Games

Xbox One X vs PS4 Pro: Microsoft’s beast can beat Sony’s best, but which is actually better?


Microsoft’s Xbox One X – formerly Xbox Project Scorpio – is the company’s answer to Sony’s PS4 Pro. Both machines were developed independently of each other as both console manufacturers released their initial offerings wouldn’t be able to cut the mustard

Interestingly, neither Microsoft or Sony believe that each other are the competition here. It’s the steadily growing PC market that’s a threat to their living-room dominance. Sony wants to bring in the more cost-conscious crowd looking improved 1080p play alongside some 4K boosts, while Microsoft aims for the high-end gamer who has to have the best.

But which one is better? Which device should you be thinking about buying?

It’s not an easy question to answer, but we’ve put together everything you need to know about the Xbox One X and the PS4 Pro. Hopefully, we can help you figure out if you should be buying a PS4 Pro now, or holding out until November for an Xbox One X.

READ NEXT: What is 4K? 

Xbox One X vs PS4 Pro: Release date

The PS4 Pro launched in November 2016, giving it a full year on Microsoft’s upcoming Xbox One X – which is slated for a 7 November release. Sony has used this extra year to ramp up interest in 4K and improved 1080p gaming, helping establish the “Pro” brand for Sony’s PlayStation. This time investment could, however, come to bite Sony in the bum as Microsoft waltzes into a market Sony helped create.

Microsoft hopes that, come the 2017 holiday season it’s arriving just in time for, people will opt for Microsoft’s new and shiny Xbox One X as their 4K console of choice. A 7 November release also gives the Xbox One X plenty of time to drum up attention before the sales bonanza that is Black Friday and the start of the UK Christmas shopping 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.

Come 7 November, Microsoft will launch the Xbox One X at a rather eye-watering £450 – £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, and it contains a 4K Blu-ray player – something the PS4 Pro does not – but it’s still a lot of money.

If Sony’s smart enough, it can cut a deeper gorge between the Xbox One X and PS4 Pro prices by dropping the cost of its one-year-old hardware around the time of the One X launch. Even if it’s a drop to £300 for the solus PS4 Pro unit, it’d be a big enough gap to make many Xbox One X purchasers reconsider.

Microsoft also mentioned there would be a “trade-in/trade-up” system in place for Xbox One X, but so far little has been said on the topic since One X’s unveiling. Speaking to The Daily Star, Xbox Services GM Dave McCarthy explained that Microsoft “want to to make [upgrading] as smooth as possible. The compatibility thing is a big deal because [the] feeling you have to give up your games isn’t a good feeling, so we take that angst out of the equation.

“We’ll try partnerships with our retail partners to smooth it even more with trade-in programmes and things like that.”

Xbox One X vs PS4 Pro: Specs

Let me 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.

Here’s a table to show you just what I mean

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
TeraFLOPs 6 1.31 4.2
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 – Sony has employed a bit of technical wizardry to make it run.

When under little to no load, Shadow of Mordor runs in as-close-to native 4K as possible. It then employs something Sony is calling Checkerboard upscaling, which takes a 2×2 pixel grid and upscales it to a 4×4 grid and fills in the gaps. 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 resolution down to 1080p to ensure framerate 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.

Xbox One X, on the other hand, is built from the ground up for 4K content. It’s designed to smash 4K at 60fps no matter what’s being played. Interestingly though, 4K 60fps is restricted to Xbox One-levels of graphical detail at 4K. If you want to have high-resolution textures to go alongside your shiny 4K gameplay, you’ll be restricted to 30fps. You can also play at 1080p with improved texture detail, which works in a similar way to the PS4 Pro’s downsampling mentioned above.

Both the PS4 Pro and Xbox Scorpio feature the ability to play games and view content in 4K. From our time with Sony’s PlayStation 4 Pro, we know it’s not always capable of producing a native 4K image. Don’t be disheartened by that news as Sony has been rather savvy with it’s 4K functionality.

Games will play at 4K if you want them to, scaling down to 1080p if you want enhanced visuals and increased performance over straight-up resolution bumps. However, the PS4 Pro is not strictly a 4K console in the manner you’d expect.

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.”

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, Sony has kept to its promise as there hasn’t been a single PS4 Pro-only title come to market. It’s expected Microsoft will do the same, but one tweet from Ybarra suggests that Microsoft won’t be expecting One X developers to keep to parity with Xbox One gamers, meaning there’s going to be slightly more disparity between Microsoft’s consoles than Sony’s.

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 the games catalogue just isn’t there, it won’t succeed.

Many third-party developers are slated to be working on titles for Xbox One X, but they’re already developing games for Xbox One, and those games are selling better on PS4. Sony also 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.

Sony, on the other hand, 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, Until Dawn, The Last Guardian and The Last of Us? Without those, it could still be doomed.

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