Which Console Should I Buy - PS4 or Xbox One?
It's been an exciting 18 months or so for the Xbox One or the PS4, with both new-gen consoles acquiring a range of new features that makes your purchase decision pretty tricky. There's a tonne of games available now, with the majority available on both, meaning there's only a few key titles at present that might swing your decision. We'll admit that we ended up buying both as we just couldn't decide between the upcoming Uncharted 4 and Halo 5: Guardians.
You can read more about the games on Page 2 of this PS4 vs Xbox One comparison, along with the various peripherals available.
But something that might sway your decision is the price. The Xbox One now has a brand new sub £300 RRP here in the UK and you'll find it for that price often with a game bundled in for good measure.
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 Comparison
Check out our PS4 vs Xbox One comparison video:
When the Xbox One and PS4 were first released back in November 2013, the price was a major deciding factor for those looking to sink hard-earned dosh into a brand new console. The Xbox One originally retailed for £429 with the Kinect motion gaming camera and no games. The PS4 on the other hand was sold sans camera and games, but came in at the far more attractive £349 RRP.
However, it's now more on an even keel, with the Xbox One given a new £299 RRP and the PS4 retailing for it's normal £349, usually with a few games included. Or you can pick up a standalone console for £289.
Here's the best deals available at the time of writing:
The Xbox One currently retails for:
Standalone Xbox One console - £265
Xbox One with GTA 5 - £328
Xbox One console with Kinect - £339
Xbox One console bundled with Halo: The Master Chief Collection - £280
The PS4 currently retails for:
Standalone PS4 console - £289
PS4 console bundled with GTA 5 - £309
PS4 console bundled with GTA 5 and the Witcher 3 - £319
Prices correct at the time of writing - 27/05/2015
See also: Best console deals in the UK
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.
The 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 have had any major hardware issues which is great news for consumers.
SEE ALSO: PS4 Tips and Tricks
This picture demonstrates the size difference very well.
PS4 vs Xbox One - Connectivity
What you might need to know is the ports that these new console are packing around back (and sides and front).
Let's start with the PS4, which has far fewer ports. It has two USB ports at the front alongside the Blu-ray disc drive, which are great for charging your controllers. You've also got the power and disc eject buttons.
Around back you've got the power port at the bottom left, while along the top row you have optical out, HDMI, Ethernet and AUX ports.
But the Xbox One has a vast array of ports surrounding the whole console.
On the front it's pretty simple - just the disc drive and the eject button, with the Xbox logo acting as a capacitive touch power button. Down the left hand side of the console, there's a hidden USB port, which can be used to charge your controller if you've bought the Play and Charge kit. Above that is the accessory pairing button.
But around back, there's a small army of ports that give the Xbox One the edge in terms of being the ultimate home entertainment console.
There's the AC port for power, a HDMI out that connects your console directly to your TV, Optical out and a HDMI in for feeding your cable TV box into your Xbox One. Then there's a pair of USB ports, the Kinect port, IR out and the Ethernet port. There's also a lock port that allow you to connect a laptop lock to secure your console.
PS4 vs Xbox One - Interface
Here's a quick look at what the interfaces of the Xbox One and PS4 look like in use:
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. It can be a little complicated to navigate at first, especially if you've opted for the Kinect-free Xbox One bundle. However, once we had mastered the use of the context-specific menu button and discovered where Microsoft has hidden certain features, we actually don't mind the UI.
PC users will definitely find the Xbox One UI easier to master because of its similarities with the Windows 8 Metro layout, so bare that in mind before you purchase.
See also: Xbox One Tips and TricksPS4
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's two rungs of content: the lower bar offering all your Recently Used content and holds all your games and apps in the Library icon at the end, while the top rung has the Settings, your PSN account, friends, notifications and other more system-related functions.
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.
However, all your content is easily accessible without having to delve into sub-folders and the like. It's definitely the more straightforward of the two UIs.
See also: PS4 Tips and Tricks
Xbox One vs PS4 - Controllers
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
PS4 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. But those rumble triggers easily make the Xbox One the better console to play racing games on - sorry DriveClub and Gran Turismo. Just having the feedback of the tyres on the tracks in your very fingertips is the best feeling.
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 extended play session.
Again, like with the UI, PC gamers will prefer the Xbox One controller because of its familiarity and its resemblance to the Xbox 360 pad.
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.
We will say that after nearly a year of using our PS4 DualShock 4, the rubber on the right analogue stick is starting to wear away a touch. We know it's been an issue for some PS4 users, with some even having to replace them already. It hasn't been an issue for us with our Xbox One or for the wider community either.
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.
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 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 vs PS4 – Processor
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.
PS4 vs Xbox One – GPU and RAM
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.
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 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 – Graphics
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.
But, if you're going to generalise, developers tend to release games with a higher resolution on the PS4 than on the Xbox One. Take Battlefield Hardline for example, which runs at 900p on PS4 and only 720p HD on Xbox One.
That's pretty much echoed across the board for cross-platform titles and we always wonder why this is the case. Native Xbox One titles run at full 1080p HD and at a steady 30fps framerate - just look at the stunning Forza Horizon 2.
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:
Top reasons to pick an Xbox One
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 Halo 5: Guardians and Rise of the Tomb Raider
If you haven’t yet played a Halo title, The Master Chief Collection is a great time to get involved, but it's Halo 5: Guardians that will be the console's real superstar. The 2013 Tomb Raider reboot was so well received that there's a huge cloud of anticipation hanging over the Rise of the Tomb Raider, which is currently an Xbox One exclusive, much to the annoyance of PS4 gamers.
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.
Windows 10 and DirectX 12 is going to shake things up
Windows 10 is coming in late July and it's coming to Xbox One too. That means lots of new apps and brand new game streaming to Windows 10 PCs. Windows 10 is also bringing DirectX 12 with it, which will help increase game realism and more - just take a look at the Square Enix tech demo below:
See also: Far Cry 4 tips and tricks
Top reasons to pick a PS4
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.
PS4 now has built-in Spotify thanks to PlayStation Music
It's literally music to our ears that we can now enjoy our favourite Spotify playlists while winning yet another round of Evolve. Thanks to PlayStation Music, exclusively powered by Spotify, you can chill out with your tunes while you play. This Spotify service is exclusive to PS4 and it is seamlessly integrated into the PS4 UI.
Find out more about what is PlayStation Music
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, we love the rounded shape and the way it fits in our hands.
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 a very unique 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 no limit as to the number of sessions you can have with each of your buddies.
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