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Best Gaming Consoles for Streaming Cable 2021

We’ve compared the specs and found the best gaming consoles for streaming TV.

Best overall

Xbox Series X

Price: $499.99

Resolution: up to 8K

Best for available games

Playstation 5

Price: $499.99

Resolution: up to 8K

Best value

Xbox Series S

Price: $299.99

Resolution: up to 8K

Data as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Gaming consoles like the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X (and Series S) are now just as much entertainment devices as they are games, and streaming TV support is a major factor.

Most gaming consoles reviews focus on power—which is important, don’t get us wrong—but for this guide, we look at consoles’ streaming capacity for those of you who like both gaming and watching TV.

Best gaming consoles for streaming

Xbox Series X—Best overall

PlayStation 5—Second best overall

Xbox Series S—Best value

Nintendo Switch—Best for portability

Pro tip: Checking out streaming TV services? Let us help! We’ve researched and rated livestreaming and on-demand streaming services in our handy guide to the Best TV Streaming Services for 2021.

Compare top gaming consoles

Console
Best overall
Xbox Series X
Best for available games
PlayStation 5
Best value
Xbox Series S
Best for portability
Nintendo Switch
Price Video resolution Details
$499.99 Up to 8K HDR View product
$499.99 Up to 8K HDR View product
$299.99 Up to 8K HDR (w/ HDMI 2.1 cable sold separately) View product
$299.99† 720p–1080p View on Amazon

Data as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
†Amazon.com Price; $299.99 (as of 2/17/21 10:49 MST) Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon.com at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product. Cabletv.com utilizes paid Amazon links. Read full disclaimer.

This was always going to be a battle between the two biggest consoles on the market: Microsoft’s Xbox Series X and Sony’s PlayStation 5. Nintendo’s included because of its grudging support for at least Hulu and YouTube—plus its perpetual unfulfilled promises of Netflix support.

Without further ado, let’s check out our best overall pick.

Best overall: Xbox Series X

Price: $499.99* (or $34.99/mo. w/ Xbox All Access)

Resolution: Up to 8K HDR

Data as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Pros

  • Up to 8K HDR resolution
  • UHD Blu-ray, Blu-ray, DVD, and CD drive
  • Ability to play video files from external hard drives
  • Dozens of supported TV/entertainment apps

Cons

  • Non-intuitive controller for playing media
  • No Peacock support

The Xbox Series X just squeaks past the PlayStation 5 because it supports more streaming TV (and music) apps and, on the gaming tip, it’s the better-performing console. Aside from that, the consoles are evenly matched, feature-wise—for gaming as well as streaming TV.

The two most important specs to consider for streaming are resolution and supported apps. Fortunately, the Xbox Series X supports up to 8K UHD resolution (but that applies more to gaming because there’s just not that much 8K video out there) as well as dozens of streaming TV apps.

Xbox Series X|S streaming apps

  • Amazon Prime Video
  • Apple TV+
  • CBS All Access
  • Crunchyroll
  • Discovery Go
  • Disney+
  • ESPN+
  • Facebook Watch
  • HBO Max
  • Hulu
  • Netflix
  • Pandora
  • Showtime Anytime
  • Sling TV
  • Spectrum TV
  • Spotify
  • Starz
  • Telemundo
  • Twitch
  • VUDU
  • WWE Network
  • YouTube
  • YouTube TV
  • . . . and more

The Xbox Series X also includes an optical disc drive that plays CDs, DVDs, Blu-ray, and UHD Blu-ray discs. You’ll be able to play video files from your external hard drives as well.

Granted, playing discs and files is irrelevant to streaming TV—but they do make for a well-rounded TV-watching experience on the Xbox Series X. Overall, it gives you the most options and streaming power.

You may be asking, What about the Xbox Series S? We’ll get into that after we discuss our “Second best-overall pick,” the PlayStation 5.

View Xbox Series X

Most available games: PlayStation 5

Price: $499.99

Resolution: Up to 8K HDR

Data as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Pros

  • Up to 8K HDR resolution
  • UHD Blu-ray, Blu-ray, DVD, and CD drive
  • Ability to play video files from external hard drives
  • Nearly two dozen supported TV/entertainment apps

Cons

  • Fewer supported apps than Xbox Series X|S
  • No YouTube TV support

When we say that the PlayStation 5 just missed the top spot, we mean just missed.

At launch, the PS5 supported far fewer TV apps than its Xbox counterpart. It’s mostly caught up since then, and it has a few apps that the Xbox consoles lack (DAZN, NFL SUNDAY TICKET, Peacock), but it’s still lagging behind.

PlayStation 5 streaming apps

  • Amazon Prime Video
  • Apple TV+
  • Crunchyroll
  • DAZN
  • Disney+
  • ESPN+
  • Funimation
  • HBO Max
  • Hulu
  • Netflix
  • NFL SUNDAY TICKET
  • Peacock
  • Plex
  • Pluto TV
  • Sling TV
  • Spotify
  • Tubi
  • Twitch
  • VUDU
  • WWE Network
  • YouTube

Just like the Xbox Series X, the PS5 has an optical drive that plays all your discs (CD, DVD, Blu-ray, UHD Blu-ray), and it will also play video files from your external hard drive. So it really is a tight race between these two.

But either console will treat you right. And the PS5 will catch up to the Xbox Series X in terms of streaming video apps—just like the Xbox will catch up to the PS5, which has more available games.

View Playstation 5

Best value: Xbox Series S

Price: $299.99

Resolution: Up to 8K HDR

Data as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Pros

  • Up to 8K HDR resolution (w/ HDMI 2.1 cable)
  • Ability to play video files from external hard drives
  • Dozens of supported TV/entertainment apps

Cons

  • No included HDMI 2.1 cable0
  • No disc drive

The Xbox Series S is smaller, less powerful, and 40% cheaper than the Series X. It also lacks a disc drive which, for the Series X, is pitched as a feature. Microsoft calls it “disc-free gaming,” and it’s targeted at those of you who eschew physical media.

But while the Series S won’t play games or movies on disc, it supports all the same streaming TV apps as the Series X at the same 4K resolution. So it’s a nice option if it’s your first console, or if you want a next-gen console now but don’t have $500.

The other big difference between the two Xboxes is that the Series S comes with an HDMI cable, but not the ultra-fast HDMI 2.1 cable that’s included with the Series X and is required for 8K resolution. That’s not so bad, though, because you can get a two-pack of HDMI 2.1 cables on Amazon for $21.24**.

Buying the cable would make the total price of the Xbox Series S $324.98, but that’s still $75.02 cheaper than the PlayStation 5 Digital Edition.

View Xbox Series S

Pro tip: For added value, consider buying your Xbox Series X or S through Xbox All Access. For 24 payments of $24.99 per month ($34.99 for the Series X), you’ll get the console and two years of the Xbox game streaming service, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate (GPU).

With the Series X, you’ll save $0.84 a month over the regular monthly price of GPU ($14.99). But with the Series S, you’ll save $2.50 monthly.

But the real value is in the amount of games you can stream. Xbox advertises 100+, but the actual count is much higher. You’ll also get exclusive perks—like a 30-day free trial of Disney+. This rules, because Disney+ recently stopped offering a trial.

Best for portability: Nintendo Switch

Price: $299.99

Resolution: 720p–1080p

† Amazon.com Price; $299.99 (as of 2/17/21 10:49 MST) Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon.com at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product. Cabletv.com utilizes paid Amazon links. Read full disclaimer.

Pros

  • 720p–1080p resolution
  • Two ways to watch (on-device or TV-tethering)
  • Portability

Cons

  • Only one TV app (Hulu)
  • No Netflix (still)
  • No plans for more TV apps

The Nintendo Switch lets you watch TV on its 5.5” touchscreen (at 720p resolution) or by connecting the Switch to your TV for 1080p. Unfortunately, the Switch supports only one streaming TV app: Hulu. It also supports YouTube—but it’s funny-cat-video YouTube, not the live TV streaming service YouTube TV.

There’s a reason for this: Nintendo sees the Switch primarily as a gaming console and doesn’t want to include more streaming TV apps. That’s probably why the company hasn’t kept its four-year-old promise of adding Netflix support.

For the same reason, the Switch has memory card slots, and is capable of playing video files—but it needs an app to do that. And Nintendo doesn’t plan to develop or host one.

View Switch on Amazon

What TV specs to look for in gaming consoles

Would you like to be able to play your personal digital video files on your gaming console? You can do it on the Xbox and PlayStation consoles with an external hard drive plugged into one of their USB ports (3 on Xbox, 4 on PS).

Unfortunately, although the Nintendo Switch has the capability to play video files from a memory card, Nintendo has no plans to develop the app required to do this.

Ports

Do you have a deep library of physical media, with movies that are out-of-print or unavailable on a streaming service? Well, you’ll almost certainly want a disc drive capable of playing your disc-borne media, whether it’s CDs, DVDs, Blu-rays, or UHD Blu-rays.

Optical disc drive

This one’s pretty straightforward: the more streaming apps that a console supports, the more viewing choices you have. That’s why the Xbox Series X|S edged out the PlayStation 5.

Supported apps

Gaming consoles already push the limits of image technology in the name of killer graphics. Currently, the Xbox Series X|S and PlayStation 5 support up to 8K HDR resolution—but there are hardly any 8K games or video out there. And, although we’re seeing more 4K programming, it’s still not that common.

If you don’t have a 4K or 8K TV, you’ll still get a nice high-def 1080p picture. And, when you finally upgrade your TV, you’ll be sitting pretty.

Resolution

Obviously, these consoles’ gaming capabilities matter—but again, for our purposes, we’re focusing on their video specs. These are the key ones to consider when determining which gaming console is best for streaming TV.

Final take

Since it supports the most streaming video apps, we’re calling the Xbox Series X the best overall gaming console for streaming—but it’s essentially a tie. Both the Series X and PlayStation 5 have up to 8K resolution, an optical disc drive, the ability to play video from memory cards, and support for at least a couple of dozen streaming TV apps. And they’re both 500 bucks. You’ll be happy with either console.

But you’ll save $175–$200 and get most of the same features and functionality if you decide to go with the Xbox Series S instead of the Series X. So take note, value hunters.

As for the Switch . . . only Nintendo stans would say it’s good for streaming TV. But if you insist, have at it, Stanley.

Our methodology

CableTV.com researches, tests, and rates TVs and peripheral TV devices—like gaming consoles—based on features and user experience. We update our reviews annually to account for changes in price and availability. For more information, check out our “How We Rank” page.

Related articles

If you’re curious about any of the streaming TV services mentioned here, you can read more about them in our guide to the Best TV Streaming Services of 2021. And, while you’re at it, check out our guide to the Best TV Providers for 2021.

Best Gaming Consoles for Streaming FAQ

What are the best Xbox One streaming TV apps?

Our favorite streaming apps for Xbox One are Disney+, HBO Max, Hulu, Netflix, Shudder, and YouTube TV. Click the links to read our reviews of each.

If you have Xbox Game Pass Ultimate ($14.99 a month to stream 100+ games), one of the perks is a free 30-day trial of Disney+, which is awesome because Disney+ no longer offers a free trial.

What are the best PlayStation 4 streaming apps?

We suggest checking out these streaming apps on PlayStation 4: Disney+, HBO Max, Hulu, Netflix, UEFA.tv, and YouTube TV. Click the links to read our reviews.

Do you need Xbox Live to watch Netflix?

You can use the free version of Xbox Live (and a solid internet connection) to watch Netflix. You don’t need to pay for Xbox Live Gold.

Does the Xbox have a DVR?

The Xbox does not have a DVR. But if you have an OTA antenna, you can use the Tablo app on the Xbox to record programming from your local channels.

Does Nintendo Switch have Netflix?

After four years of promises, the Nintendo Switch still doesn’t have Netflix.

Disclaimer

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