The Xbox One and PS4 have been released. Stocks may be low, but the next-gen consoles are here and in homes, cranking out graphics that make the Xbox 360 and seem like old news.
But which one should you buy?? We've compared the two consoles in our PS4 vs Xbox One guide to help you make the right choice.
Xbox One vs PS4 -Video ComparisonWant to get a closer look at the new game consoles in action? Watch our comparison video below.
PS4 vs Xbox One - The reviews are inWe’ve had a chance to live with both the Xbox One and PS4 for a while. If you haven’t done so yet, be sure to read our full Xbox One and PS4 reviews.
There are some easily-digestible impressions we can give you now, though. First, it’s too early to tell whether the extra power of the PS4 will really have any significant benefits - the PS4 has a more powerful graphics processor than the Microsoft rival.
Read our Xbox One review
Read our PS4 review
Right now, we think there’s actually a bit more fun to be had with the Xbox One. As of November/December 2013, there are simply better games available for Microsoft’s console. That’s not great news for the PS4, which was sold as the ‘true gamer’ console in the months preceding the consoles’ release.
It works the other way around too, though. In the early months of the Xbox One’s public existence, Microsoft sold it as a lounge-unifying box that would be able to take control of your whole entertainment setup.
It’s actually the least lounge-friendly of the two consoles, as it’s so big. And while the promised media features of the Xbox One sound exciting, few of them are actually in place for UK buyers at the moment.
For example, the PS4 has iPlayer when the Xbox One does not, and the more involved TV control elements aren’t available in the UK – yet. Of course, making your buying decision based on these complaints is perhaps not the wisest idea – they’re teething troubles that don’t necessarily indicate what the consoles will be like 12 months down the line.
Xbox One vs Sony PS4 – Price and Release DateXbox One - £429, 22 November release
PS4 - £349, 29 November UK release
The Xbox One and Sony PS4 were released almost at the same time. The Xbox went on sale in the UK on 22 November, while the Sony PS4 launched a little earlier in the US. It comes to the UK on 29 November.
The Sony PS4 benefits from being a bit cheaper. It costs £349.99 while the Xbox One costs £429 - a disparity of £80.
The price difference has earnt Microsoft much criticsm, but it's an easy issue to explain away. The Xbox One comes with a Kinect sensor, which is needed to make the console function. Current-gen Kinect costs around £100, and as the next generation model is much more advanced, it accounts for the entire price difference.
PS4 vs Xbox One - StockIf you wanted to pre-order a PS4 for the console's release date, you're already too late. On 8 August, Sony announced that the initial stock allocation for the PS4 had run dry - massive numbers of pre-orders saw to that. The Xbox One is sold out now as well.
It's not game over yet, though. Part of the reason why Sony has run out of pre-order stock already is that it is holding back consoles to go into stores on launch day. You might need to get up early, but it'll be worth it.
As yet, we don't know how long after launch the 'second wave' of PS4s will start shipping out - as it's highly likely that the initial in-store stock will sell out very quickly.
Xbox One Preview Video
Want a closer look at the Xbox One? Here's our preview video of the new console in action.
Xbox One vs Sony PS4 – Design
Xbox One – 10 per cent larger than 360, 'big black box' design, 3.18kg
PS4 – Slanted design, 2.8kg
The Xbox One and PS4 are completely different prospects bodywork-wise.
Microsoft’s Xbox One is far, far larger – an imposing black monolith of the living room. The PS4 is sleeker, slimmer and less likely to dominate your under-TV space.
Both keep the severe, black and masculine style that’s common to games consoles, though.
The Xbox One is 10 per cent larger than its predecessor, the current Xbox 360. It weighs around the same as the current console, though, at roughly 3kg.
The PS4 is only marginally lighter, at 2.8kg. This shouldn’t come as a great surprise, though, as they both have to fit in similar components.
Why the extra size in the Xbox One? It’s likely that part of the internal volume of the Xbox One’s case is there to aid cooling.
Overheating was a significant problem in the Xbox 360, responsible for causing many of the red ring issues that plagued the console’s earlier years.
This picture demonstrates the size difference very well.
PS4 vs Xbox One - Which is more powerful?If you're a hardcore gamer, there's a good chance you care about how your games look. And that's all down to the power a console has on tap.
Which of the new consoles is more powerful? The simple answer is the PS4. We'll look deeper into the technical reasons why in a minute.
What this means in practice right now is that some cross-platform games, such as Battlefield 4, run at a lower resolution on the Xbox One than they do on the Xbox One. This may equalise over the life of the consoles as developers learn more about each consoles, but the PS4 definitely has a slight edge at launch.
Xbox One vs PS4 – CPUXbox One – AMD 8-core Jaguar CPU
PS4 - AMD 8-core Jaguar CPU
The Xbox One and PS4 use extremely similar CPUs, made by AMD. Both use an APU setup, which links together both CPU and GPU into one package.
They’re 8–core chips using ‘Jaguar’ cores – a term picked by their maker AMD to denote their chipset generation. The Xbox One runs at 1.75GHz, which was bumped-up from their original spec of 1.6GHz. Sony hasn't actually confirmed the clock speed of its PS4 CPU. However, even it is set at 1.6GHz, slower than the Xbox One, it's the GPU that will really matter.
The difference in core processor power isn’t likely to be that great, and that both consoles use x86 architecture will make life much easier for developers – simplifying the porting process.
Xbox One: Comparable to Radeon HD 7000-series, 8GB DDR3 RAM and 32MB eSRAM
PS4 vs Xbox One – GPU and RAM
PS4: Comparable to Radeon HD 7000-series, 8GB GDDR5 RAM
The PS4 and Xbox One both use an AMD GPU.
At first glance it seems like their GPUs may be identical, but they are not. On paper the PS4 graphics processor is 50 per cent more powerful, with 1,152 shader processors against the Xbox One’s 768.
Realising that this sounded pretty bad, Microsoft worked on upping the One's power a bit and on 2 August announced that its GPU speed from 800MHz to 853MHz. It's a nice tweak for the tech heads, but doesn't see the Xbox One match up to the PS4.
Having extra processing power will let the PS4 perform more tasks simultaneously – which should in theory allow for more impressive visual effects.
A more impressive GPU is matched with more impressive-sounding RAM. The PS4 uses GDDR5 RAM, while the Xbox One has more conventional DDR3 memory – and both have 8GB of the stuff.
GDDR5 has much higher bandwidth than DDR3, designed for intensive applications such as in graphics cards, while DDR3 is ‘bog standard’ system memory.
If DDR3 was all the Xbox One had, it’d be in serious trouble. But it also has an eSRAM buffer that should help to bridge the 100GB/sec bandwidth gap between the two RAM types. It has a 32MB chunk of eSRAM that will function as a frame buffer.
The news that the Sony PS4 is (almost) categorically more powerful than the Xbox One is one of the reasons why the PS4 pre-order sold out before the Xbox One's.
Read our full strip-down of the Xbox One and PS4 graphics hardware
With a more powerful GPU and, seemingly, faster memory, the PS4 is clearly out in front on graphical specs.
But how do they pan out compared to PC graphics cards? The Xbox One is said to be on-par with a Radeon 7790, the PS4 a Radon 7870. Unless you're a PC gamer, that's really not going to mean much.
Let's reduce it to cold hard cash. That the Radeon 7790 costs around £100 and the Radeon 7870 £150 tells you all you need to know.
However, EA’s chief technology officer Rajat Teneja claims that the consoles are a whole generation ahead of the top-end PCs on the market. To some that’ll seem like a ridiculous statement when top-end gaming PCs cost thousands of pounds, and these consoles will cost a few hundred.
What’s less contentious is that the Xbox One and PS4 are around 8-10 times as powerful as the previous-gen Xbox 360 and PS3. However, let’s not forget that an increase in graphical fidelity requires an exponential increase in power – so we won’t be looking at games that look 8-10 times as good.
Xbox One vs PS4 –Graphics
A key question for any head-to-head in the games world is - which has better graphics? It is a question that is, and will probably always be, very difficult to impossible to answer.
As with the current Xbox 360 vs PS3 battle, which console has prettier graphics will vary from game-to-game, and generally the difference is not that great. It's all down to the way games are made.
A developer produces a game for a 'lead SKU', the core platform that it decides to create the building blocks of a game on. That game is then ported over to the other platforms it is to be released on.
Of course, with a project that's as big a deal as an AAA console game, work will happen on the Xbox One and PS4 versions simultaneously.
The one way to guess at which console has the greater graphics potential is to look at what is going on under the hood - checking out the CPU, the GPU and the core system memory that run the show.
Many of the best upcoming games for the next-generation consoles are not exclusives. Bungie's Destiny, Battlefield 4, Assassin's Creed IV and many others will arrive for both systems. And as the consoles use the same processor architecture, porting between the two should be fairly easy.
However, it's the games that won't come to both consoles that should affect your buying decision - Xbox or PlayStation? Although the PS4 will reportedly have more exclusives within its first year, we actually know about more Xbox One exclusive games at present. Here's the run-down.
PS4 vs Xbox One - Launch Games and Exclusive GamesFollowing Gamescom 2013, we know the entire list of games we'll see released for PS4 at the console's launch (boxed games only).
Assassin’s Creed Black Flag
Call of Duty: Ghosts
Just Dance 2014
Killzone: Shadow Fall
LEGO Marvel Super Heroes
Madden NFL 25
Need for Speed: Rivals
Skylanders: Swap Force
And for the Xbox One:
Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag
Call of Duty: Ghosts
Dead Rising 3
Forza Motorsport 5
Just Dance 2014
LEGO Marvel Super Heroes
Madden NFL 25
NBA LIVE 14
Need for Speed: Rivals
Ryse: Son of Rome
Skylanders: Swap Force
Zumba Fitness: World Party
Xbox One ExclusivesHalo 5
What is it? The next-gen instalment of the key Xbox game series – an extra-terrestrial first-person shooter.
Dead Rising 3
What is it? Zombies, zombies, zombies. A third-person action adventure. It’s darker than the previous games and is set in an open-world environment rather than a hemmed-in mall.
Forza Motorsport 5
What is it? The Xbox’s answer to Gran Turismo. A half-serious driving game with hundreds of cars and beautiful visuals.
What is it? A first-person multiplayer shooter from the old heads of the development team that made Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (Infinity Ward.)
What is it? A one-on-one fighter resurrected from the 16-bit days of gaming. Think Mortal Kombat with even weirder characters.
What is it? A colourful mutant-filled action game with a world reminiscent of Jet Set Radio – but packed with zombies. Made by Insomniac games.
Ryse: Son of Rome
What is it? A brutal first-person melee action title from Crytek, the maker of the Far Cry and Crysis games.
What is it? A ‘game making’ game that’s comparable in many respects to Sony’s LittleBigPlanet.
What is it? An action-packed shooter in which you can manipulate time. Here’s hoping it’s better than the current-gen Timeshift.
What is it? An artsy-looking indie adventure from the maker of Sword and Sworcery.
What is it? A racer that’s out to take on Forza Motorsport 5 with a more arcade-like take on racing.
What is it? A gorgeous-but-grim first-person shooter, continuing the PlayStation-exclusive series.
Infamous: Second Son
What is it? The third large-scale Infamous game, in which you play as a man with superpowers.
What is it? A bright and breezy third-person action-adventure, and one of the most family-friendly launch titles.
Octodad: Deadliest Catch
What is it? A bonkers indie game in which you play as an octopus.
The Order: 1886
What is it? An action game set in Victorian London.
Xbox One vs PS4 - AppsIf you want functionality other than what comes pre-installed with an PS4 or Xbox One, you need apps. These give you access to streaming services like YouTube, Netflix and so on.
The roster of launch apps varies quite a bit between the consoles, and which is better depends on your own priorities.
Clearly, the Xbox One has more services. However, look more critically and they're a bit more evenly matched. The most important of the lot - for many buyers - is only available in the PS4 so far - BBC iPlayer. The Xbox One has Netflix, but as a paid-for service, it naturally has a slightly smaller audience of fans.
We expect all of the key services will eventually be shared across both platforms. However, some may take as long as 6-9 months to get there.
PS4 Remote PlayOne of the neatest new software/hardware features of the PS4 is how it works with the PS Vita, Sony’s gaming handheld. You’ll be able to play PS4 games on your PS Vita, streaming them over your home broadband connection or using a Wi-Fi Direct connection between the two boxes.
It’s a free feature, and one that makes the Vita suddenly seem a lot more attractive. The PS4 automatically downscales the video to match the Vita’s screen, making it much less data-intensive than a full 1080p stream. The Vita has a 960x544 pixel screen, which is a way below even 720p.
Vita Remote Play in itself is nothing new, however support in the PS3 generation was very poor, making few people even realise it existed. The PS4 also has separate hardware components to handle video conversion and streaming, meaning sacrifices don’t have to be made elsewhere.
There’s just one limitation – you can’t use Remote Play for games that need the PS4 camera. While the Vita has its own cameras, the extra processing that would be required to process the separate input wirelessly makes it completely unfeasible.
Of course, there’s no equivalent for the Xbox One. It offers some Xbox integration through the Windows Phone mobiles, but there’s nothing quite like Remote Play on offer.
Xbox Live Gold vs PlayStation PlusXbox Live Gold and PlayStation Plus are the paid-for premium parts of the Xbox Live and PSN online services. If you don’t look for a bargain deal online, a year’s subscription to each costs you £39.99. Shop around and it’s easy enough to find a deal for £29.99 a year.
The more important issue – what does that get you? Traditionally, Xbox Live Gold was thought-of as the much stronger service. It has always had a stronger community. But that is starting to change.
While Xbox Live Gold still makes much more of the social side of the service with things like visual avatars, a stronger achievements system and much clearer notifications of when your friends are about, you get better freebies with PlayStation Plus.
At present, PlayStation Plus offers around 10 free games for PS3 and PS Vita – and a handful are rotated each month. Unless you’re a hardcore gamer, this free stash may be enough to keep you busy year-round. Xbox Live Gold has done its best to emulate this, by offering two free games a month. However, the games selection and the number of titles on offer haven’t matched PS Plus’s.
Both Microsoft and Sony have said they plan to continue offering free games through their paid-for online plans. However, we’ll have to wait until the consoles are released to see what we actually get for the Xbox One and PS4 – ‘legacy’ games are currently offered, which the new consoles simply won’t have yet.
VerdictThere's no particular 'wrong choice' to be made between the two consoles at present. The PS4 is more powerful but there's unlikely to be many huge benefits for now, and the Xbox One has a stronger launch line-up. If you have a PS Vita, Sony's pushing of Remote Play is something worth checking out.
Next, read more about PS4 backwards compatibility