Powerful pick

Xbox One X

Best exclusives

PlayStation 4 Pro

After years of the Xbox One being scorned for its inferior capabilities, the Xbox One X arrived on the scene as the most powerful console on the market, capable of rendering games at 4K resolution and 60 frames per second (FPS) with the help of its beastly GPU.

$370 at Amazon

Pros

  • More powerful
  • Xbox Game Pass cheaper than PlayStation Now
  • Xbox Live services faster and more reliable than PlayStation Network
  • Backward compatibility using discs
  • Smaller

Cons

  • More expensive
  • Fewer exclusive games

It may be less powerful than the Xbox One X on paper, but a lot of people only care about what games it can play. In that regard, the PlayStation 4 Pro is usually seen as having the better exclusives. Plus, you'll still get optiosn for 4K and 60 frames per second (FPS), just less frequently and with caveats.

$399 at Amazon

Pros

  • More exclusives
  • Better reputation
  • Cheaper
  • Supports virtual reality with its own dedicated headset

Cons

  • Larger
  • Less powerful
  • Backward compatibility not supported with discs

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
4K support Yes Yes
HDR support Yes Yes
Storage 1 TB 1 TB
Optical drive 4K Blu-ray, DVD Blu-ray, DVD
Backward compatibility Yes No
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.

Backward compatibility

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.

VR support

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

Xbox and PlayStation technically have their own "Netflix for games" services called Xbox Game Pass and PlayStation Now, but Xbox's beats PlayStation's out of the water simply in quality and content.

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.

Bottom line

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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