Advanced ray tracing for added realism. Offers 4K and 8K resolutions with HDR. Up to 120 fps video with 120 Hz refresh rate even at 4K. Backward-compatible with 4,000 PS4 games. Three-dimensional audio.
Can be hard to find. Incompatible with PS3 and earlier games.
With classic titles ranging from Final Fantasy VII to Tekken 3, this is a great choice for any 90s gamer. Includes a compact version of the original PlayStation and a classic PlayStation controller.
Some customers had issues with the included power cord. The game library is limiting, but there are a few ways to expand it.
Bluetooth and plentiful hard drive space make the PS4 Slim a competent media center. Works with PlayStation Virtual Reality (sold separately).
No support for 4K movies or games. Pricey, especially for a console limited to last-generation 1080p video.
Video auto-upscaling makes everything look spectacular in 4K. The newly upgraded CPU and GPU create a lightning-fast user experience.
Doesn't play 4K Blu-ray discs, an odd omission at this price point. It's also the heaviest, bulkiest PlayStation yet.
We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.
Sony has been thrilling gamers for years with their PlayStation consoles — whether it’s with eye-popping graphics, fan-favorite franchises, or innovative peripherals, the PlayStation brand has delivered some of the world’s best gaming experiences.
Sony’s gaming hardware has evolved into an ecosystem of devices that support each other to enhance games even further. Multiple iterations of their flagship PlayStation 4 console, along with their incredibly popular mobile gaming platform, the PS Vita, have proven time and again why Sony is a titan of the video gaming industry.
When you’re ready to purchase, check out the product list above for our top three recommendations.
For more information about selecting a PlayStation console, read on!
Sony’s PlayStation gaming is available in both consoles that hook up to your TV and handheld gaming devices, which allow you to take games anywhere. Both systems have unique titles, and fit different niches — however, the real magic happens when you combine the two.
On its own, the PlayStation 4 is a straightforward video game console: you hook it up to your TV, connect a controller, pop in a game, and the fun starts. While the basic experience won’t surprise anyone, it’s worth noting that the PlayStation 4 is ideal for gamers who primarily play from home and want top-of-the-line visuals and sound design. One of Sony’s newer features, “Remote Play,” allows you to stream games from a PlayStation 4 to a computer on the same network.
As a standalone handheld gaming device, the PS Vita is a bundle of fun. The 960x544 touchscreen displays some remarkable visuals considering it’s only five inches, and Sony has delivered Vita-specific titles of its most popular gaming franchises. While many gamers have migrated to their smartphones for mobile gaming, the PS Vita proves with unparalleled game play that it’s worth it to have a dedicated handheld gaming system.
Together, the PlayStation 4 and the PS Vita offer some unique features. For example, with specially enabled games, the PS Vita can act as a “second screen,” displaying vital game information or hints to the player as they play through the main action on their TV.
Best of all, the PS Vita supports the PlayStation 4’s “Remote Play,” which means that any PlayStation 4 game can be streamed directly to the Vita (so long as they’re on the same network). That means that gamers can start a gaming session in front of their TV, then continue their same game on a PS Vita after they’ve crawled into bed.
Historically, both Sony and Microsoft have released new iterations of their flagship consoles about once every ten years, with a smaller, “budget” version of the console being released at the midway point of the console’s life cycle. Recently, both manufacturers have changed their strategies, and instead of introducing completely redesigned consoles every ten years, they’re now taking a more Apple-like approach and releasing moderate upgrades every few years.
As a result, there are two versions of the PlayStation: the Playstation 4 Pro and the PlayStation 4 Slim.
The PlayStation 4 Slim is a svelte, competent console that delivers the basics. It plays all the PlayStation 4 titles, and allows access to the PlayStation Plus store for buying games and other media. Notably, the maximum resolution is only 1080p, which will look good, but gamers looking for 4K support will feel a little underwhelmed. It’s cousin, the PlayStation 4 Pro, is so heavily marketed toward hardcore gamers that by default, the PlayStation 4 Slim is the PlayStation for everyone else.
The PlayStation 4 Pro is a gaming powerhouse that delivers on every promise. With an upgraded CPU, a graphics processor that’s more than twice as powerful as the Slim’s, an additional USB port and optical audio output, the PlayStation 4 Pro is both a gaming and multimedia powerhouse. Dedicated gamers will appreciate the support for 4K games, and media fanatics will love that it can stream 4K movies and TV shows from all of the major streaming services.
Naturally, the PlayStation 4 brings a new generation of Sony’s exclusive fan-favorite franchises, so gamers can experience their favorite characters with powerful new graphics and room-shaking sound. Sony’s most popular exclusive game franchises include:
The “God of War” series. Gamers have loved the Greek mythology motif as they battle as Kratos, a Spartan warrior out for revenge against various Greek gods. Each title has seen more intense action than the last, and loyal gamers have kept the franchise alive since 2005.
The “Uncharted” series. Since 2007, gamers have been playing as Nate Drake, a treasure hunter with a knack for finding trouble along the way. The Uncharted series is particularly popular due to its focus on strong storytelling, outstanding voice acting, and cinematic cutscenes.
The “Little Big Planet” series. Aiming squarely at kids (and adults enchanted by kids games), the Little Big Planet games all feature a series of obstacle courses for players to overcome with their cute-as-a-button hero, Sackboy. The Little Big Planet games are great for single players, but the “build and share your own obstacle courses” feature allows gamers to create wild challenges for one another, creating limitless fun.
While the PlayStation 4 offers many of the same titles and features of its primary competitor, the Xbox One, there is one key area where Sony offers a gaming experience that Microsoft can’t match: virtual reality. The “PlayStation VR” is a unique headset that comes with two controllers and lets players enter a 360-degree world, immersing them in new environments for exciting new challenges.
The PlayStation VR supports more than 100 exclusive titles, many of which create their own unique experiences. For example, “Farpoint” puts users on a foreign planet battling hostile aliens. Other traditionally two-dimensional games offer virtual reality experiences, like “Skyrim.” There are even virtual tours of real-life exotic locations, and multiplayer options like “Star Trek ™: Bridge Crew.”
PlayStation VR kits are sold separately, and can cost as much as a console — but the transformative experience of playing virtual games is definitely worth it.
Before buying a PlayStation console, consider the following tips:
The PlayStation Camera (sold separately) has a built-in microphone that can be used to control your PlayStation 4 with voice commands. Voice commands will also work with third-party headsets that include a microphone. Currently, the PlayStation 4 supports basic voice commands that can be used to open apps, browse menus, and even turn the PlayStation off. To make the most of your PlayStation 4’s accessibility and enable voice commands, go to the menu under “Settings,” and then “System.”
All PlayStation 4s allow users to easily upgrade their internal storage. By swapping in a solid-state hard drive, users can both increase their console’s capacity as well as speed up its performance. (Solid-state hard drives perform much faster than their platter-based equivalents.) Additional hard drives must be purchased separately.
The PlayStation 4 supports “remote play,” meaning that you can use your Windows- or Mac-based computer to stream games from your PlayStation 4. While game streaming typically requires a robust in-home network, it allows you to enjoy your PlayStation 4 titles from any computer in your home. Enable game streaming by going to “Settings,” and then “Remote Play Connection Settings.”
Q. Can I play my PlayStation 3 games on the PlayStation 4?
A. Yes and no. While the PlayStation 4 won’t accept or work with PlayStation 3 game discs, Sony’s PlayStation Now service allows gamers to stream legacy titles from previous generation PlayStations for a small fee.
Q. How many controllers come with the PlayStation 4?
A. PlayStation 4 Pro and the PlayStation 4 Slim each come with one controller. Both Sony and third-party manufacturers make PlayStation 4 controllers. Every edition of the PlayStation 4 can connect up to 4 controllers.
Q. Is a PlayStation Plus subscription required to play games on the PlayStation 4?
A. While a PlayStation Plus subscription will unlock additional features with most games, it is not required to enjoy the primary content from any game you purchase. Benefits of being a PlayStation Plus member include access to online game play, free games each month, exclusive discounts and sales, and the ability to save your game content in the cloud.