PS4 vs Xbox One: which is better?

Xbox One graphics specs teardown

Xbox One has a non-replaceable internal hard drive (credit: iFixIt)

Is PS4 or Xbox more powerful?

  • The Xbox has a more powerful CPU.
  • The PS4 has a more powerful GPU.
  • The PS4 Pro is more powerful than both machines, but will lose out when the Xbox One X releases. 

PS4 and Xbox One multiply the power of Xbox 360 and PS3. More importantly, they were built with smarter internal designs, drawing from mistakes of last-generation consoles.

Chip manufacturer AMD is behind most of these upgrades. Both the original Xbox One and the Xbox One S have a custom 1.75GHz AMD 8-core CPU.

The base PS4 CPU remained clocked at 1.6GHz and contains a similar custom AMD 8-core CPU with x86 based architecture, while the PS4 Pro bumps that clock speed up to 2.13GHz.

PS4 graphics specs teardown

PS4 has a user-replaceable hard drive

The original PS4 boasts a 1.84 teraflop GPU that's based on AMD's Radeon technology. Meanwhile the original Xbox One graphics chip, also with an AMD Radeon GPU, had a pipeline for 1.31 teraflops, although this increased to 1.4 teraflops with the Xbox One S.

The PS4 Pro, meanwhile, has a GPU with a considerably increased 4.2 teraflops of graphical horsepower. 

When it came to the original consoles, the PS4 won out in terms of raw power, although the Xbox One S closed the gap considerably. 

With the Xbox One X still yet to hit store shelves, the PS4 Pro is currently the most powerful console out there, but that will all change this November with the arrival of the 6 teraflop behemoth from Microsoft. 

Best PS4 vs Xbox One specs for RAM

  • Both systems have 8GB of RAM overall.
  • But they allocate that memory to developers differently.

Even more controversial is the memory under the consoles' matte black hoods. It's not the amount of RAM at issue - both are future-proofed with 8GB of RAM - it's the type of RAM used.

Both the PS4 and PS4 Pro have a distinct advantage with faster 8GB GDDR5 memory, while both the original Xbox One and the Xbox One S went with the slower bandwidth of the 8GB DDR3 variety. But, wait, there's more to it.

Neither system allocates all of that RAM to game developers - some is reserved to run their operating systems.

PS4 reserves up to 3.5GB for its operating system, leaving developers with 4.5GB, according to documentation. They can sometimes access an extra 1GB of "flexible" memory when it's available, but that's not guaranteed.

Xbox One's "guaranteed memory" amounts to a slightly higher 5GB for developers, as Microsoft's multi-layered operating system takes up a steady 3GB. It eeks out a 0.5GB win with more developer-accessible memory than PS4, unless you factor in Sony's 1GB of "flexible" memory at times. Then it's 0.5GB less.

The landscape will change once more with the arrival of the Xbox One X, which will both upgrade the console's RAM to GBBR5, as well as boosting the capacity to 12GB. 

The console's currently on the market now have similar AMD architecture at their core, but contrast like apples and oranges when it comes to memory. Only developers can determine how this battle is won.