Home / Opinions / Sony PS4 vs PS3

Sony PS4 vs PS3

Sam Loveridge


Sony PS4 vs PS3

PS4 vs PS3: Is it worth the new-gen upgrade yet?

The PS4 has been out in the wild for over three years now, and if you've yet to upgrade, now is the perfect time.

Sony's latest console has gone through a number of small changes since it first launched in 2013, refining the console's interface with more features than ever before.

Is it time to upgrade? Well, we'll guide you through the key selling points that should help you make that decision this year.

Related: Best PS4 Deals

PS4 vs PS3 – Design

The PS3 had three key iterations – the chunky and beastly original, the PS3 Slim and the most recent budget Slim with a corrugated, sliding disc tray cover. The PS4 is closest in design to the middle one, thankfully, as it was the most aesthetically pleasing.

However, the PS4 isn’t exactly like the PS3. It has more angular slanted sides, and a light running down the middle indicating its status.

Like the PS3, though, it is a rather large console, measuring up at 27.5cm wide, 30.5cm deep and 5.3cm tall. The PS3 Slim is 29cm wide, 29cm deep and 6.5mm, so it's actually a little larger and fatter than the PS4.

Related: PS4 vs Xbox One

PS4 vs PS3 – Noise

The PS4 is practically silent, even when playing some high-level games for long periods of time. It is, as was originally hoped, a lot quieter than the PS3.

This might be of interest to those of you who already own a PS3, but for those jumping straight to PS4, you won’t even need to factor in fan noise as a consideration.

However, it is worth considering that our now two-year old PS4 is creating quite a lot of fan noise when playing games. If you want to avoid this, there's a new PS4 "C-Chassis" model that is a lot quieter and slightly smaller than the original PS4.

It's not easily obtainable, but it's certainly worth thinking about if noise is a big factor for you.

PS4 vs PS3 – CPU and RAM

Sony says that the PS4 is roughly 10 times as powerful as the PS3. Other than being a lot more powerful, as you’d expect, the most important difference between the two is that they use completely different architectures.

The PS3 uses a custom Sony-made Cell architecture that was long criticised for being hard to develop for.

Sony’s latest console definitely has taken a different tack. It uses an x86-based chip, which is the same type used in both Windows PCs and the Xbox One.

Under the hood, the PS4 features an 8-core AMD Jaguar CPU (max 2.7GHz) with an 800MHz AMD Radeon GPU and 8GB of GDDR5 RAM.

The PS3 has a main 3.2GHz single-core CPU with a collection of companion cores. Plus it comes with a 550MHz GPU and 256MB of DDR3 RAM. That clock speed might sound rather high, but the PS4 processor is easily the better and more powerful of the two.

Because the PS4 uses a totally different architecture to the PS3, it does mean that you can’t play PS3 games on the new console. PlayStation Now is a service that allows you to stream certain PS3 games directly to your PS4, but unfortunately isn't compatible with disc-based titles.

Related: Xbox One vs Xbox 360


PS4 vs PS3 – Controllers

The PS4 comes with the brand new DualShock 4, which is quite a marked redesign on the PS3 DualShock 3. The DualShock 4 been made slightly larger and heavier than its predecessor, with the grips elongated too.

Sony also carefully redesigned the shoulder and trigger buttons on the DualShock 4 for easier access and better feedback for games like shooters or racers.

What’s immediately a huge difference between the DualShock 4 and DualShock 3 is the fact the former has a rather substantial touchscreen in the centre of the controller. This can be used to perform a variety of functions both on the UI and in game.

There’s also a new headphone jack port right at the bottom of the controller, making it easy to add earphones and a mic for in-game chat or just having a more immersive experience.

Sony has also tweaked some other design elements, with the joysticks slightly further apart, a circular panel for the face buttons and Options and Share buttons rather than Start and Select.

That Share button means that you’ve got access to all the PS4 game sharing options right within thumb’s reach. Those sharing options include the new Share Play functionality, which lets you create what Sony is calling the “virtual couch experience”, sharing your games with other PS4 players without them having to own the game too.

Of course, another big difference with the DualShock 4 is the presence of the light bar at the front of the controller. It not only allows the PS4 to track your position in the room, but it also combines with the improved SixthAxis motion sensor to make motion gaming much more possible on the PS4 without a Move Controller.

That light bar also changes colour according to what’s going on in your game too.

The DualShock 4 might take a bit of getting used to for those already familiar with the DualShock 3, but it’s definitely the superior controller.

See also: PS4 Pro vs PS4 - Which should you buy?

DualShock 4 vs DualShock 3

PS4 vs PS3 – Games Library

Because the PS3 has been out considerably longer than the PS4, it definitely has the more impressive games line-up. Like the Xbox 360, developers have promised to support the PS3 for a number of years yet, so you’ll still get some new games for an investment in the last generation console.

However, if you’re willing to invest in the PS4, you’ll experience better resolution gaming and its game library is getting stronger every week. You won’t be able to deny that the PS4’s 900p/1080p HD resolution makes even the cross-platform games so much better. Plus, increasingly, you’ll only get the full game features on new-gen platforms.

The PS4 library has seen a number of fantastic titles added since its launch, giving you plenty to play on your shiny new console. Uncharted 4: A Thief's End, Until Dawn, The Last of Us Remastered and Alienation are just some of the games currently available for the system.

Be sure to take a look at our best PS4 games round-up, or head to our list of the top upcoming PS4 games for 2016 to get a look at the future of PS4 gaming.

DualShock 4

PS4 vs PS3 – Media Skills

The PS3 is still a far better media machine than the PS4. Sony’s older console can play videos stored on memory sticks or external hard drives, and the PS4 still won't play anything other than MP4 files.

Sony just introduced the ability to play music files from a USB stick, but you can’t store them on your PS4 or play other video files just yet.

The PS3 can also wireless stream files form other devices. The PS4 can do this, but only using the Plex app.

The PS4 does have a increasingly strong app line-up though, so don’t sign it off entirely as a media centre. At the time of writing, the PS4 has the following apps:

Netflix, Amazon Prime Instant Video, BBC iPlayer, Demand 5, BBC News, BBC Sport, Now TV, Crunchyroll and WWE Network.

Sadly, there’s not yet DLNA support for PS4.

See also: Best PS4 Games 2016


PS4 vs PS3 – Backwards compatibility

Some of the earlier PS3 models could play PS2 games, with the higher end models running the games because it had actual PS2 hardware inside. The lower end models did so via software emulation, but that limited compatibility. Some of the later models simply don't support PS2 games at all.

As for the PS4, there's two ways it's dealing with backwards compatibility. For PS3 games, there's PlayStation Now. This cloud-based streaming service allows you to play PS3 games on your PS4 by streaming them over the internet, with payment taken on a rental or monthly subscription basis.

For PS2 games, Sony is slowly adding select PS2 titles to the PlayStation Store, which you can buy, download and play on your PS4.

Neither is the most elegant solution, and it doesn't take into account whether you already own any of the games. That means you'll have to pay again for your PS3/PS2 nostalgia.

Related: PS4 Backwards Compatibility Explained


PS4 vs PS3 – Price

The PS4 managed to hold its £349 launch price for quite some time, with very strong sales since its release two years ago. However, you can now pick up a PS4 with a game or two for between £250 - £300.

And that includes the very temping 1TB Player's Edition console too.

Buy Now: PS4 at Amazon.com from $299

You can still pick up the latest PS3 Super Slim brand new for £165 for the smaller 12GB model, or around £200 for the larger 500GB version, which you’ll want for storing all your games.

Buy Now: PS3 at Amazon.com from $163


Verdict – Is it worth the upgrade?

If you don’t yet own a PS3 and have quite a tight budget, you won’t be doing yourself a disservice by picking up the last-gen console.

However, the PS4 has established itself over its three-year lifetime as the gamer-focused console, especially with features like SharePlay. You’ll appreciate the higher quality games, strong indie focus and tonnes of new features coming your way in the near future.

Now is a great time to upgrade to PS4 too, because of the wealth of PS4 exclusive games coming in 2016 are going to define Sony's latest console.

"]"="" data-sheets-userformat="[null,null,513,[null,0],null,null,null,null,null,null,null,null,0]">

Don't forget to share your thoughts on the PS4 vs PS3 debate in the comments below.

Dave Treweek

November 15, 2013, 6:01 pm

They have announced recently that the ps4 will have dlna streaming fairly soon. Due to public backlash. Plus mp3 support. Personally I will wait for this before buying as I still use my launch day ps3 as a media streamer for my mp3s(legally bought) and to watch my home videos. I was going to buy on launch day but as its a reduction in functionality I will wait. But worth clarifying that it will come. Ps3 didn't have on day one, but considering most new tellys and blue ray players support this its difficult to see what they would achieve by leaving this out. Its just waiting for a firmware patch. In the mean time it means when I do get it I can buy some pretty owned games.

Another difference is you will need PlayStation plus membership for online gaming. Annoying but still cheaper than the Xbox equivalent and Microsoft have proved this works as a business model


November 16, 2013, 3:10 pm

My son picks his pre-order today ,we will see if he one of the lucky ones, I decided way back I would wait for a game like DA inquisition to come out, and give Sony and MS a chance to fix the glitches. MY MEMORY is not as short as most.


November 17, 2013, 7:35 am

you only need playstation plus for multiplayer online gaming. you can still game online just not with more then one person per console from what I understand.


November 18, 2013, 6:23 pm

Comparing PS3 to PS4 with ACIV and CoD is not a fair comparison. Like the article rightfully points out, the PS3 utilizes the Cell Processor which has been very difficult for developers to create games for. That's why often in comparison tests with the Xbox360, the PS3 always comes up short or lacking. A real and truer comparison would be to compare the quality between an PS4 game and an PS3 exclusive like MGS IV or Uncharted. There may not be a way to make a 1:1 comparison as of now, but when you put these PS3 exclusives up against the best the (x86) Xbox 360, there is just no comparison which game console (when optimized) is better.


November 19, 2013, 11:24 pm

OK so the PS4 is just a locked down, non upgradeable PC with a special blend of Sony DRM and mandatory terms & conditions forced on users each time they get a "firmware update", plus the higher prices for games that go with all that... Hmmmm...So tell me the value proposition again?

Gareth Barber

November 21, 2013, 1:10 pm

Xbox 360 is a PPC not too unsimilar to the PS3's Cell, the original XBox was a x86 being a celeron.

Any comparisons between those two will be for other reasons, possibly GPU related. Strip out windows from a x86 and run a OS dedicated to games and similar levels of optimization will come, with x86 (AMD64) having far more advanced development tools, compiler optimization etc than either of the PPC (family of) based consoles, even if x86 isn't as efficient.

PC gamers should be the real winners here, console and PC games having the same code base, possibly libraries and compilers. Wonder how long until a Xbox/PS4 'emulator' rears its head.


November 22, 2013, 9:27 am



November 22, 2013, 9:28 am

But they aren't on both the PS3 and PS4. COD is on both generations that's why they chose it, because its an easy comparison.


November 23, 2013, 3:35 am

Popular games will get released on every platform. Each platform will have a few "exclusives" but not many. A PC will have more games than a full-time gamer could possibly play. So in the end - it is smarter to choose the system offering the least limitations and the lowest priced games.

dank memes

November 23, 2013, 5:28 am

It has more games but that's because its been there for about every single game generation, all Playstation and Xbox games are all current gen games, PC games have sold the least out of the PS3, Xbox 360 and PC multiplatfrom games, it may be because it's so easy to pirate games on the PC but it might also be because not all PC games are able to run on all PCs, your PC WILL stop running PC games but Consoles will never stop playing Console games.


November 23, 2013, 7:34 am

Now that PS4 has launched, is PS3 worth buying? I am waiting for a considerable price drop on PS3. Will big name game developers continue to develop for PS3 for about 2 years from now? I have been a PC gamer and want to move to consoles. So, should I buy PS3 or PS4? I do like GTA series.


November 23, 2013, 8:29 am

the ps3 cell processor was extremely advanced in 2006. I'd bet that it is just about equal with the ps4's processor.


November 24, 2013, 7:01 pm

look like we are on the same page. I will definitely buy ps4 if GTA5 would launch on it. However, gta can only fit on PS3, so I am thinking buy the bundle in XMAS.lol


November 25, 2013, 2:54 am

The PS3 was extremely advanced for its time and proves how hardware vendors could release more powerful cost effective solutions that last longer if there wasn't the disincentive of losing large annual upgrade revenues. That said, the PS3 is no where near as powerful as the PS4 specs.

CPU: 8-core AMD Jaguar CPU (max 2.75GHz) (picture 8 CPU's running in parallel where the PS3 has 1)
Graphics: 800MHz AMD Radeon GPU
Memory: 8GB of GDDR5 RAM

CPU: 3.2GHz single-core CPU (Don't be fooled by the relatively high clock speed of the PS3 CPU, the new processor is much more advanced in every respect.)
Graphics: 550MHz GPU
Memory: 256MB of DDR3 RAM.


November 25, 2013, 3:04 am

Actually the Ps3 has 8 cores in the cell processor. 7 are used for 3.2GHz and one is used for security purposes. I would argue that the Ps3 has a faster processor than the Ps4. That is why ps3 exclusives look so good compared to xbox 360.


November 25, 2013, 12:29 pm

Persona 5 has just been announced. No word on PS4 version.... PS3 is looking mighty attractive, especially since there is no real news regarding the streaming tech.


November 25, 2013, 2:33 pm

That is interesting. I was not aware of the SPE (Synergistic Processing Elements) that effectively provide parallel processing capabilities. That makes a lot more sense as to why the PS3 was so advanced and stood the test of time so well. One advantage that the PS4 should have over the PS3 when it came out is that it will be easier to develop for since it uses an x86 chipset. I personally do not plan to rush out and get a PS4 this soon. I was disappointed that the PS4 seems to have taken a step back from the PS3 in the area of doubling as a media streaming device.


November 25, 2013, 4:53 pm

I find it rather amazing that Sony would miss something this critical. Centralized media streaming consoles (or one stop shopping for media needs) are getting more popular if anything. Why they would want to take a step back in this area is beyond me. It seems that they were basically wagering that gamers would invest in yet another media player to meet such needs. I think people are looking to minimize the number of electronic devices it takes to support their home entertainment centers vs. having a need for a TV with 8+ HMDI connectors. :-)


November 26, 2013, 6:45 am

waaat? who downvoted my post?


November 26, 2013, 2:00 pm

the PS3 had 256 MB of GDDR3 for the graphics chip, and 256 MB XDR RAM for the cell cpu. Developers could share the RAM however between system and graphics. As someone else pointed out, the cell was a 3.2 Ghz single core cpu, but it had seven functioning SPE's which processed code in parallel. And it had an
Nvidia GPU.


November 28, 2013, 1:01 pm

Until it breaks...
The problem with consoles is they never become anything but something to play the game of the moment. They never become anything more than a basic (and limited) appliance. What's worse is they are totally disposable.

Had "PlayStation" been able to play all "PlayStation" games I think there would be some value in it. But as PlayStation 4 can't play PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 3 can't play PlayStation 2... The brand identifier of PlayStation is meaningless as it isn't even a standard...

Consoles and their games are designed with built in obsolescence in mind. Bigger opportunities now rest with the larger more dynamic ecosystems with interoperability across devices... Android for example will be so much bigger in gaming than PlayStation by the end of PS4’s short little life... The PC will continue to run Windows, Linux, Android, or whatever... and it will emulate all those dead consoles.


November 29, 2013, 8:38 am

PS3 is a powerful , ps4 could've waited. have seen games on the PS4 the graphics does not blow me away of wooow next gen..hope they keep developing games for the PS3


December 5, 2013, 7:03 pm

The first generation ps3 was best. You could play old ps2 and ps1 games. You couldn't do that with the next ps3. I would have traded blue ray for playing older games anyday. But ps3 vs ps4? Ps3 all the way... Ps4 doesn't even compare. Sony is cheap and lazy, they can take their ps4 and shove it

beware the gandulf

December 10, 2013, 9:28 am

Is there a possibility that the company will stop making ps3 games just because ps4 is now out.They did that to psp after ps vita came out. I want to get the best deal possible and still enjoy games after playing for sometime.


December 10, 2013, 9:34 am

If they stop making games on ps3 then ps3 is not worth buying because when u finish play a game there is no new ones out. Also if they do stop ps3 than all the #1 games on ps3 would be gone in a instant

comments powered by Disqus