Xbox One vs. PS4: The Ultimate Buyer’s Guide

The clock is running out on the launch of the next generation of consoles. With Sony’s Playstation 4 set for release on Nov. 15 in North America (Nov. 29 in Europe), we now know a little less than three months before new hardware will start making its way to players’ living rooms.

But with a combined price tag of a minimum of $900, it’s going to be an expensive upgrade, and lots of players are likely to want to choose one console over the other — at least at first. How does one make that choice? To help, we’ve compiled everything we know of the Xbox One and the Playstation 4, running it down in one giant compendium of info. We hope this avalanche of knowledge will help you, the consumer, compare the machines side-by-side and make an informed purchasing decision this fall.


Contents

Controllers
Tech Stuff
Indie Support
Launch Games
Entertainment Apps
Cloud Utilization
Used Games, Shared Games, and Old Games
Video Capture and Streaming
Peripherals
Changing Policies

Launch Day Availability
Launch Day Costs

Controllers

As with the past few generations, we will get new controllers along with our consoles. During the last generation, the DualShock ceased to be the de facto mental image for controllers, and the asymmetrical Xbox 360 controller took over. That could, however, change once again.

What’s New with Sony

Sony is making big changes with the DualShock 4. While it maintains the same basic layout of the DualShock 3, there’s a sizable two-point capacitive touchpad in the middle, similar to the one on the Playstation Vita. Aping the Move wand, there’s a light strip along the back that will change colors to indicate statuses like low battery and to communicate with the PlayStation 4 camera for more precise motion control. There will also be a mono speaker and a 3.5mm stereo headset jack on board. It will retail for $59.99.

What’s Changed with Sony

There are small but noticeable changes with the new DualShock. It seems to have rounded out a bit, fitting the hand much better than the previous design, which Sony hadn’t changed much in two generations. The analog sticks have a recessed dome on top to reduce slippage and the L2 and R2 buttons curve towards your fingers rather than away for a more trigger-like feel. Instead of “Start” and “Select,” an “Options” button takes over and a “Share” button is introduced.

What’s Changed with Microsoft

Rather than make additions to the controller, Microsoft has opted for iterative improvements, the most prominent of which are the Impulse Triggers, a pair of triggers that can rumble independently of the controller body for subtle but more directed feedback. The controller’s shape has flattened out a bit and become more angular, but that also means the removable battery pack is now flush with the rest of the controller.

The D-pad also has been revamped. Instead of a mushy directional blob, it has a more conventional and precise plus-style design. The “Start” and “Back” buttons have been replaced with “Menu” and “View,” which will functionally be the same but work better for non-gaming applications. It also will retail for $59.99.

consolespecs

Tech Stuff

As proven with the current generation, it’s more about how you use the machine rather than the actual specs. This notion will likely be reinforced once more, since the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One carry similar vital statistics, but the differences could still play a factor.

The PlayStation 4 Hardware

AMD is producing a single APU chip that combines a CPU and GPU (among other things) and contains eight x86-64 cores. The GPU can push out 1.84 teraflops through 18 compute units in a unified array, meaning they can be used for graphics, simulation, or both. The big standout bit of hardware is 8GB of unified 256-bit GDDR5 system memory, a huge change from the PlayStation 3’s two disparate 256MB pools. It’ll rock a user-upgradable 500GB HDD.

The Xbox One Hardware

Though it will also feature a custom eight-core x86-64 APU, the Xbox One will see 8GB of DDR3 RAM, putting its memory bandwidth at 68.3 GB/s instead of 176 GB/s. The GPU, based on AMD’s GCN architecture, will feature 12 compute units for 1.31 teraflops. It will also have a 500 GB HDD and, finally, a Blu-ray drive.

PlayStation 4’s Operating System

The XrossMediaBar of the PS3 will be replaced with the FreeBSD 9-based PlayStation Dynamic Menu. The home screen shows personalized content from friends, while user profiles display recent activity and trophies, and game pages highlight related content and compatible friends. The new OS makes multitasking possible, and will facilitate streaming games and sharing media. The onscreen keyboard is a popup with predictive text and sweeping analog control.

Xbox One’s Operating System

Microsoft’s approach to the Xbox One includes a hybrid of three operating systems. The console will run an Xbox OS and a version of Windows OS, with a third system working as a hypervisor. While Windows apps will not be directly compatible with Xbox One, they can be easily ported over thanks to the cut-back Windows version on the console. Xbox One will feature a redesigned Metro-style interface with tiles to display recommended and recent media, apps and games. The bundled Kinect 2.0 sensor allows for as many as six player profiles to be signed in at once. Multitasking is supported with the ability to snap apps alongside other activities, and the Kinect also supports voice commands for menu navigation and launching apps.

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17 Comments on Xbox One vs. PS4: The Ultimate Buyer’s Guide

JeffDaniel

On August 29, 2013 at 5:14 pm

Great work guys. This is by far the best side by side review I’ve seen!

Can’t wait to see you guys online!

Jeff

Jordan

On August 30, 2013 at 6:13 am

Battlefield 4 is by DICE, not crytek…

KeithH

On August 30, 2013 at 8:40 am

First, there are 2 and a half months before the releases (All of September and October). Second, as has been shown by the Hot Chips conference, the XB1 also has a unified memory controller. Sony has only stated that their games are “by the end of the year” and not “on launch day”, like Microsoft has.

In fact, I couldn’t find any source that specified which of any of the 33 “launch window” games for Sony would be on day 1 (MS has their list of 23).

Also, can someone please tell me where the graphics specs for the XB1 come from. The only place that I have been able to drill down a source for, were from an “unamed source” over at Anadtech. If you have another source for this info, can you please state it?

Compiling lists of info from other sites, that themselves based their info on other sites does not make this fact. While most of your info is probably correct, I would love to see some actual journalism.

Phil Hornshaw

On August 30, 2013 at 11:32 am

@KeithH

Whoops, you’re right about the months, that was my bad in editing.

Huntsman06

On August 30, 2013 at 2:15 pm

It is true that ALL of the stated features under “Television and Film” will require an Xbox Live Gold membership? I would expect them to continue requiring it for apps like Hulu and Netflix, but I won’t be able to say “Xbox, go to channel ” without paying a premium?

Mike

On August 30, 2013 at 2:36 pm

Wow. Nice wrap up. I didn’t even know you were required to have xbox live gold to use services like Netflix what a crock of crap. Another anti consumer policy on Microsofts part. Alps they did is place a restriction on being able to use a service you already pay for on their hardware. If I have Internet and Netflix I should beable to wwatch it without gold. No other device like phones or computers have these restrictions. Screw Microsoft. I hope they bury themselves

Yiur mom

On August 30, 2013 at 5:42 pm

Battlefield 4 is made by DICE not Crytek…

iPerrydon

On August 30, 2013 at 6:45 pm

what does this guy know? cod:ghosts is not a release title on either console. infinity ward themselvs at E3 said that next-gen release will be q2 of 2014!

iPerrydon

On August 30, 2013 at 6:46 pm

what does this guy know? cod:ghosts is not a release title on either console. infinity ward themselvs at E3 said that next-gen release will be q2 of 2014!

Phil Hornshaw

On August 31, 2013 at 10:22 am

@Huntsman06

In fact, there’s some confusion about that, and I’m about to make an update here.

At PAX Prime just yesterday, Microsoft’s Albert Pinello told Ross Lincoln that HDMI passthrough AND “TV guide stuff” would be available to players WITHOUT an Xbox Live subscription.

That’s kind of at odds with what we thought we understood about Xbox One. On its official website, Microsoft talks about GuideOne, software that allows you to have a customized view of your TV programming, use voice commands, and so on, and says that that feature will be available to Xbox Live Gold subscribers.

So our takeaway from that brief interview with Pinello, which we’re hoping to get clarified with Microsoft, is that at least SOME of TV features will be available right out of the box. There’s still some confusion there, though.

The full story out of PAX Prime is right here: http://www.gamefront.com/microsoft-xbox-live-gold-not-needed-for-xbox-one-tv-features/

Mo

On August 31, 2013 at 11:35 am

PS4 needs Ratchet and Clank and Jak and Dexter

D22

On September 1, 2013 at 7:18 pm

Nice review. I would just say you need to include xbox’s 32mb of ESRAM as an addition to the 8gb basic ram.

Cheers

Derrick

On September 2, 2013 at 9:45 pm

No mention of chargeable controllers? PS4 is self contained battery that can be charged by plugging it in, XBox One you would need to buy a kit for similar function.

@iPerrydon Not sure what news you are following, but Ghosts will be a launch title for next-gen consoles. It’s coming out 11/5 for current-gen, too.

Viralwhite

On September 4, 2013 at 4:02 pm

There needs to be a small correction to this article. The article stated the following:

“…You can still pre-order online at Walmart, but that retailer only guarantee a delivery date of “on or just after 12/31/2013,” which doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence…”

This is NOT accurate. As of today (9/4/13 – 1900 hrs) the website clearly says:

“Reserve today in store!
Step 1: Put only 10% down*
Step 2: Pay over time
Step 3: Available for pick up on 11/15/2013 ”

Went by my local store today in Richmond, VA. They have a display that has cards inside of them (limited) and you take it to the counter and check out.

James Boye

On September 5, 2013 at 2:39 am

You have completely forgot to mention and factor in the extra cost for the battery pack you need to by for the X1 controller.

effect

On November 19, 2013 at 7:28 am

why are people shocked that you need Gold to run apps like netflix on xbox one? If you have a 360 you would know you have to do the same thing! Just remember people xbox is on their own os system so your fee for xbox gold includes a protected network unlike PS3 & 4! I have many of friends in Chicago and California where their systems have been attacked! A lot of people don’t even realize that their ps3′s are already infected! Don’t believe me? Try installing a anti virus on your ps3 and do a scan or find a free one online, you’ll be amazed on what’s in your system! (Another little detail Sony NEVER tells you about!) BTW the ps4 cam is equal to a test model of the original kinect, it looks like crap and doesn’t compare to the original kinect, it’s only worth the $59.99

blobthebob

On November 24, 2013 at 2:17 pm

effect, I don’t where you got your information, but the playstation 4 camera is much better than the original kinect. the kinect 1.0 only had one lense and as well 1 or 2 microphones built in, as for the PS4 camera there is twice the number and they are used to narrow in the exact location of your person which the kinect 1.0 did not have as for capabilities. Let’s be real when comparing them