So, you’ve decided to purchase a gaming console. The two options you will most likely be considering are the PS4 and Xbox One, the two current generation offerings from Sony and Microsoft.
Which should you get? I’ll investigate that question, and compare the two consoles in a number of ways.
I could paint an overly technical picture for you, but let’s not over-complicate matters too much. The bottom line is that both the PS4 and Xbox One are about five times more powerful than their predecessors, the PS3 and Xbox 360. Each is equipped with a CPU that, for all intents and purposes, is an exact copy of the other. The only difference is that the Xbox One’s CPU is clocked faster, meaning it has about a 10% edge over the PS4’s CPU.
On the other hand, the PS4 has a more powerful Graphics Processing Unit (GPU). Truthfully, you really won’t notice the difference while playing games. At the end of the day, both consoles are around the same strength, with the PS4 taking a slight lead in some instances.
Both consoles come with eight gigabytes (GB) of RAM, though each console uses a different format. The PS4 uses GDDR5, which is faster than the DDR3 in the Xbox One. The end user won’t really feel the difference, as the Xbox comes equipped with a few megabytes of embedded memory that allow it to match the PS4 in most instances where RAM performance is a factor.
If you are choosing on specs alone, there really isn’t a clear victor. For context, both consoles perform about as well as a current low-end gaming PC.
Were this article written in the fall of 2013, the PS4 would be the winner of this category. However, since then, Microsoft has shifted its strategy. Whereas the Xbox One used to be $499, $100 more than the PS4, it now sells for $349, and often comes bundled with a game worth $60.
The Xbox One’s original price hurt it greatly, causing gamers to flock to the $399 PS4, which had greater apparent value at the time. Now that the tables have turned, you’d probably be better off choosing the Xbox One if you want to save a few bucks, especially if you can find one of the better bundles.
Today, the PS4 is still $399, while the Xbox One can be bought for either $349 without the Kinect camera, or $449 with it included. That said, be on the look out for special deals and bundles that pop up from time to time, as you may be able to save even more by going with those.
Design is of course as much about personal preference as anything. That said, it’s an important factor in determining what you buy. The Xbox One has something of a monolithic design, sacrificing portability for a boxy, weighty, unassuming look. To me, it looks like a large VCR or DVD player. Perhaps that was the intent, as Microsoft’s hope is for the Xbox One to be the main attraction of your home entertainment setup.
The PS4 is less generic, with a stylized design that seems to harken back to the PS2. It’s far more compact compared to the Xbox One, and looks more like a gaming machine than the Xbox.
If you want something that will blend in seamlessly next to your DVD player and cable box, the Xbox One is a good choice. If you want to have something a bit more flashy, the PS4 will probably appeal to you more.
By and large, the game libraries on these consoles are essentially the same. If you are mainly into sports games or cross platform shooters, like Call of Duty, both consoles will serve you well.
Where the two consoles diverge is in their exclusive offerings. At the moment, neither really has a decent library of exclusives, but that will change by the end of this year with blockbusters like Uncharted 4 and Halo 5 being released for the PS4 and Xbox One, respectively.
If you grew up playing Halo and enjoy the lore and gameplay of that franchise, the Xbox One is your console. On the flip side, if you loved traversing the globe as Nathan Drake, the PS4 is for you. PS4 owners also have access to a larger indie game library, so that’s something to keep in mind as well.
Again, it’s a personal choice, and really depends on which consoles you’ve owned in the past. Those of us who owned Xbox 360s will feel more of an affinity to the exclusives on the One, and vice versa.
Controllers and peripherals
As strange as it may seem, many gamers choose a console based on the feel of their controller. Having used both, I have to say that I prefer the Xbox One’s controller a bit more, mainly because my hands are pretty large and I feel a little cramped using the analog sticks on the PS4 controllers.
Of course, your mileage may vary. Both controllers have received a lot of praise from gamers of all shapes, sizes, and experiences, so what might be a good idea for you is to test each and see what works for you.
Additionally, both the Xbox and PS4 can be used with a high-tech camera device that you can purchase separately. If you are choosing mainly on the capability of this peripheral, the Xbox’s Kinect is better than the PS4’s offering, as it was designed to integrate seamlessly into the Xbox experience (originally, it shipped with every Xbox, which is, in part, why it used to cost so much).
Sadly, neither consoles have backward compatibility capabilities, meaning you can’t play your old 360 or PS3 games on the new machines. If either Microsoft or Sony figure out a way to include this feature at some point in the future, that would be a huge factor in picking one console over the other (since so many of us have a large library of last-generation games).
In my opinion, you really can’t go wrong with either the Xbox One or the PS4. To me, the most important factor is whether or not you will enjoy the exclusive games offered by each console. Are you a Halo devotee? A Fable fanatic? A Gran Turismo phenom? An Uncharted aficionado? If you picked the first two, get an Xbox. If you chose the latter, the PS4 is for you. These are gaming consoles, after all, so the other factors really don’t matter all that much compared to the joy you get from playing actual games on your device.
I hope this outline helped in your decision making process. Whichever console you choose, I have no doubt that your craving for gaming will be sufficiently satisfied for the next several years.
Featured photo credit: Gaming Consoles/Mark Farrell via flickr.com