Xbox One vs. PlayStation 4: Which is the best games console?

Summary:We take a break from the regular programming to answer a question that's been peppering the Hardware 2.0 mailbox with increasing frequency: I'm torn between the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4. Which should I go for?

We take a break from the regular programming to answer a question that's been peppering the Hardware 2.0 mailbox with increasing frequency:

I'm torn between the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4. Which should I go for?

Xbox One vs. PlayStation 4

This is an interesting question, and on the face of it I was tempted to delve inside each of the consoles and come to a conclusion based on what's inside the console. But this is a poor approach, since the primary difference between the two consoles come down to the RAM used.The PlayStation 4 makes use of GDDR5, while the Xbox One uses slower DDR3. What does this mean in the real world? Basically it boils down to GDDR5 providing faster data transfer, while DDR3 provides faster latency.

Also, I feel compelled to curb your expectations a little. You'd expect that the next-generation consoles would totally blow away the older consoles, especially given that the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 are eight years old, but it just doesn't. Yes, the graphics quality is better, but it isn't "blow you back into your seat" better.

So, looking at the tech isn't going to help us. Instead, I think that the decision as to which console you pick comes down to balancing four variables.

Price

The first variable is price. The PlayStation 4 is priced at $399, compared to $499 for the Xbox One. For many, cash is king and the $100 price difference might well swing things in favor of the PlayStation 4.

Titles

Buying a console is just part of the equation, and it is nothing without games, and since neither are backward-compatible with older titles, you need to give some thought to what's on offer, especially exclusive titles that are only available for a single platform.

The PlayStation 4 has three exclusives on offer, including "Killzone: Shadow Fall," while the Xbox One has nine, "Forza Motorsport 5," "Dead Rising 3" and "Killer Instinct." This will change over the course of 2014, but for now games are tight, and the changing landscape of titles might make you hold back on pulling the trigger on purchasing.

Sensors

If you're interested in gesture and voice control, then the Kinect 2 is streets ahead of PlayStation Camera. If waving at your console like an ape doesn't appeal to you, then you can ignore this feature.

Ecosystem and social

If you already own an Xbox 360 of PlayStation 3 then you might have a preference when it comes to Xbox Live versus PlayStation Plus. There's no right or wrong answer here, and if you're not committed to either then in real terms there's little difference between the two.

Conclusion

The bottom line is that picking the best console is tough. Weighing up the options I'm tempted to say that the Xbox One is the better console, despite the price. That said, you're paying a top dollar price for a console where the game lineup is pretty limited no matter which one you go for.

My recommendations come down to two options:

  1. Be led by the titles, not the hardware. This is where the real value lies.
  2. If you can wait, I'd hold off until you have a better idea of how the exclusive titles listing pan out. A year from now not only will there be a better lineup of games, but both Microsoft and Sony will have sweetened the deal by dropping prices of offering better bundles. In the interim you could get more games for your existing console and squeeze out extra value from your current hardware.

Whatever you do, have fun!

See also:

Topics: Hardware

About

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes is an internationally published technology author who has devoted over a decade to helping users get the most from technology -- whether that be by learning to program, building a PC from a pile of parts, or helping them get the most from their new MP3 player or digital camera.Adrian has authored/co-authored technic... Full Bio

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