The Xbox One and PS4 are almost here. Pre-order allocations for each console have already sold out, meaning that if you want to get a next-gen console on day one, you had better be ready to queue for a shop praying they have stock.
Looking to the current console kings, the Xbox 360 and PS3 have both sold over 75 million units, and have been around for the best part of a decade. Will the next generation prove as popular? Pre-orders in the millions suggest they will.
But which is likely to come out on top? We’ve compared the two consoles to help you make the right decision.
Updated – 24/10/2013
Xbox One vs Sony PS4 – Last-minute deals
There’s about a month left until the Xbox One and PS4 touch down in the UK. If you want one on the day of release you’re really pushing it. However, here are some of the best deals we could find on the web at the time of writing.
Xbox One deals
ShopTo is one of the most aggressive gaming retailers. However, even it is unable to offer any truly impressive deals at this point. One of the best is the £489 Battlefield 4 bundle, which gets you Battlefield 4 plus DLC, a £15 Xbox Live voucher and a ‘Day One’ edition of the console. That version comes with a free download of FIFA 14.
Finding a PS4 for release day is like trying to find a gold nugget in your back garden. You can dig all you like, but you won’t find one. However, Gamestop is one of the few places that is offering pre-orders of the console at a cheaper price than the £349.99. It’s on sale for £329.97 there, although it can’t say when you’ll actually get the box.
We finally know the UK release dates of both the Xbox One and PS4. Although the PS4 will get out there first globally, on 15 November, it’s actually the Xbox One that’ll land on our shores first.
The Xbox One will be released here on 22 November, a week before the PS4’s 29 November release date.
22 November is a ‘global’ release date for the Microsoft console, when it’ll launch in the Xbox One’s 13 key markets. That includes both the US and the UK.
If you pre-ordered a ‘day one’ edition of the Xbox One, you’ll get a free copy of FIFA 14 with the console. Later pre-orders will get a copy of Forza Motorsport 5 – mostly because they sold out of copies of FIFA to give away with the Xbox One.
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.
This picture demonstrates the size difference very well.
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.
Xbox One vs Sony PS4- 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.
However, it’s worth noting that it’s likely there will only be minor differences in titles releasd for both consoles. There’s little benefit for a developer in making one version a good deal prettier than the other.
Xbox One vs Sony PS4 – CPU
Xbox One – AMD 8-core Jaguar CPU
PS4 – AMD 8-core Jaguar CPU
The next Xbox 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 vs Sony PS4 – GPU and RAM
Xbox One – Comparable to Radeon HD 7000-series, 8GB DDR3 RAM with 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. The PS4 graphics processor is 50 per cent more powerful, with 1152 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 Sony 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.
Xbox One vs PS4 – Launch Games and Exclusive Games
Following 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
- Battlefield 4
- Call of Duty: Ghosts
- FIFA 14
- Just Dance 2014
- Killzone: Shadow Fall
- LEGO Marvel Super Heroes
- Madden NFL 25
- NBA 2K14
- NBA LIVE
- Need for Speed: Rivals
- Skylanders: Swap Force
- Watch Dogs
And for the Xbox One:
- Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag
- Battlefield 4
- Call of Duty: Ghosts
- Crimson Dragon
- Dead Rising 3
- FIFA 14
- Fighter Within
- Forza Motorsport 5
- Just Dance 2014
- Killer Instinct
- LEGO Marvel Super Heroes
- Madden NFL 25
- NBA 2K14
- NBA LIVE 14
- Need for Speed: Rivals
- Powerstar Golf
- Ryse: Son of Rome
- Skylanders: Swap Force
- Watch Dogs
- Zoo Tycoon
- Zumba Fitness: World Party
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.
Xbox One Exclusives
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.
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 Live Gold vs PlayStation Plus
Xbox One vs PS4 – DRM Policies
Until earlier this year, it was thought that the Xbox One would take an aggressive and novel approach to games DRM – digital rights management. This is the copy protection uses to try and combat piracy.
When the Xbox One was first announced, and at its E3 showing, we believed the console would need to connect to the internet regularly in order to function. The positive side of this is that you would no longer need a game disc to play a game – making the Xbox One a jukebox of instantly-playable installed games.
Sounds good, eh? There were several negatives to this approach.
Games rental was thrown out the window, as was free sharing of game discs between friends. Games trade-ins were to be limited to approved partners too – sure to make games retailers a bit anxious.
This caused a huge backlash among gamers, especailly as the Sony had already announced its intention to use traditional disc-based approach to its PS4 anti-piracy measures – with no need for an online check-in.
On 19 June, Xbox’s Don Mattrick wrote on the Xbox blog that the online check-in was to be scrapped.
You will no longer need internet access to play an Xbox One. But you will need to have the disc in the drive in order to play a game. And although downloadable versions are available as well as the disc type, these can’t be shared among friends at all.
Sony never had any plans – that we know of – to use an aggressive anti-piracy DRM system. While there are sure to be downloadable updates for games, you won’t need to have internet access to play a disc-based game with the PS4. Unless it’s an online-only multiplayer game of course.
Therefore, the Xbox One and PS4 will function much as the PS3 and Xbox 360 do today.
Commercially, the biggest impact this will have is in allowing the second-hand games market to function just as it does now. It’ll be up to the games publishers to introduce ways to dissuade buyers from purchasing used games – most likely by offering one-use unlock codes that give access to additional content in the boxes of new games.
Xbox One vs Sony PS4 – Motion Control
Xbox One – Mandatory Kinect (2.0)
PS4 – PlayStation Move
Microsoft has thoroughly re-worked motion sensor Kinect for the next-generation Xbox One. It’s now something that comes with every Xbox One – and Microsoft says it has no plans to sell consoles without Kinect.
Xbox One Kinect, previously dubbed Kinect 2.0, is higher-fidelity than the first-gen model. It uses 1080p cameras where the original Kinect has a much lower-res VGA sensor. Even budget phones use higher-res cameras than that.
The new Kinect also uses an IR sensor to more reliably discern depth of its view field – making it much more accurate at judging the distance between the Kinect and objects.
Its field of view is much larger, making it easier to setup and use. Kinect is programmed to discern all joint movement, and even separates thumbs from your fingers. It’s far more powerful than the Xbox 360’s Kinect.
The PS4 stays using Move, the motion control system used by the PS3. However, Move is now built into the controller.
There’s a Move light on its back, used by the PS4 console to judge its position, while harvesting accelerometer data from the controller’s insides for higher-fidelity motion-sensing.
Sony does have an additional bit of tech that provides more Kinect-like features, the PS4 camera. Like Kinect, it’s a camera ‘bar’ that will sit by your TV. The plan was reportedly to include this with the console as standard, but Sony backtracked when it realised it could beat the Xbox One on price by not including it.
The PS4 camera costs £50 so would have substantially increased the cost of the console. However, it’s not a mandatory part of the PS4 experience, where Kinect is with the Xbox One.
The downside to this, of course, is that it’ll make developers much less keen to add camera functionality to their games, as it automatically blocks out part of the gaming audience.
Xbox One vs Sony PS4 – TV and Multimedia
Xbox One – HDMI pass-thru for TV operation, streaming services inc. Netflix
PS4 – Streaming services inc. Netflix, LoveFilm
Both consoles will offer a wide array of streaming services at, or just after, launch. We’re yet to learn th full line-up to expect, but the current roster is likely to appear – Netflix, LoveFilm, Sky Now TV and iPlayer area dead certs.
To date, Sony has been much quicker at adopting these new services. However, now that the relationships are already in place, we expect all the big names to be involved from day one.
The Xbox One’s big multimedia win is the use of HDMI pass-thru to let you control certain digiboxes using Kinect, and your controller. At the console’s launch Microsoft showed off asking your console to search for TV programmes using the Kinect’s voice recognition.
However, some of the Xbox One’s TV functionality will not be in the UK – at launch. Microsoft’s idea is that the Xbox One will become the centre of the living room, by making you do your TV watching through the console. But don’t bet on it being as good as that may sound in your head.
The Xbox One’s media services will also require a subscription to Xbox Live Gold. Netflix, LoveFilm and even the TV control feature will also demand an Xbox Live Gold account. This costs around £40 a year, although shop around and you’ll find a year’s subscription for around £30.
Sony has confirmed that you will not need a subscription to PlayStation Plus to access video streaming services on the PS4. PlayStation Plus is Sony’s Xbox Live Golf equivalent.
Xbox One vs Sony PS4 – Optical drive and Storage
Xbox One – Blu-ray
PS4 – Blu-ray
In the previous generation of consoles, the PS3 went for Blu-ray and the Xbox 360 used DVD and dipped a toe in the HD DVD waters, with an optional HD DVD player accessory. The HD DVD format died a death, although thanks to the relatively small storage needed by this generation’s games, it could make do with DVD.
For this generation, DVDs won’t be good enough. Unless we’re going to start having games with 10 discs.
Some have suggested that this generation’s consoles will do without optical drives, this is premature. Both consoles use a Blu-ray drive, with discs capable of storing up to 50GB a piece.
Both consoles also have a 500GB hard drive. This will be used for game installs (a hard drive can read and transfer data much faster than an optical drive), and to download games from PlayStation Network and Xbox Live. Game downloads have become a big part of modern consol culture, and we only see that increasing in the next generation.
Xbox One vs Sony PS4 – Controller
Xbox One – Minor re-design, Kinect redesign
PS4 – Moderate re-design, integrated Move
Sony has given the Sixaxis a fairly significant redesign with the PS4. There’s now a lot more control packed into the pad’s body, with a trackpad that sits between the D-pad and the buttons.
There’s also a Move light on the controller’s rear, letting it function like the Move motion control ‘sticks’ available today. The final – slight – change in direction comes with the share button, which lets you quickly share moments of gameplay.
There are some pretty serious changes here, but it shouldn’t feel too different in the hand. The controller’s shape is much the same as the current-model.
The Xbox One controller is a lot closer to the current edition, but Microsoft does claim that more than 40 improvements have been made. What’s new?
Most of the changes relate to ergonomics, but the new controller also has an integrated battery compartment, Wi-Fi Direct and new triggers.
Xbox One or PS4 – Which should I buy?
Right now the question of which next-generation console to buy is largely academic. Pre-orders have sold out, meaning you’ll always have a while to change your mind.
However, the Sony PS4 has a pretty solid claim as the ‘gamer’s console’. Its basic package is cheaper and its graphics processor is more powerful. You also don’t have to sign up to any additional paid services in order to access things like Netflix, LoveFilm and so on. It’s the people’s console.
There’s a lot of potential to be unlocked in the new Kinect, though, and the Xbox One argubly has the more interesting exclusive games, so far.