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Xbox One vs. PS4

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June 14, 2013

Gizmag compares the specs (and other features) of the Sony PS4 and Microsoft Xbox One

Gizmag compares the specs (and other features) of the Sony PS4 and Microsoft Xbox One

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Typically, E3 is all about new game announcements. Though we still had a few of those this year, 2013 was more about hardware: the Xbox One and PS4. Both push the technical boundaries of gaming consoles, offer their own mixes of strengths and weaknesses, and release at around the same time. So how do you choose? Allow Gizmag to lend a hand, as we compare the specs (and other features) of the Microsoft Xbox One and Sony PlayStation 4.

Storage

Both consoles have 500 GB of storage, but differ in their approach to expanding that

Both consoles sport 500 GB internal hard drives. In terms of future-proofing, though, the PS4 might be the better choice. Like the PS3, it will let you upgrade the hard drive. The Xbox won't.

There is one option for expanding your Xbox One storage though. It lets you attach an external hard drive via USB. You can do everything with that drive that you can with the internal one.

We don't yet know whether the PS4 lets you use USB drives for storage, but we do know that it has two USB 3.0 ports.

RAM

Both consoles have 8 GB of RAM

Both systems have 8 GB of RAM. The PS4's GDDR5 memory, however, is faster than the Xbox's DDR3 RAM. Will this be something that you actually notice in day-to-day use? It's still too early to say.

Processor

AMD made the engines for both consoles

AMD cashed in on this generation of gaming consoles, as it provides the octa-core processors for both the Xbox One and PS4.

Graphics

It's AMD Radeon GPUs in both systems

Both consoles also feature AMD Radeon GPUs, which are integrated into their respective Accelerated Processing Units (APUs).

This is obviously a simple visual that doesn't begin to tell the full story, but that's only because we don't yet know the full story. Developers will need time to tinker around with both consoles, and we might not even have a definitive "graphics winner" a year after both consoles have been on the market.

One thing worth keeping an eye on is how easy or hard it is to develop for each console. Last generation, the PS3 was, on a specs level, graphically superior to the Xbox 360. But the Xbox 360 was easier to develop for and port to. Thus side-by-side comparisons of cross-platform games often favored the Xbox.

You'll want to take this with many grains of salt, but there have been early whispers that the PS4 is a joy to develop for. It might not sound like much now, but software can make or break hardware. This could be an encouraging sign for the PS4.

Having said that, we spent some time with both unreleased consoles during E3. The early games we saw on both systems look terrific, with graphics that are roughly in line with recent PC games.

Size

The Xbox One will have a bigger footprint under your TV

Unless you're cramped for space under your TV, this probably won't be a deal-breaker one way or the other. But, for what it's worth, the Xbox One is the bigger console. In terms of surface area, it's 21 percent larger than the new PlayStation. And that isn't counting the new Kinect, which ships with every new Xbox One.

Note that the Xbox One's listed dimensions aren't official, but are based on some clever calculations (based on the USB port) by PSMania.

Discs played

Both systems play both DVDs and Blu-rays

Last time around, the PS3 had a big leg up on the Xbox 360, in that it played Blu-ray discs. No worries with either next-gen console, as (unsurprisingly) both will play your Blu-rays and DVDs.

Game formats

Both consoles will let you play both physical discs and downloaded titles

Neither Sony or Microsoft had the gall to go digital download only (probably a wise decision). Both systems will play physical discs as well as downloaded games.

Backwards compatibility

Neither system will let you play your old (Xbox 360 or PS3) games

Sorry, Xbox 360 and PS3 owners. None of your old games will play on your next-gen console.

Sony might offer cloud-streamed PS3 games at some point down the road. But, even if that does happen, be prepared to pay for your old games all over again.

Used games

Microsoft has listened, and now both systems will let you play used games

Microsoft had originally stated that the Xbox One would give publishers the option of blocking used games. But after an extremely vocal customer backlash, Microsoft changed course and abandoned its DRM mania. So the Xbox One's used game policy is now in line with the Xbox 360's policy. In other words, not much to worry about.

The PS4's used game policy is the same as the PS3's. PS4 game publishers have the option of using Online Passes, which can restrict online or multiplayer portions of a game to the original owner. But, like the Xbox One, the PS4 will not block used game discs altogether.

It's refreshing to see a company listen to its customers. Will this turn out to be a profitable decision by Microsoft?

Always-online requirements

Neither console will require online check-ins in order to play games offline

The Xbox was originally going to require you to go online once every 24 hours, or make your games unplayable until you went back online. But, like the used game policy switcheroo, Microsoft also abandoned those always-online requirements for the Xbox One. It will only require that you go online for an initial system setup when you first buy the console.

The PS4 doesn't require an internet connection either.

Default controllers

Neither controller is a radical departure from the last generation's

Look familiar? Both next-gen controllers borrow heavily from their respective predecessors. We handled both of them at E3, and they only feel slightly different in hand. Both feel a bit lighter (particularly the PS4's DualShock 4) and more comfortably contoured for hands.

The biggest addition is the DualShock 4's touchpad. Similar to the one on the back of the Vita, it supports multitouch, and will give developers a new toy to play with.

The new DualShock also loses the Start and Select buttons. They get replaced by a new Options button. The Xbox One's controller also loses Back and Start. Its replacements are Menu and View, which might end up serving similar functions.

Motion control

The Kinect 2 wins the motion control wars hands-down

Sony didn't emphasize the PS4's motion controls during E3. We do know that the PS4's Move and Camera (formerly PlayStation Eye) will be sold separately. The PS4's DualShock 4 also includes some baked-in motion control. Our initial impression, though, is that none of it is in the same league as the Kinect 2.

As we already mentioned, Kinect will ship with every Xbox One. In a private demonstration with Microsoft at E3, we caught a glimpse of the new Kinect's capabilities. The level of precision here is like nothing any other current gaming console can give you. Imagine pointing your finger at something on the screen, and having the sensor know exactly what you were indicating. This could open all sorts of doors for developers (hopefully not just of the gimmicky kind).

Voice control

As far as we know, the PS4 doesn't have any voice control input

Alongside the Kinect 2's motion control, it also lets users control certain things via voice. This includes elements of games, system functions, and live TV.

Sony hasn't mentioned any similar functionality in the PS4, though the PlayStation Camera does have a built-in microphone.

Live TV integration

Only the Xbox One has live TV integration (at least for now

Speaking of live TV, this is a big area that Microsoft focused on with the Xbox One. Steve Ballmer and company don't want this to be an extension of the traditional gaming console. This is Microsoft's attempt to own the 21st century living room.

From the in-person demo we saw at E3, it looks promising. We're talking voice control, gesture control, seamless multitasking, notifications ... in many ways, the Xbox One is what some of us expected from the long-rumored and unannounced Apple TV set. We believe the Xbox One has a chance to be a real game-changer in this respect.

Both consoles will, of course, also let you watch streaming services like Netflix and Hulu Plus.

Release date

Release dates should be around the same time

Microsoft was a little more specific with the Xbox One's November release date, but both consoles should ship at around the same time. We're guessing October or November for the PS4.

Pricing

The Xbox One is more expensive, but also ships with Kinect included

The PS4 costs US$100 less than the Xbox One. But remember that the Xbox One ships with Kinect. The PS4's motion accessories (PS Move and PlayStation Camera) not only aren't on par with Kinect 2, but they're also sold separately. So, depending on your priorities, pricing may or may not be an advantage for the PS4.

Wrap-up

Like most of these comparisons that we do, the "winner" will depend on what you're looking for. If you're excited about futuristic gesture and voice control, then the Xbox One looks likely to be your champion. If you want your console to be the center of all of your living room entertainment, then you'll also want to look at the Xbox.

Our initial view was that the PS4 might be the better choice if you only wanted a classic gaming console, due to its lack of DRM. But, now that the Xbox's always-online and used game concerns are null and void, the PS4's niche isn't quite as clear. Perhaps it will now be known as the cheaper console, provided you aren't worried about motion control.

Of course this comparison is far from complete. There are still many unknowns, and we've yet to see side-by-side comparisons of cross-platform games. And, like we already mentioned, developers will need time to do their thing.

The picture of these two next-gen systems is gradually forming, but that image will continue to evolve. Stay tuned for more as this is far from the last word on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4.

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About the Author
Will Shanklin Will Shanklin is Gizmag's Mobile Tech Editor, and has been part of the team since 2012. Will has a Master's degree from U.C. Irvine and a Bachelor's from West Virginia University. He currently lives in New Mexico with his wife, Jessica.
  All articles by Will Shanklin
28 Comments

Thank you it is nice to read an article that isn't biased I have read so many articles about both systems were you can tell the author is putting more opinion than fact. Keep up the good work I think I found a new place to stop for my tech news. Xbox one buyer by the way because it's what I want and feel is going to fill my needs as a gamer.

Steven Foster
14th June, 2013 @ 10:52 pm PDT

Tech wise they're both the same. I'm a PC gamer and every gen of consoles I get a little jealous and think I'm going to buy one but this time around neither have free multi-play(come on sheeples, this should be free) and with all this PRISM stuff going around it is a bit creepy that one will have a camera that will aways watch and listen to you that is mandatory for the function of the console. Oh, and that is the US designed one, a bit more creepy.

I don't know, this just makes STEAM look a bit more appealing and I think this gen PC gaming will grow. PC gaming doesn't even mean MS anymore, you can also play on Mac and Linux during this gen of consoles. I hope both sell extremely poorly so they cut the crap and give free multi-play, no restrict us on lending and buying used games, and get rid of the creepy gadgets that watch us all the time please.

exodous
14th June, 2013 @ 11:45 pm PDT

What a total waste of time as a review. Full of nothing of any substance, no intelligent insight and this sort of straight comparison is just a waste of time. As we saw with Xbox360 and PS3, what looks like technical superiority doesn't translate into better gameplay or even graphics performance. There's far more at stake here than just games. The PS4 is a child's toy, as the playstation has always been. Microsoft has a strategic weapon in the living room and always has had since the original Xbox landed.

When Xbox first launched it was miles behind in terms of sales, and now it's miles ahead and it will remain so. The reason this will continue is because of the benefits Xbox gives to home owners that live in planning restricted areas where satellite and cable TV are not available. The xbox 360 and One become the gateway to mainstream TV for many in these areas. These people are not kids playing games, though they may have kids, or even play themselves.

Considering an industry requires an appreciation of the opportunities for people to fulfil their needs using something else. Look at the industry using a broader brush than just the Games industry and you realise that these devices are positioned in the Entertainment industry. Ask the question, what will a potential customer spend his money on instead of a games console? A DVD/Blue Ray player may be on the list. A satellite TV box, a pc, a music player, a fitness device, the list is endless. Xbox 360/Xbox One cover so many of these bases and thus they will attract more sales. Of course, the children and those of low intellect will see this as competition as purely a straight shootout between MS and Sony over a games console, but the One heralds in a new era in home entertainment which sadly, Sony can't compete with.

The Master
15th June, 2013 @ 12:14 am PDT

I've heard that Xbox One not just supports, but also requires Kinect. It is always on (it monitors you even when the Xbox is off), has an infrared camera, and a high sensitivity microphone. The console requires an Internet connection and we have now learned that the Microsoft has been a member of the PRISM program since 2007 and the government has total access to everything and anything without the need of silly warrants or oversight.

What could possibly go wrong?

Daishi
15th June, 2013 @ 02:07 am PDT

ps4 seems to be wisest choice....

Thomas Richardson
15th June, 2013 @ 05:49 am PDT

It says on gamestop for the PS4 Camera "From navigational voice commands to facial recognition, the PlayStation®Camera adds incredible innovation to your gaming" So that may be a confirmation that it features voice control. So now, Yes for both

John Pritchett
15th June, 2013 @ 08:33 am PDT

I guess AMD/AMD insures they will always be second rate toys. They should make an elite box with Intel/Nvidia for folks who take it more seriously.

b@man
15th June, 2013 @ 08:41 am PDT

After knowing that MS is sharing openly data with NSA including private data and data about possible exploits then would you trust MS product with always on microphone and camera in your living room?

Kris Lee
15th June, 2013 @ 02:12 pm PDT

@the master

Xbox was never superior to PlayStation! (in my opinion)

I think the ps4 (kids toy lol) will also support 4k video playback after a firmware update, so daja vous of the old blue ray player vs no blue ray player???

Plus the whole camera as standard issue, more Big brother from the us! I mean we all know our mobile phones are 24 hour listening devices if required but being force to have a potentially open ended surveillance system in my house with a required internet connection...

Lol

Sony all the way again for me!!

And a pair of titans in sli ;)

Michael Simpson
15th June, 2013 @ 10:57 pm PDT

The Master,

You are getting the wrong idea about what the Xbox One TV capabilities are. It can NOT replace your cable or satellite box. You still need an active cable or satellite receiver. The Xbox One will just let you change channels, and will supposedly have it's own TV listings. There's also the useless sports features such as fantasy football team stuff.

You also somehow think that the PS3 doesn't have a Blu-Ray player. It does, as did the PS3 before it (unlike the 360)

The video card in the PS4 is 50% more powerful than the one in the Xbox One. Also, the ram speed difference is huge, not to mention the larger overhead the Xbox One has for it's OS (3GB instead of the PS4's 1GB). This will all add up to make the Xbox One a slower machine.

"Of course, the children and those of low intellect will see this as competition as purely a straight shootout between MS and Sony over a games console, but the One heralds in a new era in home entertainment which sadly, Sony can't compete with."

This is pure fanboy ignorance. This is exactly what this article was trying to get away from.

Will, quite often I criticize you in my mind for not being objective, but this time you nailed it and I salute you for that.

Zaron Gibson
15th June, 2013 @ 11:54 pm PDT

Content... Just look at the X1 Exclusives!

Seth Kazzim
16th June, 2013 @ 06:41 am PDT

Yet another journalist with poor research, the Xbox One does not block used games by default, it, just like the PS4, allows developers to make that choice!

Jay Britton
16th June, 2013 @ 07:14 am PDT

A good roundup of information. One thing that concerns me though is the whole GDDR5 vs DDR3 argument.

It seems to me that because GDDR5 has a bigger number at the end than DDR3, many people believe that it's better technology. This is backed up by the fact GDDR5 is marketed as having a higher bandwidth (yes, this is a good thing).

But it should be pointed out that GDDR4 and GDDR5 are direct modifications of DDR3. DDR is meant for general processing, and GDDR is meant for graphics processing. In this case, DDR3 has a lower latency than GDDR5 so it will respond faster for individual requests. GDDR5 is slower to respond initially because it's optimized for throughput - piling out bits at a much faster rate than DDR3 once the instructions are received. This means GDDR5 is better for pushing out graphics, but it's not quite so responsive for other sequential tasks.

However, it will be up to the respective consoles' reviews to decide who got it right.

Chris Watts
16th June, 2013 @ 04:40 pm PDT

WHY should we even be presented with a CHOICE??? Why not chose neither? I see absolutely no point in buying either console as it seems they are really just slightly trumped up versions of their predecessors.

Really, there's little improvement and the Xbox has taken a step backwards towards Big Brother (typical MS)

Being a PC gamer and already in posession of games which outperform both of these, I see no reason to buy a console when my PC does so much more for the price. I can have 10 Tb of storage if I chose or I can have 32Gb of ddr3 memory if I chose. I can upgrade my graphic card or my processor if and when I chose.

paulgo
16th June, 2013 @ 08:36 pm PDT

@paulgo

Even as a PC gamer I am excited about the new generation of consoles. The PS3 and 360 had only 512M of RAM between graphics and system combined. My phone has 4 times that. Those platforms are from 2005.

Game developers have done a good job adapting but those systems are antique compared to what can be achieved now and it holds them back. There is so much more volume in console sales they can't afford to just ignore them and build only for the fastest PCs.

A new generation of consoles means a new generation of PC games with it.

Daishi
17th June, 2013 @ 12:17 am PDT

There is photographic proof that the demo stations used to play Xbox One games at E3 were actually running on Windows PCs. It puts into question if the Xbox One can run those games at the same quality. Look it up. The difference in hardware specs is significant, especially when the Xbox One uses 3 GB of RAM for its triple-layer OS. Some developers are saying to expect PS4 games to run at 60 fps while Xbox One games will run at 30 fps.

Jason Falconer
17th June, 2013 @ 12:20 am PDT

I don't believe this is a fair comparison right now. So many details have been omitted, specifically spec details that shames the Xbox One:

"Xbox One will have an 8-core 64-bit x86 Jaguar AMD CPU running at 1.6GHz, coupled with a GPU that’s very close to the Radeon HD 7790. The Xbox One will have 68GB/sec of bandwidth between the CPU/GPU and RAM, the GPU will have 102GB/s of bandwidth to a local 32MB SRAM cache, and another 30GB/s of bandwidth to gamepads, Kinect, and other peripherals.

The PS4, in comparison, has an 8-core Jaguar AMD CPU, with a GPU that’s around the same level as the Radeon 7870 (which is significantly more powerful than the 7790). The PS4 has 8GB of GDDR5 RAM, providing 176GB/s of bandwidth to both the CPU and GPU. The Xbox One mostly ameliorates this difference with 32MB of high-speed SRAM on the GPU, but it will be a more complex architecture to take advantage of."

The above as a small example shows that there are lots more to graphic power than simply "AMD integrated" for both consoles.

A little more research please. If you are going to compare devices on June 14 then I think details already present should not be excluded.

Samer Helmy
17th June, 2013 @ 03:36 am PDT

You have some mistakes that make this article a biased one. GDDR5 is 4x faster than the DDR3 as you mentioned only "faster". The PS4 has upgradable memory it was announced by shuhei. You cannot say the kinect is better, we don't know anything about the PS eye. Last thing if you watch an interview with Scott rohde, he said "we will not allow online codes"

Omar Noeman
17th June, 2013 @ 04:17 am PDT

If you're a "gamer" it's time to buy a PC - absolutely !

Jason Pase
17th June, 2013 @ 09:31 am PDT

With only some perhaps inconsequential performance differences either of these boxes could be the other with the right firmware. Extrapolation: any feature one has over the other can be rather easily subsumed by the other via firmware update. Between now and the holidays, the significant differences could easily narrow and over the life of the products anything is possible.

I'm not a gamer, just interested, so this article was at just the right level for me. Not being backwards compatible is certainly a stiff arm in the face of current gamers. Were I one I would definitely be dusting off my pirate hat. Sure it will stimulate new purchases but it will stimulate far more pirating proportionately and once one is in that camp he never looks back.

DonGateley
17th June, 2013 @ 12:28 pm PDT

@exodus

you do realize in order to stream live tv you have to have a cable tv tuner box and an active cable or satellite subscription in order to use that feature on the Xbox One?

just having the system does not mean that you will instantly have cable. come on man do your research on it. I agree that the ability to watch live tv through your gaming console is a good feature but you have to think that hey I still have to rely on a cable company to be able to watch tv.

Michael Maulbeck
17th June, 2013 @ 02:24 pm PDT

Xbox One has an HDMI In port.

It was announced recently that you could use that port to plug in your 360, your PC or even a PS3. What this means, is you can play PSN games, PS3 games, or your Steam in big picture mode on your X1.

Essentially, I will be playing Little Big Planet, Minecraft, and Spark all on the same console, just by saying "play PS3" lol.

Lon Beyer
17th June, 2013 @ 04:58 pm PDT

Something left out is whether or not Microsoft will continue their policy of requiring a paid Xbox Live Gold account in order to use the console as a device for watching Netflix.

The Nintendo Wii and Sony Playstation 3 only require an internet connection for that. The Netflix software is a free download so there's no forced additional cost over your internet access plus Netflix.

Wii or PS3: Internet + Netflix = $$ WIN

Xbox: Internet + Netflix + Live Gold = $$$ FAIL

Sony has pulled the same trick on Microsoft they did on SEGA at the first E3. SEGA did whatever it took to get the first presentation of the convention for their Saturn console while Sony was fine with going second. At the end of SEGA's presentation they said what the price of the console would be. Sony's guy stepped up to the podium and simply started with a price $100 under SEGA's. Most likely that was the majority of Sony's plan for the Playstation, undercut SEGA by $100 no matter what.

Unlike Playstation VS Saturn, Sony has the technically superior console this time. Saturn was hobbled by some stupid decisions by SEGA. They didn't have a development kit ready at launch time and they didn't *require* all (or at least the majority of) games to use *both* CPUs and GPUs so many Saturn games only use half its capability.

For the Dreamcast, SEGA corrected pretty much every stupid error they had made with their previous consoles, then promptly nuked their chances for success by announcing they were giving up on game consoles shortly after the Dreamcast launch. "Buy our great new console! Oh, by the way, we give up."

What do psychologists call it when people do stupid things deliberately to ensure their own failure?

Gregg Eshelman
17th June, 2013 @ 11:11 pm PDT

You forgot to mention that Xbox One only has 5GB RAM available for games and uses 2 of its 8 cores for the OS, along with the possibility of cores being used up for Kinect.

Penguin101
18th June, 2013 @ 07:24 am PDT

not much difference now

Nicholai Codekas
19th June, 2013 @ 03:46 pm PDT

I am just eagerly waiting for the Xbox new version..May it favorably works than the previous one..

awesome games

DonaldWoodsmith
19th August, 2013 @ 04:09 am PDT

Does anyone know what the dimensions of the new Kinect are?

Ben Nines
28th August, 2013 @ 06:21 am PDT

finally an unbaised opinion. Every other bit of news talks about the PS4 being better. they never cover the fact that microsoft changed their online, used games, and kinect policies. you won't be charged for used games anymore you don't need a connection every day and you can run the console normally without the kinect. Sony fanboys had a lot of ammunition for their debates but from all the changes microsoft made and so quickly to launch it seems the only thing sony fans talk about now is the price and the ram. We'll see how the consoles work out on launch days. I'm sure both consoles will do exceptionally well. I'm looking forward to playing Forza 5

Christian Duncan
3rd October, 2013 @ 04:37 pm PDT
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