Last night Microsoft unveiled its entry into the next-gen battle with the Xbox One. Sony’s PlayStation 4 was announced at the back of February so how do the two stand up against each other?
There are still a lot of details for both consoles missing and questions that need answering. We expect a lot of answers to come in less than three weeks at E3 but here is what we know so far.
When you take a look at what is inside each console they’re very similar and very powerful pieces of kit. The Xbox One has a 500gb HD, HDMI in/out, Gigabit Ethernet and an 8-core AMD CPU with 8GB of DDR3 RAM.
In the other corner, the PS4 has an 8-core Jaguar AMD CPU and it’s GPU is very similar to that of the Xbox. However, Sony have gone for 8GB of GDDR5 RAM which is much faster than the DDR3 in Microsoft’s console. Microsoft have, however, added 32MB of high-speed SRAM on their GPU which nearly puts it on a level playing field, speed-wise.
The bottom line here is that they’re both very close and both very impressive though the PS4 just has the edge by having a bigger GPU coupled with one big block of fast RAM.
Kinect vs Eye
At the Xbox One reveal, the Kinect 2.0 was shown to have impressive motion tracking and gesture controls. The wide-angle, 1080p motion sensor camera will come with every console on release. It will also be made available to work with a Windows PC and can capture RGB video at 30 frames per second. The Xbox won’t work without the Kinect connected. It’s unknown to what purpose at this time but the Kinect 2.0 will also have a high sensitive microphone that’s capable of picking up a persons heartbeat as well as the ability for the camera to work in complete darkness.
Very little is known about the Playstation 4 eye and how it will work at this time but we should know more following the press conference at the E3 expo. We do know that it’ll incorporate two high sensitive, wide-angled cameras with 85-degree diagonal view and can capture the depth of space precisely. The Eye will also boast four microphones capable of accurate sound detection. One way this can be used is to login to the PS4 console using face recognition. The light on the dualshock controller can also be captured so the console knows where each player is in relation to the room and other local players.Like on the PS3, the Move will make use of the camera and can now track the controller with more precision and accuracy than ever.
In terms of raw performance the PS3 was roughly 400 gigaflops while the Xbox 360 was 300 gigaflops. Next gen we’re looking towards one to two teraflops which is about six times the power of the PS3/Xbox360 generation. Until 4K Ultra HD images are pushed, at least, the resolution will remain full HD, 1920×1080, meaning with this power behind it that we should see a great improvement in image quality.
The Xbox uses 12 compute units while the PS4 has 18 giving the Sony console 50% more raw power than Microsoft. Eurogamer provided this breakdown, going on to explain why they believe the Xbox is weaker. They say that because Microsoft were unable to acquire large quantities of DDR4 they “had to create a complex architecture to avoid bottlenecks when moving data using DDR3”. They go on to report that “Sony didn’t focus on high amounts of RAM in the first design of the PS4, freeing up more space that could yield graphical improvements…..due to its straightforward architecture, it meant Sony could easily upgrade and match the 8GB RAM closer to its announcement”.
It took developers a good few years to get the best performance out of our current generation of consoles but the hardware in the next generation is already well known. This hopefully means that developers already have a full understanding of its power and can hit the ground running.
Consoles are moving away from pure gaming machines and more towards complete entertainment centres. Therefore a portion of this immense power will likely be offloaded for background tasks such as downloading and handling video chat and voice commands.The Xbox will also be running three operating systems in the background which will obviously be using a portion of that power.
Both systems make use of cloud storage. Microsoft announced that games will be purchased on discs or online and then installed and ultimately uploaded along with save data to a cloud service. They can then be accessed on a friends console but you will need to be signed in to play it to help eliminate game sharing. In terms of purchasing pre-owned games, second hand games will be locked to the original Xbox One console but can be unlocked for a fee.
Sony bought out the cloud gaming service Gakai for $380 million in July of 2012 and this is heavily integrated with the PlayStation 4. It’s used to stream demos of games to be instantly played on the console as well as streaming previous gen games such as those for the PS3. It’s rumoured that PS4 games may be streamable further down the line though this has not been officially confirmed. Much like for PS Plus subscribers on the PS3, game save data can also be stored on the cloud.
Required Internet Connection
There was a huge uproar when rumours began to build that the Xbox One would need to always be connected to the internet. This escalated when Sim City 4 was released which equally required a constant connection but faced on going issues that made the game unplayable.
Microsoft have officially stated that the Xbox will not require a constant internet connection to play but it will need to connect at least once every 24 hours. Microsoft will continue to charge to gain access to online play.
The PlayStation 4 comparison is rather simple and similar to the current generation. An internet connection is not required to use the console but is recommended in order to get the most out of it. Also contrary to rumours leading up the reveal, Sony will not charge for the online service but the premium subscription service, PS Plus, will still be available.
Microsofts SmartGlass which is available on Windows tablets and smart phones can be used to interact with the Xbox One and browse the menus, acting as an extra method of navigation. The app is available on a number of iOS and Android-based phones and tablets.
Similarly the PS Vita can be used, as it can be on the PS3, to control the PS4 and navigate the menus. The vita can also be used to play games with players on the PS4 either locally or online. On top of this the Vita can now be used to play PS4 games when away from the console so you can continue to play your games on the move.
In the first year of its release Microsoft have promised fifteen exclusive games including eight new franchises that are currently in development. Forza V and new title Quantum Break from the Alan Wake developer, Remedy, were announced at the unveil. Exclusive Fifa 14 Ultimate Team content was also announced from EA along with content for UFC, Madden and NBA. Gamers won’t be shocked to learn that new Halo and Gears of War games are also in the works.
As for PS4, a new franchise is the impressive looking Knack along with Killzone: Shadow Fall, new racing game Driveclub, Infamous: Second Son, Final Fantasy XV, Kingdom of Hearts, Metal Gear Solid 5, The Witness and exclusive Watchdog content.
Neither of these next gen consoles are backwards compatible. As previously mentioned, the PS4 will allow streaming of PS3 games but whether these include those previously owned or downloaded on the PS3 is yet to be revealed.
The PS4 will support cross game video and voice chat through a standalone software while the Xbox will do so through Skype.
Trophies and Achievements will be ported from the previous consoles, PS3 and Xbox 360, respectively, to the next generation consoles.
Both the PS4 and Xbox One have USB 3.0 ports and Bluetooth 2.1 connectivity.
Both consoles also have a blu-ray player, first introduced into consoles by the PS3, a blu-ray disc can hold around 50gb of data. That’s five times bigger than an Xbox360 dvd disc.
The Xbox One will be incompatible with the current generation of headsets due to a new connection port. It’s possible that an adapter will be released to allow backwards compatibility but sources say that the reason for this change is for Microsoft to gain control over the market. Manufacturers will need to create new products with a new connection using Microsofts own licensing and authentication. This extra stage of development may also rise the cost for us, the consumer.
Whichever team you support in this great battle we look to be in for a real treat. With both consoles being so similar in terms of hardware it will ultimately come down to who manages to use that hardware in the most impressive way. Gamers will no doubt be looking at the exclusive games and content at this early stage as it’s really all that separates the products.
Let us know what you think now that the race is officially on in the comments section below. To keep up to date with all the PS4 and Xbox One news stay tuned to Power Up Gaming.