How we check online game consoles

For a very long time, online game {hardware} cycles had been fairly easy. You’d solely have to fret about three main online game programs and a handheld or two at any given time. It was doable to personal just about each main piece of gaming tech launched in a era with out going into debt.

The gaming {hardware} panorama has considerably modified within the 2020s, although. You’ve bought consoles and their frequent upgrades, VR headsets, handheld PCs, cloud-streaming gadgets, quirky indie {hardware}, and rather more. It may be extraordinarily troublesome to maintain monitor of all of it and know what’s price shopping for. Fortunately, you don’t should; we’re right here to assist.

Really helpful Movies

Digital Traits has been a supply of online game {hardware} evaluations since 2005, relationship again to the Recreation Boy Micro. We’ve at all times stored up with the most recent generations of consoles and helped our readers make knowledgeable buying choices. Now with much more gadgets than ever to select from, we’ve modernized alongside the business to cowl every little thing from the PS5 to the Playdate. Right here’s a peek into our online game {hardware} testing course of, which will provide you with a greater sense of how we check a big selection of gadgets.


Any {hardware} evaluation at all times begins with that unboxing second. Whereas the visible design of a console is at all times going to be a matter of style, we spend a while checking the construct high quality of a tool. Does it really feel like a sturdy piece of tech that we gained’t have to interchange? With one thing like a base mannequin Nintendo Change, we may inform instantly that its flimsy kickstand may current some issues down the street. On the flip aspect, we may inform that the Xbox Sequence X appears like a premium console constructed to face the check of time. Whereas there are at all times long-term elements which might be laborious to account for, we make the most effective judgment we are able to early on based mostly on the construct high quality and the way sturdy it feels.

Machine dimension and luxury have develop into an more and more essential a part of our testing course of these days too, particularly as we’ve begun to see a resurgence of moveable gadgets within the Steam Deck age. With dwelling consoles, we’re at all times seeking to get a way of simply how laborious they’ll be to fit into an leisure middle. However for one thing like an Asus ROG Ally, that testing is much more important. How heavy is it in our palms? Are the controls naturally laid out? Does it really feel prefer it’ll put a pressure on gamers after lengthy play periods?

Questions like which might be additionally important to VR headsets, as consolation is a major concern there. When testing any machine, we be sure to place it by means of as many use circumstances as doable and spend lengthy periods with them to see the place we begin to really feel discomfort.


Controller testing is very essential to our course of; in any case, you’re doubtlessly going to spend near a decade with one thing just like the PS5’s DualSense. Our first check is at all times for consolation, testing how effectively any controller (exterior or built-in) sits in our palms. We’re at all times button structure and ensuring every little thing appears like a pure attain that doesn’t require a lot pressure.

Construct high quality is simply as essential right here too. We would like a controller that feels premium, not one thing flimsy that we all know we’ll substitute instantly. That’s essential for gadgets just like the Steam Deck since it may be extremely troublesome to interchange damaged components. We search for high-quality buttons that really feel correctly reactive out of the field, in addition to joysticks that really feel like they’ll maintain as much as put on and tear effectively – one thing that’s particularly prime of thoughts in an period stricken by stick drift.

From there, we dive into any particular incorporates a controller has, whether or not that be HD rumble or one thing extra advanced. With the DualSense, for example, we spent a good period of time getting a way of how its adaptive triggers labored and judging whether or not or not the additional effort wanted to make use of them is price it for the in-game expertise.

Setup and options

As soon as it’s time in addition up a console, there’s lots to dig into. Naturally, that begins with the setup course of, as we check how straightforward it’s to get it operating. That’s essential for moveable PCs particularly, as we need to be sure anybody can boot up an Asus ROG Ally and begin enjoying their video games with ease. Are you able to get Xbox Recreation Go operating on a Razer Edge with out having to search out an advanced YouTube tutorial? We attempt to reply questions like that early when fascinated with fashionable gadgets. That is the place we additionally check how straightforward it’s to arrange exterior gadgets, like Bluetooth headsets, to a console.

There’s lots to look at as soon as it’s powered on. We’re on the lookout for a clear interface that’s straightforward to navigate, and we dive into settings menus to see how customizable it’s, see what sort of apps we are able to get operating on it easily, and rather more. Whereas we do plenty of deep diving into each function we are able to discover and messing round with settings, an enormous a part of our testing comes all the way down to the extra informal expertise we’ve when enjoying. We attempt to flip our reviewer hats off for alittle whereas and simply use a console the way in which we’d usually use it. How straightforward is it to work together with a tool every day? Can we flip a PS5 on, purchase a sport off the shop, navigate to the Netflix app, or verify our trophies with out fascinated with it an excessive amount of? We at all times attempt to ship deep dives on tech, however we really feel it’s simply as essential to seize that base-level person expertise that we really feel most customers may have with a console.

Lately, we are likely to do plenty of device-specific function testing too. Throughout our PS5 evaluation course of, we made positive to check the system’s distinctive card function and simple trace programs as a lot as we may with a restricted software program library. Extras like which might be usually massive elements that set consoles aside, so we at all times need to interrogate whether or not these bells and whistles are price it. We’re particularly at all times seeking to see whether or not or not it feels just like the console producer is definitely dedicated to its {hardware} gimmicks or in the event that they’re going to go to waste. Bear in mind the Pleasure-Cons’ IR sensors?

Additionally prime of thoughts is space for storing. We normally know a system’s storage forward of time, however we at all times need to get a way of how briskly that house winds down when you begin downloading video games. It was a major level of criticism in our Xbox Sequence S evaluation, as we famous that its storage was so paltry that you just’d must put money into a dear exterior answer that may wind up making the console an funding on par with the Sequence X anyway.

Efficiency and energy

The principle course of any console evaluation is efficiency and energy, however that’s truly the trickiest a part of our course of at instances. When reviewing one thing like a PS5, we solely have entry to so many video games proper out the gate — and normally, firms attempt to put their finest foot ahead at launch. We check issues like body fee, decision, and graphical constancy, however you usually don’t get the complete story of a console’s efficiency proper out of the gate. Simply have a look at the present state of “next-gen consoles” that battle to hit 60 frames per second on main releases like Redfall.

So once we discuss efficiency, we’re extra reviewing a system’s potential. Primarily based on our assessments, we attempt to discover what we imagine a console’s ceiling will likely be. If one thing like a PS5 blows us away from day one, we all know it’s solely going to get extra spectacular as time goes by. The Nintendo Change is on the flip aspect of that dynamic. Video games like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild had been spectacular proper out of the gate, nevertheless it was at all times clear that the system wasn’t as succesful as even a PS4 in 2017. We attempt to issue within the long-term outlook as a lot as doable once we evaluation {hardware}, considering how fluid the state of affairs could be.

Efficiency turns into a way more essential and closely examined think about gadgets just like the Steam Deck. In these circumstances, we all know that we must be extremely thorough with our assessments and decide the place the tech peak from the beginning. What video games does a Steam Deck battle to run? What does that imply for its long-term potential as extra current-gen-only video games launch? How customizable are these gadgets, permitting us to squeeze extra energy out? That’s a wholly completely different set of questions than those we face in conventional console evaluations, making them extra like PC assessments.

Within the moveable renaissance, battery life is of the utmost significance too. Having the ability to run Elden Ring on a Steam Deck is nice, however is it that thrilling when your battery dies in 45 minutes? It’s a key check in cloud gaming gadgets too, as handhelds like Logitech’s Cloud G excel at what they do because of prolonged costs. We attempt to put any moveable we check to its limits, looking for what we are able to get out of it performance-wise whereas nonetheless making it a sensible handheld.

Software program

In fact, you may’t check a online game console with out precise video video games. With any machine, we attempt to check a big unfold of titles, from essentially the most technically spectacular factor it could possibly run all the way down to smaller indies. We at all times need to guarantee that there’s a very good library of video games that benefit from a brand new console out the gate. The Nintendo Change, for example, was a straightforward suggestion on day one because of Breath of the Wild, whereas we urged a bit extra endurance for the Xbox Sequence X.

That is one other space, nonetheless, the place we’re extra reviewing a tool’s potential than something. We solely have a really restricted variety of video games to check at a console’s launch and we solely know a small share of what’s on the horizon. We attempt to set your expectations early with a {hardware} evaluation, considering what video games are coming and the way dedicated the platform is to new releases. With the PlayStation VR2, for example, we famous that the headset had a missing launch lineup with little or no within the pipeline. That gave us a way that Sony isn’t planning to load the platform up with tons of high-profile exclusives in the identical manner it does with the PS5. We draw on our lengthy information of console cycles to make cheap judgment calls on what you may anticipate from a software program library over a platform’s lifespan.

Reaching a verdict

All of this underscores one thing that’s basic to our console evaluations: It’s an evolving course of. We all know that one thing like an Xbox Sequence X goes to look a lot completely different 4 years out from launch. Our preliminary evaluations pull collectively all our testing and observations to inform you if it’s price shopping for at launch, however we imagine {hardware} evaluations are supposed to be revisited. We frequently return and replace console evaluations to supply an replace on their libraries and efficiency over time. We don’t need you shopping for a PS5 in 2023 based mostly on what we wrote at launch in 2020 except nothing has actually modified.

Our purpose with {hardware} evaluations is at all times to provide you an knowledgeable buying resolution that mixes our tech experience and our extra informal interplay with a tool. It’s our hope that we’ll assist you to make sensible shopping for choices that aren’t merely based mostly on hype round a shiny new toy; we gained’t simply give a console a five-star evaluation as a result of we performed one nice launch sport on it. Somewhat, we wish you to purchase a system when it truly is smart to take the leap. Typically ready is the most effective name.

Editors’ Suggestions