When I first compared the Xbox One vs PS4 two years ago, when they first launched, they couldn’t be more different. The PS4 was a powerful, streamlined beast with an interesting game line-up, while the Xbox One was a whole-room entertainment system stacked with unusual features – and a much higher price tag.
The past two years have seen many changes come to both consoles, most made by Microsoft to make the Xbox One more appealing to gamers and more affordable on a global level. As a result, the two consoles are now positioned very differently than they were at their release dates. Curious about which option wins out – or if it’s finally time to purchase both consoles? Read on to compare where they currently stand.
Xbox One vs PS4 Comparison
|Price||$350 - $400||$300 - $350|
|Processor||AMD Jaguar, 8-core||Microsoft-created CPU, 8-core|
|GPU||AMD Radeon Graphics Core Next||AMD Radeon|
|Higher Native Resolution (some games)|
|RAM||8GB GDDR5||8GB DDR3|
|Storage||500GB-1TB||500GB-1TB (options for SSD hybrid)|
|Compatible w/ External Storage|
|Backwards Compatibility||Via PlayStation Now and extra fees||Free & Growing|
|No Internet Connection Required|
|Second Screen||PlayStation Vita device||SmartGlass app|
|Subscription Cost (MSRP)||$50 per year||$60 per year|
Xbox One vs PS4 Price
Price has seen one of the largest changes in the last two years, with Microsoft working hard to update the Xbox One and make it more affordable. They dropped the Kinect, scaled back the price, and offered more bundles. As a result, the primary Xbox One and PS4 models can be found in bundles for $350 – give or take $50 depending on the bundle in question. Both Xbox Live Gold and PS Plus cost a similar fee to purchase, too. Generally, cheaper Xbox bundles are easier to find, but the price race is essentially a tie these days.
Both consoles also have more expensive options with improved hardware and more storage, Xbox with the Elite and PS4 with a couple different (somewhat confusing) model numbers. If you want upgrades, there are options both ways, including 500GB and 1TB storage choices – notably, Xbox offers a hybrid SSD drive for its advanced model, but that’s the main difference. All things have become largely equal here as well.
Xbox One vs PS4 Sales
In a nutshell, the PS4 has sold well across the world, while the Xbox One has sold well in North America. That’s an oversimplification, but it gives you the right idea about popularity. Sales figures are famously hard to come by, but it appears that around 36 million PS4s have been sold, compared to around 20 million Xbox Ones (these numbers aren’t official).
Why does this matter? Because when it comes to multiplayer, more people with a console means more people available online for you to team up with, and more longevity for multiplayer games – something that Microsoft is trying to change with cross-platform servers, but still remains true for now. It’s smart to note that these figures are actually more equal than they were a year ago, when the Xbox was still suffering from a disastrous announcement phase – but that PS4 has continued to frequently outsell the Xbox One even in 2016.
Xbox One vs PS4 Games and Exclusives
It’s no surprise that most console choices come down to which types of games and exclusives you prefer playing. If you’ve spent much time gaming at all, you can probably list the big exclusives for each console: The PS4 has Uncharted, The Last Guardian, Bloodborne, and generally better access to JRPGs like the Final Fantasy series (with some ports to Xbox available).
The Xbox One has Halo, Quantum Break, Gears of War, Forza, and Mass Effect (again, with some ports available), and a focus on shooters and digital game downloads that the PS4 doesn’t have. Overall, the Xbox lineup has seen significant improvement in the past couple years, while the PS4 lineup has struggled to keep up – but remember that exclusives are just a small part of the picture.
It’s also important to note that some games may be cross-platform but have a focus on one console over another. Destiny players, for example, have more content and updates on PS4 than on Xbox One.
If you are more interested in indie games, the scene is mixed here. PS4 focuses primarily on quantity with a large library, while Xbox focuses more on quality indie games with high ratings. Frankly, if you are buying for indie games only you’d be better off getting a PC, although both consoles have made important upgrades in this area in recent years.
When it comes to backwards compatibility, Xbox has again taken great strides. Microsoft has announced free compatibility for about hundred older-generation Xbox games, part of an increasingly long list they are working on with developers. If you had a game for the 360, there’s a good chance you can or eventually will be able to play it on the One (AAA titles are taking a bit longer than the rest, though). Sony simply can’t compete here: PlayStation Now offers older streamed games, but with an extra monthly fee and at the expense of your bandwidth.
Xbox One vs PS4 Specs, Graphics and Interface
With largely identical optical drives (Microsoft actually uses Sony tech here), 8-Core processors in both systems, and similar storage options, the One and PS4 may look similar at first glance, but there are important differences. The PS4, with its 8GB of GDDR5 RAM compared to the One’s 8GB of DDR3, is faster and more nimble. The PS4 also tends to get a graphics boost on most games with a Radeon GPU that’s a bit more powerful than the one used by Xbox.
There’s a lot of talk about overclocking and output, but basically the PS4 still beats out Xbox One performance on most specs in the standard models. It is worth noting that the One has some advanced additions like eSRAM which give its graphics a further boost: This is why the best console appearance often varies from game to game, and depends how games take advantage of that hardware.
Let’s also point out that while Xbox One is very friendly with external storage drives, the PS4 offers only limited storage uses – no externally stored games, for instance. However, the One can’t be upgraded very easily, while an enterprising, tech-savvy gamer can probably find a way to replace the PS4 drive if necessary. Other ports and connections are largely the same, although the One has more USB ports.
“Interface” refers to navigating home screen menus – a factor based largely on taste. After years of playing both the tile-based Xbox menu and the speedy drop-down menus of the PlayStation, I have to admit both consoles have made progress here. Personally I prefer the more informative menu of the Xbox One, although it may be harder to navigate for new users and people who don’t have much experience with Windows 10, from which it takes many cues.
We’ll drop a note on controllers, too: Xbox controllers are widely believed to be better at twitchy games and shooters, while PlayStation controllers are better for beginners and general use. Which feels more comfortable is mostly about which you are familiar with. That being said, if you want ultra-customizable, sensitive controls, you may be interested in the super-expensive Xbox One Elite controller, which is beyond what Sony offers thus far.
Xbox One vs PS4 Features and Entertainment
The Xbox One was marketed as a full entertainment device right out of the gate, and remains such today. Even without the voice and motion controls of the Kinect 2, you can still run your cable, set-top box, or TV antenna right through your Xbox One interface, teach it to recognize/control your TV and receiver, and use the system as a general hub for all your entertainment devices. The PS4 does not have these same entertainment system features, and is not designed to be an full entertainment device. However, Sony does get a lot of credit for offering its own streaming TV service via PlayStation Vue (the popular apps, like Netflix and HBO Go, are available on both consoles).
Gaming features are more competitive. There’s a PS4 Eye and Move for alternative control options, just as the Xbox has the Kinect 2 (Xbox’s facial recognition, voice commands, and body mapping features are more advanced, but also more expensive). The PS4 has compatibility with Vita, while the Xbox has compatibility with SmartGlass apps, so second screen options are available for both. The PS4 offers a unique little trackpad on its Dualshock controller, but developers aren’t really sure how to use it yet, so that’s a difficult feature to judge for now.
Xbox One vs PS4 Accessories
Xbox’s own accessories, like the Elite controller and Kinect 2, are top notch, but when you venture out to third-party offerings for headsets, controller products, etc., the advantage goes to Sony. Microsoft tends to heavily limit third party developers, which gives the PS4 the better accessory features and performance most of the time. The exception here is, of course, external hard drives, which the Xbox supports much more readily.