So, as you may or may not have heard recently, Sony’s Playstation 4 (PS4) is better than you and it damn well knows it. A commercial set to light televisions all across the U.K. boasts the daunting might of Sony’s frontrunner machine. The narrator firmly states the PS4 is “the worlds most powerful console.”
I found this to be an interesting claim and, instead of taking these words blindly as truth, I’d decided to dig a little deeper. I wanted to see if Sony was making valid declarations, or merely pushing a tag line built on a foundation of sand.
The Nuts and Bolts
The first place that I could think to begin my search for truth lay in comparing the technical specifications of each console. After all, what makes it tick and how well it ticks are fairly decent indicators of power. There are three main categories to look at when doing a specifications comparison of this nature.
First off we will take a look at the Central Processing Unit (CPU), or the brain of the console. According to ExtremeTech, we see the Xbox One sports an 8-core AMD processor that clocks at 1.75 GHz while the PS4 has a slightly less powerful 8-core AMD processor coming in at 1.6 GHz. After carefully contemplating the numbers, our scientists at Gamespresso have concluded that 1.75 is greater than 1.6. Since both CPUs have eight cores (basically saying both brains are made up of 8 little brains), the Xbox One is technically the winner in this category.
Moving now to the Graphical Processing Unit (GPU) of each system. This system is what’s responsible for rendering and displaying the game on your screen. While other parts may deal more with how well the game plays, this is the one that has results you can physically see. ExtremeTech shows us that both the Xbox One and PS4 GPU systems are structurally similar, with the PS4 just being brutally more capable. The Xbox One GPU has a total of 768 shader processors while the PS4 dominates with a grand total of 1,152 shaders. It is worth noting the Xbox One GPU does clock above the PS4 GPU, with 853 MHz vs 800 MHz respectively. As if this amount wasn’t already negligible in favor of Xbox, the Xbox One has 10% of its GPU reserved exclusively for the Kinect. In sheer numbers, PS4 takes the cake on this one.
Now that we’re “technically” tied, lets look at the final category: Random-access Memory (RAM). RAM is temporary storage for computers. This influences how fast the console is able to access relevant data so that it can be used for various purposes throughout the life-cycle of your gaming session. Again, our ally in research, ExtremeTech has what we need. While both consoles tote an impressive 8 gigabytes of RAM, the PS4 beats out the Xbox by opting for 5500 MHz GDDR5 RAM as opposed to Xbox’s 2133 MHz DDR3. This gives the PS4 a major bandwidth advantage over Xbox with the PS4 clocking at “176GB/sec” and Xbox at “68.3GB/sec.” That’s a 256% boost PS4 has over Xbox! Now, as stated in a piece by techradar, the PS4 operating system only gives developers a guaranteed memory use of 4.5 GB with a “sometimes available” 1 GB, while Xbox One gives a guaranteed 5.0 GB of RAM. This does make the argument a little hazy but I don’t think a 0.5 GB advantage, with these bandwidth speeds, amounts to much in the end.
Based on this quick look of the hardware specs, Playstation takes the tie breaker point! So, Playstation, I must say,
The Reality vs Technicality
But what does it all mean? Does this actually make the Playstation 4 the end-all-be-all console for this generation? In my honest, Playstation loving, opinion: No. Of course not! The PS4 does technically have better hardware specifications than the Xbox One but that doesn’t amount to as much as you’d think in the long run. Take a look at this graphics comparison video for the PS4 vs the Xbox One:
To me, both sides look fantastic. Most times when I thought one side looked clearer or more crisp than the other, a few seconds later I’d find myself thinking the exact opposite.
What will truly make a difference is how well the developers can utilize the tools they are given. The ability that developers have to push the hardware to their limits to create tantalizing worlds or heart pounding thrillers is what will eventually show the true victor.