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

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?

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TOPICS: Hardware
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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!

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Topic: Hardware

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46 comments
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  • Simple

    XBox is better (more features, options, software, sensors, etc).

    PS4 is better cheaper.

    If XBox ever price matched PS4 then game over. PS4 will continue to sell fine so long as $100 cheaper.
    Sean Foley
    • I don't know

      MS have a track record now: for the past two console generations, they have wound up in third place behind Sony and Nintendo. I think Nintendo has managed to lock up #3 in this round, but I see no reason at all to think Sony won't land in #1 again. This means that, going forward, there will be more and better games on Sony's platform.

      Also, Sony's 2nd party support, especially Naughty Dog, is a fair bit better than MS's, meaning the exclusives available for the PS4 will almost certainly be better than those for XBone.

      Furthermore, if games are why you are buying it, there is simply no comparison between the horsepower in the two consoles. PS4 can push markedly more and better looking polygons than the XBone.

      That said, if you are like me and really *appreciate* the idea of an entertainment device, not just a gaming device, then XBone becomes really tempting. I love the idea of Skyping on my TV from my couch. I think having access to Windows 8 applications on my TV sounds fantastic. As a "Netflix Machine" I think XBone looks like the clear winner. And the possibility of some really ingenious Kinnect uses is definitely real.

      So for me the answer is, if you are a pure gamer, PS4 wins hands down. If you want something more, then maybe give the XBone a nod.
      x I'm tc
      • third place behind Sony and Nintendo?

        Xbox has been out selling PS the last year.

        And what is XBone? Is that like PayStation? or an amalgamation of Xbox and One?
        William.Farrel
        • I don't think that's true

          Worldwide numbers and considering the numbers from the start, both consoles (Xbox360 and PS3) have sold in similar numbers. But PS3 release was done one year later and initial sales were poor probably due to a higher price tag.
          I believe in recent years, PS3 is being outselling XBox360.
          In the US XBox leads sales charts, but in Japan is the other way around, in Europe Sony seems to have the preferences of gamers.
          AleMartin
          • Some numbers

            http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v103/Trunkswd/VGChartz/YTD1-7.png
            AleMartin
      • 1st when?

        You don't think the PS3 was #1 last gen, right? You said "sony would be in 1st place again. Are you referencing to the PS2 or the PS3? The Wii got the #1 spot last gen.

        I'd be careful discounting the Wii U, the 3DS was very similar - limited software choices held it back at first, but then it took off like a rocket. Sony and MS have made no apologies about catering to that 16-26 crowd specifically, leaving everyone who doesn't want an M rated game in the dust. This leaves a large market open for the Wii U - the early teens, the kids, and the old school gamers that were raised on Mario and Zelda games.

        Plus, it seems Steam is entering the foray for the "core gamer" market, and they are the masters of online gaming. That will take away from that market Sony and MS is targetting.
        theoriginator
        • #1

          Sony has been #1 two out of the last three generations, with the PS and the PS2, and they scored #2 for themselves with the PS3. So, I would say "again" is a totally reasonable statement. MS has only been in the game for two generations so far, and finished in 3rd both times. Nintendo was definitely #1 last time with the Wii, but the Wii U is (tragically, I'd say) almost a certain failure now.

          The point is, if you go by track record, you've gotta give Sony the edge. MS has not proven they can lead this market, yet.
          x I'm tc
        • Wii was rubbish gaming console

          The Wii cannot be compared. it had crap hardware compared to the PS3 and Xbox360. both PS3 and Xbox360 are around the 250gflops performance mark. Wii is not even 1/10th of that. You don't get the superb graphics in the wii games, it's all just cartoonish titles designed around the 6 axis controller.
          warboat
    • But

      Thing is, PS4 is a $400 console. X One is a $250 console that comes with a $250 webcam.

      PS4 does 1080p in cross platform games and exclusives while X One only has 1 or 2 1080p games. Its the limitations of a low end $50 ddr3 gpu the X1 is using vs the $200 ddr5 gpu in the PS4.

      If you want to Bing or use Internet Explorer with a $250 webcam or like ads on every page of your device then the Xbox is for you.

      If improved graphics, proper next gen resolutions, highest rated exclusives for last 5 years and remote play PS4 content to any tablet, smart tv or PS3 in the house then PS4 is for you.
      gerg81
      • It is already quite amazing

        That developers make 1080 games for PS4 and 720 for XBox1. Clearly, there are serious issues with the XB and that has been noted by buyers. 1 million XBox sold compared to 2.1million PS4
        1,2,3
      • Total nonsense

        Almost every single point in this post is false. Please see here: http://allthingsd.com/20131126/microsofts-xbox-one-cost-90-more-to-build-than-sonys-ps4-teardown-shows/

        The Xbone, without Kinnect, still costs more than the PS4. The Kinnect is only ~$75. The discepancy in polygon-pushing power comes in favor of the PS4 at the cost of a better general purpose computing device. Thus, the Xbone can multitask, etc., better.

        You have to ask yourself what you want the hardware to do. The PS4 is not "better," it is just "better at games."
        x I'm tc
        • So

          That means you are paying even more for hardware thats inferior in every way to the PS4 then.

          They both use the same AMD Jaguar 8 core cpu, the only hardware differences is the PS4 has a 2-3x as expensive gpu, high speed memory and a much faster blue ray drive.

          The main costs for Xbox would be from the huge construction of the thing, over 20% bigger than a fat Xbox 360 using about 3 wheelie bins worth of plastic to wrap the thing.
          gerg81
          • " inferior in every way"

            Please learn to read before writing.
            x I'm tc
          • Ok,

            What have i read wrong?

            " The discepancy in polygon-pushing power comes in favor of the PS4 at the cost of a better general purpose computing device."

            Care to clarify that comment? How exactly does having the exact same hardware except 2x faster ram and gpu give the PS4 any less general purpose computing ability?

            You do understand the basics of computer hardware and performance numbers yes?

            So you know the X1 is inferior in hardware specs, then Os. 3x hashed together Windows Os on the X1 vs BSD Unix on the PS4 thats been reliable for years and even powers OSX and IOS. Will be why X1 takes about a minute to start vs 10 seconds on the PS4.

            So X1 is also inferior with its bloated 3x Os along with Kinect reserving 10% of the cpu for webcam stuff and another 10% reserved for "snapping". Much inferior hardware along with 20% of it locked out for other things makes it barely an improvement over the 360.

            Will be why it can only game at Wii U levels of resolution and detail... Although the Wii u still has better media support at under 1/2 the price.
            gerg81
          • Not so quick.

            By your logic, Xbox 360 is superior to PS3 because Fifa 13 was 1080p on X360, but only 720p on PS3. The actual resolution differential is not a hardware issue, it's an optimization issue. The XB1 is still coming out with new kit for developers to utilize the hardware available to them. The X1 also reserves 10% of CPU usage for OS and Kinect which is locked out from developers use.

            So for gaming, sure PS4 currently has more resources available to developers. Does this mean it is now king? Obviously not. PS3 had more powerful hardware than Xbox 360, but by the end of the lifecycle developers were able to harness more power out of the X360 than the PS3.

            Is either of them next-generation? Definitely not. Next generation would be 4K resolution, not 1080P which consoles have been kicking out for 8 years already.

            Really what it comes down to is games. Which one has the titles you want to play. The resolution difference is a joke to compare. To call either of next generation gaming would also classify them at multiple-generations behind a current generation gaming computer. Cost is probably another factor is is generally the driving force behind the most popular units by the end of the lifecycle. (Just like last gen, Wii, then XB360, then PS3. Also sorted by cheapest to most expensive.) Last is of course the community, if you're playing online - which camp are your friends in? Is they're PS4 gamers, then you'll want to be able to tap into their network. Same for XB1. Any motion control features, or a talking controller, are just gravy features...
            NO_CARRIER
          • the raw numbers

            PS4 - 1840 gflops
            Xbox1 - 1240 gflops

            On pure performance potential, PS4 wins
            warboat
    • It has a different focus.

      "(more features, options, software, sensors, etc)"

      Well, if you think the console's all about being a device to manage your TV. Which they're trying to be. Whether or not there's a market for that is debatable.

      But when it comes to the historical core of gaming consoles - the gamers - it's a bit weak. They had to backpedal a lot on a bunch of policies that weren't gamer-friendly, and the hardware is a bit less gaming-centric than the PS4.
      CobraA1
      • That's why I got the xbox one.

        I got rid of my aging media center PC and replaced it with an Xbox one. For me the extra TV and entertainment based features put the Xbox one well ahead of the ps4. For the price range these devices are in it was much easier to justify a purchase of the Xbox one because everyone gets use out of it, not just me.
        Sam Wagner
        • Games

          PS4 / Xbox one
          These machines are for playing games any one thinking its a media centre are fooling them selfs. I have cable TV like others in UK or Sky TV and no one would be intrested in buyng any of the above just for a media centre.
          Until they bring out a slim line console I will be holding back from buying any. As for waving my hands in front of the TV even my 4 yr old son was bored of that after a weekend.
          greeny1968
    • The answer is simple!

      you buy BOTH!
      all serious gamers had the PS3 and the xbox360, they didn't just restrict themselves to one platform. Many even bought a wii as well and apent probably double all that for a PC gaming beast on top.
      I don't get the fighting between the gaming camps when both consoles together cost less than a top spec ipad.
      gaming on a budget? you can't be serious right?
      warboat