to improve upon, over the Wii U anyway, is in having some of the same big, multi-platform games as the others. FIFA 18 is available, for example, but there's no sign of a Red Dead Redemption 2 or the like.
On the other hand, the Switch does trump its rivals in motion gaming. While the other two have largely shunned the format, the Switch embraces its Wii heritage with its clip-on Joy-Con controllers also doubling as motion remotes. This could bring families back to Nintendo in their droves.
Nintendo Switch vs PS4 vs Xbox One: Media
All Xbox One and PS4 consoles are great media streamers as well as games machines. They each have Netflix and Amazon Video apps, with the Xbox One S and Xbox One X offering both in 4K HDR. The PS4 Pro offers Netflix in 4K HDR too.
BBC iPlayer and other terrestrial TV catch-up services can be found on the consoles too.
The Nintendo Switch doesn't have any of the services available, at least not at present. Nintendo said that it is concentrating on games primarily and could introduce media streaming somewhere down the line.
Nintendo Switch vs PS4 vs Xbox One: Price
As both the PS4 and Xbox One have been around for a while, prices have dropped dramatically since their original launches in 2013.
The Nintendo Switch is £280. And it doesn't come with a game.
Game prices for all consoles range between £40 and £60. But if you shop around you can make some significant savings, even for brand new Switch games. Check out Amazon.co.uk, for example, it has many of the big titles for as much as £15 off.
Nintendo Switch vs PS4 vs Xbox One: Availability
Both the Xbox One S and PS4, in both its new and PS4 Pro guises, are readily available.
The Nintendo Switch is also widely available now.
The Xbox One X is about to arrive too, as it will be released on Tuesday 7 November.
- Xbox One X: Release date, price, specs and everything you need to know
- Xbox One X pre-order: How, where and when to pre-order
Nintendo Switch vs PS4 vs Xbox One: Conclusion
It is clear to see that the Nintendo Switch is a very different games console to the other machines. In many ways, it could be seen as an ideal second machine for hardcore gamers.
If anything, from what we've seen so far, it could be a Nintendo 3DS or PS Vita replacement as much as a home console alternative.
The motion gaming aspects could be a big draw too, especially if plenty of family-oriented games are made available. This is an area where Nintendo excelled with the Wii and it therefore offered something different to the Xbox 360 and PS3 of the time. The same could be true again.
The biggest barrier is price, with the Switch considerably more expensive than the standard Xbox One and PS4 thanks to being the new kid on the block. It might be worth waiting until Christmas, therefore, or maybe Black Friday on 24 November in case there are any bargains.
But then, Microsoft's Xbox One X will be looming large for the next couple of months, albeit at an even chunkier price point.