Even if you’re just starting out in gaming, there are numerous entry-level gaming devices available for beginners. Video game consoles have been all the rage for ages, evolving from the OG Brown Box in ’67 to the fancy PS5 in 2023.
As tech keeps improving, console choices have exploded, ensuring everyone’s preferences and gaming skills are covered, even entry-level gamers.
And guess what? In this guide, we’ve got the scoop on 7 top gaming consoles with user-friendly interfaces for first-time gamers.
We’ll reveal each console’s pros and cons, share hands-on knowledge, and offer expert advice on picking the perfect one. Plus, we’ve got some excellent game recommendations for beginners. So, get ready to kickstart your gaming journey!
TL;DR – Top Gaming Console for Beginners
- Nintendo Switch – Best overall gaming console for beginners that doubles as a home and handheld console. It has a wide variety of family-friendly games.
- Retroid Pocket 3 – A budget-friendly Android-based handheld console with a 4.7-inch touchscreen, built-in tutorials, and customizable settings.
- Nintendo Switch Lite – The best portable console for entry-level gamers with a 5.5-inch screen, compact design, integrated controls, and excellent battery life.
- Xbox Series S – Best entry-level console with 1440p resolution, backward compatibility, noiseless operation, and 100+ game titles.
- PS4 Slim – A compact console with support for HDR, all PS4 games, and a DualShock 4 controller for improved response.
- Nintendo 2DS – The best console for beginners featuring a sturdy solid plastic body, comfortable grip, great battery life, and an extensive library of 3DS and DS games.
- Steam Deck – A compact gaming PC plus handheld console with over 7000+ game titles, 1280×800 resolution, and a 60Hz refresh rate for a sharp screen.
- TL;DR – Top Gaming Console for Beginners
- Can I Upgrade My Gaming Console Later If I Progress Beyond the Beginner Level?
- Best Gaming Console for Beginners Reviewed
- 1. Nintendo Switch – Best Overall Gaming Console for Beginners
- 2. Retroid Pocket 3 – Best Budget Gaming Console for Beginners
- 3. Nintendo Switch Lite – Best Portable Gaming Console for Beginners
- 4. Xbox Series S – Best Entry-Level Xbox for Beginners
- 5. PS4 Slim – Best Entry-Level PlayStation for Beginners
- 6. Nintendo 2DS – Best Entry-Level Nintendo for Beginners
- 7. Steam Deck – Best Gaming Console for Beginners with Great Game Library
- Comparing Best Gaming Console for Beginners in 2023
- How to Pick a Gaming Console for Beginners?
- What Games Should a Beginner Gamer Play?
- How to Start Gaming for Beginners?
Can I Upgrade My Gaming Console Later If I Progress Beyond the Beginner Level?
No, you cannot upgrade your gaming console later. While consoles like the PS4 Slim allow for certain hardware upgrades like swapping the hard drive, they don’t provide full upgradeability like a gaming PC. There are several reasons behind this limitation.
Firstly, consoles are closed systems where the hardware and software work together. Modifying or replacing components could disrupt this delicate balance and lead to compatibility issues or void warranties.
Moreover, console manufacturers often rely on selling new consoles to generate revenue rather than offering upgrade options. So, while upgrading a console may not be possible, you can still enhance certain aspects within the limitations set by your console manufacturer.
Best Gaming Console for Beginners Reviewed
Compiling the list of the best gaming console for beginners was no easy feat. It took us several marathon sessions of scouring the gaming community for weeks. We dived into online forums and subreddits like r/Gaming and r/consoles, where we shamelessly stole… err, I mean, took notes from passionate gamers.
But we didn’t stop there. We consulted with our gamer friends and pick their brains for insights and gaming console recommendations for first-time users. Our team borrowed some consoles from their generous gamer friends to tinker with them for weeks.
We also managed to snag a few consoles on sale or rented them from gaming shops because we’re all about thorough testing. Now, let’s talk about how we pushed these consoles to their limits testing each one for the following things:
- Setup Process – We assessed the setup process of each console, examining how user-friendly and intuitive it was to get them up and running.
- Controller Comfort – We paid close attention to the comfort of the console’s controller, considering button placement, grip, and overall feel in the hands, especially during extended gameplay.
- Diverse Game Genres – We tested the consoles with a variety of beginner-friendly game genres, including action, adventure, sports, and puzzle games. This allowed us to evaluate how well the consoles handled different gameplay mechanics.
- Display Quality – We examined the display quality of each console, assessing factors such as resolution, color accuracy, and overall visual performance.
- Battery Life – For portable consoles, we conducted extensive battery life tests. We measured how long the console lasted with different screen brightness and gameplay intensity settings.
Lastly, based on our findings and evaluations, we categorized the consoles according to different criteria. From the best budget-friendly to the best portable, we compiled the list, highlighting the top easy-to-use gaming consoles for beginner gamers in each category.
1. Nintendo Switch – Best Overall Gaming Console for Beginners
The best overall gaming console for beginners is Nintendo Switch and with good reason. It is a home and handheld console rolled into one, perfect for gaming on the go. Sure, pro gamers may scoff at its UI, but for starters, it’s incredibly welcoming.
What’s more, the Switch comes with detachable Joy-Cons, a USB type-C, an HDMI cable, USB-A, and USB-C ports. It provides the flexibility to support physical cartridges and digital downloads, and its user-friendly controls are also a no-brainer, even for gaming newbies.
Besides, the freedom to play away from the TV means you can carry it with you and practice gaming to your heart’s content. You’ll also get plenty of beginner-level choices with a plethora of games ranging from casual to hardcore titles.
And like those next-gen Sony and Microsoft consoles, it won’t burn a hole in your pocket, which is good if you’re only starting. In testing, setting up the Nintendo Switch in handheld mode was easy, and detaching the Joy-Cons for semi-portable gaming added more convenience.
We could also transition from TV to handheld mode without interrupting our “Super Mario Odyssey” gameplay. And while the game library may not be packed with AAA titles, it still impressed us with a diverse and engaging selection.
However, the Joy-Cons drifted a bit during gameplay, a hardware flaw that Nintendo has yet to resolve fully. But you can fix this issue by purchasing a third-party controller at a cheap price.
2. Retroid Pocket 3 – Best Budget Gaming Console for Beginners
Who needs deep pockets when you have the Retroid Pocket 3, the ultimate budget console for beginners at under $150? It is an Android-based handheld console, granting you easy access to the Google Play Store. You can even practice your hand on classics like Super Mario RPG and Final Fantasy IX, now looking sharper than ever.
Plus, it doubles as a cloud streaming hub, enabling you to stream through Xbox Game Pass Ultimate services. With a versatile range of inputs, it handles games all the way up to the GameCube and PlayStation 2 era. The 4.7-inch touchscreen also doesn’t detract from visual immersion in portable mode.
What’s more, it comes with bonus perks for beginners, such as built-in tutorials, a user-friendly interface, and customizable settings. In our testing, we enjoyed the Retroid Pocket 3’s integrated rumble motor and easy navigation with the touch screen.
While the screen colors may not be as vibrant as OLED, they remain visible at 60% brightness in most lighting. On the downside, we found the start and select buttons a bit out of the way when accessing menus regularly.
But its compact design made playing games like Metal Gear Solid comfortable during our train journey. The battery lasted approximately 5 hours, which was ample. We also managed to play some PSP games like God of War: Chains of Olympus, albeit with occasional stuttering.
- Integrated rumble motor for better gaming experience. Right joystick upgrading from digital to analog for better gaming experience.
- Made Bigger, make Better: With 7.27in*3.2in*0.95in body size, you can get a bigger screen and higher display to body ratio. It brings better visual and gaming experience.
- Joyfulness of Android Games -- Download APK for Android and customize keys, Retroid Pocket 3 is compatible with more than 500 popular games and counting.
3. Nintendo Switch Lite – Best Portable Gaming Console for Beginners
If you’re seeking a portable plus budget-friendly game system for first-time gamers, the Nintendo Switch Lite offers both. With integrated controls, there’s no hassle of dealing with separate Joy-Cons.
While the smaller frame and 5.5-inch screen make it comfortable for gamers of all ages, even little beginners. What’s more, it’s compatible with a vast library of Nintendo Switch games playable in handheld mode.
From beloved Nintendo franchises like The Legend of Zelda, and Mario Kart, to thrilling titles like Smash Bros., and Kirby, there’s no shortage of gaming adventures. Besides, its library of NES and SNES games continues to expand, offering a wide array of classic titles to enjoy.
During testing, we were pleased to find the Nintendo Switch Lite delivered excellent picture quality without any compromises. The screen brightness automatically adjusted to our environment, enhancing the visual experience.
Its compact design also provided ample elbow room to play comfortably. The battery also lasted more than the Original Switch while playing Mario Kart. However, we did notice the L and R buttons were thinner than those on the original Switch, occasionally resulting in our fingers slipping off them.
4. Xbox Series S – Best Entry-Level Xbox for Beginners
The Xbox Series S is the ultimate entry-level Xbox for beginners. It’s like the budget-friendly cousin of the Xbox Series X, offering impressive power at a lower price. With its lightning-fast custom SSD, game loading times become a thing of the past. Not to mention, the console’s sleek and compact design makes it easy to hold.
Plus, it offers backward compatibility, letting you enjoy all your favorite Xbox One games. What’s more, Xbox Game Pass opens the gates to over 100 games. And by subscribing to Game Pass Ultimate, you’ll score Xbox Live Gold and access to both Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S titles.
And did we mention it supports a snazzy 1440p resolution? During our testing, we were impressed by the Xbox Series S’s minimalist beginner-friendly design. The Xbox Remote Play feature was a standout, allowing us to enjoy Xbox Series games remotely on our phone with a controller.
Despite playing demanding AAA titles like Forza Horizon 5, the console remained whisper quiet. The controller felt substantial and easy to hold due to its textured back. We could also enjoy 11 hours of gameplay without the battery life icon budging.
However, not all games support 120fps, and the absence of an optical disc drive was also a downside which means it exclusively supports only digital downloads. But if you’re a beginner looking to experience the Xbox ecosystem, the Xbox Series S is your ultimate gateway to next-gen gaming greatness.
- Go all digital with Xbox Series S and experience next-gen speed and performance at a great price.
- Bundle includes: Xbox Series S console, one Xbox Wireless Controller, a high-speed HDMI cable, power cable, and 2 AA batteries.
- Make the most of every gaming minute with Quick Resume, lightning-fast load times, and gameplay of up to 120 FPS—all powered by Xbox Velocity Architecture.
5. PS4 Slim – Best Entry-Level PlayStation for Beginners
If you’re particularly looking for a Playstation, the PS4 Slim is a great video game console for starters. It’s user-friendly and rivals even its beefier siblings, the PS4 Pro and PS5. This compact console not only saves space but also runs quieter and consumes less power.
It features a user-friendly interface making game discovery a breeze. What’s more, with a wide array of game genres to choose from, including action, adventure, sports, racing, and puzzles, you’ll have plenty of choices. It also offers HDR support and comes with all the streaming services and apps featured in the PS4 range of consoles.
In our testing, the PS4 Slim’s setup process was easy. We were up and running in a few simple steps. Its compact size and sleek design were impressive, and it operated quietly for an immersive gaming experience.
We liked the convenience of easily swapping out hard drives for ample game storage. The new DualShock 4 controller offered improved response time when connected via USB.
However, the illuminated dots over the power button were less visible, so caution is advised during unplugging. The PS4 Slim also lacks 4K gaming and optical audio output. But it remains a solid choice for beginners to practice gaming before upgrading.
6. Nintendo 2DS – Best Entry-Level Nintendo for Beginners
The best Nintendo console for entry-level beginners is none other than the Nintendo 2DS. It’s not just for young starters but also one of the best consoles for seniors looking to unleash their inner gamers.
This handheld gem offers a delightful gaming experience without the fancy 3D bells and whistles with its user-friendly design. Constructed from a sturdy solid plastic body, it stands as a testament to its durability compared to its hinged sibling, the Nintendo 3DS.
To add to that, the 2DS offers a wide range of Nintendo DS and Nintendo 3DS games for you to choose from. Despite its unconventional dimensions, the Nintendo 2DS provides a comfortable grip that beginners will appreciate.
In short, the 2DS offers the same functionality as the 3DS but at a fraction of the price. During our testing, we were not impressed by the plastic design of the Nintendo 2DS. However, our opinion quickly changed once we started playing games on it.
Surprisingly, the lack of hinges actually added to its overall sturdiness. The battery life was similar to that of the 3DS, lasting around 3 hours even with maximum brightness while playing Donkey Kong.
The extensive library of 3DS and DS games was a definite highlight, providing plenty of options for practice. However, we were disappointed by the absence of 3D visuals and felt that the exposed screens could benefit from a protective case.
7. Steam Deck – Best Gaming Console for Beginners with Great Game Library
If you want more game choices, Steam Deck by Valve is the unrivaled gaming system for new players in 2023. It’s not just a handheld console but also acts as a compact gaming PC. With an insane selection of 7000+ games, you’ll never run out of options.
While a 1280×800 resolution and a 60Hz refresh rate make the screen so sharp and buttery smooth, it’s like gaming heaven for your eyeballs. Whether you prefer touch controls, a trusty controller, or the precision of a keyboard and mouse, it works all ways.
And the best part? You can take this gaming powerhouse wherever your wanderlust leads you. During our testing, we were blown away by the simplicity of the SteamOS front end on the Steam Deck, which made installing and playing Windows games through Proton easy.
One standout feature was the controller grips, designed to ensure your thumbs and palms don’t accidentally interfere with the trackpads or block the speakers. The single USB-C port may limit connection options, but for beginners, it may not be a big concern.
While Valve provides a compatibility checker, it’s only sometimes accurate, with some listed games being compatible and vice versa. We did notice that some verified games struggled to maintain a consistent 60fps on high settings.
In addition, the battery life lasted around 1.5 hours while playing “Forza Horizon 5,” with the screen brightness set at 50%, which was a bit disappointing for us.
Comparing Best Gaming Console for Beginners in 2023
|Console||Display Size/inch||Game Library + Online Subscription||Handheld Option|
|Nintendo Switch||6.2-inch||Nintendo eShop + Nintendo Switch Online||Yes|
|Retroid Pocket 3||4.7-inch||Retroid OS, Google Play and emulation + Xbox Game Pass Ultimate + Retroid Online||Yes|
|Nintendo Switch Lite||5.5-inches||Nintendo eShop + Nintendo Switch Online||Yes|
|Xbox Series S||No screen||Xbox Game Pass + Xbox Live Gold||No|
|PS4 Slim||No screen||PlayStation Store + PlayStation Plus||No|
|Nintendo 2DS||3.5-inches||Nintendo eShop + Nintendo 3DS Online||Yes|
|Steam Deck||7-inches||Steam Library + Steam Online||Yes|
How to Pick a Gaming Console for Beginners?
When picking a game console for beginners, there are key factors to consider, such as budget, game library, features, and controller design. Here are a few tips:
- Budget – Gaming consoles can range in price from below $100 to over a few hundred dollars. As a beginner, you don’t need to spend much. So, establish a budget range for your purchase.
- Game Library – Think about the game library available on each console, as some may have more exclusive titles.
- Features – Take into account features like 4K resolution and backward compatibility. Decide which features are important to you.
- Controller Design – Find a controller that feels comfortable and suits your gaming style. And if you want to take your console on the go, opting for a portable controller is a must.
What Games Should a Beginner Gamer Play?
There are many games you can play as a beginner gamer on the 7 video game systems for newcomers we’ve reviewed above, such as the following:
- Super Mario Odyssey: This platformer game is perfect for beginners with its accessible controls, colorful visuals, and imaginative worlds to explore. You can play it on all the consoles listed above.
- The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild: It’s an open-world adventure game perfect for beginners. The game world is massive but designed to be forgiving, so you can wander around and tackle challenges whenever you feel like it. But it is available only on Nintendo Switch, Lite, and 2DS.
- Animal Crossing: New Horizons: It’s a life simulation game where you can take things at your own pace without any stress. You get to enjoy leisurely activities like exploring the island, meeting charming characters, and sprucing up your cozy home. However, you can play it only on the Nintendo Switch, Lite, and 2DS.
- Stardew Valley: This farming simulator is another great choice for entry-level players. It’s simple to learn but has a lot of depth, so you can spend hours exploring the world, growing crops, and raising animals. It is available on all consoles reviewed above.
- Minecraft: It is a versatile sandbox game perfect for players of all skill levels. You can build anything you can imagine, explore dangerous dungeons, or just relax and enjoy the scenery. Plus, it’s available on all the consoles listed above.
How to Start Gaming for Beginners?
To start gaming as a beginner, it’s essential to consider your gaming interests, preferred platform, and budget. You get multiple options for platforms like consoles, PCs, and mobile devices. And with various types of games available on each platform, such as action, adventure, sports, and puzzles, you have plenty of options to explore.
So, it’s crucial to select one that suits your preferences. Also, consider whether your chosen platform supports the games you prefer, as not all titles are available on every platform. As a new player, start with games that have easy-to-learn mechanics. This will allow you to become familiar with controls and gameplay.
Once you’ve gained confidence, you can gradually tackle more challenging games. Additionally, consider the budget with options ranging from full-priced AAA games to affordable indie titles and even free-to-play games with optional in-game purchases.
Don’t hesitate to seek assistance when facing challenges in a game. Online resources and gaming communities can provide valuable support and guidance.
What Age Group Is Nintendo Switch for?
The Nintendo Switch provides games for various age groups, including young kids and adults. However, the console is generally recommended for children above 6 years old due to complex controls and the potential choking hazard of small game cartridges.
What Age Should a Child Have a Games Console?
The appropriate age for a child to have a games console varies based on their maturity level. But the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) provides some guidelines for children’s screen time. For instance, kids under 2 should have limited or no screen time.
Children ages 2-5 should have at most 1 hour of high-quality, educational screen time daily. While children 6 and up can have up to 2 hours of screen time per day, balanced with other activities. Taking this recommended screen time and the console’s complexities into account, it is better if a child has a game console after 6.
Do Gaming Consoles Come with Pre-Installed Games or Trial Games for Beginners?
Not all gaming consoles come with games already installed. But some offer trial versions of popular games or free-to-play classic games. Take the Nintendo Switch, for instance, which comes with a few games already installed, like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Super Mario Odyssey, and The Legend of Zelda.
It also provides the Nintendo Switch Online service with a free trial. With that trial, you can play classic NES and SNES games without any extra cost.
Can I Find Beginner-Friendly Games on All Gaming Consoles?
Yes, you can find beginner-friendly games on all gaming consoles. Developers often create games that cater to different skill levels, including those specifically designed for beginners.
Examples of such games include “Mario Kart 8 Deluxe,” “Super Mario Odyssey,” and “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” on Nintendo Switch. While on Xbox Series S/X, you can find “Minecraft,” “Ori and the Blind Forest,” and “Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy.” These games are perfect for beginners.
So, there you have it, the ultimate guide to the 7 best gaming consoles for beginners, which can help you quickly level up your gaming journey. From the pocket-sized power of the Nintendo Switch Lite to the cutting-edge features of Steam Deck, there’s a console for every entry-level gamer.
So, embark on epic quests, conquer virtual worlds, and unleash your gaming prowess. With these consoles by your side, you’ll be saying “game over” to your beginner rank soon.