How to Connect a Nintendo Switch to a TV | Digital Trends

How to Connect a Nintendo Switch to a TV | Digital Trends

Released in 2017, Nintendo Switch is still as popular today as it was years ago. The hybrid handheld console has seen dozens of high-profile game throughout its lifespan, and it shows no signs of slowing down. Part of what makes the device so compelling is the ability to play in both handheld or docked mode — allowing you to project your game onto the big screen when you get home from work or school.

It might seem complicated, but connecting your Nintendo Switch to a TV is simple. It takes just a few moments to set up its dock and get back to gaming, though there are a few caveats to be aware of before starting the process.


Image courtesy of Amazon.com / Nintendo

Setting up the Nintendo Switch

For those who are new to the system, every purchase of the Nintendo Switch not only includes the Switch itself but also a Switch dock. This dock will be key in putting your system together for the TV. The first thing you’re going to want to do is take out the dock and all the cords. Make sure that you have the dock, an HDMI cord, and a power cord for the system. If all three are present, you’re good to start!

Step 1: Begin by opening the back of the docking system. This will give you access to where all the cords are going to go. Additionally, you’ll notice there is a space for the cords to lead out from. The back of the Switch should have three outlets. From top to bottom, they are the AC adapter, USB, and HDMI out. You’ll only need the AC adapter and the HDMI out to hook the system up.

Step 2: Take one end of the HDMI cable and insert it into the bottom terminal, aptly named HDMI out. Then connect the other end of the HDMI port to the TV or monitor of your choosing.

Step 3: Take the AC adapter (which should be model No. HAC-002) and put it inside the dock labeled AC adapter. Then connect the other end of the AC adapter into a wall outlet.

Step 4: You can now go ahead and close the back of the switch. Remember to keep an eye on where the cords feed out to ensure you don’t actually damage the cords. Both cords should fit through the space without any problems.

Step 5: Now the dock is all set up! You’ll just have to put the console into the dock to get rolling. When placing the console into the dock, ensure that the LCD screen faces the same direction as the face of the dock. The LCD screen of the Switch will turn off once it’s perfectly docked.

Step 6: All you’ll have to do from here is turn the TV and Switch on, set the TV to the correct HDMI, and your Switch should be ready to go!

The Switch adapter from Battony.

Battony

How to connect your Nintendo Switch to a TV without a dock

If your dock happens to break, you can still use your Nintendo Switch on the big screen. Before getting started, you’ll need to buy a USB-C to HDMI adapter that has both USB-C and HDMI ports. This will essentially replace the original dock and serve to get your Switch communicating with your TV.

Here’s what you’ll need to do to get your Nintendo Switch connected to your TV without a dock.

Step 1: Remove the USB-C power cable and HDMI cables from the original Switch dock.

Step 2: Insert the USB-C cable and HDMI cables into the adapter you’ve purchased.

Step 3: Connect the USB-C adapter to your Switch.

Step 4: As long as you’ve selected the right input on your TV, you should now be able to play Switch on your TV without a dock.

Step 5: Note that this method will not work with Switch Lite. Also, be careful about overheating your Switch — try propping the unit upright to keep its vents accessible and open to airflow.

An image of the Nintendo Switch - OLED Model Mario Red Edition.

Nintendo

Small notes

There are a few things that you should keep in mind as you’re hooking your system up. The first, and one of the most important, is to always handle the console with care. Although the Switch is a durable gaming system, that doesn’t mean it’s impervious to damage. Set the console into the dock gently in order to avoid scratches or damages, which is a problem a few players have reported. It may also behoove you to pick up a screen protector for the system to ensure that docking the Switch doesn’t do more damage than good.

Also, in order to play the Switch, you’ll need to have both of the Joy-Cons in your hands. You can either remove the Joy-Cons before docking the Switch or after. However, keep in mind that if the Joy-Cons haven’t been attached to the console before this moment in time, you’ll need to register them before playing. It’s similar to how the Wii would need the Wiimotes synced with the system before use.

Finally, after every Switch session, it may be helpful to you if you unplug the Joy-Cons and put them back onto the docked Switch. The Joy-Cons will drain the battery while unplugged from the console, so leaving them out overnight could risk the Joy-Cons being drained of battery. Try to make a habit of putting the Joy-Cons back onto the docked console to ensure they’re being charged while you’re not playing. Nothing is worse than a controller dying as you’re facing off with Ganondorf, so be sure to stay in the battle with powered Joy-Cons!

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Xbox Series X Presidents’ Day Deals: Consoles, Games & More | Digital Trends

Xbox Series X Presidents’ Day Deals: Consoles, Games & More | Digital Trends

Xbox

Microsoft’s Xbox Series X is a powerful machine with a healthy library of games and a wide range of accessories. If you want to enjoy discounts in your investments in the console, this year’s Presidents’ Day deals is the perfect opportunity. The offers from the various retailers participating in the sale are already online, and while they’re expected to last through the end of the holiday, it’s highly recommended that you make your purchases as soon as possible because we’re not sure if stocks will still be available for some of the more popular bargains.

Best Xbox Series X Presidents’ Day deals

Xbox Series X
Microsoft

If you don’t own the console yet, you’re going to want to take advantage of these Xbox Series X Presidents’ Day deals. Some of these are straight-up discounts for the device, while some are bundles that include games and accessories that you may need to make the gaming experience even better. Whichever offer you choose to purchase, make sure that you hurry because there’s no telling when these bargains will get sold out.

  • Microsoft Xbox Series X (Renewed) —

  • Microsoft Xbox Series X —

  • Microsoft Xbox Series X + Extra Xbox Wireless Controller —

  • Microsoft Xbox Series X Diablo IV Bundle —

  • Microsoft Xbox Series X + Seagate 2TB Expansion Card —

Best Xbox Series X game Presidents’ Day deals

Two Spartans side by side in Halo Infinite.
Halo

The best Xbox Series X exclusives give gamers a healthy number of reasons to purchase the console, but there are also a long list of multi-platform titles that are available for the Xbox Series X. If you’re looking for the next game to play, or if you’re building out your gaming library, you wouldn’t want to miss the savings that you can get from the available Xbox Series X game Presidents’ Day deals — even if that means adding more titles to your backlog.

  • Grand Theft Auto V: Premium Edition —

  • NBA 2K24: Kobe Bryant Edition —

  • Halo Infinite

  • Lego 2K Drive

  • Assassin’s Creed Mirage

  • AEW: Fight Forever

  • Hogwarts Legacy

  • Star Wars Jedi: Survivor

  • Mortal Kombat 1

  • Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League

Best Xbox Series X accessory Presidents’ Day deals

The Xbox Wireless Controller.
Microsoft / Microsoft

There are all kinds of Xbox Series X accessories, for purposes such as expanding storage, improving communication during online multiplayer matches, and giving you a new controller experience, among many others. They may get expensive in addition to everything else that you’re buying for the console, so check out the discounts that you can pocket from our favorite Xbox Series X accessory Presidents’ Day deals.

  • PowerA Enhanced Wired Controller —

  • Xbox Wireless Controller —

  • Xbox Wireless Headset —

  • SteelSeries Arctis 9X Wireless Gaming Headset —

  • Seagate Game Drive for Xbox Dual Pack —

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The Nintendo Switch just got a rare price cut at Walmart | Digital Trends

The Nintendo Switch just got a rare price cut at Walmart | Digital Trends

Digital Trends Graphic/Erik Mclean via Unsplash / Digital Trends

Games and accessories often appear with discounts in Nintendo Switch deals, but the console itself mostly only gets a price cut during special occasions. If you can’t wait for the next big sale, the good news is that there’s a rare offer from Walmart for the Nintendo Switch that drops its price from $300 to $260. We’re not sure how much time is remaining for the $40 in savings, but given the device’s popularity, we don’t expect it to last very long. If you want to get the console for a cheaper price, you should push through with your purchase as soon as you can.

Why you should buy the Nintendo Switch

To be clear, the Nintendo Switch in this sale is the original version of the hybrid console, not the Nintendo Switch OLED. According to our Nintendo Switch versus Nintendo Switch OLED comparison, the upgrades that you’ll miss include the 7.0-inch OLED screen, a wider kickstand, and double the internal storage at 64GB. However, the original Nintendo Switch is still a worthwhile purchase with its 6.2-inch LCD screen, and the narrower kickstand won’t be a problem if you’re planning to play mostly in handheld mode or docked mode. The internal storage also probably won’t be an issue as you can expand it by up to 2TB through a microSD card.

The original Nintendo Switch will let you play all of the best Nintendo Switch exclusives, which is one of the top reasons why you should be thinking about getting this console in the first place. The list includes instant classics like Super Mario Odyssey, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, but there’s something for everyone among the best Nintendo Switch games.

If you’ve had an eye on the Nintendo Switch for a while, or if you want to give it as a gift to a loved one, you shouldn’t miss Walmart’s $40 discount for the console that lowers its price to $260 from $300 originally. We don’t expect this offer to last — in fact, it may be gone as soon as tomorrow. To make sure that you get the Nintendo Switch for cheaper than usual, you should add the device to your cart and proceed with the checkout process immediately.

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Every rumored Xbox exclusive coming to PS5 and Switch | Digital Trends

Every rumored Xbox exclusive coming to PS5 and Switch | Digital Trends

Future Publishing/Getty Images / Future Publishing

The video game console market is about to see its biggest shakeup since Sega stopped producing hardware. Xbox’s Phil Spencer says that the company will share a “business update” with players next week outlining a new vision for the brand. That news comes after a month of rumors that claimed that some of Xbox’s biggest exclusives would be coming to other platforms, including PS5 and Nintendo Switch. The unconfirmed reports sent Xbox loyalists into a panic as fans brace for a possible future where Xbox just produces software instead of physical consoles.

We don’t know what’s true yet, as credible reports have been lumped in with speculation. Some details seem plausible, while rumors that Xbox will stop making systems altogether are closer to educated guesses. We’ll learn more in Xbox’s business update, but until then, we’ve rounded up a list of every Xbox exclusive that’s reportedly going multiplatform. Take it all with a grain of salt until Spencer and company unveil the full picture.

Starfield

Key art for Starfield
Bethesda Game Studios

When rumors started brewing about Xbox launching multiplatform games in January, players expected that it would extend to the company’s smaller releases. That may not be the case. According to a bombshell report from XboxEra, Microsoft may be planning to bring its biggest exclusive, Starfield, to PS5. Sources reportedly told XboxEra that Bethesda’s outer space epic will come to Sony’s system sometime after the release of its Shattered Space expansion, set to launch this year. As part of that report, XboxEra adds that Xbox has made additional investments into PS5 dev kits to bolster its multiplatform efforts.

Hi-Fi Rush

Chai points a finger gun at a robot in Hi-Fi Rush.
Xbox Game Studios

Starfield isn’t the only 2023 Xbox exclusive that could be headed to other platforms. It appears as though Hi-Fi Rush will be coming to Nintendo Switch and PS5. This rumor has been circulating since early January and has been corroborated several times since. It initially came from leaker Nate the Hate, who claimed that a critically acclaimed Xbox game was headed to other platforms. ResetEra user lolilolailo, another leaker with a decent track record, expanded on that claim, pinning down Hi-Fi Rush as the game in question. If that rumor is correct, we could find out about it soon, as speculation indicates that a February Nintendo Direct may be right around the corner.

Sea of Thieves

A boat sails on the ocean in Sea of Thieves.
Rare

Xbox’s multiplatform future may extend to more than just brand-new releases. 2018’s Sea of Thieves may also be set for a Switch and PlayStation launch. That speculation originally came from Giant Bomb’s Jeff Grubb, who said he’d heard buzzing about a potential port. While that claim was a little loose initially, it was backed up by Game File’s Stephen Totilo and VGC’s Andy Robinson. Totilo notes that he’d only heard about a potential PS5 port. If that does come to fruition, Totilo said that he’d heard rumors of an early 2024 launch.

Indiana Jones and the Great Circle

Indiana jones buried in the sand.
Bethesda

Every game mentioned so far is a previously released game, but what about new ones? Some major upcoming Xbox games could be going multiplatform, too. According to The Verge, Xbox exclusive Indiana Jones and the Great Circle could be exclusive no more. Sources reportedly told the site that Xbox was considering launching the action-adventure title on PS5. The exact timing of that is unclear. There’s a chance, though, that it launches alongside the Xbox Series X/S version later this year. If that happens, it’ll be a major disruption of the usual “console exclusive” strategy and a signal that Xbox is plotting a significant strategic shift.

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How to Turn Off a Nintendo Switch Controller | Digital Trends

How to Turn Off a Nintendo Switch Controller | Digital Trends

Whether you want to save the environment or just your battery life, knowing how to turn your Nintendo Switch controller off is useful. Unfortunately, it never seems to go off!

Quick tip: Just don’t touch it! Inactive Switch controllers turn off automatically.

For more involved approaches, including manual turn-offs, keep reading.


Image used with permission by copyright holder

How to manually turn off a Nintendo Switch controller

If you want to swap controllers on the Nintendo Switch, you can turn your current controller off on command.

Step 1: Press the home button, then select the Joy-Con icon at the bottom of the screen.

Step 2: Select the Change Grip/Order option on the right.

Step 3: Press the L and R buttons on the controllers you want to use.

Step 4: Check to see that the remaining controllers (those not selected for use) are now turned off.

nintendo switch games you should play docked review photos pdx 574

Nate Barrett/Digital Trends

How to turn off a Nintendo Switch controller by putting the Switch to sleep

As with most other game consoles, you can put the Nintendo Switch to sleep to also shut off any controller currently connected to it.

Step 1: Either tap the Power button located on the top of the Switch itself, or select the Power icon at the bottom of the main menu and confirm your selection.

Step 2: Pressing the Home button on any of your controllers will wake the console back up, and that controller will be the only one still connected.


Image used with permission by copyright holder

How to turn off a Nintendo Switch controller using system settings

If you are giving a controller away to someone else, you will want to disconnect that controller from your own system first — this will stop it from turning your console on when they attempt to wake up their own Switch.

Step 1: Go to the System settings, which you can reach by selecting the Gear icon at the bottom of the home screen.

Step 2: Scroll down the menu on the left until you spot Controllers and Sensors.

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How to Factory Reset a Nintendo Switch (and Switch OLED) | Digital Trends

How to Factory Reset a Nintendo Switch (and Switch OLED) | Digital Trends

The Nintendo Switch actually offers multiple levels of intensity and style when you factory reset its firmware, a process also known as a ‘hard reset’. Doing so is a great final step that should resolve just about any software troubleshooting issue. You’ll also find yourself wanting to perform a factory reset on your Nintendo Switch before reselling it to protect your data.

Please note that you lose a lot of data when factory resetting a Nintendo Switch. Make sure you backup your best Switch games before you do.


Image used with permission by copyright holder

How to factory reset your Nintendo Switch

The easiest way to hard reset your Switch is from the main menu. A variety of options are available from this screen, including Initialize Console – which will wipe your system clean.

Here’s how to start the Switch reset process:

Step 1: On the Home screen, go to the System Settings menu located at the bottom of the screen – it’s the icon that looks like a gear.

Step 2: Hit the A button to pull up a list of options on the left side of the screen.

Step 3: From the list of options, select System.


Image used with permission by copyright holder

Step 4: The System menu options will appear on the right side of the screen. You need to scroll down again to the bottom option, Initialize. This will then pull up a new menu with several options for resetting your Nintendo Switch. Read on to figure out which one is best for you.

Nintendo Switch factory reset: Options

If you followed the above steps properly, you’ll now have several options presented to you. Choose carefully to get the correct kind of reset.

Reset cache: Use this option if you want to wipe internet browser data from your Switch but keep everything else. This includes saved user IDs and passwords for various websites, such as Twitter and Facebook, as well as your Switch browser history.

Reset keyboard: The Switch’s virtual keyboard pays attention to the things you type and saves data about words and phrases you use often. It uses that data to offer predictive type options of words you use often, so you don’t have to type down every word as you’re using the keyboard, speeding up the process. This option wipes that predictive text data.

Format microSD card: In order to use a microSD card as extra memory for the Switch, it has to be formatted. This option will delete any data on a microSD card you plug into the Switch, allowing it to be used in the console when you’re done. If you’re encountering errors using a microSD card on the Switch, this is the option you want.

Initialize console: This is the big one. This option returns your Switch to its out-of-the-box state, deleting all saved data, screenshots, videos, Switch user names, web browser data, game data, and system updates. It will also reset system settings like parental controls to their defaults. If you have a Nintendo user account linked to online services like the Nintendo eShop, the account will still exist online, but it will no longer be linked to the Switch. According to Nintendo, any data from the Switch you stored on a microSD card won’t be deleted. Aside from your screenshots and videos, though, the data on your microSD card will become unusable.

Only use this option as a last resort, either if you’re getting rid of the Switch altogether or you’re encountering errors that are so troublesome no other option will fix the console. Nintendo notes that you also need your console to be connected to the internet to reformat it.

how to factory reset a nintendo switch files

Image used with permission by copyright holder

After factory resetting your Switch

It’s possible you will lose some of your data while restoring your Nintendo Switch to its factory settings. But not everything will be lost; you will be able to reinstall the games that you’ve previously purchased.

After a player has linked their Switch to their Nintendo account again, they’ll be able to download games or DLC from Nintendo’s eShop conveniently. No one has to spend any time worrying about the physical copies of their favorite games. Gamers will have the chance to reinstall them at a slightly later time.

What the player will need to do is insert their microSD card into the computer before trying to reformat anything. After sliding the card in, select the Album folder. From there, you could find and reload pre-saved images, screenshots, or additional files back onto the computer. Once finishing that, simply slide the SD card back out and insert it into the Switch console. At that point, the Switch device should revert to its default settings.

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Madden 24 is coming to Game Pass just in time for the Super Bowl | Digital Trends

Madden 24 is coming to Game Pass just in time for the Super Bowl | Digital Trends

Xbox

Xbox revealed a new batch of library additions coming to its Game Pass service. The list includes some heavy hitters in Resident Evil 3 and Madden 24, as well as some indie hidden gems.

Xbox Game Pass, Microsoft’s subscription service that gives players access to select games for a monthly fee, will add eight new games in the first half of February. The rollout will start today with Anuchard and continue until February 20 with the sci-fi title Return to Grace.

The biggest addition this month is Madden 24, which hits Xbox consoles and PC on February 8. That’s just in time for this weekend’s Super Bowl, so you can use it to create your own simulation of the big game. Subscribers will earn an Ultimate Team Supercharge Pack if they try it before March 8.

Game Pass is also adding another Resident Evil game. This time, Capcom’s Resident Evil 3 remake is joining the service on February 13. It’ll be available on PC, console, and cloud. The news hopefully signals that we might see last year’s excellent Resident Evil 4 on the service sometime soon.

A few indie standouts round out the month. On Valentine’s Day, players can grab cozy puzzler A Little to the Left and the Castlevania-inspired Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. Here’s the full list of titles coming to the service this month.

  • Anuchard (Cloud, console, PC) — Now available
  • Train Sim World 4 (Cloud, console, PC) — February 7
  • Madden 24 (Console, PC) –February 8
  • Resident Evil 3 (Cloud, console, PC) — February 13
  • A Little to the Left — (Cloud, console, PC) — February 14
  • Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night (Cloud, console, PC) — February 14
  • PlateUp! (Cloud, console, PC) — February 15
  • Return to Grace (Cloud, console, PC) — February 20

Oddly, the headline of the Xbox Wire post about Game Pass’ upcoming titles mentions Tales of Arise, but it isn’t mentioned in the article of its image showing off the new batch of games. It seems that the RPG is headed to the service, but it’s currently unclear if it’s scheduled to launch this month or not.

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Xbox games on PS5? It’s not as shocking as you think | Digital Trends

Xbox games on PS5? It’s not as shocking as you think | Digital Trends

Samsung / Microsoft

It’s been a busy few weeks for console war soldiers.

Tensions spiked last month when “Nate the Hate,” an industry insider with a decent track record, claimed that Hi-Fi Rush was headed to Nintendo Switch. The rumor sparked some mixed feelings among Xbox fans, some of whom expressed dismay over one of the console’s system-selling exclusives coming to another platform. Other reports at the time claimed that Rare’s Sea of Thieves could also be bound for PlayStation and Switch. That rising anger came to a head this weekend when XboxEra reported that Xbox is planning to launch its biggest exclusive, Starfield, on PS5.

Despite being entirely unconfirmed, that news is the spark that blew up the proverbial powder keg. The rumor has some betrayed-feeling Xbox fans wondering why they spent $500 on a new console when they could have bought a PS5 and gotten all the same games and more. While that’s an understandable sentiment, it’s one that perhaps misunderstands the actual selling point of an Xbox in 2024. Big-budget games that are exclusive to Xbox aren’t Microsoft’s value proposition this generation; instead, its all about ecosystem.

Understanding the Xbox ecosystem

For almost as long as the hardware industry has existed, video game consoles have been defined by their exclusive games. Buying an Xbox meant that you’d get access to Halo and Gears of War, but you’d miss out on Horizon and God of War. That strategy gave each system a unique selling point that no other system could claim and pushed first-party studios to create high-quality games that could move hardware.

While that’s been the dynamic for decades, Microsoft has long experimented with changing the way people think about game consoles. Even as far back as 2010, the company was using precious E3 stage time to hype up the ESPN app on Xbox 360 as part of its strategy to sell the system as an all-in-one entertainment center. But Microsoft wouldn’t fully disrupt the console market until 2017 when it launched Xbox Game Pass. The subscription service would be the brand’s boldest swing yet, as it was aimed at getting players to pay a monthly fee to access a library of games instead of buying them individually. The gamble paid off, rehabilitating the Xbox brand amid a losing battle with the popular PlayStation 4.

Xbox Game Pass Core's logo over a library of games.
Microsoft / Microsoft

That success is the key to understanding what buying an Xbox means in 2024. Microsoft has doubled down on the idea of Xbox as an ecosystem-driven platform linked through Game Pass. In an ideal world, an Xbox player has a Game Pass Ultimate subscription that allows them to play their games across console, PC, and mobile via cloud streaming. Players can even access their games on Samsung TVs without any extra devices. It’s less about what games you play and more about how you play them.

By that token, the modern Xbox brand has more in common with Apple than it does PlayStation. Buying an Xbox Series X is more akin to buying an iPad because you already own an iPhone. It’s just more convenient to stay within one shared ecosystem across multiple devices. Once players chomp down on the shiny hook that is Xbox Game Pass, it’s easier for Microsoft to reel them in and keep them buying its platforms. It’s not dissimilar to how I became a lifelong Apple user simply because I wanted to edit my videos on Final Cut Pro.

Xbox’s strategy bucks gaming tradition, but it’s easy to see the sales pitch: If you’re a Game Pass subscriber and you’re debating what console to buy, why wouldn’t you want to grab an Xbox to easily get the library of games you have access to on a TV?

Key art for Starfield
Bethesda Game Studios

Microsoft isn’t the only company experimenting with that strategy. Google Stadia tried, and failed, to sell players on the idea of buying into a device-spanning service. More successfully, the Steam Deck is an invaluable accessory for PC gamers that gives players more incentive to buy their games on Steam. Even Sony is starting to build out its own ecosystem through PS Plus, PlayStation VR2, and its new PlayStation Link audio tech that requires players to own specific earbuds or headsets to use wireless audio on the PlayStation Portal. Gaming companies see the value in making players feel like they’ve invested into something that would be a pain to get out of.

Through that lens, the idea of Xbox games coming to other platforms isn’t as head-scratching as it sounds. Microsoft seems confident that enough people will still subscribe to Game Pass at this point that it won’t hurt to sell its “exclusive” games on competing platforms and grab some extra cash. And though that may dilute one big selling point of the service, it’s still cheaper to pay an annual Game Pass subscription fee than it is to buy a handful of $70 games a year.

Is that smart business? That’s for you to decide. It’s perhaps a good idea in a world where every platform is playing by the same rules, but exclusivity remains a key selling point of the PlayStation brand. If Xbox drops that aspect of its business entirely, to a casual buyer, the Series X will just seem like a PS5 that can play less games. Selling players on a theoretical lifestyle is a lot harder than selling Halo. Can Microsoft convince players that a consistent gaming ecosystem has more value than the games housed within it? Xbox’s final exam may be on the horizon if the rumors come to fruition.

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The Best Hard Drives of 2018 Offer Something for Everyone

The Best Hard Drives of 2018 Offer Something for Everyone

Almost nothing is worse than realizing you don’t have enough space on your PC to store your latest files. External drives can be a great solution to that problem, as well as a good backup source to keep your most precious data protected. As outlined in our article on how to choose an external hard drive, you’ll want one that’s fast, easy to use, and won’t break the bank. Our current top pick is the Samsung T7, a compact, affordable, high-speed storage solution, but there are plenty of other options to choose from, as outlined our definitive list of the best external hard drives you can buy today below.


Image used with permission by copyright holder

Samsung T7 Portable SSD 1TB

Best all-around external hard drive

Pros

  • Compact design for easy portability
  • Performed excellently in our speed tests
  • Compatible encryption software

Cons

  • While durable, it’s not ruggedized and not the best pick for outdoor use

Why you should buy this: It’s one of the fastest external hard drives available.

Who it’s for: Anyone who needs a speedy but compact solid-state drive.

Why we picked the Samsung T7:

One of the most well-rounded external SSDs available, the Samsung T7 is a compact, affordable, high-speed storage drive that looks and feels like a top-tier portable storage solution. Utilizing the latest generation of Samsung’s 3D V-NAND technology, it packs up to 2TB of storage space in a tiny design, though it comes in a variety of storage sizes at different prices.

We’ve seen excellent results from the Samsung T-series in our read and write tests, and the T7 upgrades the technology including USB 3.2 Gen 2 support, PCIe NVMe connection support, and ePCM thermal technology to resist overheating. Encased in a solid aluminum shell, Samsung claims this external drive can withstand a drop from as high as 6 feet without difficulty. Although we would hardly suggest you put such claims to the test, it’s important that external drives — which are not protected by the shell of a desktop or laptop — are sturdy enough to withstand a little punishment.

Thanks to its speed, compact sizing, and additional features like compatible encryption software, there is no other drive we can recommend as highly as the Samsung T7 SSD. It can be expensive when you get toward the top end of the storage space spectrum — the 2TB configuration will cost several hundred dollars — but it’s much cheaper than it was a couple of years ago. If you can afford it, this is the external drive for you.

SAMSUNG SSD T7 Portable External Solid State Drive 1TB, Up to 1050MB/s, USB 3.2 Gen 2, Reliable Storage for Gaming, Students, Professionals, MU-PC1T0T/AM, Gray

Samsung T7 Portable SSD 1TB

Best all-around external hard drive


Image used with permission by copyright holder

SanDisk Extreme Pro 1TB

Best portable external hard drive

Pros

  • Ruggedized and portable
  • USB-A and USB-C support
  • Handy notch for hooks and loops

Cons

  • Higher storage capacities can grow very expensive

Why you should buy this: It’s rugged, portable, and very fast.

Who it’s for: Anyone who will be traveling or going to places where the weather is extreme.

Why we picked the SanDisk Extreme Pro 1TB:

SanDisk’s Extreme Pro 1TB is a highly portable NVMe drive that offers read speeds up to 2000MBps while still being light enough to stow and carry anywhere you’re going. The rugged IP55 design resists both water and dust, while the silicon rubber coating and notch make it easy to store the Extreme Pro however you’d like, and it comes with 256-bit AES hardware encryption for protection, too.

We also really appreciate that the SanDisk Extreme Pro is compatible with both USB-A and USB-C connections, so you don’t have to worry about device compatibility — or about upgrading your devices in the future and switching to a USB-C connection. Since this is such a good pick for photographers and others on the move who may be dealing with larger file sizes, we recommend the 1TB version, although you can push it all the way to 4TB if you want.

SanDisk 1TB Extreme PRO Portable External SSD - Up to 1050MB/s - USB-C, USB 3.1 - SDSSDE80-1T00-A25

SanDisk Extreme Pro 1TB

Best portable external hard drive


Image used with permission by copyright holder

Western Digital My Passport Ultra

Best HDD external hard drive

Pros

  • A solid HDD option
  • Free backup software
  • Slim design

Cons

  • HDDs fall short of SSDs in several ways

Why you should buy this: It’s got big storage in a slim package, and it’s very affordable.

Who it’s for: Anyone looking for a reliable traditional spinning hard drive.

Why we picked the Western Digital My Passport Ultra:

Western Digital’s My Passport Ultra isn’t the lightest drive on the market, but it does come with a three-year warranty and the company’s reputation for speed. Best of all, the drive doesn’t require external power and showcases a sleek, stylish build, which is likely why it’s the first choice for many on a budget and those looking for an affordable backup drive.

At this price, you can’t expect fast read and write speeds, but the Western Digital My Passport Ultra does include a free WD Backup tool, password protection, and 256-AES hardware encryption capabilities. It’s available in 1TB, 2TB, 4TB, and 5TB capacities along with Blue or Silver finishes. Note that it does have a USB-C connection

Western Digital My Passport Ultra

Western Digital My Passport Ultra

Best HDD external hard drive

A Samsung t7 touch portable ssd connected to a laptop.

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Samsung SSD T7 Touch

Best workstation external hard drive

Pros

  • Fingerprint security
  • Drop protection
  • LED indicator light

Cons

  • 2TB model may be too expensive for some

Why you should buy this: It’s a workspace-friendly SSD with an easy fingerprint login.

Who it’s for: Office workers and others who want effective biometric protection.

Why we picked the Samsung SSD T7 Touch:

While some external drives are built for serious security, like our iStorage pick with its built-in keypad, this Samsung T7 Touch model finds a pleasant balance between security and usability, making it an excellent companion for a computer workstation or similar setup.

The “Touch” title comes from the built-in fingerprint-based AES 256-bit security, which allows you to easily protect hard drive access while also unlocking it in seconds when you sit down at your desk. The 2TB storage capacity we picked is enough to hold plenty of work information, projects, and portfolios, while the design sports shock resistance to withstand drops from up to six feet.

The LED square on the front of the SSD is a little indicator light that will show you when and how the SSD is working. The T7 Touch connects via a USB 3.2 connection for read speeds up to 1,050 Mb/s. If the 2TB model is a bit too expensive for you, the 1TB version features a steep price drop to make this option more affordable.

Samsung T7 Touch SSD 2TB

Samsung SSD T7 Touch

Best workstation external hard drive

Western Digital MyBook Duo external hardrive.

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Western Digital My Book Duo 20TB

Best large capacity external hard drive

Pros

  • Excellent high-capacity drive
  • Replaceable drives
  • Plentiful configuration options

Cons

  • Mostly suited for professionals and offices

Why you should buy this: It’s the perfect solution for storing an enormous amount of photos, video, and anything else among multiple systems.

Who it’s for: Those who need a lot of external storage.

Why we picked the Western Digital My Book Duo:

If you want a more robust, long-term external drive, Western Digital’s MyBook Duo is a great choice. This massive enclosure comes with up to 28TB of storage for $1,000, or as little as 4TB of storage for $259 — and five other configurations in between. You can configure the two drives inside this enclosure in RAID, for file redundancy or speed, or take advantage of every byte of storage. Either way, you get a lot of storage space and a two-year warranty from a reliable brand.

Supporting USB 3.1 for high-speed data transfer, the Western Digital My Book Duo’s case also is user-serviceable, meaning you can replace broken drives yourself, and use the enclosure long after the drives break down. And with full support for 256-bit AES hardware encryption, you can make sure nobody can read your data but you.

Western Digital My Book Duo 20TB

Western Digital My Book Duo 20TB

Best large capacity external hard drive

SSK Portable Wireless Hard Drive.

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SSK Portable Wireless Hard Drive

Best external hard drive for travel

Pros

  • Allows for partitioning between public and private
  • Built-in Wi-Fi hotspot
  • Can connection additional USB devices

Cons

  • Need to keep an eye on battery life

Why you should buy this: If you want to protect your data and connect with others, it’s an excellent pick

Who it’s for: Business teams or students on the go, frequent travelers

Why we picked the SSK Portable Wireless Hard Drive:

SSK’s drive is built for travel and is particularly friendly for business workers on the go. Its 1TB storage is enough for a variety of project data, and it includes its own Wi-Fi hotspot support to help enable connectivity no matter where you are. Wireless access also means that you don’t have to worry about juggling cable management to access data from a nearby laptop or PC.

You can attach compatible USB storage or card readers to further expand your storage capacity. You can also divide the drive’s storage between public and private for further security. If you want a great drive for centralized data management (Samba and DLNA protocols are both supported) while traveling or working with your team, this may be your best option.

SSK Portable Wireless Hard Drive

SSK Portable Wireless Hard Drive

Best external hard drive for travel


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Crucial X8 1TB

Best external gaming hard drive

Pros

  • Great for consoles and other devices
  • USB-C and USB-A support
  • Ruggedized features for drops and vibration

Cons

  • Limited usefulness with Series and PS5 consoles

Why you should buy this: It’s a great external drive for your Xbox or PlayStation consoles.

Who it’s for: Gamers who want to expand their local game library.

Why we picked the Crucial X8 1TB:

Today’s games require a lot of data storage, and you might need more than traditional onboard storage to stay up-to-date on games. This 1TB Crucial drive provides all the storage space you’ll need. It features read speeds up to 1050MBps and hefty aluminum construction that’s drop-proof up to 7.5 feet. The drive is compatible with PlayStation 4 and Xbox One consoles.

You can also use this drive with USB-A and USB-C connections, which makes it extremely flexible. The Crucial X8 1TB is your best bet for managing your ever-growing game collection — plus it looks impressive next to your console. However, please note that hard drives used with newer Series X and PS5 consoles need to have specific compatibility to play games directly from the drive: Otherwise, drives like this Crucial are primarily useful for storage.

Crucial X8 1TB

Crucial X8 1TB

Best external gaming hard drive


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LaCie Rugged

Best ruggedized external hard drive

Pros

  • Ruggedized for all outdoor adventures with IP67 protection
  • Perfect for photographers
  • Integrated SD card
  • Plenty of capacity options

Why you should buy this: It’s eye-catching and has plenty of space inside its rugged casing.

Who it’s for: Photographers and filmmakers

Why we picked the LaCie Rugged:

Those out in the literal field like photographers, filmmakers, and drone pilots need a hardy, speedy external drive to keep up with their work. Lacie’s Rugged SSD was created just for these purposes, with IP67 protection against shock from drops, water splashes, and dust.

But that’s just the beginning of what this USB-C drive can do. It also comes with an integrated SD card slot that’s perfect for photographers switching files to a larger storage device to clear up some room, as well as a useful status screen that shows transfer progress, current capacity, and current battery life. That battery can also be used as a power pack to charge cameras, drones, or other devices that are running low on juice.

While you can adjust the capacity of the Rugged drive anywhere between 500GB and 5TB, we chose the 1TB option as a good compromise between the already high cost of the model and enough storage space to be useful. Just make sure all your devices are ready for USB-C, if necessary, and note that there are also Thunderbolt 3 LaCie drives that can fulfill a similar purpose.

LaCie Rugged

LaCie Rugged

Best ruggedized external hard drive

best external hard drives version 1620844771 buffalo ministation

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Buffalo MiniStation

Best budget external hard drive

Pros

  • Highly affordable
  • USB-A and USB-C options
  • Small enough to be portable

Why you should buy this: It’s an affordable way to back up a lot of data.

Who it’s for: Anyone looking for a budget external SSD.

Why we picked the Buffalo SSD-PG:

While SSDs offer plenty of advantages (see our guide below for more), they can also quickly grow expensive, especially as you pass the 1TB threshold. This Buffalo SSD is an excellent option for those interested in affordability: It provides 1TB of storage at a low price, with a durable, compact design that can comfortably sit by your PC or console — or in your pocket.

The SSD-PG model includes both USB-A and USB-C 3.2 ports, so it’s guaranteed to work with both new and older devices. Otherwise, there aren’t a lot of extra features here, but that’s part of what keeps the price so low. If you want to save even more money, you can also choose Buffalo’s MiniStation HDD, although you will be sacrificing speed and portability.

Buffalo MiniStation

Buffalo MiniStation

Best budget external hard drive

best external hard drives version 1620844771 istorage diskashur 2  1

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iStorage dishAshur Pro 2

Most secure external hard drive

Pros

  • High security with password protection
  • Dust and splash proof
  • Military-grade encryption

Why you should buy this: It’s a super-secure way to store your data.

Who it’s for: People who care about privacy.

Why we picked the iStorage DiskAshur Pro 2:

If external hard drives are going to store sensitive information, financial documents, personal customer data, or other content that needs to be protected, then security is a priority. Fortunately, security is also the priority of iStorage’s HDD drive, which features a number pad for password protection (up to 15 digits) and military-grade hardware encryption to keep up to 2TB of data safe.

The iStorage DiskAshur 2 is also dust- and splash-proof, so it can easily be carried around without worrying as much about the elements. While there’s no USB-C port, the USB-A 3.2 port works fine for most devices and supports read speeds up to 160MBps. If you need to meet CCPA, HIPAA, or other important compliance measures, this is one of the best external hard drives you could pick.

iStorage dishAshur Pro 2

iStorage dishAshur Pro 2

Most secure external hard drive

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the difference between a traditional hard drive (HDD) and a solid state drive (SSD)?

With no moving parts and circuit board-based memory, SSDs can last longer and are less susceptible to damage than HDDs. However, while prices continue to fall, SSDs also remain significantly more expensive than HDDs, especially at capacities of 1TB and over.

Practically speaking, newer SSD technology has a wide variety of advantages. With no moving parts and circuit board-based memory, SSDs can last longer and are less susceptible to damage than HDDs, and they are available in a wider variety of sizes from flash drives all the way up. They are also much faster, especially newer PCIe and NVME drives. However, while prices continue to fall, SSDs also remain significantly more expensive than HDDs, especially at capacities of 1TB and over.

Should I get a desktop or a portable hard drive?

Desktop-based drives are better for offices where most of the work is done in the same space and the drive serves primarily as extra storage that won’t leave the desk very often. Portable drives, on the other hand, are more ruggedized, often smaller, and designed to easily fit in pockets or cases while people move around.

Portable drives, on the other hand, are more ruggedized, often smaller, and designed to easily fit in pockets or cases while people move around. This is better for on-the-go storage for business travelers, photographers, filmmakers, and anyone else using laptops, cameras, smartphones, etc., to manage large files. Keep in mind that for smaller projects, an SD card is often sufficient, while portable hard drives are designed to hold much more data, like photoshoots and high-definition video.

Can you use any external hard drive with gaming consoles?

For older-generation consoles like the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, many hard drives will work with the right connections, making an external drive an easy way to expand storage — although drives formatted for this purpose are recommended, as this helps avoid potential bugs.

For newer consoles like the PS5 and Xbox Series X, things are a bit different. The PS5 is designed to take official M.2 SSD stick drives, which are a separate purchase. The PS5 does support other external hard drives with the right connections, and while originally these were limited to PS4 games only, support was expanded in April 2021 and PS5 games are now allowed in external storage as well — although you’ll still need to transfer PS5 games to the internal SSD to play them.

For the Xbox Series X/S, the console has a dedicated slot for a specific Seagate Storage Expansion Card, an SSD specifically made to work with this version of Xbox. Other USB 3.1 external drives are supported, but with limited capability reserved for older games, not Seris X/S games.

How long do external hard drives last?

All things being equal, an HDD will last around three to five years before its moving parts will start to cause problems and eventually fail. Studies have shown that SSDs, on average, last around 10 years before failing, although this is also dictated by how many times the SSD flash memory can be overwritten, so frequent use will shorten the lifespan.

Does an external hard drive always need to be plugged in?

Some external drives do need to be plugged in to function, and that includes firmware updates, which is why it’s a good idea to periodically plug in your SSD even if you don’t use it that often. Other drives include batteries and Wi-Fi connections so that they can operate wirelessly without needing a cable connection. Our pick of the My Passport Wireless from Western Digital is one example of these wireless drives, which are often useful for fieldwork in photography or similar purposes.

Can I back up my computer to an external hard drive?

Yes, and it’s a popular use for external drives. However, drives may not be able to hold all the data from your computer, especially if you have a lot of media files stored there. In some cases, you may have to choose only the most important parts of your computer to back up. Our guide can help walk you through the process!

In addition to our top pick, we list other drives you should consider for durability, wireless connectivity, and more. We’ve even rounded up some of the best wireless external hard drives available and the best external hard drive deals if you’re working with a tight budget.

Editors’ Recommendations






The best video game consoles for 2024 | Digital Trends

The best video game consoles for 2024 | Digital Trends

It’s a fantastic time to be a gamer — when it comes to platform choice, there have never been more options available.

You could grab a PlayStation 5 and enjoy its killer lineup of exclusives or dive into the Xbox Series X’s deep game library (not to mention the fantastic deal that is Game Pass). Fandoms aside, the race between the two major consoles is closer than you’d think.

Or, if portability is a priority, you might be considering the time-tested Nintendo Switch or even giving the more experimental Steam Deck a shot.

We’ve spent a considerable amount of time with all these systems and can safely say that whichever one you pick is a solid choice. From impressive visuals to smooth performance and the ability to take your gaming experiences on the go, these devices have something for everyone. Whatever your gaming needs are, we’ll help find the right video game console for you. These are the best video game consoles to buy in 2024.


Martin Katler / Unsplash

Playstation 5

The best gaming console

Pros

  • Speedy hardware
  • Excellent game load times
  • Solid storage
  • Lots of must-own exclusives
  • New controller with enhanced haptics

Cons

  • Awkward design, even on new model

Why you should buy this: It’s the latest iteration of one of the most popular consoles of all time and has the best exclusive lineup of any console to date.

Who it’s for: Everyone.

Why we picked the PlayStation 5: With lightning-fast load speeds, a new controller, and a phenomenal lineup of titles (including fan favorites and new exclusives), the PS5 is the best plug-and-play gaming platform available.

First of all, the PS5 currently has the upper hand when it comes to games. PlayStation gamers have been enjoying Sony exclusives like God of War: Ragnarok, Horizon Forbidden West, and Marvel’s Spider-Man 2. Xbox fans, on the other hand, have been subject to a slimmer list of top-tier exclusive. 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. Of course, if you need a little more from your controller, you can always shell out for Sony’s improved DualSense Edge controller.

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.

On top of all that, the PS5 will soon have its own designated virtual reality headset in the PlayStation VR2 — we haven’t gotten a chance to give it a test run just yet, but the list of launch titles is very impressive.

If discs aren’t your thing — or you simply want to save some cash — look no further than the PS5 Digital Edition. It retails for $100 less than the standard PS5 but is identical in terms of specs. The only difference between the two is that the Digital Edition has no disc drive, meaning Ultra HD Blu-rays are out of the equation, and you’ll need to rely on digital downloads. Everything else, including the launch lineup, remains the same.

Playstation 5

Playstation 5

The best gaming console

Xbox Series X Stylized Graphic

Hanif Jackson / Digital Trends

Xbox Series X

The best Microsoft gaming console

Pros

  • Gobs of potential
  • More storage than PS5
  • Accessible library through Game Pass
  • Good value

Cons

  • Lacking big exclusives
  • Difficult to fit in most A/V cabinets
  • Next-gen potential is untapped

Why you should buy this: It’s the most powerful Xbox available right now, and Game Pass is an attractive value.

Who it’s for: Players who want to play as many new games as possible with the best visual fidelity.

Why we picked the Xbox One 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.

Game lineup comparison is always at the forefront of the PS5 vs. Xbox Series X debate.
The Series X launch lineup was a little lackluster at launch but it has been bolster in the years since — Halo Infinite has been a multiplayer hit, Starfieldis the top exclusive RPG, and Hi-Fi Rush was a darkhorse candidate for best game of 2023 for some. The launch schedule for 2024 hasn’t entirely shaped up yet, but there are more great Xbox Series X games on the way.

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.

While the Xbox Series X is a powerful machine, it’s also a surprisingly quiet one. The console’s cooling architecture is incredibly efficient, so much so you might wonder if the console is even on at times. The Xbox One, by comparison, is as loud as can be.

Xbox Series X

Xbox Series X

The best Microsoft gaming console

A person plays Mario Kart 8 Deluxe on a Nintendo Switch in handheld mode.

Nintendo

Nintendo Switch

The best portable game console

Pros

  • Game at home or on the go
  • Sharp display
  • Unique multi-mode controller
  • Excellent game library
  • Great battery life

Cons

  • Limited internal storage
  • Some controller options are uncomfortable

Why you should buy this: You want a console gaming experience — but on the go with unmatched first-party support.

Who it’s for: Everyone.

Why we picked the Nintendo Switch: Nintendo sidestepped the current console arms race by changing not how you use your console, but where. The Switch is a hybrid device that plugs into a TV, like the PS5 and Xbox Series X, but also works as a handheld.

While it doesn’t quite have the oomph to play the latest 4K, 120 fps releases slated for next-gen consoles, the Switch can play Doom at a smooth 30 FPS anywhere you want, and that’s more than enough for a lot of gamers. In addition to contemporary titles like Control, the Switch is a fantastic venue for reviving modern classics, such as The Witcher 3, L.A. Noire, and Dark Souls Remastered.

More than just a clearance house for lightly-aged AAA titles, the Switch also offers an ever-growing catalog of fantastic first-party games like Super Mario Odyssey, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and Animal Crossing: New Horizons, as well as excellent indies such as Stardew ValleyCeleste, and Ori and the Will of the Wisps. Add in some old-school Nintendo nostalgia with a growing list of NES and SNES games through Nintendo Switch Online, and the Switch is a well-rounded console.

The Nintendo Switch is also a great companion console for anyone who already owns a PlayStation or Xbox console. It can do things the competition can’t, and offers a host of great titles that will likely never appear on a Sony or Microsoft system.

Nintendo Switch

Nintendo Switch

The best portable game console

switch lite vs oled which nintendo console should you buy

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Nintendo Switch OLED

The best premium Nintendo console

Pros

  • Improved screen
  • Improved onboard audio
  • Much better kickstand
  • Cleaner dock design

Cons

  • No upgrades for TV
  • Storage is still small

Why you should buy this: The Nintendo Switch OLED is a mid-generation upgrade that boasts a bigger, better screen and a flurry of bells and whistles to warrant the price of entry at $350. It’s ideal for those who are jumping into the Switch family for the first time, especially if you plan on primarily playing in handheld mode.

Who it’s for: Players who want a better-looking screen in handheld mode or who play online while docked. It’s great for users who plan on upgrading or who have never owned a Switch system before.

Why we picked the Nintendo Switch OLED: We picked up the OLED to take advantage of the bigger, more vibrant screen. It’s fascinating just how much better the new OLED screen looks compared to the LCD display on the original model. And the larger 7.0-inch screen on the new OLED model is a major improvement, giving you a bit more mileage out of the device without increasing the size of the machine overall.

The Switch OLED is an excellent choice because it uses all the accessories from the previous model including Joy-Con controllers, dock, microSD memory cards, and, of course, games. This means users who are upgrading can use all of their old accessories on the new OLED model.

While the Switch OLED does play all the same games as the original Switch, games simply look better on the new machine — at least in handheld mode. When placing both systems side by side, it’s easy to see the difference between the two screens. Since the OLED has a built-in LAN port in the dock, you’ll be able to plug in an Ethernet cable to enjoy online gaming without some of the headaches that come with using Wi-Fi.

Users who like to play in tabletop mode will be pleased with the Switch OLED’s new kickstand, which covers the entire backside of the system. This is a huge improvement over the thin, flimsy kickstand on the original model. Overall, the original Switch still gets the job done, but the OLED model is a significant improvement in more ways than one. Like the original Switch, the OLED won’t run games at a higher fidelity but is perfect for those who love high-quality Nintendo games or ports of older beloved classics — especially in handheld mode.

Nintendo Switch OLED White

Nintendo Switch OLED

The best premium Nintendo console

Steam's new handheld console, the Steam Deck.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Steam Deck OLED

The best handheld gaming PC

Pros

  • A massive library of Steam games
  • Best specs of any handheld system
  • Customizable controls

Cons

  • Disappointing battery life

Why you should buy this: It features a massive library of high-quality Steam games that look and run admirably.

Who it’s for: Players looking for console-like performance and selection on the go.

Why we picked Steam Deck: The Nintendo Switch made us hungry for high-quality games on the go, but sadly, the system was never powerful enough to run fan-favorite third-party titles you’d find on PlayStation, Xbox, or PC. The Steam Deck makes that dream a reality, giving you access to a huge chunk of games available on Valve’s platform without sacrificing too much quality. Sure, the games don’t look and run as great as they would on a powerful PC, but the Steam Deck does a surprisingly good job of showcasing graphically intensive games in a way Nintendo Switch never could.

If you’re debating between a standard Steam Deck and the OLED version, we think the upgrade is definitely worth the price bump. With a significantly improved screen, better battery, and small software tweaks that go a long way, the Steam Deck’s second draft makes kept it in the top spot for portable PCs.

Aside from featuring a robust lineup of games (that are shared across your Steam account), the Steam Deck offers plenty of control customization, a clean UI, and a reasonable price. We also can’t overstate how nice it is to jump into the system and see all the games available that you’ve purchased over the years through Steam. Sure, not every game is compatible with the device, but practically every new release works on Steam Deck, making it well worth the purchase.

If you’re looking for an even better Steam Deck experience,

Steam Deck OLED 256GB

Steam Deck OLED

The best handheld gaming PC

Playing the Asus ROG Ally Z1 Extreme in handheld mode.

Asus

Asus ROG Ally (Z1 Extreme)

The best Steam Deck alternative

Pros

  • Solid performance
  • Acceptable battery life
  • Beautiful, 120Hz screen
  • Flexible control scheme
  • Support for basically any PC game

Cons

  • Turbo mode drains battery quickly
  • Windows has a lot of quirks
  • Armoury Crate is a utility, not an OS

Why you should buy this: It’s a surprisingly powerful handheld that really feels like a handheld PC.

Who it’s for: Players looking for on-the-go gaming who need a more customizable experience.

Why we picked Asus ROG Ally: The ROG Ally is really the first true Steam Deck competitor. Looking at the Steam Deck vs. Asus ROG Rally, this new handheld is clearly a faster device and has some more serious hardware.

“At first pass, the Asus ROG Ally fixes almost every single problem I have with the Steam Deck,” wrote Gaming Editor Giovanni Colantonio comparing the base models. “From a more comfortable design to a vastly improved screen, it’s the first device of its kind that doesn’t feel like a first-pass experiment.”

You’re not getting PS5 levels of performance in the ROG Ally, but it’s a good illustration of the performance on tap. More of a gaming laptop compressed into a handheld device than a straight-up console, the ROG Ally definitely has its software quirks. But if you can get past that, it’s a great device — perfect for anyone who needs a bit more control over their experience.

Asus ROG Ally (Ryzen Z1)

Asus ROG Ally (Z1 Extreme)

The best Steam Deck alternative

how to delete games on ps4 playstation 4 pro review

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

PlayStation 4 Pro

The best budget game console

Pros

  • 4K gaming for less than $500
  • Improves visuals on select PlayStation VR titles
  • Makes all games run slightly better than standard PS4
  • Looks good even on 1080p TVs
  • Supports all PS4 games

Cons

  • HDR can be difficult to set up
  • Very few titles offer 4K support at launch
  • No 4K Blu-ray Player

Why you should buy this: This last-gen console has a healthy catalog of top-tier games and the price tag has dropped since the release of the PS5.

Who it’s for: Anyone who wants to game without breaking the bank.

Why we picked the 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 is also slightly easier to find than the PS5, though, most modern consoles have suffered from low availability following the recent chip shortage. The PS4 Pro 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.

Price is a major factor when deciding whether to upgrade to a new system — there’s no shame in snagging a last-gen console to play with until the PS5 becomes less expensive and more widely available.

Sony PlayStation 4 Pro

PlayStation 4 Pro

The best budget game console

nintendo switch lite price negotiations colors

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Nintendo Switch Lite

The best budget portable game console

Pros

  • Comfortable design
  • Sharp and vibrant display
  • Solid battery life
  • Brings back the iconic D-pad
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Slightly smaller game library
  • No TV mode support
  • No motion controls

Why you should buy this: The Nintendo Switch Lite is the best handheld game console out right now, giving you access to all the latest and greatest Nintendo titles without the price tag of its hybrid counterpart.

Who it’s for: Everyone

Why we picked the Nintendo Switch Lite: If you plan on only using your Nintendo Switch in handheld mode, the Nintendo Switch Lite makes for a great option at a slightly lower price point. It lacks the television docking support of the standard system but features a smaller size and a slightly better battery life than the updated Switch console that launched last year. It’s compatible out of the box with nearly every Nintendo Switch game, as well, and is perfect for games like Pokémon Sword and Shield.

Ditching the Joy-Cons, the Switch Lite comes with an all-in-one design. It’s almost an inch shorter in width, making it more compact than the original. Coming in at 9.7 ounces, it’s lighter, but not so much that it feels flimsy. Being smaller than its predecessor, the button layout had to be altered slightly, but the console is still incredibly comfortable and easy to navigate.

There aren’t any obvious differences in gaming performance on the smaller console, either. Revving up the field in Rocket League or building your defenses in a tense Fortnite match will feel just as smooth on the Switch Lite display versus the original Switch’s screen. With no dock, HDMI support, or Joy-Cons, the Switch Lite doesn’t have TV support or motion controls, which slightly impacts your gaming options, but most of the Switch library is available.

Nintendo Switch Lite

Nintendo Switch Lite

The best budget portable game console

snes classic edition review 14593

Les Shu/Digital Trends

SNES Classic Edition

The best retro game console

Pros

  • Games all work exactly as they should
  • Rewind feature works very well
  • Great game library
  • Star Fox 2 released, for the first time ever
  • Beautiful miniature replica design

Cons

  • You need to hit the console’s reset button to change games
  • Slimmer game selection than NES Classic

Why you should buy this: It has 20 of the best games ever made for only $80 (retail price).

Who it’s for: Nintendo fans old and new, and those who grew up with video games.

Why we picked the SNES Classic Edition: The 16-bit era saw Nintendo at the peak of its creativity, releasing popular, acclaimed games like The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past *and *Super Metroid alongside cult hits like Earthbound. Third-party companies didn’t take a backseat, with Square Enix’s Final Fantasy VI and Konami’s Super Castlevania IV among the best games of all time.

With the plug-and-play SNES Classic Edition, you can experience all over your favorite classic Super Nintendo games as you remembered them through retro gaming. There’s even a CRT filter option mimicking the look of your old television.

With the addition of a save-state feature, playing old Nintendo games on the SNES Classic is significantly less frustrating than it was 25 years ago, and when you’re ready to sit down and game with a buddy, classics like Super Mario Kart and Street Fighter II Turbo: Hyper Fighting give you a chance to compete for bragging rights.

The SNES Classic Edition also is the only way to play Star Fox 2, outside of the Nintendo Switch Online service, a game Nintendo canceled just before its original release date. To unlock it, you just need to beat the first level of the original Star Fox, but it will be very tough to pull yourself away once you start playing.

SNES Classic Edition

SNES Classic Edition

The best retro game console

sega genesis mini review genesismini feature

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Sega Genesis Mini

The best alternative retro game console

Pros

  • Authentic design
  • Huge library of games
  • Clean, convenient menu system

Why you should buy this: The Genesis Mini is Sega’s retro console offering, renewing the classic Nintend0-Sega rivalry in a new era.

Who it’s for: Those who preferred Sonic’s blazing speed to Mario’s block-breaking ways.

Why we picked the Sega Genesis Mini: While the SNES Classic was our top retro pick, there are some golden age classics that only can be found on the Sega Genesis. From groundbreaking platformers Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (arguably when the company’s speedy mascot was in his prime) and Earthworm Jim to iconic fighter kings Streets of Rage 2 and Mortal Kombat II, you have to admit that Sega has just as many stellar, nostalgic titles as its Nintendo counterpart console.

The Sega Genesis Mini features 42 games — 40 of which are Sega classics — while the once Genesis-bound Tetris and arcade shoot ’em up Darius sweeten the pot. The package includes a sleek, miniaturized version of the Sega Genesis console and two classic controllers. The console is ready to plug and play and includes a power adapter and an HDMI cable.

The games are presented almost exactly as they were, but the console does include a save-anywhere function, which is quite a time-saver. Overall, your preference for retro console will largely be driven by whether you prefer Sega’s lineup or Nintendo’s. There are certainly no wrong choices, and this is exemplified by the fact that these consoles still generate hype decades later.

Sega Genesis Mini

Sega Genesis Mini

The best alternative retro game console

4K, HDR, and buying game consoles

The PS5 and the Xbox Series X support high-resolution gaming that can take advantage of emerging display standards, 4K, and High Dynamic Range (HDR). Some people don’t have a 4K TV, and fewer still have quality HDR support, which is broken down into its own sub-categories.

While there was just a small selection of games for last-gen consoles that took full advantage of these features, the newest slate of consoles will better leverage these technologies moving forward, essentially standardizing them. Keep in mind, however, that no console requires you to own a 4K or HDR-compatible TV, meaning you can buy a new console and hold off on buying a more capable TV until you’ve done more research, found games you feel are worth upgrading for, or are otherwise ready to commit.

If you do decide to purchase a new TV for the sake of a video game console, you should look for a 4K TV that runs at 60Hz and supports HDR 10, as opposed to HDR “Premium.”

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