PS4 vs. Xbox One: What Sony’s console still does better than Microsoft’s box

Above: Sony's PlayStation 4 console.

Image Credit: Sony

Be sure to read all about what Xbox One does better than PS4 right here.

After starting out with different feature sets and capabilities, Microsoft and Sony have both updated their latest home consoles to a point of homogenization. But that doesn’t mean we’ve reached exact parity.

The PlayStation 4 still does some things better than the Xbox One, and Microsoft’s box has an advantage in a few areas as well. They may both sell for $400 and play all the games from publishers Electronic Arts, Activision, and Ubisoft, but we’re gonna take a look at each device and find the areas where one system bests its counterpart. First up, we’re going to check out the areas where the PS4 outswaggers the Xbox One.

Let’s get right to it.

Graphical performance

This is the big one for a lot of people. PlayStation 4 and Xbox One both feature the same basic processors from graphics-chip company AMD, but Sony’s device is consistently getting better results in multiplatform games. This is for two big reasons. The PS4 uses faster memory than the Xbox One, and Sony’s hardware reserves less processing power for its operating system.

We’ve seen games like Battlefield 4 and Trials Fusion run at higher resolutions, framerates, or both on Sony’s system.

While this is an advantage for Sony now, Microsoft is also beginning to find parity here. The upcoming multiplatform sci-fi shooter Destiny from Halo developer Bungie was originally going to run at a lower resolution on Xbox One than PS4. But Microsoft recently updated its box to take some processing power away from the Kinect motion-sensing camera and give it to the rest of the system. Bungie now says it will get Destiny to full 1080p resolution on both systems.

For now, however, Watch Dogs, Thief, and Murdered: Soul Suspect all look better on Sony’s system.

Remote play

Sony has the PlayStation 4, but it also sells the PlayStation Vita dedicated handheld. This enables the company to combine the two to let you play PS4 games on your Vita. This works over a network so you can even do it outside of the house — although it works best when both devices are on the same network.

This works great for a number of games, but a few have issues since the Vita and DualShock 4 controller for the home console don’t have the exact same buttons. Still, this sort of thing isn’t even an option for the Xbox One.

Indie games

Microsoft and Sony are both courting indie developers. The ID@Xbox program enables anyone to self-publish their own games, but this hasn’t stopped the PS4 from gathering an early advantage when it comes to the indie games it offers compared to Xbox One.

PS4 started out with games like Contrast and Super Motherload at launch, and it has built up its offering of smaller games each month since.  In March, PS4 got the four-player fighter Towerfall: Ascension. In April, it got the weird physics puzzler Octodad: Dadliest Catch. In May, it got action role-playing game Transistor.

Sony’s indie advantage is likely due to a hustle among its developer-relations team who are doing a lot to get small teams to release their stuff on the PS4. It’s also because the Sony’s terms are fair. While Microsoft now enables developer to self-publisher through ID@Xbox, not everyone loves the program because it requires studios to sign a release-parity clause. This mandates that developers release their games on the same day on Xbox One as they do on PS4. While that’s typically how things shake out, it might not in every circumstance. Developers may finish one version and may have to hold it back while they continue working on the Xbox One release.

Livestreaming options

Both consoles include the capability to livestream your gameplay. PS4 offered this right from its November launch, and Xbox One got it earlier this year. But Xbox One only has Twitch as an option. While that’s great for most people, PS4 gives players a choice between Twitch or Ustream. It seems like most people prefer Twitch, but it’s still good to have the choice.

Preloading digital games

The new systems offer nearly every game digitally through their online stores. This is a convenient way to get games, but it’s never fun to buy something at midnight of the day it launches only to have to wait four hours for it to download and install.

Sony is in the process of getting rid of this. The company is introducing the capability to preload preordered software on PS4. It started already with Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark, which debuted earlier this week. Players could buy that game digitally and install it on their system before it was officially out. Then, on its release day, the game unlocked.

All PlayStation 4 games that go on sale for preorder on or after May 20 are capable of preloading.

The Xbox One doesn’t have this yet. Microsoft says that the feature is on its update roadmap, and it will get to it in the future. For now, if you preorder Destiny digitally on each system, you’ll only get to play the PS4 one right as it unlocks at midnight.

Share button

While both Xbox One and PlayStation can livestream video, only Sony’s system is capable of quickly taking a screenshot. Gamers can use the DualShock 4’s Share button to grab an image of the screen at any time. They can then use that button to quickly share it to social media.

This is another feature that Microsoft says it is working on. A Twitter app is coming, and Xbox boss Phil Spencer said the capability to say “Xbox, take a screenshot” through Kinect is coming in a future update.

Built-in controller headphone jack

Finally, the DualShock 4 controller comes with a built-in audio jack. This enables players to hear all of the system’s sound through the headphones of their choice without having to go out to buy anything extra.

You can do the same thing on Xbox One, but you have to buy a $25 peripheral that sticks out of the bottom of that system’s gamepad.

This makes the PS4 ideal for gaming quietly late at night.

More information:

Sony is a Japanese multinational conglomerate corporation headquartered in Kōnan, Minato, Tokyo, Japan. Sony Corporation is the electronics business unit and the parent company of the Sony Group, which is engaged in business through... read more »

Microsoft Corporation is a public multinational corporation headquartered in Redmond, Washington, USA that develops, manufactures, licenses, and supports a wide range of products and services predominantly related to computing through ... read more »

Sony Computer Entertainment, Inc. is a major video game company specializing in a variety of areas in the video game industry, and is a wholly owned subsidiary and part of the Consumer Products & Services Group of Sony. The company was... read more »

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ricky stephens
ricky stephens

i own a ps3 and dont own any next gen console but the xbox one id is leaning me towards the one i love games i can play it short bursts that make me laugh been playing papers please on pc is great still a loada games i wanna play on ps3 south park being tops 

Fritz Javel
Fritz Javel

This list is mostly software.. and at this rate I'm sure Microsoft will pass its software shortcomings before PS4 1ups it again.  

Kevin Patterson
Kevin Patterson

" This is for two big reasons. The PS4 uses faster memory than the Xbox One, and Sony’s hardware reserves less processing power for its operating system."

No, it's because the xbox One uses a downgraded AMD 7790 and the PS4 uses a downgraded 7870 (R270). the GPU in the PS4 is an entire class above the GPU in the Xbox One.  Faster memory helps, and reserving less processing power helps, but the difference in GPU is what makes the difference, not the other two things.

John Doe
John Doe

@Fritz Javel I disagree, Xbox One is weaker and is bloated with too much. There is only so much Microsoft can do. The PS4 UI is so streamlined that all Sony has to do is add more features and apps.

The Xbox One UI is noticeably slower and it is a pain to navigate. The twitch live streaming functionality, inferior DVR recording, and party chat is a pain with snap compared to the PS4. The PS4 share button may not seem significant at first glance but honestly it is one of the most innovative and convenient features of both consoles. No swiming through menus or tiles and no need to yell at your tv.

The Xbox One has more apps and programs like "One Guide" and "Snap" but in terms of speed and ease of use I think the PS4 takes it. No need to pin or go through multiple layers of screens. Everything is categorized and faster to access.

Jason Cracknell
Jason Cracknell

I thinks it's more a case of die space being taken up by the kinect and esram. Properly utilized, the esram can make up for some of the missing gpu size. With proper utilization, ps4 will always be slightly ahead, but at 1080p 60fps as this generation's standard, it really is a wash. If the speed limit is 55mph, a Ferrari still gets there in the same time as a Fiat.

Jeffrey Grubb
Jeffrey Grubb moderator VB Staff

@Kevin Patterson Both devices use almost the exact same AMD Jaguar APU, but you do have a point. The big thing is the number of Render Outputs on each system. PS4 has 32 ROPs like most modern PC GPUs while Xbox One only has 16. 

David Bakut
David Bakut

@Jeffrey Grubb @Kevin Patterson

Stop downplaying, ROPs, TMUs and actual compute units are all more on the PS4 GPU. You know, the actual things that make a GPU a GPU. To put it mildly, the most IMPORTANT part of a GPU are its compute units. The XB1 has 12 of those, the PS4 has 18. This should be easier to understand when you consider that they are basically the same architecture. The PS4 simply has 50% more horses than the XB1. That is the primary reasoon games run better on the PS4, not any of the stuff mentioned in this article.

When something has 50% more hardware processing muscle than something else, its not something that any kind of API can make disappear.

John Doe
John Doe

@Rorison Meadows @John Doe @Fritz Javel No it's not. The voice commands are slower than using a controller. Also, voice commands don't solve the problems I mentioned such as party chat, live streaming, and DVR recording. Besides that, In order to get a functional and speedy UI, one should not have to yell at a microphone (which might I add, doesn't even work a lot of the time). I think the Xbox One has many problems to fix before reaching the software level of the PS4.

Ian Paxton
Ian Paxton

@David Bakut @Jeffrey Grubb @Kevin Patterson  Where are you getting 50% more power? Incase you forgot there Xbox can side load memory from the esdram so your theory of the ps4's gpu being 50% more powerful is a joke. What it boils down to is how both systems utilizes the memory and they are on par with each other.

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