The war of hardware specs is fought in every console generation, but perhaps the Xbox One vs Playstation 4 battles have been the most bitter. Although the arguments were starting to subside, in particular the so called ‘Resolution Gate’, the embers certainly hadn’t gone out. Microsoft’s Alan Bowman during an interview was quoted in saying that the difference between the Playstation 4 and Xbox One in terms of raw specs is ‘fairly marginal’.
“We’re optimistic about this generation as well. We’ve got a unique value proposition, and from just a pure specs perspective it’s always gonna be fairly marginal difference. The purists are gonna argue the toss, but I think it comes down to the games. You’re gonna see great exclusive games on Xbox One, and when you look at the cross-platform games, and there’s gonna be exclusive content on Xbox One. We’d like to be in more markets – this is a global business – but it’s also a long-term business, and we’ll progressively launch in more markets over the coming year.” – Andrew Bowman in a gameplanet interview.
Immediately the internet has sprung back to life, with people far and wide accusing Microsoft of PR. So the question remains, is this something Microsoft should say or even comment on? Both machines have great games in the pipeline, and surely that’s the most important?
I’m not going to go through an entire spec comparison of the Xbox One and PS4 (and it’s not the purpose of this article) but we’ll instead just touch on a few specs. The CPU’s for both machines is pretty similar. Both use AMD Jaguar (two modules of four cores, giving eight total), with six available for games. PS4’s CPU is RUMORED (Sony are yet to confirm) their CPU is running at 1.6GHZ, Microsoft’s is running at 1.75. Recent benchmarks show that the PS4’s CPU is faster, at least in texture generation.
Both systems have 8GB of memory, Sony’s PS4 uses 5500MHZ GDDR5 on a 256-bit bus, providing 176GB/s bandwidth, Xbox One uses 2133MHZ DDR3 on a 256-bit bus, providing 68GB/s, and 32MB ESRAM to make up the rest of the bandwidth. To read more about the ESRAM, click here. The real difference is the GPU of both consoles, which features 1.84 TFLOPS (PS4) vs 1.32 TFLOPS (X1).
Most gamers know this stuff fairly well right now, and I actually think that Microsoft shouldn’t highlight or talk about the specs. Instead I feel they should do what they have been until now, telling games about well, the games, services, exclusives and other factors which appeal to their audience. I do however think that in a lot of cross platform titles, the largest difference we’ll be seeing is the internal rendered resolution. How much of a difference depends on the game, but certainly 900P vs 1080P is something we’re seeing on several titles already. It’s possible we’ll also see slightly worse lighting, or AA (Anti-Aliasing) or perhaps lower resolution textures in titles. 1600×900 = 1440000 pixels, 1920×1080 = 2073600 pixels, which does roughly account for the extra computing power of the PS4’s GPU. The fewer TMU (Texture mapping Units) (48 vs 72) or fewer ROPS (16 vs 32 of the PS4’s) isn’t doing it any favours either.
A few examples of cross platform games (and this isn’t a complete list by any means) of resolution differences can be found below. Please note that not only is this list VERY early, showing lack of optimization, but additionally some games aren’t hitting their target frame rate. BF4 on PS4 had some frame rate issues, likely because of higher resolution.
Battlefield 4 = 1600×900 (60fps) PS4, 1280×720 (60fps) Xbox One.
Call of Duty: Ghosts = 1920×1080 (60fps) PS4, 1280×720 (60fps).
Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag = 1920×1080 (with AA) (30fps) PS4 (NOTE, you need to patch game), 1600×900 (30fps) Xbox One.
Other titles have no differences at all, NBA 2K14, UFC and FIFA share the same 1080P resolution on both next generation consoles. How much you notice the resolution differences really depends on how good your TV is, distance from screen, eye sight and other factors. Anti-Aliasing is likely to be more of a problem for many, along with stable frame rate.
So, it’s not a ‘marginal difference’ on paper, but in reality – it remains to be seen just how big a gap there will really be. I for one am curious how the PS4’s more powerful compute functions of the GPU pan out, particularly due to lack of CPU power of both machines.
Bottom line – will it stop games playing good, having beautiful worlds and being amazing? No. Will the graphics of the Xbox One be as good as the PS4, likely not. But if you want the best graphics, the PC is really the way to go. With GPU’s having way over 5TFLOPS of power, capable of running 4K screens. So right now, whatever console you’ve got – worry about the games!