With both Microsoft and Sony releasing new versions of their flagship games consoles this year that final third of gamers might be wondering which machine to opt for when it comes to upgrading their current device. Here we’ll have a look at the two newest offerings from the gaming giants and offer as unbiased an opinion as we can, based on the facts as we see them.
4K Or Not 4K
Ok, that isn’t even remotely a decent pun on one of Shakespeare’s most famous lines, but you get what we’re talking about here. Both devices claim to be 4K gaming machines but that’s not entirely true with each of them offering something different from the other.
The Xbox One S has one major advantage over the PS4 Pro, which is that it also works as a 4K Blu-ray player. If you’re the sort of videophile who wants to watch your films and TV shows in the best quality possible then this will save you buying an additional Blu-ray player; something you’d have to do if you opted for the Sony device. That being said, most people stream their content nowadays anyway and the PS4 Pro will be able to display 4K content from the likes of Netflix and Amazon Instant Video without a problem.
On the flipside, the PS4 Pro has an advantage over its competitor: The ability to allow you to play 4K games in a more native fashion. The Xbox One S will upscale games to allow them to appear as though they’re 4K, but it’s scruffy and not particularly visually appealing. The PS4 Pro, however, does its 4K upscaling through software changes. Old games will get a patch to let them take advantage of the Pro’s 4K environment and new games will be made specifically to work in 4K. In other words, the Xbox One S can’t run actual 4K games but the PS4 Pro can. Neither are perfect solutions, but the PS4 Pro probably just shades it here.
The reality is that the Xbox One S is a slightly improved version of the original device with the same name. It has essentially kept the same graphics ability of the Xbox One with a minor boost. Meanwhile the PS4 Pro offers an eight-core AMD CPU, as well as a 4.2 teraflop graphics card and 8GB of RAM.
That means that the PS4 Pro has been given a significant upgrade on the original PS4. Not only that, though, it’s also nearly three times as powerful as the Xbox One S. Microsoft’s offering gives you around 1.32 teraflops (a computing speed unit that indicates how fast a computer is). The PS4 Pro might be more expensive but you’re getting far more bang for your buck with Sony’s device.
Though that’s all a bit technical, here’s the bottom line: The PS4 Pro’s power means that it can deliver high-res content with ease. That’s why the 4K is better on Sony’s machine than its Microsoft competitor. Things will just be faster and more impressive on the PS4 Pro than the Xbox One S, so if that matters to you then it’s worth bearing in mind when you’re mouse is hovering over the ‘Buy Now’ button.
How much this will matter to you depends entirely on whether you’re the sort of person who puts a lot of stock into the aesthetics. If you have a home entertainment system that is very specific in its look then information about the design changes given to both devices could be key to your decision making.
The PS4 Pro is taller than the PS4. That was a necessary adjustment that Sony needed to make in order to house the powerful new hardware that they’ve installed in the device. Compare that Microsoft’s decision to slim the Xbox One S down by around 40% and you’ve got two very different approaches to design choice. It’s also worth bearing in mind that the newer console has its power brick internalised rather than on the outside like the old one.
At the same time as announcing the release of the Xbox One S Microsoft also confirmed that they’re working on a newer console called the Xbox Scorpio. This will be more of a competitor to the PS4 Pro as it will have actual graphics improvements on offer.
The question is, then, is there any point in going for the Xbox One S when the Scorpio is likely to be released in less than a year? Never mind competing against the Sony console, Microsoft seem to have decided that their devices should compete against each other. That means that the PS4 Pro is likely to be Sony’s flagship console for the next few years, whilst the Xbox One S will only be at the top of Microsoft’s pyramid for a few months.
The simple truth of the matter is that the Xbox One S is basically the same device as the Xbox One with added 4K ability. If you don’t yet own an Xbox and are determined to get one then this is the device for you. The PS4 Pro, on the other hand, is an entirely different device that is much improved on its predecessor. If you own the PS4 you might still be tempted to upgrade, which is a major difference to the Microsoft offering.
Both devices offer 4K, but the PlayStation is the device that will let you play games natively in that resolution whilst the Xbox is essentially ‘faking it’. That could be hugely important if the visuals of games matter to you. The PS4 Pro will also work with the company’s forthcoming Virtual Reality headset with the Xbox One S having no such alternative down the line.