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Which Console Should I Buy - PS4 or Xbox One?

With both the Xbox One and PS4 now having a year of their life-cycle under their belts, it's becoming more and more difficult to debate the pros and cons of buying either console over the other.

Microsoft has stuck to its promise of releasing monthly updates for the Xbox One. Every 30 days, Xbox One owners get treated to several new features for their console, making it rapidly the better choice for the all-rounder entertainment console.

Those updates have included a plethora of entertainment-focused features, including enhanced TV integration, DLNA support and the ability to upgrade the Xbox One's internal storage via external hard drive.

Sony has gone down the opposite route, instead choosing to release major software updates sporadically, making them much more highly anticipated.

The latest PS4 Update 2.0 introduced the SharePlay functionality, dynamic backgrounds and YouTube support among other smaller new features - all of which were focused on the games.

That's not to say that Microsoft is ignoring the gaming side of the Xbox One. Far from it. During the recent Windows 10 event, Microsoft announced you'll be able to stream your Xbox One games to your PC and tablet, allowing you to play console games on your Windows 10 device.

So it's a tricky decision. Both consoles have their pros and cons, their quirks and quibbles, often making it difficult to put on before the other.

To help you work out which console is right for you, we’ve compared each aspect of the console duo, so you can make an informed decision in your PS4 or Xbox One debate.

PS4 vs Xbox One -Video Comparisonblue stick

Check out our PS4 vs Xbox One comparison video:



See also: Does Xbox One and PS4 game revolution really matter?

Xbox One vs PS4 – Priceblue stick

A year into the lifecycle of both the Xbox One and PS4, the two consoles have pretty much reached a pricing stalemate. When the Xbox One was launched it was a whopping £80 more expensive than the PS4, due to the fact you were forced to purchase the Kinect pre-packaged with it.

However, back in May, Microsoft introduced a Kinect-free Xbox One option for the same price as the PS4 - £349.99. This help boost sales and made it a much more viable choice for those who couldn’t afford to spend over £400 on a new console.

Now, the Xbox One tends to be cheaper than the PS4, even bundled with a game. We've outlined what tends to be the average prices below, but there's always going to be a bit of leeway if you do your research and find the latest deals.

See also: Best console deals in the UK


The Xbox One currently retails for:
Standalone Xbox One console - £299
Xbox One with Assassin's Creed Unity and AC 4: Black Flag - £329.99
Xbox One console with Kinect - £380
Xbox One console bundled with a game - £329

The PS4 currently retails for:
Standalone PS4 console - £329
PS4 console bundled with a game - £349

Prices correct at the time of writing - 22/01/2015


See also: Best Games of 2014
Xbox One and PS4 controllers

Xbox One vs Sony PS4 – Designblue stick

Xbox One

Xbox One – 10 per cent larger than 360, 'big black box' design, 3.18kg
PS4 – Slanted design, 2.8kg

In terms of design the Xbox One and PS4 are completely different prospects.

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.

PS4The Xbox One is 10 per cent larger than its predecessor, the Xbox 360. It weighs around the same as the last 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.

The charging cables are also something to consider when it comes to design. The Xbox One has a huge power brick that it requires in order to turn on. It can make your neat wire organisation pretty complicated, as you'll need to make space for it behind the TV somewhere. The PS4 on the other hand has a single power cable that runs from socket to console with no power brick in sight, meaning it's far easier to move from room to room when required.

We'd rather have the smaller PS4 in our living rooms, but the Xbox One may end up being more reliable in the long term thanks to that extra cooling. We've gone a year now though and neither console appears to have any major hardware issues which is great news for consumers.

SEE ALSO: PS4 Tips and Tricks
Xbox One size
This picture demonstrates the size difference very well.

PS4 vs Xbox One - Interfaceblue stick

Here's a quick look at what the interfaces of the Xbox One and PS4 look like in use:

Xbox OneXbox One interface

The look of the Xbox One software is heavily inspired by elements of Windows Phone and Windows 8. Microsoft clearly wanted to reach a certain level of parity between its platforms.

It has a modern look, but many people have criticised the software for its glitchiness and bouts of odd behaviour. At present it doesn't quite feel right - it's something that Microsoft is likely to address in time, but is something to consider if you want to do more than just play disc-based games on your console.

PS4


The PS4 has a simpler, somewhat less ambitious user interface. As it leaves you scrolling in just one direction most of the time, we find it a more intuitive experience than the Xbox One's software.

There is room for improvement, though. For example at present you can't bring out the Netflix app to the top 'recently used' layer of the UI, even though it's a PS4 favourite for many people.

Xbox One vs PS4 - Controllersblue stick

Which is the better gamepad? The DualShock 4 or the Xbox One pad? It's not an easy one to call. First, let's have a look at the pads. 

Xbox One Wireless Controller

Xbox One controller

PS4 DualShock 4

Dualshock 4

Both have the genetic material of their forebears, but the DualShock 4 feels like more of a change. Microsoft has stuck with what worked so well in the Xbox 360 controller with the Xbox One pad, and as such it's more of a tweak than a full ground-up redesign.

There are two main changes. The Xbox One pad has rumble motors built into the triggers to give you feedback when, for example, shooting guns. Microsoft has also made huge improvement to the D-pad. The mushy Xbox 360 D-pad has been switched for one that's much more clicky and responsive. It'll work wonders on Street Fighter-style fighting games.

Sadly, the Xbox One controller still requires to be powered by a pair of AA batteries as standard, rather than being rechargeable like the PS4's DualShock 4. You'll have to buy the Play and Charge kit separately for each controller for £19 a go.

However, if you do stick to AA batteries, you'll definitely see your Xbox One controller pack a longer play time than the PS4 controller, which we seem to have to charge after every single play session.

The DualShock 4's changes are more marked. It's a bit chunkier than the previous DualShock controllers and a lot heavier too, giving a firmer feel than the last-gen Dualshock 3 pad.

Sony has also massively improved the analogue sticks in the DualShock 4. Where the DualShock 3 wasn't really much cop for first-person shooters, the new pad is great for almost all types of console games. There's also a new touch pad on the front, between the sticks and the main buttons, and a Share button to make uploading your gameplay videos easy.

After all that, have we really found a victor? Not as such. If you loved the Xbox 360 pad, you'll probably prefer the Xbox One controller. However, the DualShock 4 has a robust feel that previous PlayStation pads simply haven't had.

See also: PS4 Controller Battery Life - How to make your DualShock 4 last longer

Controllers
 

PS4 vs Xbox One - Which is more powerful?blue stick

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 PS4. 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.

See also: Xbox One Tips and Tricks
Xbox One 2

Xbox One vs PS4 – Processor
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Xbox 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.

The CPUs are 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's runs slightly cooler at 1.6GHz, which may make some of you think the Xbox One is more powerful. This is not the case. The power of the GPU is much more important here.

SEE ALSO: Xbox One FAQ - Things you need to know before you buy


PS4 vs Xbox One – GPU and RAMblue stick

Xbox One - Comparable to Radeon HD 7000-series, 8GB DDR3 RAM and 32MB eSRAM
PS4 - Comparable to Radeon HD 7000-series, 8GB GDDR5 RAM

The PS4 and Xbox One both use an AMD GPU.

AMD logoAt 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 Radeon 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.

Related: Best cheap graphic card

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

Xbox One vs PS4 – Graphicsblue stick

One of the main reason core gamers have chosen to favour the PS4 over the Xbox One is its categorically better graphics hardware. But does it translate to better graphics in games?

In quite a few cases it does. It’s not necessarily a case of missing effects, less complicated shadows and other such obvious cut-backs, but output resolution. With many games, the PS4 renders at a slightly higher resolution than the Xbox One.

If you have a good 1080p TV, you will be able to see the difference if you get up close and personal. However, in the current wave of games there is not really a gigantic difference between the two.

Here are a few grabs from some of the many graphics comparisons that have been made online:

Xbox One vs PS4 1
via IGN

Here it looks as though there's more detail in the Xbox One shot, however, the PS4 details are actually obscured by an environmental dust effect. The PS4 footage is also a lot higher-contrast, which is seen consistently in graphics comparisons.

Xbox One vs PS4
via NowGamer

Once again, there's higher contrast in the PS4 footage, and there appears to be a bit more texture information in the road surface.

Digital Foundry performed a very interesting test to see the difference between the hardware available to the two consoles. It specced-out  PCs with roughly the same GPU hardware as the Xbox One and PS4, and found that the PS4 performed roughly 24 per cent better in benchmarks.

Xbox One vs PS4 2
via Digital Foundry

We’re already seeing the PS4 perform better in current games, and this is only likely to continue as more ‘new-gen’ titles are released.

Take a look at our graphics comparison of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare on the Xbox One and PS4 side by side:


SEE ALSO: PS4 FAQ - Things worth knowing before you buy

Top reasons to pick an Xbox One
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Larger size may mean it’s more reliable long-term
The huge console size of the Xbox One gives air more room to circulate, which is likely to ensure the console does not overheat even when under strain for prolonged periods.

Kinect is undeniably cool
Not everyone likes Kinect, but it has serious potential that you don’t get with the PS4 camera. For example, you can use it to control the console, swiping in the air to perform commands.

Wider distribution of Kinect will mean for more interesting motion gaming
Now that the Xbox One will ship without the Kinect in some bundles this might not be as much of a benefit, but the Kinect sensor means that developers will be able to more confidently put Kinect features into their games.

It acts as a hub for your other home entertainment gear
You can plug another piece of hardware into your Xbox One using its HDMI input. This lets you switch between, say, your digibox and the Xbox One, using the Xbox interface. There’s only one input, but if you use a receiver it’s all you’ll need.

Inbound Xbox One exclusives like Sunset Overdrive and Halo: The Master Chief Collection
If you haven’t yet played a Halo title, The Master Chief Collection is a great time to get involved. The whole Halo series is being remastered for the Xbox One in HD along with all of the awesome multiplayer maps. Sunset Overdrive’s colourful, manic gameplay is also exclusive to the Xbox One and is certainly worth a punt.

The One Guide makes for seamlessly integrated cable TV
You can plug your cable TV boxes straight into your Xbox One via HDMI and watch TV with the Xbox One UI overlaid. The feature allows you to access your live TV guide directly through your Xbox One, making it the entertainment system Microsoft has been pushing from launch. If you’ve got a Kinect you can also use voice commands to jump from channel to channel. Basically, it saves the faff of switching inputs and once you’ve tried the One Guide, you won’t want to change back.

It’s not all about cable TV integration
If you’re not lucky enough to have access to TV services like Sky or Virgin Media, you can now purchase the Xbox One Digital TV Tuner accessory for £24.99. This will let you feed Freeview and other free-to-air TV platforms into the Xbox One too.

Read our full Xbox One Digital TV Tuner review

EA Access is only available on Xbox One
EA’s new subscription gaming service is exclusive to Xbox One. So if you’re a particular fan of EA titles you can pay £3.99 for free unlimited access to a select collection of games via the EA Access Vault. There’s a few other perks too, but read our EA Access Guide to find out more.

3D Blu-ray support is finally here
After a lengthy wait, you can finally watch your 3D Blu-ray titles on your Xbox One – if that’s your bag.

You can plug in an external hard drive for additional storage
One of the most requested features was external hard drive support for the Xbox One. Well, now you can use up to two external hard drives at once. Each one has to be 256GB or larger, but once it has been formatted, it can be used to store games, apps, DLC and other content if your Xbox One is getting full.

The media player will add tunes to your entertainment system
Although the media player hadn’t arrived at the time of writing, Microsoft promises a future update will let you play media files on your Xbox One via a USB device. You will also be able to stream your media files over a Wi-Fi network using DLNA, just as you could on the Xbox 360. There will also be more file support, including animated gifs, mkv and mpeg 2 TS.

Xbox One finally has Games with Gold perks
As you do with the Xbox 360, you now get two free games a month for the Xbox One with an Xbox Live Gold membership. You also get access to Deals with Gold too, giving you significant savings within the Xbox One Games Store.

See also:
Far Cry 4 tips and tricks

PS4

Top reasons to pick a PS4

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It’s much smaller than an Xbox One
If you have a cramped lounge/bedroom, the smaller size of the PS4 will come in handy. It is much, much smaller than the Xbox One.

It doesn’t have a separate power brick
Also important, the PS4 incorporates its own power supply while the Xbox One has a separate power brick. This is a big win if you want to take the console around a friend’s house as it’s a good deal lighter.

The PS4 is more powerful
The PS4 has a significantly more powerful GPU – graphics processing unit – than the Xbox One. It’s about 50 per cent more powerful.

Remote Play for Vita is awesome

This one only matter for PS Vita owners, but the PS4’s Remote Play is pretty neat. It lets you play full PS4 games on your Vita over your Wi-Fi connection.

Playstation TV will let you play your PS4 elsewhere in the house
The Playstation TV announced at E3 2014 will let you stream and play games on any TV in your house. There's a bit of lag and the graphics lack some detail but it's super-useful if your main TV is often taken up by couch potatoes watching soaps. The Playstation TV will retail for £89 when it goes on sale.

Read our full PlayStation TV review


PS Plus’s free games plan is great
The PS Plus service costs about £40 a year, but it gets you free games every month. And at present it’s better than the freebie games offering you get with an Xbox One through Live Gold.

The PS4 controller is better

We think the PS4 controller is better than the Xbox One’s. This one will divide opinions, but we’re not fans of the clicky triggers on the Xbox One pad.

PS4 gets 3D Blu-ray support too
Just like the Xbox One, the PS4 also now has 3D Blu-ray support. However, there’s no word on media support for the PS4 anytime soon.

PS4 Share Play is going to be a huge new feature
PS4 Share Play arrived with the PS4 2.0 system update, Share Play is a brand new feature that will create what Sony is calling a “virtual couch”. It creates a local co-op experience but all online, meaning you can invite your friend to play with you, even if they don’t actually own the game. Each session has an hour time limit, but there’s apparently no limit as to the number of sessions you can have.

See also: PS4 Share Play – How Sony is changing multiplayer in a big way

Verdict
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There's no particular 'wrong choice' to be made between the two consoles at present. However, the PS4 seems to be the gamer's choice. Its PlayStation Plus service is great, it's significantly more powerful and we think the controller is a bit better. If you want to save some money, though, you can get far better deals for the Xbox One at this point.

Next, read more about PS4 backwards compatibility

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