Whether shopping for a family member, your significant other or writing your own personal wishlist to Santa, the only question on the minds of gamers right now is whether to go for the PlayStation 5 or the Xbox Series X.
These next-generation consoles bring the future of gaming right into your lounge but deciding between them is a tough call and one that will define your precious leisure time for years to come.
To help this decision along we've distilled all the guff to bring you this easy-to-follow comparison. Let the games begin.
Things get confusing right out the gate as both consoles offer two models: a full fat, feature-filled flagship and a streamlined, slimmed-down option.
Both PS5s pack the same heat inside. The only difference is that the $649.95 Digital Edition doesn't have a 4K Blu-ray drive and the $819.95 Standard Edition does.
The Xbox is slightly trickier. The bulky Series X (XSX) is hands down the better Xbox machine, with a 4K Blu-ray drive, a bigger SSD for storage and more processing grunt. It's also a lot bigger.
The smaller Xbox Series S (XSS) discards the drive and downgrades the processing power.
For a machine you need to download games on to it's disappointing that it only offers half the storage space of the XSX. Both undercut the PS5 with the XSX costing $799.99 and the XSS $549.
For the rest of this comparison we'll be comparing the flagship models.
Both present a bold aesthetic choice. Neither will blend into the background of your home decor.
The PS5 is a sleek, glossy and curvaceous beast that looks like it beamed in from the future. The brute, matte-black minimalist slab that is the XSX appears to have taken design inspiration from the monolith in
2001: A Space Odyssey
Both can be positioned vertically or horizontally but it's clear their preference is to tower upwards.
You likely have strong opinions on both. Trust your feelings.
Playing with power
On paper, the XSX slightly nudges the PS5 for raw computing power. In practise it's incredibly unlikely you'll notice any performance or graphical difference between them.
It sounds boring but their increased boot-up and loading speed is the best quality-of-life improvement they offer. Both are blazingly quick machines. They're also practically silent in operation. Compared to the jet engine roar that used to emanate from the PS4 this is blessed, quiet, relief.
Both sets of controllers get an upgrade. The XSX gamepad is lovely to hold, with a pleasingly textured, grippy back surface and a comfy size. It's a refinement of its predecessor rather than a revolution.
It's major fumble is that it's powered by two AA batteries. Yes, you can buy a battery pack to power it via USB but that really should have been standard. Countering that fail, however, is that controllers from the old Xbox One also work on the XSX. Handy if you're upgrading and own one already.
Sony's new PS5 DualSense controller is a work of mechanical art. It's jam-packed with new tech, like 3D sound, an improved touch pad and a mic.
But the big selling point is its haptic feedback: the controller reflects the action on screen by shaking, jiggling and buzzing around in your hands. Walking on ice, it feels slippery, shooting a gun, you feel the kickback. It's brilliant. However, the greater immersion is offset by its need for frequent charging.
And sorry, PS4 controllers are a no go on the PS5.
You can start playing your PS5 as soon as you unbox it as it comes bundled with a cheery, surprsingly fun, little platformer called Astro's Playroom that's a showcase for the functionality of the new controller.
Once you're done with that there's the action-packed blockbuster Spider-Man: Miles Morales, charming platfomer Sackboy: A Big Adventure and the punishing challenge of Demon's Soul, a remake of the brutal PS3 classic.
For the moment the XSX is a little dry on exclusives. Here cross-platform games, like new entries in the Call of Duty and Assassin's Creed franchises, are doing the heavy lifting while the new Halo is polished up. XSX does, however, have one ace up its sleeve, which we'll get to in a minute.
The XSX offers incredible backwards compatibility, it can play games from every Xbox console ever made. Yes, even the original 2001 Xbox. In contrast the PS5 can play around 100 games from the PS4 library.
Both consoles have a subscription service you'll need to sign on for if you want to play online. To sweeten the deal both gift you a few games each month. You keep them as long as your sub is active.
PS Plus costs $89.99 a year, but also unlocks The PS Plus Collection. This is a selection of 20 of the best PS4 era games including God of War, Uncharted 4 , Final Fantasy XV and Bloodborne. It's a great way to get an instant collection of quality games.
On the XSX it's more complicated, with three packages to choose from.
Xbox Live Gold, also costs $89.99 per year, lets you play online and gets you a few free games each month.
Microsoft Game Pass is the ace I mentioned earlier. This killer app can be likened to being "Netflix for games". It costs $12.95 a month and offers a rotating roster of 100 games to choose from, including Forza Horizon 4, FIFA 20, Doom Eternal and the entire Halo collection. The selection is truly incredible with an abundance of new games to get stuck into.
The third option is Ultimate, which bundles Gold and Game Pass together. This is $1 for the first three months and then $19.95 a month after that. I'd consider either Game Pass or Ultimate an essential add-on.
There's no decisive winner. Both PS5 and XSX offer similar and solid performance. The leap forward hasn't been as drastic as previous generations so if you're already invested in one eco-system it's probably not worth jumping ship.
That said, the PS5 is flashier in every way, from style to interface to user experience. It feels newer and exciting - as a new plaything should.
The XSX on the other hand is content to take the baton from the Xbox One. It trades razzle dazzle for familiarity and reassurance, but lacks excitement because of it.
The PlayStation 5 has the edge right now with its incredibly strong lineup of current and upcoming exclusives, it's briliant controller and awesome 3D sound.
The strength of the Xbox Series X is its more generalised and open approach to gaming, which is epitomised by its astoundingly great Game Pass service. It also has impressive exclusives in the pipeline.
The good news is that no matter which one you choose you're not going to lose. The hard part is finding one in shops. New stock is trickling in so don't be afraid to keep hassling your favourite retailer until you strike it lucky.