This month we welcomed a new video game generation with the thrilling (if rather limited) arrival of the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 machines. Whether you’ve already received your shiny new console (and not a bag of cat food), or you’re hoping a plucky relative has managed to secure you one for Christmas, you might be wondering: what extra gadgets will I need to get the most out of this coming era?
The good news is, your current flatscreen TV and gaming headset will almost certainly work fine with the new machines – you don’t have to rush out and buy anything else. But if you’re seeing this as an opportunity to update your whole gaming set-up, here are a few accessories we’ve tested and recommend.
Your current 4K TV will give you a decent visual experience when attached to the new consoles, especially if it supports the HDR10 standard. However, lots of new PS5 and Series X games can be played at super slick 120hz (or 120 frames per second), and to experience that you’ll need a compatible TV with an HDMI 2.1 port.
LG CX (from £1,300)
Receiving universal critical acclaim, the LG CX is the best TV range currently available for next-gen consoles. They’re not cheap, but you get a beautifully rich and detailed OLED image, with low latency and truly radiant HDR performance (Xbox Series X owners will also benefit from its Dolby Vision support). The 120hz implementation is excellent, bringing incredible fluidity to games such as Dirt 5 and Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War. Sound is pretty good for a flatscreen set, too. For a cheaper alternative, LG’s Nano86 set offers a very decent 4K display – with 120hz supported at 1440p resolution – for around £700.
Samsung Q80T (from £800)
Coming in a few hundred pounds cheaper than the LG CX and utilising Samsung’s alternative QLED technology, the Q80T produces a warm, colourful and vibrant picture, and the excellent HDR support gives real depth and shine in games that utilise it well. Support for 120hz-compatible titles is very good and the dedicated Game mode keeps the screen latency down to around 10ms. The user interface and Smart TV applications are also really intuitive and well implemented. As a fan of Samsung sets, this is the TV I use at home and I’m certain it’ll see me through the next eight years of this console generation.
TCL 6-series (from £600)
For those on a budget, the TCL 6-series 4K QLED displays are a great option, offering extremely good picture performance with strong colours, solid blacks and support for Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos. There’s also a THQ-certified Game mode that supports Variable Refresh Rate and reduces input lag for a more responsive experience. It can handle 120Hz modes but only at 1440p rather than full 4K resolution – a lot of players will be fine with that compromise. This set has been picking up rave reviews all year and it’s easy to see why.
Both the new consoles are making a big deal of 3D audio to provide a more immersive gaming experience, and unless you have a home cinema system (and understanding neighbours) a headset maybe the best way to experience that in full. While PS5 boasts its own Tempest 3D audio engine, Xbox Series X is compatible with both the Dolby Atmos and DTS:X standards – all of which will give you a great surround sound experience with these gaming headsets.
Astro A50 (£200)
Among the more expensive gaming headsets on the market, the Astro A50 justifies the cost with superlative audio quality. The Dolby 7.1 surround sound stage is extremely broad, bringing an incredible sense of immersion, and unlike most gaming headsets you’re not battered into submission by the bass. It’s comfortable, too: the foam ear pads are so soft you barely feel them.
Turtle Beach Stealth 700 Gen 2 (£130)
Turtle Beach’s premium wireless headset is a chunky beast, but it’s surprisingly light and comfortable, thanks to a well-padded headband and gel-infused ear cushions. I’ve been testing it with Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War on Xbox Series X and it is an eardrum-pounding experience, summoning enough bass to make you really feel those explosions, but with the subtlety to pick up enemy footsteps amid the pulverising airstrikes. The impressive 20 hours of battery life per charge is useful, too. A superb choice for long shooter sessions.
Sony Pulse (£90)
The official headset of the PlayStation 5 follows the excellent example set by Sony’s Gold and Platinum headsets for PS4, with extremely good sound and comfort and an aesthetic that matches the console perfectly. It’s also one of the few headsets with a voice monitor so you can hear yourself speak, which is incredibly helpful in loud team-based games. The big boast, though, is that the headset is designed to get the most from games that fully utilise the PS5’s Tempest 3D engine, but this is harder to confirm as only a couple of games are fully compatible so far. Still, it’s a strong, stylish headset, and would be a must if it weren’t for …
SteelSeries Arctis 7P (£160)
Designed to closely resemble the look and style of the PS5, the Artis 7P is one of the most comfortable gaming headsets I’ve ever worn, with its highly adjustable headband and featherweight ear cups. It also has a really wide, immersive soundscape that places you right in the environment, whether that’s swooping over the Manhattan streets as Miles Morales or raiding a village in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. You can plug it in to your controller, but it’s also wireless, with a dongle that connects to the PS5’s USB port. In short, a very strong rival for the Pulse.
If you don’t have hundreds of pounds to spend on headsets, the HyperX Cloud and Razer Kraken ranges both offer impressive sound quality and comfort, and very good, clear microphones for voice chat from around £50. Upper end models also feature 7.1 surround sound. Corsair and Logitech both make decent headsets in the £40-60 bracket too.
The Xbox Series X and PS5 both have built in NVMe SSD drives (the former offering 1TB, the latter 825gb), and both have expansion ports for additional memory – although Sony has yet to confirm which expansion cards will be compatible with the console. However, either machine will also let you plug in a USB drive to store your games, although you won’t be able to run Xbox Series X or PS5 titles straight from one of these – you’ll have to transfer them to your internal drive first. Nevertheless, an external drive will be useful for holding all your PS4, Xbox One and Xbox 360 titles as these can be run without having to transfer them first.
Seagate Storage Expansion Card for Xbox Series X/S (£220)
The official expansion card for the Xbox Series X/S slots into the back of the console and adds an extra 1TB of storage – plus, as it integrates with the console’s Xbox Velocity Architecture, you can play games directly from it. The only problem is, it costs almost as much as an Xbox One S …
WD_Black P10 Game Drive (from £76)
They look like pieces of futuristic military kit, they’re robust and easily portable and they come in 2, 4 and 5TB iterations, Western Digital’s WD_Black range of hard disc drives is a good option for expanding your game storage if you can’t quite afford to make the leap to SSD.
Samsung T7 (from £100)
The teeny, credit card-sized T7 is a portable SSD housed within a shock-proof aluminium case and it boasts read/write speeds of up to 1,050/1,000 MB/s respectively. Perfect for storing and transporting your games – and there’s a Touch version which comes with fingerprint security if you want to feel like you’re in a Mission Impossible movie.