Update Most Powerful Video Game Console Review – Portable game consoles are big business right now. In fact, it feels like we’re seeing some of the best portable game consoles in years. Whether it’s the incredible success of the Nintendo Switch since its launch in 2017 or the buzz around Valve’s brand new handheld, the Steam Deck, it’s hot. In fact, we have years of experience in handheld gaming to help you find the best game for your needs.
However, it is not only large companies that are taking action. There are GPD, Ayaneo, Playdate and OneXPlayer that are vying for market share and gaining huge popularity in recent years. There are also some of the best gaming phones ever available, although we’re focusing on the bigger controllers here. But how many are among the best portable game consoles you can buy today?
Update Most Powerful Video Game Console Review
We are here to help you. Rather than endlessly Googling and scrolling through specs and individual reviews, our on-the-go gaming expertise is ready to provide a clear and concise list of the best portable game consoles available today. And if you’re looking for ideas on what to play while in the portable realm, check out our best Switch games and the best mobile games lists to ensure you’re ready for endless video game fun.
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The best portable game console is the Nintendo Switch OLED. The suggested retail price is set at $349.99 / £309.99, although you can often find it cheaper in bundles.
The Nintendo Switch OLED is arguably the best portable game console on the market today. While it technically has a smaller library than Steam Deck, the current early issues keep many games on Valve’s console from working quite right.
The Nintendo Switch, on the other hand, has an incredible library of proprietary games from one of the greatest developers in history, Nintendo. Whether it’s The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Bayonetta 3, Xenoblade Chronicles 3, or all sorts of great indie titles, the Switch’s success has helped fill the library with plenty of great games.
The console itself has an excellent bright and colorful OLED screen, good ergonomics and the built-in option to play on your TV at no extra cost. It is extremely versatile, full of great games and easily the best portable game console out there. The only downside is actually moving the Joy-Con around, but there are plenty of alternate Switch controllers to solve this problem.
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The best portable game console is the Steam Deck. It costs $399 / £349 for the 64GB HDD, $529 / £459 for the 256GB SSD and $649 / £569 for the 512GB SSD models.
If you want as much freedom as possible, you probably won’t agree that the Nintendo Switch is the best portable game console, and that’s fair. The magic of Valve’s Steam Deck means it comes very close to the best portable gaming console in our eyes, and clearly the best gaming laptop currently available.
With surprisingly good controls, a lot of freedom in games to choose from, and more than enough power for most games, it’s great. Cons? Some games don’t work right out of the box and require some tweaking on your part or on the developer’s side.
With enough time, these issues could be fixed and the Steam Deck could be the de facto leader in handheld gaming (maybe if it were a bit smaller – it’s a bit too big for our taste at the moment).
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The best portable game console for unique indie games is Playdate. It costs $179 (about £130) and will be available from early 2023 at the time of writing.
In our Playdate review, we call it “the bright yellow embodiment of the fun of gaming and the indie gaming spirit.” There’s really little else to summarize other than that. The Playdate is a small PDA with buttons on the front and a lever on the side.
This move has led to many imaginative gaming experiences and the console makers have attracted many great independent developers such as the minds behind Cursed to Golf, Chuhai Labs, Bennet Foddy of Getting Over It fame, or Return of the Obra Dinn creator Lucas Papež .
Sure, it’s an incredibly limited console, but with such a good developer list, it’s definitely worth a shot. And look how cute and creative he is! For us, it’s one of the best portable game consoles out there, if only for its ingenuity.
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The best small form factor portable game console is the Ayaneo Air. It starts at $569 (about £490) and can go all the way up to $1,249 (about £1,100), depending on the configuration you choose.
Ayaneo Air is small. In addition, it is also surprisingly strong for its shape. It’s also a feature-packed console, with hall-effect joysticks (meaning they don’t move!) with RGB light rings underneath, an OLED display and expandable memory. This is one of the best portable game consoles if you are short on space.
However, there are some problems. With less power than others on the market, it can limit you at times. The Aya Space OS could also use some sprucing up, while this little thing can get really hot if you crank up the TDP.
But those are the sacrifices you make to have such a small and powerful portable game console. And if you can bear the price, this device has no competition in the ultra-small handheld market.
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The best portable game console for retro games is the Analogue Pocket. Expect to pay around $219 (about £190), although there will be a long wait for delivery.
The Analog Pocket is a complete version of the Game Boy, with a better screen, materials and buttons, and a wider variety of games to choose from. Whether it’s a Game Boy, Game Boy Color or Game Boy Advance, Nintendo has all your needs covered.
But it doesn’t stop there. If you have an adapter, you can also play Sega Game Gear, Neo Geo Pocket/Color, Atari Lynx and TurboGrafx-16 games.
All this is emulation free, which is remarkable. Cons? It’s a bit pricey, but I bet it’s worth it for any die-hard retro gamer.
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The most versatile portable gaming PC is the GPD Win Max 2. Expect to pay between $999 / £1000 and $1299 / £1200 depending on configuration.
Oh no, that picture above is not wrong, my friends. I promise this is one of the best portable game consoles out there, but it’s also a small laptop. With a full keyboard under the standard game controller setup, the GPD Win Max 2 is a bit odd at first, but looks can be deceiving – this thing is a great gaming machine.
When you’re done playing games, what if you had to stop and write a list of the best portable game consoles? Well, you can, because GPD Win Max 2, with its beautiful keyboard at your disposal, is also great for working on the go.
Cons? The built-in controller is a bit impractical for its position, although you might be surprised – it’s still more comfortable than it should be. Oh, and it’s one of the most expensive devices on this list.
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Best Handheld Game Console Under $200 Nintendo Switch Lite. Expect to pay $198 / £190 unless you find a good deal or bundle.
At $200, the Nintendo Switch Lite is an incredible value for anyone looking for portable gaming without breaking the bank. With exactly the same library as its bigger brother, the Lite is great for bedtime games or if there are kids in the house that you don’t want to bust a half-sized Steam Deck.
It also comes in a wide range of colors (blue, pink, yellow, gray and some special editions) and has decent buttons for something so small, making it one of the best portable game consoles on a budget.
Cons? The screen is small and a bit blurry compared to others on the market, and you can’t connect the Nintendo Switch Lite to a TV. Still, for portable gaming on a budget, this is the way to go.
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The best Steam Deck alternative is OneXPlayer. Expect to pay between $899 / £800 and $1,499 / £1,300 depending on your setup.
Do you really hate Valve for some reason? Want to spend more money on a handheld computer? Do you really need an Intel processor? Well, my friend, do I have the best portable game console for you?
In all seriousness, if you want a more traditional control scheme and a more ergonomic design in general, OneXPlayer is a good alternative to Steam Deck. While it isn’t quite as powerful on the GPU side, it comes incredibly close in performance.
Still, it has some operating system issues and isn’t quite as polished a product as Steam Deck in general. If you need it, it’s there (for almost double the price!).
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There you have it folks, the best portable game consoles on the market today. We will update this list when we get new consoles
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