Gigabyte has a solid track record in putting out pretty outstanding gaming laptops that deliver good performance for the asking price. They’re durable and simplistically designed, and despite being a little loud or a little heavy, they’re usually worth top marks - like the Gigabyte Aorus 17, which racked up a respectable 4 stars. Even in their non-gaming laptops they usually pack a powerful punch, like the 2021 Aero 17 model, which hit home with 5 stars and an abundance of praise for being the creative professional's dream. So, naturally, we had very high expectations for the Gigabyte G5.
This expectation was, predictably, met and at times surpassed by the Gigabyte G5 and we couldn’t reasonably ask for more from a gaming laptop with a sensible price tag like this one. After spending some time with this laptop we can definitely see it hanging with the best gaming laptops and holding its own.
The model we tested had an Intel Core i5-10500H CPU and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 graphics card which places the laptop as a midrange entry in relation to other gaming laptops. There are many different (some more powerful) versions of the G5, some with newer RTX 4000-series GPUs from Nvidia, but to be quite honest even if you’re running a bunch of AAA titles at max settings you’re unlikely to need much more internal power, since this one performed really well in our benchmarks and the G5 only packs a 1080p display - so there’s no need to shoot for higher resolutions.
The laptop comes with a stunning 1080p 15.6-inch display with anti-glare technology and a thin bezel. Colors come to life and maintain a rather striking brilliance on the screen that never dulls. You can see this very clearly with games like Cyberpunk 2077 or even when you’re watching films or Youtube videos.
I popped on an episode of Bojack (Horseman, obviously) and it really felt like I was watching the show on a cute and compact TV rather than a little laptop screen. 15.6 inches doesn't sound like a lot on paper but it arguably looks a lot bigger than it is, so don’t be too worried if screen real estate is a big concern for you.
Aside from the sound benchmark scores and pretty face, the Gigabyte G5 is just a really nice bit of hardware. It has some weight to it, but not as much as you would expect for a gaming laptop; I threw it in my backpack on multiple occasions and it didn’t drag me down or make itself consistently known, never screaming ‘I’m here! And heavy! And fragile! Good luck to your shoulders!’
Gigabyte G5 review: Price and availability
Starts at $1,099.99 / £1,293.49 / AU$2,349
UK version tested costs £1,800
Massive variety of configurations
The Gigabyte G5 RTX 3060 configuration starts at $899.99 in the US which is pretty decent for the specifications you’re getting and the package those specs come in. The RTX 4060 version costs $1,099, but in the US you can only get this version with 8GB of RAM, and not the 16GB of RAM you can get in the UK with an RTX 4060. As standard, we'd advise that any gaming laptop should have 16GB of RAM as the baseline.
As I said, I don’t think there are many cases for upgrading to the more expensive configuration unless you are looking to fully ‘future-proof’ your investment. The RTX 3060 graphics card is perfectly sufficient to be able to play just about any game at 1080p right now, but if you’re worried about things getting ahead of you, it’s worth considering moving up if you have the cash to spare. If not, our version is perfectly fine.
In the UK our review model costs £899.99 (AU$1,499) which is basically dead on with the US pricing, and is still a pretty decent asking price for what you get. The models are the same across the US and UK barring that one caveat we mentioned above, though again, we can’t really justify dropping that extra cash when the cheaper model is still really impressive.
The Gigabyte G5 has a good chance of gracing our best cheap laptops list for sure, as it offers strong performance and a lot of dazzling features for the asking price.
Price score: 4/5
Gigabyte G5 review: Specs
The Gigabyte G5 comes in two variations. The model we tested comes with the RTX 3060 graphics card, and the other configuration comes with RTX 4060.
In terms of CPUs, it can come with ever an Intel Core i5 or i7 processor - ours uses the i5 version. The RAM and SSD capacity varies between the two models. You can check out the specs of our version below:
Gigabyte G5 review: Design
Ports on the rear edge of laptop
Pretty lightweight for gaming laptop
The design of the Gigabyte G5 is pretty bog-standard in terms of aesthetics; nothing specific or unique to write home about, but I don’t actually mind that. It’s still a very handsome laptop and the classic chassis design is a breath of fresh air from other gaming laptops that try a little too hard to scream ‘gaming’ as loud as possible.
It isn’t riddled with flashy RGB that demands attention and maintains a very classy appearance. There’s slightly blue-tinted LED backlighting for the keyboard and if you’re like me (read: not a fan of excessive RGB), that is enough.
The G5 is super portable, so much so that I forgot about the laptop being in my backpack at times - not just because of the lightness, but because the build is very durable. I’ve accidentally dropped my bag with the G5 inside on the office floor and been knocked around on public transport, but I never felt worried because this thing is very robust.
Despite its sturdy build quality, it’s definitely one of the more portable 15-inch gaming laptops I’ve reviewed, so if you’re after a machine you can take with you on adventures, this is it. Like most of the best laptops, the physical appearance of the laptop is sleek, and slightly futuristic and doesn't go too crazy with RGB lighting that offends the eyes.
Some of the USB ports and the headphone jack are on the side of the laptop with more of the physical ports along the back edge. However you feel about port positioning, we must admit that rear ports can be super convenient if you’re planning to plonk the laptop down on your desk and never move it, letting you keep your workspace free of cable clutter. Though with how easy this is to carry around it may be a little inconvenient if you want to plug in a USB mouse or a flash drive.
You get an adequate amount of ports and a somewhat unusual keyboard layout. Personally, as someone with smaller hands, I found the keys to be a little too spaced out for me when typing on the keyboard, but it felt fine when playing games with it. I asked someone with larger hands to give it a go and they felt the keyboard was well spaced out and rather comfortable, so be warned smaller hand gang! Do some finger stretches before you start writing that novel on the Gigabyte G5.
Design score: 4/5
Gigabyte G5 review: Performance
1080p is ideal for most games
Might be weaker on CPU-heavy tasks
Relatively quiet when gaming
Here's how the Gigabye G5 performed in our suite of benchmark tests:
3DMark Night Raid: 38,189; Fire Strike: 17,723; Time Spy: 7,572 Cinebench R20 multi-core: 2,660 GeekBench 5: 1,205 (single-core); 6,345 (multi-core)
PCMark 10 (Modern Office): 5,694 PCMark 10 (Battery life test): 3 hours and 51 minutes TechRadar Battery Life Test: 4 hours and 1 minute Total War: Warhammer III (1080p, Ultra): 63 fps; (1080p, Low): 173 fps Cyberpunk 2077 (1080p, Ultra): 68 fps; (1080p, Low): 91fps Dirt 5 (1080p, Ultra): 69fps; (1080p, Low): 137 fps
All things considered, the performance of the Gigabyte G5 is pretty hard to beat at this price point. The RTX 3060 is a decent affordable graphics card and while it may not delight you with 4K gaming, it’ll deliver excellent performance at 1080p with the best PC games. You can play the most demanding games without dropping to abysmal framerates.
The FHD display does a great job, and you'll definitely appreciate its stunning clarity when you’re gaming, watching a film, or scrolling through photos.
The Intel Core i5 processor at the heart of the gaming laptop is pretty standard - as you may have noticed, it's an older 10th-gen Intel chip that doesn't have the fancy split core architecture of those newer 12th and 13th generation processors, but it's not so old that it'll cause any noticeable performance bottlenecking - you can do most basic CPU-bound tasks without causing the laptop to stutter. However, CPU-intensive workloads like real-time strategy games may struggle to run on the Gigabyte G5.
From the decidedly average scores in benchmarks like Cinebench R20 and GeekBench 5, you probably won’t be able to run a lot of heavy workloads like video editing or 3D animation but it should be able to handle some lower-level creative work. You can dabble in a little music creation or some very basic home video editing, but that might be where the bar lies.
The fan design within the Gigabyte G5 is emphasized quite a bit by Gigabyte and rightly so: the laptop doesn’t have a nuclear meltdown when playing games for extended periods of time, and when the fans do kick in they’re relatively quiet for a gaming laptop. The laptop does get a little warm but never uncomfortably hot to the touch. The cooling technology comprises two gigantic fans and four heat pipes all vented out through the three exhaust slots.
Performance score: 4/5
Gigabyte G5 review: Battery life
Lasts about 4 hours
A little disappointing for a gaming session
Pretty quick charge
If you're planning to take the laptop around with you and game on the go, the four hours the Gigabyte G5 lasted in our battery life benchmark doesn't really feel like a lot. The power brick is not that heavy, but it's inconvenient to carry both the laptop and the brick in a backpack.
So the battery life is not great, but fairly middle-of-the-road for a gaming laptop. When playing triple-A games on the G5, you're not likely to get more than two hours of use without plugging it in - less if you're got a bunch of wired peripherals connected. Keep in mind that if you don't plan to keep the laptop on your desk and move around with it, you'll be searching for wall sockets a lot.
Battery life: 3/5
Should you buy the Gigabyte G5?
Buy it if...
You want to game on the go
As we've said, the Gigabyte G5 is incredibly portable. You can whack this bad boy into any backpack and roam (and shoulder strength) for more.
You plan to use the laptop as a mini TV
With the clarity and vividness of the display any game gets a breath of new life on the Gigabyte G5, it would be a shame to relegate it to just gaming. Any movie or TV show streaming from the laptop would defiantly shine on this device.
Don't buy it if...
You're planning on doing anything creative
If you're planning on doing some serious video editing, 3D modeling, or animation work, the older CPU means this may not be the laptop for you.
You want an office laptop There are loads of laptops that double as gaming laptops, and if you're doing very basic admin you might get away with it on the G5 - but ultimately, this is a gaming laptop and should really be kept that way.
Gigabyte G5 review: Also consider
If our Gigabyte G5 review has you considering other options, here are two more laptops to consider...
How I tested the Gigabyte G5
Played games in the evening
Did some light work during the day
Took with me between work and home
As with most of my gaming laptop reviews, I tried to swap the Gigabyte G5 into my daily life and place myself into the vibe of a potential user. I used it for both work and play and really got to know the product.
I did regular tasks like writing emails, basic web surfing, and some long-form writing. In the evening I played the Sims 4 on it and a little bit of Cyberpunk 2077 too.
Most of the general-use testing I did was with the laptop running on battery power, leaving it to charge to full power before using it till it died to get a better sense of what it would be like relying on the battery when carrying it around. Naturally, our benchmarking tests were conducted with the laptop plugged in for maximum performance.
1More is an audio tech brand that hasn’t produced devices on a par with big names such as Sony, Bose or even JBL – at least not yet. But over the past few years it has been releasing both over-ear headphones and true wireless earbuds that have held their own in a crowded market, including the 1More Evo, 1More Sonoflow and 1More ComfoBuds Mini. So how do the 1More Aero true wireless earbuds compare?
The good news is that the 1More Aero true wireless earbuds are the definite step up from 2022’s 1More ComfoBuds Pro that 1More claims they are. They’re solid all-rounders that offer an impressive set of features for their price. I enjoyed the good overall sound quality on offer, ANC works well and battery life is… fine. I also liked the fit and the tapered stem design that 1More first debuted with the ComfoBuds Pro – although that’s down to personal preference.
However, there are many true wireless earbuds to choose from these days, from the best true wireless earbuds your money can buy through to the best budget wireless earbuds for those who want a cheaper alternative. So what sets the 1More Aero apart from the rest? The answer is spatial audio, which makes it seem as if you’re hearing sound from all around you in a three-dimensional space – and crucially here, it even alters you turn your head from the source device.
There’s a lot to love about the 1More Aero buds, but spatial audio for around $100/£100 is the main selling point here. But although I certainly enjoyed listening to my favorite tracks with spatial audio switched on, does everyone really need spatial audio? Read on to find out more in this 1More Aero review.
1More Aero review: Price & release date
Cost $109.99/£99.99/around AU$182
Released in October 2022
The 1More Aero true wireless earbuds were released in October 2022 and cost $109.99/£99.99/around AU$182. Hovering around the $100/£100 mark makes the 1More Aero a similar price compared to rivals and they just qualify for TechRadar's best budget earbuds category. However, the competition is pretty fierce at this level.
The most obvious competition comes from the Earfun Air Pro 3. TechRadar also described these buds as good all-rounders and they cost $99/£99 at launch – although you can find them a little cheaper now. The Air Pro 3 buds offer a similar sound and ANC experience, as well as a significantly longer battery life, but you won’t get spatial audio.
To get the spatial audio feature you’ll find in the 1More Aero, instead you’d need to spend significantly more for alternatives, like the LG Tone Free T90Q ($229.99 / £199.98) and Sony WF-1000XM4s ($279.99 / £250 / AU$449.95). More on whether the 1More Aero buds perform at the levels of these higher-end options soon…
1More Aero review: Specs
1More Aero review: Features
Head-tracked spatial audio is the star of the show
ANC works well
Smart Loudness tech is handy
Before I even put the 1More Aero to the test, I was impressed with the range of features on offer here, many of which can be tweaked within the 1More app, which I found clear and easy to use.
The first noteworthy feature is ANC. During my testing, I found noise cancelling to be generally impressive. There are four levels of ANC to choose from, but I opted for the highest level ‘Strong’ the most often. Because why put ANC on if you’re not going to put it ON, right? Although if you work in an office and need varying levels, the choice might be handy for you.
ANC was effective, drowning out conversations in a coffee shop completely. Difficult, higher-pitched sounds, like an alarm and toddler screaming, were muffled but still audible. And deep rumbling sounds, like a train and a fan, were still detectable a little, but everything was significantly dulled. If you’re looking for buds to simply lessen the chatter at work, these will do nicely. There’s also a transparency mode, which is handy for conversations, but I found it easier to just pop one of the buds out instead of faffing with my phone.
Something I haven’t seen before is a Smart Loudness feature, which you can switch on and off and then use a slider to amp up. This is to keep the bass, mids and trebles detectable at low volumes, but it was hit-and-miss. If you listen to music at lower volumes it’s worth turning on, especially to reintroduce bass, but it wasn’t a feature that wowed me.
You can control the buds via touch controls on the stems and you can customize what these do via the app – although there’s no option to decline a call. These controls worked well most of the time, but sometimes weren’t as responsive and sensitive as I'd have liked. I found myself getting my phone out to make adjustments instead.
Within the app (oddly, under 'Experimental Features') there’s the option to switch on multipoint pairing, allowing you to move between audio input devices. Although there was a slight lag as I switched between a phone and a laptop, it did work and it’s a feature that’s incredibly handy – especially when working on my laptop, then taking a voice call on my phone, then moving back to the laptop to listen to music or join yet another video call.
In terms of battery life, you’ll get 7 hours from the buds with ANC off and 5 hours with ANC on. I found these estimates from 1More to be bang on during my testing. You can get 28 hours in total from the case and buds combined, with ANC off. That’s a decent amount of battery life, but can be bested by similar-priced rivals, like the EarFun Air Pro 3 that gives you 9 hours from the buds and 36 hours from the case with ANC off. Or the JBL Live Pro 2 buds, which offer 40 hours of listening time in total. And TechRadar's pick of the bunch here is the far cheaper Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 Plus, which will bag you 35 hours in High Performance mode, or 45 in Low Power mode…
Features score: 5/5
1More Aero review: Sound quality
ANC isn’t great but it’s good enough
Spatial audio is fun – especially for TV, movies and games
Overall, I found the 1More Aero buds an enjoyable listen. I felt that way across the genres too – noting a really nice balance, with crisp highs and crystal clear vocals, underpinned by more than enough bassline rumble underneath when it was needed.
There was a real smoothness and warmth to some of my favorite tracks, too, like Tango by Onyx Collective. When I listened to big, classical tracks, like Johann Johannsson’s score for Arrival, I occasionally yearned for a wider, more expansive listen, which I've experienced with other buds at the level (see the Honor Earbuds 3 Pro). But I was impressed with the power and bass these little buds delivered through their solid low end, handling such epic and eerie instrumental tracks well.
You can tweak the sound, too. Within the 1More app there’s an equalizer you can manually adjust, as well as a bunch of EQ presets, including Studio and Classical. I enjoyed testing some of these and recommend you do the same, although some seemed a bit heavy-handed. Case in point: Bass Booster with Latto x Mariah Carey’s Big Energy made the bassline sound, well… a bit silly, like I was listening to a boomy sample track on a keyboard. The same goes for Vocal Booster, and Pop, which was very tinny. Then again, putting Bass Booster on for the Arrival soundtrack actually added to the drama. The lesson here is, you’ll need to play around with the settings to see what suits you – and you might need to do that each time you switch genres.
On the subject of settings, switch spatial audio on and you’re in for a 360-degree sound treat. I mostly felt as if positional audio was accurate, so sounds came from a central stage or instruments around me. There’s head tracking here too, which essentially means that as well as feeling like sound is all around you, to some extent, you’re moving around it too.
I probably enjoyed spatial audio the most when watching TV shows and movies. For example, I watched The Mandalorian with the 1More Aeros and replayed a scene when the Razor Crest landed with and without spatial audio. It was subtle, but definitely created more of a cinematic, stereo sound feel than I'm used to.
Back to music, putting on spatial audio halfway through De La Soul’s Supa Emcees and selecting the Hip-Hop EQ preset was a pleasing upgrade. The track came alive more than ever. It might sound a bit cheesy, but it genuinely felt like I’d gone from listening to a track positioned directly in front of me to hearing it performed on a stage above me – exactly what you want from spatial audio.
I felt the same about pop music. Miley Cyrus’ Flowers was noticeably elevated with spatial audio switched on. I then chose the Deep preset for added bass and Studio for a more neutral listen. The energy of this track was simply phenomenal. The best earbuds can help you notice things about your favorite tracks you haven’t before.
Having said that, not all music was as sparkly and elevated with spatial audio – even tracks optimized for it – and I did prefer the spatial audio experience with other buds, like the LG Tone Free T90Q, as they provided a more consistent and convincing sound. Then again, that was for almost double the price.
I did wonder whether the wow factor of spatial audio had already faded. This might be because, other than the EQ settings, you can’t change anything else about how spatial audio or head tracking works, which it would have been nice to adjust. Then again, this is an affordable application of spatial audio, so I really am being picky.
Sound quality score: 4/5
1More Aero review: Design
Light at 4.9g per bud
They stay put
Like a lot of true wireless earbuds on the market at the moment, the 1More Aero buds have a stem-like design. At first glance they may look very similar to other buds, like the Apple AirPods Pro, but they’re a little different in that they’re teardrop-shaped with tapered ends. I like this small design quirk when other brands are just copying and pasting the AirPods design, but appreciate they may not be for everyone.
The buds are light at 4.9g each, which makes them easy to wear for long periods. In fact, I had no trouble keeping them in for most of the working day and you have S, M, L and XL tips to choose from to find the perfect fit. The silicone tips I selected created a decent seal. They came a little loose when I wore them for more than 30 minutes, and I did knock the stems a couple of times, but this experience was no different to all of the other true wireless earbuds I’ve tested.
There’s an IPX5 rating here, which means these buds are not fully waterproof but are certainly sweat-proof and rain-proof, which makes them a good option if you’re looking for a pair of workout buds. Although they did budge enough for me to keep securing them during a jog and when I was trying to perfect my downward-facing dog, although not enough to fall out.
The buds come with a charging case that’s small enough to slide into a pocket and weighs 45.2g. It has a clamshell-style design which I personally prefer to the pill-shaped box that seems to have become standard from rival brands. My only criticism of the case is the magnets that keep the buds in place could have been a bit stronger, they felt weak compared to similar devices I've tested.
Design score: 4/5
1More Aero review: Value
Cheaper buds offer improvements in some areas
You’d have to pay much more for spatial audio
As a whole package, the 1More Aero buds are good value. They offer everything most people need from a pair of buds, including good audio and ANC, decent battery life and a comfortable fit. However, in some areas other buds shine. For example, if you want a longer battery life or a bump in ANC, there are better alternatives at a similar price – look to the Honor Earbuds 3 Pro or JBL Live Pro 2 for starters.
That said, if you want that top-tier spatial audio feature, you’d have to pay significantly more. So in that respect, they’re great value. The question you need to ask yourself is: do you really need head-tracked spatial audio? It’s fun at first, and certainly improves the experience of TV shows and movies, but I'm not convinced it’s a must-have for everyone.
So are the 1More Aero good value? That entirely depends on what you’re looking for.
Value score: 4/5
Should I buy the 1More Aero?
Buy them if...
Don't buy them if...
1More Aero review: Also consider
How I tested the 1More Aero
Tested for 7 days
Used working at a coffee shop, while working out at home and on a few bus and train journeys
Mostly tested with Apple Music and iPhone 13 Pro
To test the 1More Aero buds, I took them with them everywhere over the course of a week. They came with me while working at a coffee shop, on long walks through a town, on the bus and train to meetings and kept me occupied during workouts, too.
I’m always keen to see how true wireless buds fare over long periods, so I can really test their comfort levels and make sure the battery claims are accurate. So I kept them in for hours on end, while going from working to walking to working out.
I mostly used the buds to listen to a range of playlists on Apple Music, but also used them to listen to audiobooks, stream podcasts and watch a few TV shows – a good chance to see how spatial audio compares with different types of sound.
I’ve been testing audio products and wearable devices for around ten years now. I like to focus on how comfortable tech is and how easy it is to use.
OnePlus rounded off its busiest event yet with its first (mechanical) keyboard, and its latest TV, and both are coming to the Indian market later this year.
Let's start with the former. The OnePlus Featuring Keyboard 81 Pro is the first device in the OnePlus Featuring brand, a new "co-creation platform", which in this case pairs OnePlus with popular keyboard maker Keychron.
The OnePlus Featuring Keyboard 81 Pro is very similar to the Keychron Q1 Pro mechanical keyboard. It comes with, you guessed it, 81 keys, and a US layout. There's built-in RGB, while the casing is CNC-machined...
When the PS5 launched, there were some incredibly high expectations to meet, especially after the success of the PS4. Thankfully, Sony's current-gen console has exceeded its predecessor in every possible way.
The DualSense controller for the PS5 is nothing short of a revelation with haptic feedback and adaptive triggers, so it's an impressively clever bit of tech which the newly released DualSense Edge builds on. With the combination of a fresh UI, rapid SSD-fueled load times, immersive 3D audio, and incredibly powerful hardware, the PS5 takes some generational strides over the PS4. For these reasons and more, once you've started playing the PS5, it's hard to stop.
But there's no avoiding that the console itself is an eyesore, largely due to its wing-like faceplates and bulky size. The plus side to this is that the PS5's gargantuan size ensures that it's quiet and runs suitably cool. You can still place the console vertically or horizontally, though we really wish it didn't need a stand when on its side. More importantly, we haven't experienced any major hardware issues since launch, like hard crashes or storage corruption.
One area where the PS5 has been slow on the uptake is support for the best 120Hz TVs with HDMI 2.1. However, the games that support 120fps is steadily growing, including first and third-party hits like Horizon Forbidden West, Fortnite and Ghostwire Tokyo.
Equally fantastic is the addition of VRR support to PS5. VRR (or variable refresh rate) keeps the action running smooth on compatible TVs. With PS5 VRR enabled, the console is able to maintain high framerates, without screen tearing, and with little to no hits to overall performance. It's an awesome feature we're very happy to see on PS5.
However, you won't need a top-shelf TV to feel the benefits of the PS5’s substantial horsepower. You can still enjoy unbelievably fast load times, significantly better performance, and a greater level of visual fidelity in new and older games alike.
From a simpler setup to a well-thought-out user interface, Sony has also re-imagined the key parts of the user experience with some pleasing extras to boot: PS Plus Essential members can enjoy a curated selection of games straight away, while Plus Extra and Premium can access an additional Game Catalog and Classics Catalog. Backward compatibility also ensures that your old collection of the best PS4 games works on day one.
The end result is a console that we're impressed with, which is ultimately strengthened by the PlayStation 5's compelling line-up of exclusive games that continues to grow.
We'd love to have seen more first-party games at launch (there were only four if you include pack-in game Astro's Playroom). It would also have been wonderful to see further support for previous generations of PlayStation titles, like PS2 and PS3. Still, the PlayStation 5 feels like a solid investment and with a growing library of the best PS5 games, we're confident this experience will only improve with age.
The library of compelling titles has certainly grown since the PlayStation 5’s release. Returnal takes full advantage of the console’s feature set, Horizon Forbidden West and Gran Turismo 7 both look stunning on the new-gen hardware, while Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart is a visual spectacle that needs to be seen to be believed.
PS5 one year on
We've updated our PS5 review to reflect our initial impressions after spending two years with the console. Sony has made a few pleasing changes via system updates, and the quality of its exclusive games continues to impress. There are a few outstanding issues, though. The lack of 1440p support continues to frustrate but we'd still fully recommend picking a PS5 if you can find one.
The PS5 caters to people ready to jump into the new generation of video games, alongside PS4 owners who don’t want to leave their collection of games behind. It's a console that seamlessly bridges the gap between the last generation and the new, so you probably won't need to boot up your PS4 ever again.
There's big upgrades like the super-fast NVMe SSD and powerful GPU that enable higher frame rates and ray tracing. But you'll also appreciate the subtle touches like the built-in microphone on the controller that can serve as a quick stand-in for a headset. The PS5 feels like it was built for ease of use as well as pure power.
The PS5 Digital Edition is exactly the same as the standard PS5 but removes the 4K Blu-Ray drive to offer a cheaper price point at $399 / £389.99 / AU$649.95 and a more symmetrical look. We've pitted the two PS5 consoles against each other in this PS5 vs PS5 Digital Edition comparison, so you can determine which one is right for you.
Whichever PS5 model you choose, though, we can wholeheartedly recommend the console as a welcome upgrade over the PS4, and an exciting portal to new-gen gameplay. Read on for our full PS5 review.
Watch our PS5 video review below:
PS5 review: price and release date
PS5 release date: Out now (released on November 12/19, 2020)
PS5 price: $499.99 / £479.99 / AU$799.95
PS5 Digital Edition price: $399.99 / £389.99 / AU$649.95
The PS5 was released in North America, Australia, Japan, South Korea, and New Zealand on November 12, 2020. It came two days after the release of Microsoft’s new-gen consoles, the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S. For the rest of the world, the console became available one week later on November 19.
For the PS5’s price, it originally cost $499.99 / £449.99 / AU$749.95 for the standard version of the console with a 4K Blu-ray disc drive. However, if that’s more than you want to spend, there’s also the PS5 Digital Edition, which is exactly the same apart from the fact it removes the disc drive entirely. At launch, that cost $399.99 / £359.99 / AU$599.95, which is a saving of $100 / £90 / AU$150 over the standard model.
The PS5 is more expensive than the launch price of the PS4, PS4 Slim, and PS4 Pro, which both came in at $399.99, but they arrived seven and four years ago respectively now, and you're getting a generational leap in hardware here for $100 more. The PS5 is still expensive, don't get us wrong, but the jump in price does feel warranted for what you’re getting.
However, much like the Oculus Quest 2, we've seen the PS5 get a price hike with Sony blaming this on soaring inflation globally. The US remains unaffected but that's gone up to £479.99 / €549.99 / AU$799.95 for the standard PS5, and £389.99 / €449.99 / $649.95 for the digital PS5.
Sony isn't the only console maker with new hardware on the block, though – you also have to consider the Xbox Series X/S, which is the closest competitor to Sony’s PlayStation 5. Priced at $499 / £449 / $AU749 and $299 /£249 / $AU499 respectively, this makes PS5 more expensive than Microsoft's latest consoles, and Xbox won't follow PlayStation with price hikes. Not yet, anyway.
We’ve delivered our verdict in their respective reviews linked above, so we won't spend much time talking about them here. But if you’re interested in how these two compare, be sure to check out our PS5 vs Xbox Series X breakdown for more details.
PS5 review: design
Huge for a modern gaming console
Space-age aesthetic is polarizing
But the size means more space for air ventilation and a bigger fan
If gaming consoles had weight classes, the PS5 would be in the heavyweight division. We measured it to be around 39 x 10.4 x 26cm (H x W x D) – though the curved surfaces make getting an exact measurement difficult. The PS5 isn’t light, either. It weighs in at 4.5kg, giving it a noticeable heft when you pick it up.
With those measurements in mind, it's easy to see how the PlayStation 5 is the largest console Sony has ever made, and it teeters on the brink of being simply too big for a device that's supposed to sit under your TV. Many will have to rethink their current setup to accommodate Sony's new machine, and that's a problem that no one should have to worry about when picking up a new console.
As for the colors and shape of the console, well, they can be kind of polarizing, too. Some of us on the team absolutely love the PS5 design, while some of us hate the PS5 design. There's no denying, however, that its gargantuan size and two-tone color scheme demands attention in any home. Thankfully, since launch Sony has allowed us to buy new PS5 console covers, coming in five different colors.
One element that's a delightful touch, and universally liked by the TechRadar team, is the system's subtle lighting effect, which creates a soothing hue when the console is in operation or rest mode.
The light strip adds to the PS5's space-age look and feel, and represents a nice touch of continuity from the PS4. Much like the PlayStation 4, when the console is in rest mode the light turns orange, and when the PS5 is turned on it changes from blue to white.
We’re a bit bemused by Sony's choice to put glossy plastic down the center spine of the console, though, particularly as that's where the front USB ports are located. After over a year of use, we can confirm that the plastic can become scratched over time, even though we were extremely careful when plugging in any devices into the front of the console.
We were worried that this might be the case when we first reviewed the PS5, and we’re kind of surprised that Sony didn’t contemplate this happening during development. The glossy finish is also a big dust and fingerprint magnet, which makes the choice all the more bewildering. Thankfully, it's relatively easy to clean your PS5.
Due to its curves and tall stature, it's not just a case of placing the console down and playing once you pull the PS5 out the box. You'll need to wrap your head around the PS5's attachable stand first, which isn’t exactly the most user-friendly experience.
The console can't be placed horizontally without the PS5’s stand, and you risk impeding airflow if you don't use it when the PS5 is standing vertically. It's an extra step that, while necessary, will hopefully be omitted when the inevitable PS5 Slim version arrives in a couple of years as it’s a bit of a faff.
The stand, while functional, feels slightly cheap in the hand too. It has a small compartment to hold one lone screw (don’t lose this, as you'll need it when placing the console vertically) and at first glance, it doesn't look like the setup will actually work when laying the console flat.
To its credit, though, it does the job in a no-thrills fashion – however, we found the stand slipped off the small lip that it clamps onto multiple times when we shifted our unit into position.
In terms of ports, the front of the PlayStation 5 has a USB-A and USB-C port, while the back sports two USB-A ports, a HDMI 2.1 port, an Ethernet port and a power port. There are no proprietary ports on the console, which is always a bonus if you need to replace the odd cable.
PS5 review: performance
Capable of 4K/120fps gameplay as well as support for 8K/60
Faster loading times thanks to new SSD
System runs cool and quiet nearly all the time
When it comes to specs, the PS5 is a technically impressive piece of hardware. There's the new custom RDNA 2 GPU that can push 4K resolution at 120 frames per second, and the octa-core AMD Zen 2-based CPU with a 3.5GHz clock speed.
Throw in 16GB of GDDR6 memory and a 825GB NVMe SSD, and this is a machine with some seriously impressive specs. The PS5 is also capable of outputting 8K resolution, however, we'll need to wait for a firmware update from Sony before it's able to do so.
CPU: AMD Zen 2-based CPU with 8 cores at 3.5GHz (variable frequency) GPU: 10.28 TFLOPs, 36 CUs at 2.23GHz (variable frequency) GPU architecture: Custom RDNA 2 Memory interface: 16GB GDDR6 / 256-bit Memory bandwidth: 448GB/s Internal storage: Custom 825GB SSD Usable storage: 667.2GB IO throughput: 5.5GB/s (raw), typical 8-9GB/s (compressed) Expandable storage: NVMe SSD slot External storage: USB HDD support (PS4 games only) Optical drive: 4K UHD Blu-ray drive
In fact, the only real issue we have with the PlayStation 5's spec sheet is the amount of storage available. It's only using an 825GB SSD instead of, say, a 1TB or 2TB SSD. That decision was clearly made to cut down on the cost of the console, but it means that you can run out of storage quickly if you're not being judicious about which games you keep installed.
The console comes with 667.2GB of usable storage, which we found held around 16 games: two PS5 titles, which were Astro's Playroom and Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales, and various PS4 games like God of War and Detroit: Beyond Human. The available space actually went further than we thought, although your mileage will vary depending on the size of the games you have installed.
It may have taken over eight months after launch, but it's now possible to upgrade the internal storage with an NVMe SSD. You can pop off the PS5's plastic faceplates to reveal the empty SSD bay and secure a compatible M.2 SSD in place using a screwdriver. We've rounded up the best SSD for PS5 and created a detailed guide showing you how to upgrade your PS5 internal SSD storage.
Adding more storage via the SSD bay isn't the most intuitive of methods, and feels like a slight oversight on Sony's part - but hopefully, it's only something you'll need to do once. It’s also handy that you'll at least be adding storage onto the existing 667GB, instead of starting from scratch.
The good news is that you're also able to use external hard drives and SSDs by plugging them into the USB port. You won't experience the same lightning-fast load times that you get from the built-in SSD and optional (not to mention locked) SSD bay. But if you use an external SSD, you'll still see a massive boost to load time performance over a regular mechanical hard drive.
We plugged in an external SSD into one of the PS5's USB ports and the process of getting things set up was effortless. The console detected that an external drive had been connected, and once it was formatted, we were able to store and transfer PS4 games to it. After a PS5 system update in April 2021, you can now also store PS5 games or save data to external storage. However, you’ll need to transfer games back onto the internal drive if you wish to play them.
While few of the launch games really gave the new hardware a run for its money, we can already see the potential in Sony's upgraded hardware. Crucially, more titles designed with PS5 specifically in mind are on the way.
Load times are where most new PS5 users will see a stark difference, to begin with. In Marvel's Spider-Man Remastered, for example, load times have gone from 15-20 seconds on the PS4 to less than a second on the PS5, and Demon’s Souls takes literally seconds to load entire, sprawling levels. Returnal is another game that benefits greatly from the PS5’s super-fast SSD, with not a load screen in sight as you traverse countless biomes.
Graphical improvements, particularly when it comes to resolution, are the next immediate highlights when it comes to playing on PS5. Astro's Playroom runs at a rock-solid 60 frames per second at a 4K resolution, and almost every title we’ve played is either playable at 60fps by default or provides a 30fps mode with more visual flourishes. It's a dramatic and pleasing shift from the PS4, where games were often 1080p / 30fps.
In the future, more titles will run 4K resolutions at 120 frames per second, too, and there's the potential that less graphically intensive games could reach 8K/60fps. For now, though, we don't expect many games to hit that ambitious target (most will drop the resolution from 4K to achieve a higher frame rate), but there's a chance some titles will be able to achieve that coveted 4K/120fps output down the line.
A small slice of the PS5 launch library supported 120fps, and included Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, Devil May Cry V: Special Edition, Dirt 5, Rainbow Six Siege and WRC 9. It's worth noting that you'll need a HDMI 2.1-compliant TV to display the 120Hz refresh rate at higher than 1080p resolution. Here's how to enable 120Hz on PS5.
Unfortunately, we haven’t seen as many 120fps enabled games as we’d hoped since the PS5 launched. Still, things are slowly improving, though you'll find far more 120fps games on Xbox Series X|S.
So what can you expect if you pick up a PS5 today? For now at least, most games will be capable of delivering 4K resolution at 30fps or 60fps when using a game's Performance Mode (which we'll explain below). Many will also utilize 4K image assets for crisper textures, while HDR support helps to provide better colors and contrast.
Combine that with ray tracing and improved particle effects that are now possible with the current suite of development tools. Games look leaps and bounds better now than they did a decade ago.
Even though not every PS5 launch game will have it, most should feature the aforementioned Performance Mode, which prioritizes higher frame rates over resolution and extra graphical features. With many games, this sacrifices various graphically-intensive effects like ray tracing or higher shadow quality, and drops the base resolution, in order to achieve higher frame rates like 60fps instead of 30fps.
But why would you want the extra frames at the expense of resolution? Well, higher frame rates make games feel far more responsive – which is a must for first-person shooters that require twitch-based reflexes and split-second decisions.
For some gamers, higher frame rates are the holy grail for consoles – something that has been hard to achieve for decades due to weaker hardware. To have this finally be an obtainable goal feels like a monumental achievement, even if it comes at the cost of some graphical flourishes.
If you'd prefer not to use Performance Mode, you can always choose Resolution Mode. This prioritizes higher resolutions, better rendering techniques like ray tracing, and more detailed graphics. We got a taste of that with Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales, and we loved what we saw. Lighting was improved substantially: windows glistened in the sunlight and contained realistic reflections, and the particle effects looked stunning.
What you can expect from this new generation of gaming, then, is faster load times, better framerates in Performance Mode, and higher target resolutions everywhere else. Simply choose which option you prefer.
How good is PS5's 3D Tempest Audio?
Adjust your 3D audio profile
If you head into the PS5 settings, you can adjust the 3D audio to suit your preference. There are five levels of height to choose from, so select the option that sounds closest to your ear level. Remember that 3D audio works on any headset, either wirelessly or when plugged into the DualSense controller, and can also be enabled using your TV speakers.
We've tested various spatial audio solutions in the past, ranging from Windows Sonic to Dolby Atmos, and we've found that PS5's 3D Audio is a comparable experience overall, though it isn’t quite the revelation we hoped it might be.
We enjoyed hearing ships fly past and over our head in Astro's Playroom, and appreciated being able to pick out thugs that were closing in on us in Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales. It's not as detailed or as realistic as Sony made out, though, at least not at this stage, and it will be up to developers to get the most out of the technology as it matures.
Returnal has shown that 3D audio can be a powerful tool when it comes to increasing immersion and that it can also be beneficial in fast-paced games where audio cues are just as important as what you see on screen.
The PS5's monstrous footprint gives it one significant advantage over its predecessor in that the console is basically silent – and heat production is also minimal. We have noticed a bit of coil whine on some units, which is where the console emits a faint electrical noise during certain games, but compared to PS4 it’s a monumental improvement.
The PS4 and PS4 Pro were renowned for their ability to kick up the system fans to obnoxious levels and output lots of heat, particularly on the earlier models, so those looking to pick up a PS5 will be relieved to hear that those problems have been eradicated.
We held our hand near the system during a long play session, and although the PlayStation 5 was clearly outputting hot air (as it's designed to do) it was emitting far less than what the PS4 Pro would push out.
Very rarely in our testing did the fans reach an audibly loud level to the degree that the PS4 Pro did when running games like Horizon: Zero Dawn or God of War. However, that could simply be due to the fact that we haven't seen any resource-heavy PS5 games yet. Sony has also promised that it plans to optimize the PS5's fans using over-the-air updates, so the machine could get louder, or indeed quieter, when playing certain games later down the line.
PS5 review: DualSense controller
New DualSense Controller feels like a revolution over the DualShock 4
Highlights are the adaptive triggers and haptic feedback
Mute button can mute your mic or, if your TV has HDMI CEC, your TV
To navigate this brave new world of console gaming, you'll need a new gamepad – namely, the new Sony DualSense controller.
You'll be pleased to hear that you get a DualSense controller in the box with your PS5, and the DualSense feels oddly similar in the hand to the DualShock 4 that shipped with the PS4. We found it to be incredibly comfortable to hold for extended periods, and were shocked that when we went back to our trusty DualShock 4, it felt plain wrong to hold after using the DualSense.
Picking it up for the first time, the DualSense is fairly weighty and balanced, with most of the heft resting in the grips of the controller. While the majority of the controller features a matte white plastic finish, the bottoms of the grips themselves have a slightly rougher texture that actually makes the controller easier to hold, and less likely to slip out of your hands.
In fact, if you look closely, the texture is made up of tiny PlayStation face buttons, which is a neat little touch. The two-tone PS5 controller color scheme extends to the four face buttons, which still consist of the classic Triangle, Circle, Square and Cross (or X); however these are now devoid of color, and remind us of the PS Vita's minimalist approach.
There's a pop of color around the side of the central touchpad, though, as the PS4 Lightbar has thankfully been moved from the top of the gamepad to a less problematic position – thanks to its new placement, you won't now see an annoying glow reflecting off your TV.
Where early PlayStation controllers sported a convex analog design, the PS5 DualSense controller has concave control sticks, just like the DualShock 4, and they feel noticeably more durable this time around, with a pleasing textured finish on the outer ridge.
On early models of the PS4 the rubber analog sticks would sometimes wear away under vigorous gameplay sessions, and we’re pleased to report that even after six months of use, we haven't seen it reoccur with the DualSense. You'll notice a few new buttons you haven't seen before on Sony's new pad, too – like the mute button that turns off the microphone that’s built into the controller.
When this is held down, it can mute your television speakers or headset, which we found to be a useful quality-of-life feature. When speaking into the mic, we found it worked best when we kept the controller in our usual playing position, instead of holding it towards our mouth. We wouldn’t recommend using the DualSense microphone for voice chat, though – it isn’t the highest quality and has a tendency to pick up a lot of environmental sounds.
The highlights of the new DualSense controller, however, are the adaptive trigger buttons that allow developers to add resistance to certain in-game actions. The adaptive triggers can use resistance to create various sensations that mimic real-life actions, like pushing down on the pedal of a car or pulling back a bow string.
It's a huge step forward for haptics in Sony's hardware, and we found that the haptic feedback itself is a vastly superior replacement for the traditional rumble of old. When a character runs across a certain surface, like metal, it manages somehow to replicate that feeling in the palms of your hands – it's a truly wonderful sensation.
So far, we've seen a variation of haptic feedback support integrated into every PS5 game we've played so far, and hope to see it supported by more games in the future; we expect the feature to shine most in first-party titles, though. Returnal uses the DualSense to great effect, mimicking the effect of rainfall using haptic feedback, and the trigger performing two fire types by pressing it either halfway or all the way down.
Battery life, so far, has been a massive improvement over the DualShock 4. We played through a handful of PS5 and PS4 titles during our testing, including Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales and Astro's Playroom, and the controller eventually ran out of charge after 12 hours and 30 minutes. This will obviously vary depending on the types of games you’re playing and how much they use the DualSense’s features, of course, so that 12 hour figure could end up a lot lower.
Still, it's an impressive feat when you consider the DualShock 4 lasted around five to eight hours at a stretch. While internal batteries can degrade over time, it's a strong start for Sony's new pad, particularly when you consider how much technology is packed into it. Of course, you can also use the controller wired if you prefer.
To charge the DualSense, you have two options: either connect it to the PlayStation 5 itself with the USB-C to USB-A cable that comes inside the box, or shell out for the optional PS5 DualSense Charging Station, which can charge two controllers at a time using the metal conduits on the bottom of the pad near the 3.5mm audio jack.
You can also charge the controller, or your USB headset, via the rear USB ports, or opt to use a USB-C to USB-C cable when using the front USB-C port to charge the DualSense controller.
Either option works well, but the Charging Station does certainly look nicer sitting on the shelf, and more cost-effective third-party charging stations will likely become available in the coming months. We'll also need to test whether charging the controller via a USB-C to USB-C cable is quicker than using the USB-C to USB-A cable that comes with the console.
Redesigned user interface with beautiful splash screens for every game
PlayStation button has all new features
Party chat allows you to screen share
Design is one thing, but what can really elevate a console to the next level is its feature set – and thankfully the PS5 delivers here.
The PS5 innovates on what Sony's consoles have done in the past and, as a result, it might take a minute or two to get used to some of the new controls – pressing and holding the PlayStation button on the controller no longer brings up the quick menu, for example, but instead brings up a new Control Center.
This operates in much the same way as the quick menu did, and lets you view various sub-menus such as your Friends list, downloads in progress, notifications and, if you have your account linked, Spotify.
One of the more prominent new features is the PS5's Cards, with the most impactful being Activity Cards. Cards have various functions, allowing you to track trophy progress, jump into specific parts of a game like a challenge or multiplayer mode, see how far along you are on a game level, or simply see news from a developer. You can even watch a livestream of your friend’s gameplay using a picture-in-picture mode, which is pretty cool.
Cards are also present as you delve further into a game’s information, which is now displayed beautifully on the home screen.
By pressing down on the D-pad or flicking down on the analog stick, you can see the available Cards at a glance, circumventing the need to visit a game's main menu or particular mode to find out what's going on. They should prove useful for gamers of a lesser ability, too, as they can contain in-game hint videos in supported titles that help you overcome specific challenges or find that one last collectible.
Since launch, we've already seen Sony retiring this PS5 launch feature, Accolades. Designed as a community awards feature to lets players commend fellow gamers for their assistance, Sony revealed that it hasn't received much use as anticipated, so it's now been dropped.
Overall, we found Cards to be a useful addition, though horizontally scrolling through each one did feel cumbersome at times.
There's also a slight delay before they appear, which is at odds with the speed of the system as a whole. But, while not essential by any means, they help to add another layer of next-gen gloss to PlayStation 5 experience that you won’t find anywhere else.
Outside of the interface, you can expect the return of groups and other social-based features from the PS4, like SharePlay, as well as easy video sharing. You'll be able to jump straight into the game your friends are playing from the menu, or invite them to larger groups. Video sharing on the PS5 works similarly to how it did on the PS4, but it's nice to be able to see a preview in Cards.
Speaking of social features, if you're tired of typing out messages using a D-pad or analog stick, the PS5 also supports voice dictation for messaging thanks to the DualSense controller's built-in mic. You can also use PS5 voice commands to open games, apps and put the console in Rest Mode.
While your mileage may vary when it comes to the accuracy of the dictation (as with all voice recognition software), it could prove handy when you need to fire off a quick message to a friend. We did find it to be inconsistent in our testing, though, and not as accurate as something like Google Assistant.
We also like the fact you can choose system-wide settings for certain aspects on PS5 such as your preferred difficulty level or whether you invert the x or y-axis on your controller during games. You can even choose which graphical mode you prefer games to automatically select: performance or resolution.
PS5: streaming video services and other apps
Of course, game consoles can do more than just provide your thumbs with something to do - modern consoles are also full-on streaming video players.
Right now, you'll find over a dozen supported streaming services on the PS5 including most major services like Netflix, Disney Plus, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Peacock and Apple TV, as well as a few more niche services like Twitch, NFL Sunday Ticket, ESPN, Vudu, Tubi, WWE Network and Crunchyroll. The selection here isn't as big as you'd find on, say, a Roku streaming player, but it should be enough for most.
The worse news is that, as it stands, there's no support anywhere on the console for Dolby Atmos or Dolby Vision. We thought we might see them appear on launch day, but neither materialized and Sony appears to be shunning the popular HDR and audio formats for now.
What that means, unfortunately, is that the PS5 is really only a middling media player - it can't best dedicated streamers like the Nvidia Shield, Amazon Fire TV Cube, Apple TV 4K or the new Roku Ultra, and isn't the console we'd recommend to our cinephile friends looking to host movie night with the highest fidelity films.
PS5 review: game library
Every PS5 comes with Astro’s Playroom installed
PlayStation Plus Collection is a great introduction to new players
Limited backwards compatibility with PS3, PS2 and PS One games
Most consoles don't launch with a full library of games right off the bat, so the launch bar was pretty low for the PS5. That being said, what you make of the PlayStation 5's current game library largely depends on if you finished the masterpieces from the PS4's era – games like God of War, The Last of Us Part II, Marvel's Spider-Man, and Uncharted 4: A Thief's End.
If you haven't finished them, or haven't played them at all, you could have over a dozen excellent games to play from the second you turn on the PS5 via backwards compatibility, a number of which have been improved thanks to a 60fps update, like Ghost of Tsushima and Days Gone.
If you have PS Plus, you might also have access to some older games that passed you by, as Sony's new PlayStation Plus Collection includes 19 defining games from the last generation that you can download on day one. Every PS5 comes pre-installed with Astro's Playroom, too, and it's a thrilling showcase for what the system can do.
A fully fleshed-out sequel to Astro Bot: Rescue Mission, Astro's Playroom is a platformer that features exotic locales in which are hidden artifacts from Sony's PlayStation hardware catalog. You'll find a PlayStation VR Aim Controller hidden in a snowbank somewhere in one level, for example, while another level might contain a PlayStation Portable for you to discover.
It's a nice homage to the PlayStation hardware that's come and gone, but we expect some folks will play through it, then uninstall it to reclaim the 10GB of storage space it takes up on the console. You can always re-download it from your games library or the PlayStation Store should you wish to play it again.
But what else is there to play if you pick up a PS5 today? Well, the PS5 library mostly consists of cross-generation titles at the moment and is helped greatly by the fact it’s fully backward compatible with PS4.
There are also various independent games that are worth a shout, like the indie charmer Bugsnax (that one with the infuriatingly catchy theme tune), which was available as the console's first PlayStation Plus downloadable game.
We'll continue to keep an eye out for the best PS5 games as the console matures and you can keep track of all the new PS5 games on the way.
PS5: backward compatibility
Those masterpieces that we mentioned earlier? Those are all part of Sony's new PlayStation Plus Collection: a small library of hits from the PS4 that Sony's making free to PlayStation Plus subscribers on the PS5.
Some real mainstream classics are included, but also some less-popular gems that are well worth checking out, like Persona 5 and The Last Guardian. The PlayStation Plus Collection might never swell to the size of Microsoft's Xbox Game Pass lineup, but even with the 19 games available right now, it's a great perk for PS Plus subscribers.
What about folks who want to play older games? Well, the PlayStation 5 can play almost any PS4 game but not everything is compatible, though the incompatible games list is miniscule. There's no way to pop in a PS3 disc and have it work or transfer over your PlayStation Classics purchases you made on the PS Vita a few years ago.
We're as disappointed as you are with the lack of backward-compatibility support for Sony’s previous generation of games, particularly as Xbox 360 and original Xbox games (physical discs included) work on the Xbox Series X, but it's not uncommon for a new console to only support the last generation of games as manufacturers look to the future.
It used to be that you could choose select PS3/PS2 titles via PlayStation Now… but that's been replaced with a revamped PS Plus service, which also includes PS1 and PSP games. Accessing your old PS4 games is thankfully a cinch on Sony's new system, though. Simply select the Library icon and the PS5 will automatically pull in all your digital purchases and previously installed games, providing you're signed in to your PlayStation Network account.
You'll need to redownload them to the console, of course, or insert the physical disc to activate a game's license. Some games have been upgraded to run better than ever on PS5, too, like Days Gone, which now runs at a silky-smooth 60fps, while God of War can now comfortably hit its 60 frames per second target using the game’s performance mode.
One thing to note is that you may notice your save file is missing when you boot up a PS4 game that you previously owned for the first time – that's because you'll need to redownload your save files from the cloud onto your PS5 console first. Here's how to transfer PS4 save data to PS5.
PS Plus members have access to cloud saves, but if you haven't been backing up your save files over the air, then you may notice your data won’t be there initially. It's not the most seamless system, admittedly, and is bound to confuse some users, but support for carrying over your save files appears to be there for most of the older titles we tested – however, this will vary on a case by case basis.
We pride ourselves on our independence and our rigorous review-testing process, offering up long-term attention to the products we review and making sure our reviews are updated and maintained - regardless of when a device was released, if you can still buy it, it's on our radar.
The Nintendo Switch is the first attempt at sealing the gap between home and handheld consoles, which makes it a fantastic addition to the already esteemed family of Nintendo consoles without necessarily sacrificing any features previous consoles introduced during their lifespan. It's got some impressive capabilities worth noting, especially given its hybrid nature.
The design of the Nintendo Switch has helped Nintendo to continue its high reign in the console space with something entirely unique, especially running off the back of the Nintendo Wii and the Nintendo 3DS, and even the experimental second screen of the Wii U was novel when it launched.
The Switch is a significantly different device from what we've seen prior, and the handheld nature of the console provides the best of both worlds. As the list of best Nintendo Switch games gets bigger with exclusive party games and top-tier third-party titles, you'll more than likely want to sink some hours into the console whenever you can.
Whether you've already made your purchase or not, it's hard to deny that the Nintendo Switch is a fine idea, mixing some of what made the Wii and Wii U appealing for gamers (even if developers had a more challenging time figuring out how to make the most of the latter device).
The Nintendo Switch brings with it a central idea that can benefit literally every game, not just the select few that can use motion control or a second screen. Who hasn't at one time wanted to pack up their console and take it with them? Essentially, the Switch delivers on this hybrid idea. You'll find it a solid, premium handheld that can flip into docked mode and work as you'd expect a home console.
At the same time, the Nintendo Switch certainly isn't perfect: most of the issues it has are a consequence of the way that it dares to try and do everything at once, and it doesn't always get the compromise right.
Those who aren't sold on its hybridity and want that classic Nintendo handheld experience will no doubt be interesting in the compact, lighter alternative: the Nintendo Switch Lite, which offers a solely handheld Switch gaming experience. For those after something more premium, there's also the Nintendo Switch OLED, which mainly improves the portable aspect of play.
Nintendo Switch: price and release date
What is it? Nintendo's hybrid console
When did it come out? March 3, 2017
What does it cost? $259.99 / £259.99 / AUD$435
The original Nintendo Switch launched over five years ago, arriving on March 3, 2017. While it previously cost $299.99 in the US, £259.99 in the UK, and $469.95 in Australia, Nintendo gave this a small price cut after the Switch OLED model arrived October 2021.
Nowadays, you'll find it going a new RRP worldwide of €269.99 / £259.99 / $259.99 / AU$435. Thankfully, Nintendo has confirmed there won't be a price hike just yet for the Nintendo Switch in the wake of rising global inflation, unlike the recent hikes for Oculus Quest 2 and PS5. So, if you've not yet picked up any of the Nintendo Switch family, there's no need to rush.
Nintendo Switch: design
Three form factors: handheld, console (docked) and tabletop
Lots of accessories, which are at risk of being misplaced
In the box with your shiny new Nintendo Switch, you get the main console, two detachable controller sides (Joy-Cons), a grip which enables you to combine these controller portions into a more traditional gamepad, two straps which can make them into two individual controllers, and a dock for plugging the console into your television.
You also get a USB Type-C power cable (with a non-detachable power brick) and an HDMI cable for connecting the device to your TV. If you think that sounds like a lot of accessories, then you'd be right: we suspect many Nintendo Switch owners will have misplaced at least one or two of these within a few months.
We've wrapped our Joy-Con straps around our Joy-Con grip just to keep everything together, but we'd love some way of attaching them to the console, so they don't end up getting misplaced. It's a pretty novel (not to mention somewhat complicated) setup, so it's worth delving into each of the different ways you can use the console.
Nintendo Switch: handheld mode
Bigger than traditional handhelds
Slightly cramped for the right hand due to right analogue stick
Split D-pad on the left side
First in the Nintendo Switch modes is the handheld mode, the form factor most like the hardware devices that came before the Switch. In this configuration, you attach the two controller portions (the Joy-Cons) to the left and right edges of the screen, then game much as you can with the PlayStation Vita.
In fact, the size and shape of the console's analogue sticks make it feel a lot like a modern Vita, though it's not as solid because of the joints that exist between the Joy-Cons and the screen. Along the top of the Nintendo Switch is a slot for game cartridges, a headphone jack (Bluetooth headphones are now supported after a post-launch update), a volume rocker and a power button.
The bottom of the device is less busy. You've got the kickstand for tabletop mode (more on this later), which conceals a small microSD slot for expandable storage. Internal storage on the Nintendo Switch is limited to just 32GB, so if you're planning on downloading games rather than buying them, you'll want to invest in a Nintendo Switch SD card (capacities up to 2TB are theoretically supported).
Check out our unboxing video of the Nintendo Switch below.
The detachable Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons have a lot going on. The right-hand side has the classic A, B, X, and Y button configuration, an analogue stick (slightly awkwardly placed underneath the face buttons) and two shoulder buttons. A small plus-shaped button is the equivalent of the Wii U's 'Start' button and a home button for reaching the console's system-level menus.
Across on the left, Joy-Con, it's a very similar story, as you would expect. You've got a minus button that acts as the console's 'Select' button, a share button for taking screenshots and video (in selected titles), an analogue stick, two shoulder buttons, and the most un-Nintendo D-pad we've ever seen.
Instead of the classic cross D-pad Nintendo utilized since the NES, the left Joy-Con has a set of four circular buttons that are identical in shape to the face buttons on the right Joy-Con. This design decision, which appears very odd at first glance, is so the left Joy-Con can be used as an individual controller, with the D-pad acting as face-buttons in this configuration (again, more on this later).
Nintendo Switch: console mode
Connects to your TV via an included dock
Docking process is seamless, and can be done mid-game
The second Nintendo Switch form-factor is console mode. You place the main portion in the included dock, which connects the device to your television – you're then free to detach the Joy-Cons to control the Switch from a distance.
The way the console transfers the viewing experience from its own screen to the television is as seamless as it could possibly be, and you don't even have to pause your game. Everything happens in real-time. Detaching the Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons can be a little fiddly, admittedly: it's done by holding small buttons on their backs and sliding the controllers up.
The TV dock is roughly the same size as the Nintendo Switch's middle portion. Around the back, you've got a USB Type-C port to provide the console with power, an HDMI port to connect it to your television, and a USB Type-A port. On the left-hand side of the console are two additional USB ports, mainly used for charging your Switch controllers as you play wirelessly (more on this in a moment).
If you want to use the Nintendo Switch with multiple televisions throughout your home, you can buy additional Switch docks, which make it easy to transition from one screen to another, plug-and-play style. You can even use an OLED model's dock, which has a built-in Ethernet port.
Nintendo Switch: tabletop mode
Screen can also be detached and propped up on a table
Great for two-player gaming, but four players on the console's small screen is a push
The final form factor for the Nintendo Switch is what Nintendo calls 'tabletop mode'. Using the kickstand attached to the back of the screen, you can prop the console up on a table and then detach the Joy-Cons for some semi-portable gaming. In theory, this is perfect for long journeys on public transport where you have a tray table to place the console on; in reality, we found it a bit of a mixed experience.
We do like being able to use the Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons in the grip rather than having them attached to the console – the grip provides just enough extra plastic to make the controllers much more comfortable in the hands, and having the console a little further away means your sitting posture can be a lot more natural.
Tabletop mode is also great for multiplayer on the Switch. Detaching both Joy-Cons to allow two people to play against one another is a pleasure: it makes the Nintendo Switch perfect for whipping out at small gatherings where you'll already have everything you need for a multiplayer session. However, a couple of issues prevent the console from fully capitalizing on this intriguing tabletop mode.
First is the kickstand. Although it's rubberized, which means that the Switch doesn't slide around, it only supports the console at a single height. If your tray table is a little closer to you, then there's no ability to prop the console up so that it's facing you more directly, and instead, you'll be stuck with the screen pointing at your chest rather than your face.
Second is the Nintendo Switch charging port, which is inaccessible when you use it in tabletop mode. During a recent train journey, this meant that although we were in the perfect situation to use tabletop mode, we ended up using the console as a handheld to charge it up.
Finally, the Nintendo Switch screen is just a little too small for multiplayer gaming for more than two players. Four-player Mario Kart is almost impossible due to the size and resolution of the display (we found ourselves putting our faces inches from the console to be able to make out distant details).
Overall, tabletop mode on the Switch feels better suited to short periods of use, which is a shame when it feels like it should be the de facto way to use the Nintendo Switch over long periods.
Nintendo Switch: set-up
Set-up is simple enough
Console needs to be told whether Joy-Cons are being used together or separately
Setting up a brand new Nintendo Switch is refreshingly simple; you'll be pleased to learn. If you're using the device as a handheld, attach the Joy-Cons, press the power button, and... er... that's it.
If you want to play Nintendo Switch games on your TV, you need to plug the dock into the TV via HDMI, then hook it up to some power via the included USB Type-C power lead. The console then easily slips into the dock.
Pairing the controllers is a little more complicated than with other devices because of the fact that they can either be paired or used separately. The way you tell the Switch which controllers you're using is to press both the L and R shoulder buttons in whichever configuration you've opted for. So if you're using the Joy-Cons individually, you press the buttons on the Joy-Con straps to indicate this is the case.
On the software side, the console asks for the standard combination of Wi-Fi details and user account set-up info. These details are a doddle to input on the console's touchscreen – the keyboard isn't quite as good as a phone's, but it's much better than a typical console experience. Afterwards, games can be played off a cartridge or the Nintendo Switch's internal memory.
Nintendo Switch: recent updates
Nintendo’s continued building upon the Switch since the Lite's launch. Alongside the launch of the Nintendo Switch Lite and Nintendo Switch OLED, it's also seen continued system updates.
Let's not forget Nintendo has designed some absolutely classic controllers in its time – the original NES controller wrote the blueprint that console controllers have followed ever since, the N64 was the first console to have a controller with an analogue thumb-stick, and the Wii (for better or for worse) introduced the world to motion-controlled gaming.
With the Nintendo Switch, Nintendo has attempted the seemingly impossible in creating a system that's simultaneously one whole controller and two separate controllers, while also functioning as controllers in the handheld mode.
Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons: general impressions
By trying to do many things at once the Joy-Cons don't do anything perfectly
HD Rumble tech is impressive – but developers need to find a use for it
Ultimately these multiple roles mean the Nintendo Switch controllers end up being jacks of all trades and masters of none. None of the controller configurations are unusable, but we've used more comfortable controllers in the past that have had the advantage of only having to do one job very well.
The left Joy-Con's D-pad sums up the problem in a nutshell: rather than going for the cross D-pad that Nintendo has been using since the NES, the D-pad is instead split into four separate buttons to allow them to be used as face buttons when the Joy-Con is utilized as an individual controller. The result is a D-pad that you're not going to want to use for classic games that rely on it a lot, such as Street Fighter.
The Nintendo Switch analogue sticks also feel like a compromise between form factors: too small for a traditional gamepad, yet big enough that we wouldn't want to throw the device too carelessly into a rucksack for fear of one of them snapping off.
You do have the option of buying separate accessories which don't have these issues (the Nintendo Switch Pro controller being a prime example), but in this review we're going to limit ourselves to talking about what you get in the box, since this is the primary way most people are going to be using the console – at least initially.
One part of the Switch controllers that we absolutely love are the face buttons. They're a little smaller than those on other consoles, but they've got a really satisfying click to them that we really appreciate. The Joy-Cons feature an interesting form of rumble, which Nintendo has dubbed 'HD Rumble'. From what we've seen so far this isn’t just a marketing gimmick – it feels like a step forward for rumble tech.
One mini-game in the launch game 1-2 Switch has you milking cows, sure, but it also counts the number of (virtual) balls inside a Joy-Con. It's impressive just how well the HD Rumble creates the impression of there being real balls inside the controller. Another mini-game impresses by tasking you to crack a safe by feeling the click of a dial as you turn it.
Both mini-games have us excited for the possibilities of HD Rumble in the future, but the success of the technology depends on the ability of Switch developers to make use of it – the potential is there, but we're still waiting for a killer app. Nintendo made practical use of the feature in the Switch 3.0 OS update – if you've lost one Joy-Con but the two are still paired, you can make the other vibrate to find it.
There were initially reports of connectivity issues with the left Joy-Con on the Nintendo Switch, something which we experienced ourselves. The problem is that sometimes during gameplay, the left Joy-Con's connection just drops out completely. Fortunately, Nintendo is now offering a Joy-Con repair service for any broken ones, so we'd advise sending yours in if you experience connectivity issues of any kind.
Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons: handheld
Handheld controls are a little cramped and awkward
Right analogue stick in particular is uncomfortable
It's in the handheld configuration that the Nintendo Switch controller's deficiencies are most apparent. The main problem is the low positioning of the right analogue stick, which we found very difficult to operate comfortably.
Either you hold the Switch precariously on the tips of your fingers in order to operate the analogue stick with the tip of your right thumb, or you hold the device more tightly and operate the thumbstick with the inside of your thumb knuckle, which feels rather cramped and awkward.
Looking back, the Vita layout is very similar, but the increased weight of the Nintendo Switch makes it much more difficult to comfortably hold on the fingertips. It's a mode that we think works in small bursts, but it's not comfortable over longer periods.
If you're gaming on Nintendo Switch on a flight, for example, we'd expect most people to opt to put the console in tabletop mode on the tray table in front of them. We are, however, fans of the shoulder buttons, which manage to feel big enough without impacting on the depth of the console too much.
Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons: grip
Analogue sticks smaller than traditional controllers
Overall the controller is comfortable and nice to use
Clicky face buttons are especially appealing
The main way we expect people will play with the console when it's docked is by combining the two Joy-Cons together into a single controller. This is done by using the included Joy-Con grip, which the two sides slide neatly into.
We were initially concerned when it was revealed that the Joy-Con grip that comes with the Nintendo Switch is unable to charge the two controllers – this means that if you want to charge your controllers you'll need to plug them back into the console's screen.
The Joy-Cons' battery life is rated at 20 hours, so we'd be surprised if they ever run out of battery mid-game; at the same time, having to dismantle our controllers after every play session is somewhat annoying. A grip that charges the Joy-Cons is available, but this is sold separately. Aside from charging concerns, we were surprised with how the Nintendo Switch controller feels when assembled in the grip.
Although the analogue sticks are a little small, we found them perfectly usable for lengthy Breath of the Wild play sessions, and the addition of a little more plastic massively helps the ergonomics of the controller as a whole.
It's just a shame that the controller doesn’t have a proper D-pad on its left side: as it stands you're going to need to buy the Pro controller if you want that traditional Nintendo controller feel on the Nintendo Switch.
Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons: individual controllers
Oddly positioned buttons due to having to work as a combined controller
A nice option to have if you want a friend to join you for multiplayer
Split the Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons apart and they can work as individual controllers complete with an analogue stick each, four face buttons, and (if you attach a Joy-Con strap) two shoulder buttons. It's this configuration that feels like it's required the biggest compromise in Nintendo's pursuit to make them work in multiple ways.
On the left Joy-Con the D-pad/face buttons are in the centre of the controller, which means your right thumb is uncomfortably far over, and the same is true of the analogue stick on the right Joy-Con. The asymmetrical configuration also makes describing controls to another person very difficult, since the control buttons have different names between the two Joy-Cons.
The lack of hand grips is also prone to causing cramp if you use the controllers over long periods, especially if the game you're playing relies heavily on the Joy-Con's shoulder buttons. As a final point, the shoulder buttons can feel a little stiff to press, which adds to the discomfort of using them over long periods.
So while this configuration might work in a pinch if you want to let a friend join you for a couple of rounds of Mario Kart, we don't see it being something you'll want to spend a lot of time with. Additionally, you'll need to remember to carry the Joy-Con straps with your Nintendo Switch if you want to use the shoulder buttons, which will be an annoying inconvenience for most people.
Alternatively, you can use the two Joy-Cons as a single controller while split apart. Here they function identically to when they’re assembled into the Joy-Con grip, although we found it much less comfortable because of how cramped the right analogue stick ends up feeling.
Again, this feels like a compromise, this time for when you've forgotten your Joy-Con grip. We can't see ourselves using this configuration much at all unless a motion-controlled game specifically calls for it in the future.
Nintendo was a little late to the online party. While Microsoft stormed ahead with its Xbox Live service and Sony got to grips with the PlayStation Network, Nintendo was languishing with inconvenient friend codes and limited voice chat options.
After a lengthy initial wait, Nintendo Switch Online is in full swing. As you're probably aware, it brings with it the ability to save games in the cloud, access to a host of classic NES games, and of course online multiplayer. The downside is you have to fork out £3.49 / $3.99 to Nintendo every month for the basic plan.
Nintendo Switch: online multiplayer
Basic service has been online for a while
Full service launched in October 2018
Online multiplayer was available in some games from the launch of the Nintendo Switch, but now it's here in full – if you're willing to pay for it. We've already had a play around with the console's companion app, which was compatible with Splatoon 2 right away.
You could invite friends to matches, and voice chat with them, even if the whole process was rather cumbersome. Using a separate device isn't ideal, and connectivity usually wasn't perfect. Since the full Nintendo Switch Online service launched, things improved with direct in-game invites, but these aren't often utilised.
What we can tell you is that regular updates to the Nintendo Switch companion app and the firmware on the console itself have continued to introduce some very welcome features – such as the ability to add friends directly from your 3DS and Wii U Friend Lists.
Nintendo Switch: local wireless multiplayer
Easy to set up and join other players
Supports up to eight Switch consoles
Local wireless multiplayer within a game such as Mario Kart 8 Deluxe works very well in our experience. We used three Nintendo Switch consoles to have six people playing at once and found the entire process simple to set up, with no lag or connection problems.
To set up an online multiplayer game using local wireless, players simply start up Mario Kart and select local wireless mode for either one or two players within the game itself. After this, one player will set up a room which the other players then join, and the player who set up the room selects the race rules.
Each player will be given the chance to vote for their track preference and the game will randomly choose a track from those that players have voted for, much like online play works. If you have two players to one console, then the screen will split for each of you to see your place in the race, but you won't see what everyone else is seeing on their screens unless their consoles are in front of you.
In the specific case of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, the maximum number of players that you can have in a single race over local wireless is eight, with one or two players per Switch. You can also do LAN matches with up to 12 players. However, if you don't have multiple consoles then up to four friends can play on a single Nintendo Switch console in TV mode, or in tabletop mode.
Alternatively, if you have a lot of friends and a lot of consoles to hand, up to 12 consoles in TV mode can be connected via LAN Play, with one or two players per connected Nintendo Switch. However with each player required to have their own USB Ethernet adaptor, it's unlikely that many outside of tournaments will end up using their Nintendo Switch consoles in this way.
Nintendo Switch Online
Limited functionality at launch
Full service arrived in October 2018
Nintendo Switch Online certainly looks better than what it's offered in the past, but it still falls short of what competitors Sony and Microsoft are doing. The service costs $3.99 / £3.49 / AU$5.95 if you're paying month by month, with the monthly cost dropping slightly if you commit to more months at once.
And remember those are the prices for one user. If you've got a family on your Nintendo Switch then you'll be looking to sign up for the more expensive family plan which costs £31.49 / $34.99 per year. It seems like a fair bit more, but it does allow up to eight accounts across multiple consoles, meaning you get a decent discount if you know a few people with Switch consoles who are willing to split.
Large parts of the service function through an app on your phone, so you'll have to have it on you if you want to use some of the online functions. The service also offers its own somewhat limited version of Sony's PlayStation Plus free games and Microsoft's Xbox Games with Gold, giving players access to a small library of 20 NES games at launch (with modern features like online multiplayer).
Nintendo has continued adding NES and SNES games regularly but if you opt for the more expensive Expansion Pack, there’s Mega Drive and N64 games too.
Something a lot of people have been waiting for has also arrived with the online service: cloud saves. Those who subscribe to the online service can finally back up their saves for the games they've plugged hundreds of hours into (though they do have to pay for the privilege).
Though the Switch launched without the popular video streaming apps like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime we've come to expect from consoles. Nintendo was quick to promise that these services would come to the console 'in time', though five years on, this remains sparse.
Hulu is the first of these services to have launched. It's US-only, but we're hoping this is a good sign that other streaming services will be arriving soon. YouTube and Crunchyroll have since arrived, too.
Nintendo Switch: eShop online store
eShop available at launch with modern games
Retro games available through Nintendo Switch Online
Like the Wii U before it, the Nintendo Switch features an online store that will allow you to download games rather than buy them in-store.
As for the Virtual Console seen on previous Nintendo devices, that's not coming to the Nintendo Switch. Instead, retro games are available through the online subscription service we've already mentioned. We like the eShop's minimalist design. Along the left are sections for Recent Releases, Coming Soon, Charts, Current Offers and Redeem Code, alongside some search functionality too.
You can add upcoming games to your Watch List, and there's also a section for downloading previously purchased titles to your Nintendo Switch. Nintendo is clearly planning to continue to add to the store as time goes on, too.
This original review was based on the Nintendo Switch model released at launch. However Nintendo has since updated its standard model to one which boasts a longer battery life.
With the Nintendo Switch having to work as a handheld as well as a home console, we were initially worried that the console's graphical abilities would be limited. Internally the Switch is using an Nvidia Tegra X1 chip, which is broadly similar to what was found in the Nvidia Shield.
That's not exactly a bad thing considering the Shield is a 4K-capable set-top box, but you have to remember that as a portable device the Switch needs to make compromises to ensure decent battery life. At launch, concerns over graphical horsepower appeared to be partly borne out, but we wouldn't call them deal-breakers.
Nintendo Switch: graphical performance
Roughly equivalent to Wii U
Not on a PS4 or Xbox One level
Strength of Nintendo's art direction makes up for technical shortcomings
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, for example, runs at a resolution of 720p on the Wii U, while this is boosted to 900p on the Switch when docked and outputting to a Full HD screen (4K output isn't supported).
On the surface this suggests the Switch has the graphical edge on the Wii U, but we experienced frequent frame rate drops when playing the game on our television. Meanwhile, when played on the Switch's own 720p screen, the game maintained a consistent frame rate.
These observations would suggest that we're looking at a new console with roughly equivalent power to Nintendo’s last-generation system, but we'll see how the situation improves as developers continue to get to grips with the new hardware.
Nintendo has never been one to push the graphical envelope though, not really. Past games such as the Wii U's Mario Kart 8 have certainly looked good, but this has been more as a result of their distinctive art style than the technical prowess of their graphics. We're thankful then that this has tended to be a strong suit of Nintendo's in the past.
The look of the games (in handheld mode at least) is also helped by the quality of the Switch's screen. Although it's only a 720p resolution, the screen is bright and its colors are vibrant. It's not up there with the best smartphones on the market, but it's definitely a step above Nintendo’s past handhelds.
We'll have to see what the Nintendo Switch achieves in the graphical department going forward, but this certainly isn't a console to rival the likes of the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One. Since the release of Sony and Microsoft's new generation successors, the PS5 and Xbox Series X/S, that technological gap has only widened further.
Still, the games we've played look very good for handheld games, but as console games they don't quite have the same fidelity of current-generation games on other consoles.
Nintendo Switch: battery life
As low as 2.5 hours for graphically intensive games
Enough for a commute, but longer journeys might prove problematic
Ability to charge over USB allows use of portable battery packs
Much has been made of the Switch's battery life, which Nintendo has claimed will last between 2.5 and 6 hours. In our experience this claim has rung true. When actively playing Zelda we got around 2.5 hours, which was enough to cover our commute to and from work in a single day before we charged the Switch overnight.
If you're looking to use the console for a longer period, such as on a flight, then there are a couple of things you can do to squeeze some more battery life out of the console – turning on airplane mode for example (although this prevents you from detaching the Joy-Cons), and dimming the screen.
Additionally you're able to use portable battery packs, but this is hardly ideal, and we found that the Nintendo Switch draws so much power that at best they prevented the battery from dropping during play, rather than actively recharging it.
It's difficult to compare this battery life to previous handheld consoles, as even on the Switch itself this battery life will vary massively between different games, but we've seen a rest-mode comparison that put the Switch ahead of the Vita and PSP, while losing out to the DS and GameBoy Advance.
The bottom line is that this is a console that should be able to deal with your daily commute, but might struggle with longer journeys.
Update: This page originally covered the games that launched alongside the console. However after five years on sale, the number of games on the Nintendo Switch has increased significantly – check out our guide to the best Nintendo Switch games for a constantly-updated list of the games you absolutely need to pick up.
Plenty of good games over the first 12 months
Eventual success will rely on third-party developers
Lack of graphical parity may harm long-term support
The Nintendo Switch's launch lineup comprised a combination of ports of existing games such as Shovel Knight, World of Goo and I Am Setsuna, new entries in existing franchises like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Bomberman R, and all-new games like Snipperclips, 1-2 Switch and Fast RMX.
All in all it wasn't a bad launch lineup, but the first 12 months that the Nintendo Switch was on sale also saw big new releases in the form of Super Mario Odyssey, Xenoblade Chronicles 2, Splatoon 2 and Arms.
How this will continue playing out isn't fully clear, but Fils-Aime did say that a main Nintendo development philosophy is to have at least one of its classic franchises on every platform. In its first year, the console received ports of big games like Minecraft and FIFA. Though hardly new, these remain important for consumers who don't plan on using the Switch as a second console, but their primary gaming device.
The real test in the long term will be how third-party developers (i.e. those not financed by Nintendo directly) embrace the console. Although its graphics are good for a handheld, we worry that a lack of graphical parity with PS4 and Xbox One will prevent developers from easily supporting the console alongside those devices, which may harm the number of game releases it gets in the future.
So far there have been some positive signs for third-party support on the Nintendo Switch. Rocket League developer Psyonix brought the game to the console, for example, and Snake Pass' launch suggests games can be brought over to the Switch without too many compromises.
Mario and Zelda have always been excellent games. Still, without the likes of franchises with more regular release schedules like Call of Duty, Assassin's Creed and Far Cry, you might find yourself lacking games to play in the long run. Thankfully, Nintendo usually releases at least one first-party game each month, so there's never a major drought.
We've had the chance to try out a select portion of the console's games at launch, so read on for our thoughts.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Impressive modernization of a classic franchise
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was undoubtedly the jewel in the crown of Nintendo Switch's launch lineup. Although the game also arrived on Nintendo's older Wii U console, the thought of being able to take a full-on, modern Zelda on the go was always going to be a compelling proposition.
But quite apart from being the best handheld Zelda game ever made, the game is also up there with being one of the best in the series too. It feels fantastically broad and open, with dozens of weapons to find, items to craft, and environments to explore.
Yes, the game breaks with tradition in so many ways but the experience still ends up feeling quintessentially Zelda, with all the charm that this entails. If you're picking up a Nintendo Switch or have done already, then Breath of the Wild is an absolutely essential purchase. It won't be long before its direct sequel, The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, also arrives.
An interesting showcase of the hardware, but doesn't quite have the staying power of Wii Sports
Like the Wii before it, the Nintendo Switch introduces new technologies to gaming that haven't been explored before. Whereas the Wii had Wii Sports to show off these new concepts, the Switch is banking on 1-2 Switch to demonstrate what the new hardware is capable of. The result is a mini-game collection, which cover everything from sword-fighting, Wild West gunslinging, and cow-milking.
It's a fun collection of games, but we don't think it has the same 'replayability' as the classic Wii Sports did. The fact this isn't a pack-in game and requires a separate purchase doesn't help it, either.
The games are more about performing in front of your friends than outright winning. For example, one game has you pulling yoga poses and trying to keep as still as possible for as long as you can, but since the Joy-Con is only tracking the movement of one hand, there's nothing forcing you to actually hold the pose specified by the game (aside from drawing the ire of your friends).
There's also no single-player mode for you to practise with when you're away from a group of pals. Overall the game is a bit of a mixed bag, but it's a fun one to use to show off your new Nintendo Switch to friends.
A great little co-op indie game
One of the nice surprises of the Switch launch event way back when was Snipperclips, a small puzzle game in which two players solve puzzles by cutting sections out of each other and changing their character's shapes.
It’s a delightful, charming, little game, and with its budget price tag we think it's another essential purchase for anyone who owns a Nintendo Switch.
Just Dance 2017
A competent entry in the series
You've almost certainly heard of Just Dance, the dancing series that first premiered on the Wii way back in 2009.
The game tasks you with completing various dance routines, either on your own or with a friend, and judges your progress based on the movement of a Joy-Con in your hand (unfortunately there doesn't appear to be a way to use two Joy-Cons simultaneously).
Much like 1-2 Switch, there's little to stop you cheating and not dancing with your whole body, but (also like 1-2 Switch) this is meant as a party game, so social niceties will hopefully stop you from spoiling the fun.
It's not the most feature-packed or technically advanced game in the world, but if you've enjoyed Just Dance games in the past then this appears to be a very serviceable version for the Nintendo Switch.
By all accounts the Nintendo Switch has had an amazing start to life, with a number of excellent exclusive games and solid sales. However, the complete package (including Nintendo Switch Online) has only recently become available, so we'll have to reserve judgment on that part of the wider Nintendo Switch experience for the time being.
When compared with the handheld consoles that have come before it, the Nintendo Switch blows them out of the water with its graphical quality, which comes close to the last generation of consoles. This is helped by its impressive screen which is bright, crisp, and colorful.
Providing the console with a controller that also doubles as two individual controllers is a very neat inclusion, and should mean that you're always able to join a friend for a quick multiplayer game while you're out and about.
We're pleased to report that the Nintendo Switch docking and undocking process is impressively seamless too, with games that don't even need to be paused before being plugged into a television. We also like the pattern of regular updates that Nintendo has established: Fortnite has just been added, for example, and the online service seems set to shake things up once again.
The phrase "jack of all trades and master of none" may sound negative, but the impression the Nintendo Switch has left us with is that sometimes compromise is necessary and good.
Yes there are better home consoles out there with controllers that can be good at doing just one thing, and yes there are handhelds out there that have better battery life and a more compact form-factor, but no other piece of gaming hardware has attempted the sheer number of things as the Nintendo Switch does – and then delivered so competently on so many of them.
The graphics aren't the best around, but they're good enough that they don't feel dated. The controller isn't the most comfortable, but it never feels outright difficult to use. The battery life isn't the best, but it's enough for daily use.
All of these trade-offs have been born out of compromise and an attempt to make something that works in so many situations, and on that final point the Nintendo Switch is a great success.
What remains to be seen is if, in the years ahead, its games library can shape up to be something you'll want to play both at home and on the go, and whether its online service can compete with the existing efforts from Sony and Microsoft. If both of these play out well, Nintendo will have found a set of compromises worth making.
So is the £259.99 / $259.99 / AU$435 asking price justified? At this point, the answer seems to be a resounding yes. Nintendo has released excellent game after excellent game for the system, and the hardware does a great job of making these games come alive.
The Nintendo Switch OLED appears like a re-skin of the standard Nintendo Switch, but when you start to look a little closer, you'll notice the significant upgrades it hosts, which build upon the foundations set by the original model. The impressive 7-inch display spotlights vivid colors and perfect blacks, which is a drastic improvement over the original LCD panel.
Outside of the display, the Nintendo Switch OLED hosts enhanced speakers to make gameplay without headphones far more enjoyable, and diving into the best games on Nintendo Switch has never sounded crisper.
In addition, the console has twice the amount of storage as the original Switch and Nintendo Switch Lite, with a total of 64GB. However, it's still a paltry amount compared to the PS5 and Xbox Series X, which offer far faster storage at significantly higher capacities. However, Switch games tend to be significantly smaller, and the console has a Micro SD slot, so you can always expand if needed.
So far, so good, then... but Nintendo has shamelessly overlooked one of the three core pillars of the Switch experience – TV mode – and the new console is a hard sell as a result. Despite redesigning the console’s dock, adding smoother edges, more breathing room, and even a LAN port for those who like to play online, the OLED is surprisingly bare in this crucial sector.
Another great disappointment for Switch players playing on their televisions is that you’re still capped to a 1080p output; there’ll be no 4K upscaling. So whenever you dock the Nintendo Switch OLED, all of its major selling points miraculously disappear. This boggles my mind considering that this is a console that’s supposed to cater equally to three types of play.
Everything about this feels entirely at odds with the console's more premium feel. Countless titles and developers could have benefitted from a refresh of the Switch's aging components, so it's a shame Nintendo didn't respond to the clamor from both developers and consumers with the console approaching its sixth anniversary.
So who is the Nintendo Switch OLED model for, and is it worth splashing the cash to upgrade if you already own the original Switch or handheld-only Switch Lite? Well, if you’re new to the Switch line, the answer is a definite ‘yes’ – this is the best version of Nintendo's ingenious console to date and one that corrects many of the faults of the original model.
If you play the Switch in handheld or tabletop mode, then nothing stops you from upgrading to the OLED. The OLED has much to offer thanks to the gorgeous 7-inch OLED screen, amazing speakers, and redesigned kickstand. However, if you currently have a Switch and use it primarily in TV mode, we can confidently say that the Switch OLED would be a luxury and unnecessary upgrade.
You can watch our Nintendo Switch OLED video review below:
Nintendo Switch OLED price and release date
What is it? The fourth iteration of Nintendo's hybrid console
When did it come out? October 8, 2021
What does it cost? $349.99 / £309.99 / AU$539.95
The Nintendo Switch OLED launched on October 8, 2021, and it's the fourth iteration of Nintendo's home console. It costs $349.99 / £309.99 / AU$539.95, so it’s slightly more expensive than the original Nintendo Switch, which retails for $299.99 / £259.99 / AU$469.95, and it’s obviously a more considerable investment than the Nintendo Switch Lite, which costs $199.99 / £199.99 / AU$329.95.
The Nintendo Switch OLED model's higher price tag seems reasonable, however. The upgraded console comes with a larger, 7-inch OLED display, enhanced speakers, double the internal storage and a wider kickstand, and you also get a slightly improved dock that includes a LAN port for more stable online play.
Thankfully, Nintendo has confirmed there won't be a price hike just yet for the Nintendo Switch OLED, unlike the hikes for Oculus Quest 2 and PS5 that were blamed on global inflation. So, if you haven't picked up an OLED model yet, there's no need to rush.
Nintendo Switch OLED design
Three modes: TV, handheld, and tabletop
Same detachable Joy-Con controllers
It comes with various accessories
If it weren't for the larger screen and new pristine white Joy-Con controllers, you'd be hard-pressed to notice any design differences between the Switch OLED and the original Switch. However, look a little closer, and several changes can be found.
The new 7-inch OLED display is the most prominent new design feature, and it's surprisingly impactful, despite only being 0.8 inches larger than the original Switch's 6.2-inch screen. As a result, the Switch OLED is slightly bigger than its predecessor: it's 0.1 inches longer, at 9.5 x 0.55 x 4 inches (W x D x H), but it still feels immediately familiar in the hands.
The Switch OLED has a bit more heft about it, though. It weighs 422 grams with the Joy-Con attached, about 22 grams more than the Nintendo Switch. Thankfully, we didn’t find that the added weight caused any fatigue when playing, but it's worth bearing in mind if you already feel like the Switch is a touch on the heavy side.
You'll find the same Nintendo Switch accessories we're used to seeing in the box: two Joy-Con controllers, a pair of Joy-Con straps, and a Joy-Con Grip.
You also get the redesigned Nintendo Switch dock, which includes the new LAN port, which is slightly longer but not quite as deep as the original dock. There's a bit more wiggle room inside, too, which should allow for more efficient airflow and lessens the chance that you'll gradually scratch the Switch's screen by repeatedly putting it in and taking it out of the dock. The dock is also a touch lighter, not that you’ll be moving it very often, and it contains one fewer 2.0 USB port.
It's also worth noting that the Nintendo Switch OLED will work in the old dock, and the original Nintendo Switch will work in the new one. Both may require a system update, but it's pleasing to know that your old dock won't be rendered entirely useless.
Other Switch OLED design changes include a repositioned microSD slot, which sits behind the wider kickstand and is easier to find, a slightly more recessed power button that’s now oval-shaped, and a wider volume rocker. It also features smaller slits for the fans to exhaust hot air, which help to give the Switch OLED a more modern appearance. You also get a headphone jack, as on the other Switch models.
Aesthetically speaking, the Nintendo Switch OLED hides the older Switch's product information and warnings. While it's a small addition, the back of the Switch now looks much cleaner as a result, with the info tucked discreetly away behind the new stand.
While we mostly welcome the Nintendo Switch OLED's more minor design touches, we severely dislike one change: the new Game Card slot. The little indentation on the original Switch's Game Card slot is gone, making it almost impossible to open if you don't have any fingernails. We found ourselves scratching at the Game Card's new slot countless times in an attempt to pry it open, and frankly, we can't understand why this change was made when it’s objectively worse.
Nintendo Switch OLED: handheld mode
The new 7-inch OLED display is a revelation
Still not the most ergonomic design
Joy-Con durability concerns remain
Vivid or Standard mode?
The Nintendo Switch OLED lets you choose between two screen settings: Vivid and Standard. Vivid is the default setting and provides extremely punchy and vibrant colors, which many will find pleasing. Standard, meanwhile, is more akin to the original Switch's color setting and provides a more natural and accurate picture. By heading to System Settings > System > Console Screen Vividness, you can see which suits you best.
Nintendo's Switch OLED model shines in handheld mode thanks to the vibrant new display. The 7-inch panel makes it easier to track the action in fast-paced games like Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, and the high-contrast display breathes new life into Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. Metroid Dread is an excellent showcase, too, as its dimly lit levels and alien-like color palette benefit from the OLED’s incredible contrast ratio.
Compared side-by-side with the new display, the original Switch’s LCD panel, almost looks washed out. Everything looks punchy and enticing on the OLED model – blacks, in particular, are inky and inviting on the OLED, whereas on the original, they look muted and gray.
The Switch OLED's display is still only 720p; however, games and text still looked sharp and legible when using the console in a comfortable position. We didn't encounter any motion blur issues, and the display was suitably bright, even in daylight conditions.
We still don't think the Nintendo Switch OLED is the most ergonomic gaming device we've ever used. The flat and wide console shape can lead to hand cramps during longer play sessions, and Joy-Con controllers use the same design as the original console, which is five years old, meaning durability concerns remain. The Joy-Con still tends to move up and down ever so slightly when attached to the console, too, which we’ve always found concerning since they’re supposed to lock in place.
Nintendo Switch OLED: TV mode
No 4K support, still the same 1080p output
No HDR support either
Unfortunately, the Nintendo Switch OLED offers zero improvements over its predecessor in TV mode. Yes, the new dock includes a LAN port for more stable online gaming compared to playing over Wi-Fi, but you still get the same 720p UI and a max output resolution of 1080p. Even then, you could plug a LAN adapter into your Switch dock.
With 4K TVs now commonplace in most households, it seems like a massive oversight not to include any 4K support with the Switch OLED. Even the Xbox One S, a console released in 2016, can output at 4K.
The Nintendo Switch OLED also doesn't include support for high dynamic range or HDR as it's commonly known. Again, we've seen last-gen consoles like the PS4 and Xbox One offer this functionality for years, so it would have been great to see Nintendo implement some modern-day display technologies to boost TV TV mode.
Nintendo Switch OLED: tabletop mode
Adjustable stand is a vast improvement over the original
OLED display offers better viewing angles
Enhanced speakers make a difference
Another plus point of the Nintendo Switch OLED is its performance in tabletop mode. Thanks to its wider, redesigned kickstand, it's far easier (and safer) to use the Switch in tabletop mode, perfect for impromptu multiplayer sessions. The hinge is far more robust and makes a satisfying thud when closed – we don’t have any concerns about it loosening over time and failing to snap into place like the old one.
As on the original Switch, Joy-Con controllers can be detached from the side of the unit, allowing you to prop the console on a table or other surface to play with a friend (or stranger) at a moment's notice.
But where the old kickstand limited you to one viewing angle, the Switch OLED's adjustable stand can be positioned in multiple ways. It makes for a far more enjoyable viewing experience, and the excellent viewing angles of the OLED display mean you don't need to huddle together when facing off in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.
The Nintendo Switch OLED's enhanced speakers also really come to life in tabletop mode. Our favorite games sounded punchy and clear, without distortion at higher volumes, which is essential when you can't reach for a pair of headphones.
Nintendo Switch OLED performance
Exactly the same tech specs as the original Switch
Even though the original Nintendo Switch was approaching its fifth anniversary when this released, the Nintendo Switch OLED model offers no performance boost whatsoever. The enhanced display aside, the best Switch games look and play the same as before, with the new console having the same Nvidia Custom Tegra X1 processor and 4GB of RAM as its predecessor.
This will disappoint those who were hoping for a more powerful Switch model, which has often been dubbed a "Nintendo Switch Pro". Most Switch games still play perfectly well, of course, but there's no doubt that the console's hardware is beginning to show its age. That's especially true that the PS5 and Xbox Series X are on the market.
Games will at least look prettier thanks to the console's new high-contrast display, and for some, that might be enough – but we were hoping for more here. Thankfully, battery life is on par with the Nintendo Switch (2019) version, so expect between 4.5 hours and nine hours, depending on the game you're playing.
And it's not just Nintendo's first-party lineup that makes the Switch an appealing prospect; the console is also home to fantastic indie games such as Hades, Celeste, and Spelunky 2, many of which feel far more enjoyable to play untethered from the TV.
OLED stands for ‘Organic Light Emitting Diode’. OLED panels bring you better image quality (blacker blacks and brighter whites), reduced power consumption, and faster response times. OLED panels emit their own light when an electric current is passed through, whereas cells in an LCD-LED display require an external light source, like a giant backlight, for brightness. It means individual pixels can be turned on and off, preventing the display from exhibiting backlight bleed, bloom, or haloing that can occur in other display technologies.
Is the Nintendo Switch OLED prone to burn-in?
One of the most common concerns regarding OLED displays is that they can be susceptible to burn-in. Burn-in is a term used to describe permanent image retention on OLED displays that can occur from looping logos or static HUDs. When such elements are displayed for hours, it can permanently scar the panel's pixels, leaving residual 'ghost' patterns that can't be turned off.
Thankfully, OLED panel manufacturers have made great strides in negating burn-in. LG uses 'screen shift' technology, which subtly moves static images onscreen to ensure individual pixels aren't outputting the same information for sustained periods.
But could the Nintendo Switch OLED be susceptible to burn-in? Nintendo told TechRadar: "We’ve designed the OLED screen to aim for longevity as much as possible, but OLED displays can experience image retention if subjected to static visuals over a long time.
"However, users can take preventative measures to preserve the screen by utilizing some of the Nintendo Switch console’s included features, such as using auto-brightness to prevent the screen from getting too bright and enabling the auto-sleep function to put the console into “auto sleep” and turn off the screen after short periods of time."
Nintendo Switch OLED: Recent updates
Nintendo’s continued building upon the Switch OLED since it launched last October, thanks to continued system updates.
TCL’s 6-Series TVs are known for their combination of impressive picture quality and high value, and the latest version of the company’s flagship not just continues that tradition, but improves upon it. Available in 55- to 85-inch screen sizes, the new 6-Series arrived in late 2022, and it offers not just movie fans but gamers on a budget a great big-screen option.
Mini-LED backlighting is common in the best 4K TVs now, but TCL was the first to widely introduce it. In the 6-Series, mini-LED tech enables high brightness, while a quantum dot layer enhances color reproduction, and full array local dimming processing creates deep and detailed shadows. The set features Dolby Vision IQ to make high dynamic range images look good in both dim and well-lit environments, and HDR support extends to HDR10+ and HLG.
Gaming features on 6-Series TV are enabled via a pair of HDMI 2.1 inputs, with onboard support for 120Hz, Variable Refresh Rate (up to 144Hz), and Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM). FreeSync Premium Pro is also supported, making TCL’s flagship an obvious choice for gaming.
A new design with a sturdy center stand (55-, 65-, and 75-inch models only) improves the look of TCL’s 6-Series, and a vanishingly thin bezel creates an “all-picture” effect. The stand has adjustable height for soundbar placement, and can be elevated to accommodate all but the most chunky of bars.
That last feature is an important one because sound quality on 6-Series TVs is just average. Dialogue is clear, but there’s very little bass, and the thin overall audio balance can create ear fatigue (for me, at least). You’ll want to add one of the best soundbars to this TV, if only a basic two-channel one.
The set I tested uses the Roku smart TV interface (a version with Google TV is also available), which is one of the less cluttered and easy to navigate options on the market. A basic Roku remote provided with the set offers voice commands for searches and basic control, and the TV also works with Siri, Alexa, and Hey Google.
As far as value goes, the new 6-Series is one of the more compelling TV options on the market. This series is packed with great features and the performance is well above-average, especially given the price. TCL has once again made things look easy, rolling out a high-value TV lineup with a surprisingly high level of refinement.
TCL 6-Series Roku TV (2022) review: price and release date
Release date: September 1, 2022
From $699 at 55 inches
TCL’s 6-Series is the company’s top TV line, with screen sizes ranging from 55 up to 85 inches. The version I reviewed comes with the Roku smart TV interface, but similar 6-Series models and screen sizes are available with Google TV. TCL’s 6-Series is only available in the US.
Pricing for the 6-Series TVs is comparable to other budget TV offerings in the US such as Hisense and Vizio.
The 55-inch 55R655 costs $699, the 65-inch 65R655 costs $999, the 75-inch 75R655 costs $1,499, and the 85R655 costs $1,999.
TCL 6-Series Roku TV (2022) review: Specs
TCL 6-Series Roku TV (2022) review: features
Roku smart TV interface
Dolby Vision, HDR10+, and HLG high dynamic range
HDMI 2.1 inputs with 120Hz and VRR
The TCL 6-Series (2022) model we reviewed features the Roku smart TV interface (Google TV is another 6-Series option). Roku’s interface has a clean layout that’s very easy to navigate, and it offers the best streaming services, including Netflix, Disney Plus, Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max, Apple TV Plus, Hulu, Peacock, and ESPN Plus. The TV Works with Siri, Alexa, and Hey Google and it has AirPlay 2 support for casting from an iOS device or Mac computer.
TCL’s 6-Series sets are QLED models that feature a quantum dot layer for enhanced color and brightness and they use a mini-LED backlight with full array local dimming (288 zones). The company’s AiPQ Engine handles video processing and high dynamic range support extends to Dolby Vision IQ, HDR10+, and HLG.
Two of the set’s four HDMI inputs are version HDMI 2.1 with support for 4K 120Hz input, Variable Refresh Rate (up to 144Hz), and Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM). One port supports HDMI eARC for a soundbar connection, and there’s an optical digital audio output and an RF input to connect an indoor TV antenna for use with the set’s ATSC 1.0 broadcast tuner. When viewing TV broadcasts, you can rewind live TV up to 30 minutes when a storage device is plugged into the set’s USB port.
Overall, the feature package is excellent for the price, with the TV’s mini-LED backlight and local dimming features, along with extensive HDR support, making it an excellent choice for movie viewing. And 120Hz, VRR, and ALLM support, along with FreeSync Premium Pro, make it a great option for gaming as well.
Features Score: 4.5/5
TCL 6-Series Roku TV (2022) review: picture quality
Rich color reproduction
Deep blacks with detailed shadows
Limited brightness for an OLED TV
The 65-inch 6-Series TV I tested offered up the impressive brightness you’d expect from a mini-LED TV, with standard dynamic range peak light output measured at 1,326 nits and high dynamic range at 1,317 nits. That’s a bit less than the 1,775 nits I measured on the Hisense U8H, another budget mini-LED model, but still well above what you’d get from an average QLED or OLED TV.
With the set’s High Brightness and and High Local Contrast settings selected, it was capable of displaying black at 0 nits to deliver “infinite contrast.” With the Local Contrast setting switched off, the set’s native contrast ratio was 5,965:1 – still a very good result for an LCD-based TV. For most of my testing, I set Local Contrast at High, which delivered the best black depth and black uniformity.
The TCL’s color balance in its default Warm color temperature setting was slightly reddish across the full grayscale, though that could be corrected for using the advanced picture settings in the Roku control app, along with Portrait Displays’ Calman color calibration software. Coverage of DCI-P3 (the color space used for mastering 4K Blu-rays and digital cinema releases) was 96.2%, and BT.2020 was 76.3%. Those results are very good, and basically match what I measured on the Hisense U8H.
Screen reflections from overhead lights were minimal on the 6-Series TV I tested. This, combined with the set’s prodigious light output, makes it a great option for viewing in a well-illuminated space. Picture contrast and color saturation faded when viewing from off-center seats, but that’s a common effect with LCD-based TVs.
Moving on to how the TCL looked with movies and TV, I started my viewing by watching some high-definition documentaries broadcast on a local PBS channel, and the set’s 4K upconversion was impressively clean and crisp. Soccer games streamed via ESPN Plus looked somewhat softer, but overall the picture quality was very good for sports streamed in HD resolution. The Bond film No Time to Die has a scene where the camera does a long slow pan across a craggy hillside, and this appeared mostly smooth on TCL’s 6-Series TV. (I’ve seen that scene literally vibrate with judder on some other sets.)
Streaming the The Last of Us on HBO Max in Dolby Vision, the set’s Dolby Vision IQ processing presented a well balanced picture packed with subtle yet powerful highlights. In a scene where Joel, Tess, and Ellie wander outside an abandoned museum, for example, the golden sunlight hitting them and their surroundings made the ravaged landscape look almost beautiful. Detail in this scene was also rich, with the CGI-created textures of the fungi crisply rendered.
All Quiet on the Western Front, a 2022 Oscar Best Picture nominee,also looked fantastic on the TCL when streamed in Dolby Vision from Netflix. Shadows in the film’s many dark scenes came across as a deep, inky black, and there was a good amount of detail in the dark trenches where the French and German soldiers do battle. I did see a small degree of backlight blooming, mostly on the black letterbox bars at the top and bottom of the picture when flares or some other very bright object appeared. But instances of this were minimal and I only noted it when specifically looking for it.
Overall, I was very impressed with the TCL 6-Series TV’s picture quality. Its light output proved to be more than enough for my regular dark room viewing habits, and I ended up scaling it back considerably for most shows I watched.
Picture quality score: 4.5/5
TCL 6-Series Roku TV (2022) review: sound quality
2 x 10 watt speakers
Dolby Atmos support
Thin sound quality with most modes
The 6-Series’ audio features are very basic, with a pair of downfiring speakers each powered by 10 watts, handling sound chores. TCL’s specs state Dolby Atmos support, but that’s limited to virtual Atmos from the set’s speaker pair.
I cycled through the TV’s multiple sound processing modes, including Theater and Bass Boost, but couldn’t find one that didn’t have thin audio quality. You do get the option to turn on virtual surround sound for all programs or just for ones with Dolby Atmos, and when used with Atmos soundtracks there is a notable sense of spaciousness to the sound.
Dialogue was very clear with all programs I watched, even ones with medium-loud soundtracks. Even so, this was a case where I felt almost desperate to add a Dolby Atmos soundbar to the TV, and when I did, the sound filled out and made dialogue more balanced with other elements like music and effects.
Sound quality score: 3.5/5
TCL 6-Series Roku TV (2022) review: design
FullView edge-to-edge glass design
Aluminum base with center placement
Roku remote control with built-in mic
The 6-Series has a great look for a budget TV line. TCL’s FullView edge-to-edge glass design, along with an extremely thin bezel, means there’s an “all picture” appearance, and the aluminum base at center screen provides a sturdy foundation for it to rest upon.
The base has adjustable height, and after setup there was plenty of space between the screen’s lower edge and my TV stand's surface to accommodate a rather sizeable soundbar – always a plus with a TV. Around back, the set has a cable management system, and you can use this to route wires from connected components located on shelves beneath to the inputs section on the TV’s side.
The Roku remote used to control the set will be familiar to anyone who has used that company’s streamers. It has a simple button layout, including quick keys to easily access apps like Netflix, and a button to activate the built-in mic for voice searches. It’s basic enough to use in a dark room and provides all the controls needed for accessing inputs and picture and sound adjustments via the onscreen menu.
Design score: 4.5/5
TCL 6-Series Roku TV (2022) review: smart TV & menus
Roku TV interface
Works with Siri, Alexa, and Hey Google
Picture adjustments require lots of scrolling
A Roku product was my very first streamer, and I had used several of them over the years before making a switch to the Apple TV 4K. It’s a great interface – easy to navigate, and with extensive app support. One of the issues I have with smart TV interfaces is that they’ll often be missing several key apps that I use on a regular basis (Criterion Channel and ESPN Plus among others), but Roku always seems to have it all and more. Unlike other smart TV platforms like Google TV and Amazon, the Roku interface also isn’t overloaded with ads and program options being “pushed” at you.
Voice searches can be easily carried out by pressing the mic button on the remote control, and the TV also “Works with” Siri, Alexa, and Hey Google when you add your own device for those platforms. AirPlay 2 is supported for streaming, letting you cast video and music to the TV from your iOS device or Mac computer.
Having never tested a set with Roku baked in before, it took some time to get used to the TV functions being embedded in the long-familiar streaming interface. You navigate and select inputs the same as you do with streaming apps, and a press of the remote’s star button calls up the picture settings menu. TCL makes it easy to get up and running, with basic and very general categories like TV Brightness, Local Contrast, and HDR Picture modes (with Dark and Bright settings). But you’ll need to keep scrolling, a bit annoyingly, to the Picture Fine Tune menu to access other adjustments like Brightness, Contrast, and Color. There’s also a more advanced picture menu with 11-point color temperature adjustments located in the Roku control app (iOS and Android).
When using the set’s built in ATSC 1.0 broadcast TV tuner, you’ll get program guide-like on-screen overlays with details about the show you’ve selected, and you can edit the channel list to limit it to just the ones you regularly watch. A neat feature is Live TV Rewind, which lets you scroll back up to 30 minutes when a storage device is plugged into the set’s USB port.
Smart TV & menus score: 4.5/5
TCL 6-Series Roku TV (2022) review: gaming
VRR up to 144Hz, ALLM, FreeSync Premium Pro support
Low 10.1ms input lag
Auto Game Mode
TCL says its 6-Series TVs have Game Studio Pro. And while what that exactly means is unclear, it appears to be an umbrella term for the set’s many gaming-related features. Of these, the most notable is VRR with up to 144Hz support. Another is ALLM, along with FreeSync Premium Pro. These are all great gaming extras to find in an affordable TV.
The 6-Series sets also have Auto Game Mode, which basically means that the TV automatically switches over to settings optimized for gaming when it detects an input from a compatible console. Otherwise, there’s no “Gaming Dashboard” similar to the ones on LG’s TVs, or the Gaming Hub interface found on Samsung’s sets.
I measured input lag in the set’s Gaming picture mode at 10.1ms using a 4K test meter. That’s a great result, and one that ranks the 6-Series among the the best gaming TVs when combined with its impressive feature-set.
Gaming score: 4.5/5
TCL 6-Series Roku TV (2022) review: value
Affordable for a mini-LED TV
Great picture quality for the price
Gaming features rival those found on expensive TVs
This is the second budget TV I’ve tested with a mini-LED backlight (the first was the Hisense U8H), and I’m astonished at the difference that feature makes, and that it can be incorporated into such an affordable set.
The 6-Series TV I tested delivered the kind of deep, rich blacks I’m used to seeing on much more expensive models, and its impressive local dimming ensured that visible artifacts like backlight blooming were kept to a minimum. Overall, this TV delivers a very clean and punchy looking picture for the price.
If you’re a gamer, the value of the 6-Series goes up even further. (Unfortunately, our value scale only extends to 5, so I can’t give it higher points.) It offers the kind of gamer-oriented features normally found in pricier TVs, and in key ways appears specifically designed to cater to the gaming crowd.
Value score: 5/5
Should I buy the TCL 6-Series Roku TV (2022)?
Buy it if...
Don't buy it if…
Hisense U8H mini-LED Hisense’s U8H series sets are another example of a budget TV lineup with mini-LED backlighting and high brightness. The U8H series also has gaming oriented features like 4K 120Hz and VRR, though its local dimming isn’t as effective as the 6-Series.
How I tested the TCL 6-Series Roku TV (2022)
I spent about 15 hours measuring and evaluating the TCL 6-Series Roku TV
Measurements were made using Calman color calibration software
A full calibration was made before proceeding with subjective tests
When I test TVs, my first step is to spend a few days using it for casual viewing for break-in and to assess the out-of-box picture presets. The next step is to select the most accurate-looking preset (typically labeled Movie or Cinema) and measure the white balance (grayscale), gamma, and color point accuracy using Portrait Displays’ Calman color calibration software. The resulting measurements provide Delta-E values (the margin of error between the test pattern source and what’s shown on-screen) for each category, and they allow for an assessment of the TV’s overall accuracy.
Along with those tests, I make measurements of peak light output (recorded in nits) for both standard high-definition and 4K high dynamic range using a 10% white window pattern. Coverage of DCI-P3 and BT.2020 color space is also measured, with the results providing a sense of how faithfully the TV can render the extended color range in ultra high-definition sources.
For the TCL 6-Series Roku TV, I used the CalMan ISF workflow, along with the advanced picture menu settings in the Roku control app, to calibrate the image for best accuracy with SDR and HDR sources. Once done, I watched a range of reference scenes on 4K Blu-ray discs that I’ve gathered after years of TV and projector testing to assess the TV’s performance, as well as new Dolby Vision-encoded material streamed from sources like Netflix and HBO Max.
Samsung has released a series of enormous gaming monitors under the Odyssey brand – like the 55” 16:9 Ark or the bonkers 57” 32:9 Neo G9. These are curved monitors, however, while some users prefer flat. The new Odyssey Neo G7 (model name: G70NC) is for them.
This is a 43” display with 4K resolution (3,840 x 2,160px, 16:9). The Odyssey displays are large enough to be used as TVs – in fact, they are Tizen smart TVs – and a flat display works better for that. The other models use tight curvatures optimized for use at a desk rather than watching them from the couch.
BlackVPN promises to keep your data private – but can it deliver? We’ve put theirVPN servers to the test to see if they can match up to other products on the market, looking at popular features like VPN torrenting capabilities, quick browsing, streaming capabilities and anonymity.
The service was founded in 2009 and is based in Kowloon, Hong Kong. This is considered a privacy-friendly location, because it is outside of the Five Eyes jurisdiction and therefore other countries cannot legally request your data. There is also no mandatory data retention policy in Hong Kong, which is a positive thing for those using the service
As of the time of this review, BlackVPN only has 31 servers spread across 18 different locations. This makes it quite small compared to most VPNs, with many boasting thousands of servers dispersed across multiple nations.
Pricing & plans
To use BlackVPN you need to purchase a full year’s worth of service, with three different packages to choose from. There’s no free VPN option but you can select your plan based on the server you want to use and the features you desire.
There’s a TV option for people who want astreaming VPN to use from the UK or the US, a separate package for unrestricted P2P/Bittorrent services, or a Global Package that bundles all of their services into one package. Subscribing to their plan gets you an unlimited amount of server switches and seven simultaneous device connections.
€99.00 per year
€49.00 per year
€75.00 per year
BlackVPN also offers a 14-day cash-back guarantee and a 3-day trial that doesn't require any credit card information. You can purchase their service with credit cards, PayPal, cryptocurrencies, bank transfers, gift cards, or e-wallets via PaymentWall.
Privacy & encryption
To protect your traffic, BlackVPN employs the military-grade 256-bit encryption standard as well as 4096-bit RSA certificates, which are unbreakable even by the most effective current computers. It also supports the PPTP, L2TP/IPSec, andOpenVPN protocols.
It also states that copyright infringement (torrenting) isn't allowed on the platform, which means the company will monitor the VPN account if it receives infringement notices from copyright owners. Therefore, they do log data. Ideally, you should use a VPN that has undergone an independentVPN audit. For this reason, we advise looking at our suggested alternatives to this VPN if you are worried about your security and anonymity online.
The majority of market leaders claim to be VPNs for Netflix, giving you access to popular geo-restricted streaming services. When we tested BlackVPN the situation was mixed. It has servers made for VPN streaming and can unblock Netflix US, HBO NOW, Kodi media player, and Disney+. Unfortunately we weren’t able to unblock Amazon Prime Video or Hulu.
Speed & experience
Despite the fact that all VPNs will, in some way, slow down your connection, the best ones have a minimal impact and avoid lags or buffering. Likewise, speed can differ based on your location, connection, and internet service provider.
Our internet speed was 32 Mbps when we ran aspeed test with BlackVPN on a server in Spain; after connecting, it dropped to 11.43 Mbps. The Australian servers underwent predictably worse performance, achieving only 3.8 Mbps on a 64 Mbps test connection. Brazil reached 5.4 Mbps, which also wasn't manageable.
The BlackVPN app was simple to download and compatible with Windows, macOS, Linux, and routers. You'll also find mobile VPN apps for Android and iOS.
Be aware that there are multiple applications with the same name in the Google Play store so double-check that you’re downloading the right one.
To get support, you can try their live chat option or fill out a support ticket. However, you must exercise patience; it took some time before we received a response.
We also advise looking at their knowledge base, which includes FAQs, installation instructions, troubleshooting articles, and more, before contacting the customer support.
Black VPN alternatives
BlackVPN is deeply inferior to many of today’s popular VPN names. If you want a safe VPN, we recommend checking out these alternative options.
The service has more than 5,200 servers spread across 60 different countries, offers live chat support, round-the-clock email support, military-grade internet security, and supports up to six simultaneous device connections. It also has the ability to unblock all popular streaming services.
Express VPN has servers in over 94 countries with live chat support available 24/7, and excellent security measures. It unblocks all streaming platforms, allows you to stream in HD and also allows for five simultaneous connections on devices. Additionally, it adheres strictly to no-log and privacy policies, giving you peace of mind that your information won't be disclosed.
BlackVPN was probably an excellent VPN platform once. However, it is now a barely working shell of a service that only has a nice website to show off and a bunch of unusable apps and servers that occasionally connect. It may unblock Netflix and BBC iPlayer but what’s the point if you can’t even connect to a server in a country where such services are available?