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PS4 vs Xbox One: which gaming console is better?

PS4 vs Xbox One
Image credit: TechRadar

The battle between the PS4 vs Xbox One has spanned the last eight years and continues to rumble on. By all accounts, it's been a fascinating contest, but now that the PS5 and Xbox Series X / Xbox Series S are here, is it still a good time to buy either of the last-gen consoles? Or further still, should you be looking to upgrade your aging system right away?

While Sony and Microsoft's consoles were closely matched in terms of price and specification (though the PS4 did have the edge in terms of raw hardware power), the defining factor that will have influenced most people's purchase decision will have come down to two things: the games on offer, and where their friends were likely to play.

If you've yet to pickup either Sony's PlayStation 4 and Microsoft's Xbox One, and you're still not sure which console is right for you, we can help you make an informed buying decision. There's never been a better time to do so in terms of price, as both consoles are the cheapest they've ever been and have undergone pleasing redesigns since launch that have slimmed down the size of the consoles considerably. More powerful options are also available in the form of the Xbox One X and PS4 Pro.

You might be wondering whether or not you should bother picking up one of the next-gen offerings, as both the Xbox Series X and PS5 are backwards compatible, meaning you can play all the games on PS4 and Xbox One that you may have missed – many of which look better than ever before. Stock continues to be scarce, however, and both of the new consoles will take a while to build up a desirable library of games.

Nevertheless, even though shinier and more powerful models are now available, it doesn't take away from the fact that the PS4 and Xbox One are excellent consoles with plenty of top-tier games and continued support from developers. It's far too early to dismiss either systems' appeal just yet, then.

It's worth noting that since the current console generation started in 2013, there's been a mid-generation refresh which has made the PS4 vs Xbox One debate a little more complex.

When Microsoft and Sony threw the Xbox One S, Xbox One X and PS4 Pro into the mix it stopped being a two console game and those who own 4K TVs and want to make the most of them now have more to consider.

Sony is offering two versions of its PS4 console—the standard slim version, which is capable of HDR playback, and the more expensive 4K-capable PS4 Pro, though finding stock of the latter has become increasingly difficult. 

Microsoft, on the other hand, has three Xbox consoles to choose from: the 4K HDR-ready Xbox One S, the disc drive-free Xbox One S All-Digital Edition, and the top-tier Xbox One X – a console that's not only capable of 4K HDR native gameplay but, in some cases, it can play games at 60 frames-per-second too.

What that means is if you already own a 4K HDR TV, you should probably opt for a PS4 Pro or Xbox One X to really get the highest visual fidelity from your console. If you're gaming on a 1080p TV, however, an Xbox One S or PS4 Slim makes much more sense and will cost you less. (Both the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X can still make games look better on a 1080p display, thanks to downsampling.)

But what about the games themselves? And the entertainment capabilities of the consoles? How's the online reliability and which has the best digital storefront? Which has better first-party games? And with the next-generation of consoles now here, does Xbox's commitment to cross-gen support with Smart Delivery make it the more appealing long-term option?

If you think it's time to jump in and enjoy the fantastic gaming that's on offer right now, rather than hold out for either the PS5 or Xbox Series X, then read on to decide whether the PS4 or Xbox One is more suited to you. 

PS4 vs Xbox One price comparison

The PS4 and Xbox One prices seem to change by the week, with price drops and bundle deals coming and going faster than handheld PlayStation systems. Add in special events, such as Amazon Prime Day and Black Friday, and dedicated storefront sales it can be hard to keep track.

While all of these bundles are great for consumers, it can be hard to keep up with the latest pricing info. So, in an effort to cut through the noise, here are the latest prices and bundles for each console.

While the original iterations of the Xbox One and PS4 launched in the same month, the console upgrades have been more staggered, adding a little bit more confusion to the Xbox One vs PS4 question.

The Xbox One X is the newest and most powerful console, with fewer discounts available. The PS4 Pro, however, is a little older and is therefore easier to pick up at a reduced price. It's worth knowing that Microsoft has since discontinued the Xbox One X, and it looks like Sony is also discontinuing the PS4 Pro. That means stock for both consoles will be harder to track down in the future, which could increase the price.

If you want to dial back the cost of either console, check out the latest prices for the Xbox One S and PS4 Slim.

Additional reading

Want to compare the slim consoles? Check out our guide to the PS4 Slim vs the Xbox One S.

Want to compare the 4K HDR consoles? Our PS4 Pro vs Xbox One X guide does just that. 

Look, we want to save you some time here in your PS4 vs Xbox One deliberations. So the box on the right will take you through some of the finer details of each console with their upgraded models, if that's what you're after. Otherwise, we'll be comparing the ecosystems of each platform in the rest of the article below.

Xbox One vs PS4: hardware and design

  • The PS4 has a slim version and a 4K PS4 Pro
  • The Xbox has the Xbox One S, Xbox One S All-Digital Edition and Xbox One X

Both the Xbox One and the PS4 have different versions that you can buy right now. The PS4 has two and the Xbox One has three. This is different than in the past, when each console existed on its own, and lasted an entire generation. 

The Xbox One S improved on the design of the original Xbox One by cutting down a lot of the heft, and removing the gigantic power brick, making use of an internal power supply instead. It measures 11.6 x 8.9 x 2.5 inches, and unlike the previous version includes a 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray player – it will even upscale 1080p games to 4K, as long as you have a TV that can support it.

However, if you prefer a more streamlined version of the Xbox One S then the Xbox One S All-Digital Edition may be more your cup of tea. The 1TB disc-less console looks and performs like its predecessor but lacks a disc drive – so that means no Blu-ray or physical discs.

The Xbox One X might be heftier than the Xbox One S, but it’s still considerably smaller than the original Xbox One, coming in at 11.81 x 9.44 x 2.36 inches and weighing around 8.4 lbs (this console also has an internal power supply). This is the high-powered version of the Xbox One, with native 4K gaming as well as a 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray player (something not even the PS4 Pro can boast).

Xbox One vs PS4

Which console has better specs under the hood?

Starting out on the PS4 side of the equation, the PS4 Slim is straight up the smallest of the major consoles available right now, measuring in at 10.4 x 11.3 x 1.5 inches and serving as the baseline PS4 for most consumers – a complete replacement for the original PlayStation 4. It doesn’t give you 4K resolutions, even for video, but it can still play every game from the PS4's impressive library.

The PS4 Pro was the original 4K console, coming out an entire year before the Xbox One X – even if Microsoft's box eventually outpowered it. It measures 12.8 x 11.6 x 2.1 inches. While the PS4 Pro does to at least some extent support native 4K gaming, it doesn’t include a 4K Ultra-HD Blu-Ray Player, an omission that has attracted some flak for Sony.

PS4 vs PS4 Pro comparison

The PS4 Slim is the smallest of the major consoles.
  • Our guide to the PS4 Slim vs PS4 Pro outlines the differences between the consoles in more detail

Xbox One vs PS4: connectivity

  • You can't upgrade Xbox One's internal hard drive, but you can on the PS4
  • Both consoles support the use of external hard drives
  • The Xbox One has more ports on its rear

Depending on how your gaming setup is organized, the connectivity of your console could be an extremely important detail.

Both the Xbox One S and X have identical ports, each including two HDMI ports, one for receiving an input from a cable or satellite box, and one that inputs to your TV. On top of those, they’ve each got two USB-3 ports, IR outputs, optical audio out, Ethernet ports and, of course, the power cable – which is compatible with both versions of the Xbox. However, due to the quick and tragic downfall of Kinect, if you want to use a Kinect with either version of the Xbox One you’ll have to go out and get an adapter. 

The PS4 Pro and PS4 Slim have similar inputs, although they are slightly different. Each has a single HDMI out, a single USB port in the back (two in the front), an Ethernet port, and power. The only difference between the Pro and the Slim is that the Pro has an Optical Audio out, while the Slim drops it. One of the most compelling things about the connectivity of the PS4, however, is that both versions allow users to swap out the internal hard drive with another one of their choice.

All versions of both the Xbox One and PS4 support 802.11 ac Wi-Fi and Gigabit Ethernet – so no matter which console you decide on, you won’t have to worry about network compatibility.

Xbox One vs PS4

The Xbox One S now requires an adaptor for the Kinect, though you're unlikely to need one.

PS4 and Xbox One are devoid of remarkable characteristics on the front. There's a Blu-ray/DVD combo drive to the left (which can play Ultra HD Blu-rays on the Xbox One S and Xbox One X) and their respective, muted-color logos to the right. PS4 has a pair of USB ports tucked between its sandwich-like halves next to where the disc drive is located.

One thing the Xbox One pulls ahead with is smart home integration. 2018 saw Microsoft announce support for Amazon's Alexa voice assistant, meaning your Xbox One can communicate with Amazon's line of Echo smart speakers or other Alexa-enabled devices – and might be a practical alternative to using voice commands through the now defunct Kinect.