The console wars have been ongoing for years and it usually comes down to two different brands: Xbox and PlayStation. Which one is better? It tends to come down to preference, but there are specific features that set them apart.
What's the difference?
You can immediately tell some differences between the two consoles upon first glance, but they run much deeper than cosmetics.
|Category||Xbox One X||PlayStation 4 Pro|
|Price||$499 MSRP||$399 MSRP|
|CPU||2.3GHz 8-core custom AMD Jaguar||2.1GHz 8-core custom AMD Jaguar|
|GPU||6.0 TFLOP AMD Radeon||4.2 TFLOP AMD Radeon|
|RAM||12 GB GDDR5||8GB GDDR5 + 1GB|
|Storage||1 TB||1 TB|
|Optical drive||4K Blu-ray, DVD||Blu-ray, DVD|
|VR support||Not yet||Yes|
What these features mean to you
There's a lot of terminologies associated with each console's specifications and most people tend to not understand what it all means. CPU? GPU? What do those even mean to the average consumer? We'll break down how they affect your gaming experience and the importance they play.
CPU, GPU, and RAM
To put them into layman's terms, the CPU (central processing unit), GPU (graphics processing unit), and RAM (random access memory) all dictate the console's power and performance, meaning they affect how well games run and look. Without these, the system cannot function.
Bigger numbers (when measured in the same units) are better in this regard, making the Xbox One X provide a faster and more reliable gaming experience. The PlayStation 4 Pro isn't a slouch, but if specs and power are most important to you, the Xbox One X wins out.
Xbox One has a growing catalog of Xbox 360 and original Xbox games that are backward compatible, meaning they can be played on an Xbox One simply by popping in your old disc. The PlayStation 4 does not have such a feature.
Though its paid streaming service PlayStation Now gives players access to older PS3 and PS2 games, you're still paying for them through the service. You can't dust off an old game you already own and play it on a PS4 like you can with the Xbox One. The catch for Xbox One is that not every game is backward compatible, but new games are added frequently to the list of titles that are, and they include some of the most popular Xbox 360 and original Xbox games.
Certain backward compatible Xbox 360 games are also enhanced on Xbox One X, bumping their resolution and frame rates.
Despite initially being marketed as being able to support virtual reality experiences, the Xbox One X still does not support this functionality. Though it has the capability, VR for some reason has yet to come to the console. On Sony's side, even the standard PS4 has its own dedicated PSVR headset with a catalog of virtual reality games to choose from. Using PSVR on a PS4 Pro will only improve your virtual reality experience compared to its base model.
Virtual reality may make its way to Xbox in the future, but as of right now, PlayStation is firmly beating out the console competition in that regard.
Xbox Game Pass and PlayStation Now
For $10/month, Xbox Game Pass allows players to download and play a catalog of hundreds of games, including the newest Xbox exclusive releases, which launch onto the service the same day as their global release at retail. Don't want to pay $60 for a brand new Xbox exclusive game? Pick up Game Pass for a month. It's a simple solution. And because the games download directly to your Xbox, you don't need to worry about subpar internet speeds getting in the way of your enjoyment.
PlayStation Now, on the other hand, costs $20/month (though a year subscription is available for $99) and is a streaming service, leading to less reliable connections and greater lag. Only select games are available to download directly to your PS4 through PS Now. Buffering is already an annoyance when watching some of our favorite television shows on Netflix, but if you're playing a game with input lag because of slow internet speeds, it becomes nearly impossible to enjoy at times.
What about Xbox Live Gold and PlayStation Plus?
Comparing each system's premium online subscription service, Xbox Live Gold versus PlayStation Plus, is a whole other beast, but there are a few key differences and similarities that you'll want to know about.
In terms of similarities, both services cost $60 a year, offer a few free games each month (with PS Plus edging out Xbox Live Gold in terms of monetary value), grant members larger discounts on games, and enable the ability to play online multiplayer. The quality of the online multiplayer, however, differs.
While the PlayStation Network has a larger playerbase, Xbox Live is reported by the IHS Markit in an independent study as being more stable and faster, therefore making it a more reliable place to play.
Obviously if you have friends that plan on one service over the other, the conversation ends there. It's likelier that you know people that play over PS Plus (and more likely you can find somebody to play with) but Xbox Live is reportedly just better.
But can these be bundled up?
Microsoft will soon allow people to purchase a bundle of both Xbox Game Pass and Xbox Live Gold for just $15 a month. This subscription is being dubbed Xbox Game Pass Ultimate and should release in 2019. Sony does not offer a similar program that allows players to bundle up PlayStation Plus and PlayStation Now, meaning you'll need to purchase both separately.
Any other features?
For the longest time, Xbox Live had Sony beat in one particular category: The ability to change your gamertag. But that's no longer the case! Sony now allows players to change their PSN ID, finally bringing it up to speed with what Xbox players could do for years. The first change on both consoles are free, while subsequent changes will set you back $10.
Considering that you can purchase the Xbox One X for much less than its MSRP now, it's the smartest choice to get. It may have arguably fewer quality exclusives, but its ability to render the best looking and best performing games on console is undeniable thanks to its power. Combined with backward compatibility and Xbox Game Pass, it's hard for the PS4 Pro to compete.
Expensive but powerful
Xbox One X
Microsoft's greatest console yet
If you want the best looking games with some tasty incentive programs — like Xbox Game Pass and backward compatibility — the Xbox One X is the way to go.
Affordable and high-quality
PlayStation 4 Pro
More exclusives at a lower cost
For a reliable virtual reality machine with its own dedicated headset and a catalogue of quality exclusives, it's hard to pass up on a PlayStation 4 Pro.
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