Xbox One X vs PS4 Pro: Which 4K console should get pride of place in your living room?
The Xbox One X has been on the shelf for a few months now. Microsoft’s answer to the PS4 Pro is a very competent 4K console, but one question remains unclear: Xbox One X or PS4 Pro, which one should you buy?
On first look, Sony’s console is instantly more appealing by being priced at £100 less than Microsoft’s black box. However, the Xbox One X does come equipped with a 4K UHD Blu-ray player, something the PS4 Pro is sorely missing. The One X is also more powerful in terms of its general guts, but does that really make enough of a difference to drop £100 extra? Our guide to Xbox One X vs PS4 Pro is here to help you make an informed decision on the console you want to pick up.
We will come to a verdict of which console we’d recommend, but that’s no slight on the other device. Both consoles represent the most powerful console hardware currently available on the market. Both are also excellent for playing games at 4K, so whatever your decision you can rest easy knowing all your games are going to look excellent in your living room.
READ NEXT: Xbox One X review
Xbox One X vs PS4 Pro:
The big difference between the Xbox One X and the PS4 Pro is their intended positioning. Microsoft has gone all-out, building a premium-grade console without making any compromises. Its cost is a reflection of that and, from Microsoft’s current messaging, it seems that this is slightly more than simply a stepping-stone to the next generation, it basically is the next generation – just this time running on modified hardware.
Sony, on the other hand, sees the PS4 Pro as a device for the cost-conscious crowd who want a stellar 1080p experience and still the option to have brilliant 4K gaming if they want to. For Sony, the focus is on pushing the PS4 Pro as the place to make the games you love look best – unlike Microsoft, which is focusing on being “the best place” to play games, Sony wants you to play its games and for them to look stunning. Essentially, both consoles are playing to their own strengths.
Xbox One X vs PS4 Pro: Release date
Both the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X are now available to buy from all good retailers. However, the PS4 Pro landed in November 2016 and Microsoft’s Xbox One X only arrived on 7 November 2017. With a whole year on the Xbox One X, the PS4 Pro has eaten into a large market of 4K TV-owning gamers and enticed a slew of people looking for improved 1080p gaming. Sony’s machine has also had a year to iron out issues and is in a better position to drop its price even lower during the upcoming holiday sales season.
Xbox One X vs PS4 Pro: Price
Sony released the PS4 Pro at a rather sensible £349 in the UK. It’s the same price as the launch price for the original PS4 and is so low it would comfortably undercut any new device Microsoft would launch. A year on, Sony’s PS4 Pro pricing has stuck – occasionally dropping to around £300 during certain sale periods.
Microsoft has launched the Xbox One X at a rather eye-watering £449.99 – £100 more than the PS4 Pro. It’s arguable that this hefty price is still fair as it’s a darn sight cheaper than a PC of comparable power, plus it contains a 4K Blu-ray player – something the PS4 Pro does not. Nevertheless, it’s still a lot of money. If Sony was smarter, it should have cut a deeper gorge between the Xbox One X and PS4 Pro prices by dropping the cost of its one-year-old hardware on the Xbox One X launch. Certainly, on the days the Xbox One X was both announced and released, the PS4 Pro was being sold closer to the £300 mark at select retailers. It’s also likely we’ll see a drop on the PS4 Pro price when it comes to Black Friday and pre-Christmas sales – I wouldn’t expect the same for the Xbox One X.
As time has gone on, the Xbox One X’s pricing has proved to be more flexible than the PlayStation 4. It has been known to go sub-£400, and right now you can get the console plus a game, 3 months of Xbox Live and an extra controller for £439 at Tesco or a pre-owned machine for £349.99 at Grainger Games.
READ NEXT: What is 4K?
Xbox One X vs PS4 Pro: Specs
Let us be frank here – when it comes to core specs, the Xbox One X blows the PS4 Pro out of the water. There’s no real point drilling down into the nitty gritty of X vs Y when it comes to numbers, the PS4 Pro can’t hold a candle to what Microsoft has packed into the Xbox One X.
|Xbox One X||Xbox One||PS4 Pro|
|CPU||Eight custom x86 cores clocked at 2.3GHz||Eight custom Jaguar cores clocked at 1.75GHz||Eight Jaguar cores clocked at 2.1GHz|
|GPU||40 customised compute units at 1172MHz||12 GCN compute units at 853MHz (Xbox One S: 914MHz)||36 improved GCN compute units at 911MHz|
|Memory||12GB GDDR5||8GB DDR3/32MB ESRAM||8GB GDDR5|
|Memory Bandwidth||326GB/s||DDR3: 68GB/s, ESRAM at max 204GB/s (Xbox One S: 219GB/s)||218GB/s|
|Hard Drive||1TB 2.5-inch||500GB/1TB/2TB 2.5-inch||1TB 2.5-inch|
|Optical Drive||4K UHD Blu-ray||Blu-ray (Xbox One S: 4K UHD)||Blu-ray|
Those numbers could speak volumes but it’s worth remembering that, as always, these things aren’t so clear-cut. Look at how the Wii dominated both the Xbox 360 and the PS3 – despite the PS3 being the easily more powerful console of the lot. The same could be said of the Dreamcast against the GameCube and PS2. And the original Xbox as well. Just because you have power, it doesn’t mean you’ll win out.
Still, on a technical hardware level, it’s impressive what both companies have managed to squeeze out of refined architecture. Both the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X run on modified versions of their original AMD chipsets. This means that they’ll work effortlessly with current PS4 or Xbox One games without any need to emulate or require specific “Pro” or “X” versions of games.
Xbox One X vs PS4 Pro: Features and 4K
4K is the big draw for both PS4 Pro and Xbox One X. Microsoft is really pushing the Xbox One X’s 4K capabilities, while Sony is playing it a little cooler by focusing on improving 1080p gaming experiences while also catering to the small crowd of 4K gamers out there right now.
Despite confusing press around the time of the PS4 Pro’s release, it can and does play games in native 4K. Wipeout: Omega Collection is just one of many native 4K titles that run at 60fps and look absolutely glorious in motion. For other titles that are that bit too intensive to run at native 4K 60fps – such as Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor or Horizon: Zero Dawn – Sony has employed a bit of technical wizardry to make it run.
When under little to no load, these big games run as-close-to native 4K as possible, occasionally even running in perfect 4K. When full-fat 4K isn’t possible, the PS4 Pro employs something Sony calls Checkerboard upscaling. This takes a 2×2 pixel grid and upscales it to a 4×4 one, filling in the gaps with intelligently-created information. The difference between it and native 4K – on a 65in 4K Samsung KS9000 at around three inches from the screen – is only slight. When sat at a comfortable distance from the screen, the difference is completely imperceivable.
Sony also makes use of dynamic scaling, meaning if things really start to get hectic on-screen, it’ll drop the resolution down to 1080p to ensure the frame rate remains smooth. You can also lock most games into a set rendering mode, ensuring you’ll always be getting 4K or prioritising frame rate over resolution. You can even lock it at 1080p but use PS4 Pro’s extra power to boost performance and utilise higher-resolution textures.
The Xbox One X, on the other hand, is all about 4K gaming. Almost everything runs at 4K with high-resolution textures on as default. If things become too much for it, it’ll drop the resolution in favour of preserving frame rate and, if it all goes to hell, it’ll drop those high-res textures. You can, of course, tell some games that you’d rather preserve resolution instead of frame rate.
Basically, both consoles do the same thing in this regard, except the Xbox One X runs in native 4K 100% of the time. It’s a beast and so all that extra power is enough to smash through any of the barriers the PS4 Pro hits when playing high-resolution content. Side-by-side, however, you’d be hard-pressed to notice the difference. Up close the PS4 Pro image is slightly blurrier than that of the Xbox One X’s, move away to a comfortable distance for playing games and they look virtually identical. In all honesty, anyone who says or believes they can see a difference is clearly someone who doesn’t want to admit that both consoles are, essentially, on par for playing games.
Outside of games, Sony’s PS4 Pro can play Netflix and YouTube content in 4K HDR and it’s expected Xbox One X will be able to do the same. Microsoft is also including a 4K Blu-Ray drive as part of One X as standard, which Sony opted to omit from the PS4 Pro.
Xbox One X vs PS4 Pro: Games
Both Sony and Microsoft have made claims that there will be no exclusive PS4 Pro or Xbox One X games – every PS4 or Xbox One title will run on all systems within their family of devices. Xbox platform boss Mike Ybarra even went on record to state that Xbox One X will be “100% compatible with all Xbox One titles and there will be no [Xbox One X]-exclusive games – pending any potential unique accessories such as VR.”
READ NEXT: All the Xbox One X games available at launch
The decision to refuse exclusive games for Pro or One X is because both Sony and Microsoft want to ensure they don’t alienate fans. Nobody wants to have to buy an entirely new set of games for their more-powerful device, and nor do they want to miss out on first-party titles just because they haven’t bought the latest version of the hardware. It’s also a push to ensure that this doesn’t become a fragmented generation – Sony and Microsoft don’t see the PS4 Pro or Xbox One X as a new generation of console.
So far, both parties have kept to their promises. There hasn’t been a single PS4 Pro-only title in the last year and Microsoft hasn’t entertained the idea that something like that could come to Xbox One X anytime soon either.
The biggest hurdle Microsoft has to overcome with the Xbox One X is closing the gap on Sony in terms of its games catalogue. It’s great that Microsoft is so optimistic about being able to woo gamers with the promise of ultimate power and 4K gaming, but if its games catalogue just isn’t there, it won’t succeed. The good news for Microsoft fans is that the company seems very much aware of this, and has tooted its horn about having 100 compatible titles for the Xbox One X on launch. Most of those 100 games, however, are multi-platform or backwards-compatible Xbox 360 titles. It’s great if you already own the games on your Xbox, but if you’re debating if you should jump ship from PS4, it’s not quite an incentive to do so.
Sony rarely has any third-party exclusives beyond some Japanese-developed titles (where developing on Xbox One is a pointless cost) and indie titles Sony has backed. On the other hand, the company has a strong slew of first-party games, offering up a wide variety of titles compared to the more bro-heavy machismo of Microsoft’s first-party games. Forza 7 may look utterly gorgeous on Xbox One X, but it’ll only woo the crowd who already like Forza. A new Halo is sure to appear too, but if Microsoft really wants to win the console war it’ll have to crack out more creative titles to bridge the gap. Where’s Microsoft’s Horizon: Zero Dawn, Ghost of Tsushima and The Last of Us Part II? Without those, it could still be doomed.