PS4 vs. Xbox One: Which Console Is Right for You?

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After nearly six years on shelves, Microsoft's Xbox One and Sony's PlayStation 4 are constantly evolving with sleeker designs, powerful 4K variants, new features and a constant stream of big new games. The Xbox One has tons of entertainment apps and can play a bunch of Xbox 360 and Xbox games, while the PS4 has continued to stand out by offering some of the finest exclusive games of the generation.

While rumors of the next-generation Xbox Scarlett and PS5 systems are heating up for 2020, the current-gen consoles still look like they have plenty of life left in them.

Here's how Sony's and Microsoft's flagship gaming systems stack up.

Latest News and Updates (May 2019)

  • Read our Days Gone review to see if Sony's latest big PS4 exclusive is worth the hype.
  • Microsoft has revealed the Xbox One S All-Digital Edition, which launches on May 7 and eschews the original's disc drive in favor of a cheaper $249 price tag.

Game Library

Both PS4 and Xbox One play many of this generation's best titles, from third-party blockbusters such as Red Dead Redemption 2, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, Resident Evil 2 and Mortal Kombat 11 to beloved indies like Celeste, Stardew Valley and Dead Cells. Both systems will satisfy your battle royale urge, as you can get Apex Legends, Fortnite and PUBG on either one.

Still, PS4 is winning the exclusives war by a mile. Between big hits such as Uncharted 4, Marvel's Spider-Man, Horizon: Zero Dawn, and God of War, the PS4's exclusive offerings include some of the biggest and highest-rated AAA titles of this generation. Despite a few middling releases like Days Gone and Detroit: Become Human, the vast majority of Sony's first-party PS4 output has been excellent.

Credit: SonyCredit: Sony

That's not to say the Xbox One is devoid of great first party games — titles such as Forza Horizon 4, Gears of War 4, Halo 5 and Sunset Overdrive are all major standouts. Crackdown 3 and Sea of Thieves aren't too shabby, either, and 2019 exclusives like Ori and the Will of the Wisps and Gears of War 5 look pretty promising.

Most sports games come to both systems, though Sony's MLB: The Show series is exclusive to PlayStation. PS4 has a healthier fighting game lineup (Street Fighter V, Guilty Gear Xrd: Revelator 2, King of Fighters XIV), though Microsoft's platform is the exclusive home to Killer Instinct.

Winner: PS4. Both systems play tons of great games, but Sony's system has more hit games that you can only play on a console.

Backwards Compatibility and Services

You don't necessarily need an Xbox One to play some of Microsoft's biggest first-party games. As part of Microsoft's Play Anywhere initiative, you can buy digital versions of games such as Sea of Thieves and Forza Motorsport 7 once and play them on Xbox One and on Windows 10. While this is a great value, those who have a decent gaming PC arguably have no reason to buy an Xbox One.    

Microsoft's Gears of War 4.Microsoft's Gears of War 4.

If you have a massive library of old Xbox games, however, the Xbox One might be a better buy for you. More than 400 Xbox 360 games are currently playable on Microsoft's new console, including Mass Effect, Splinter Cell: Conviction and the entire Gears of War series. The system even plays a handful of games from the original 2001 Xbox, including such classics as Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Ninja Gaiden Black and Jade Empire.

You can play older games on PS4, but not without paying up. A small selection of digital PS2 classics are available on Sony's new console, each scaled up to 1080p with earnable trophies and support for features such as Share Play and Remote Play. While the PS4 lacks direct backwards compatibility with older PlayStation games, Sony has already confirmed that the next-gen PlayStation will support PS4 games when it revealed the first PS5 specs.

The PS4 plays PS3 games via PlayStation Now, which allows you to stream hundreds of last-gen titles (and a few PS4 games) from the cloud for $20/£12.99 a month or $45 for three months in the US, £84.99 for a year in the UK. As of Sept. 2018, you can also download PS2 and PS4 titles from the service directly. PlayStation Now is currently unavailable in Australia.

In contrast, Microsoft's Xbox Game Pass grants access to over 100 Xbox One and Xbox 360 games that you can download for $10 (£7/AU$10) a month, including such major hits as Halo 5 and Gears of War 4. As of early 2018, the service even gets all of Microsoft's first-party games the same day they hit shelves, including Sea of Thieves, State of Decay 2 and Forza Horizon 4.

Xbox One is also the exclusive home of EA Access, which lets you play an ever-growing library of EA games for $29.99 (£19.99/AU$39.99) a year or $4.99 (£3.99/AU$6.99) a month a month.

Xbox One has a much better track record when it comes to supporting cross-platform play, allowing you to play games like Minecraft, Fortnite, Ark: Survival Evolved, Rocket League and Astroneer with friends on other platforms such as Switch and PC. After years of fan demand, Sony finally jumped on the cross-platform train in 2018, with cross-platform betas currently available for Fortnite and Rocket League.

Winner: Xbox One. Xbox One plays hundreds of Xbox 360 games, offers cross-play with PC and lets you binge on three generations' worth of games for a good price.

Hardware

The PS4 Slim and Xbox One S are both impressively sleek, offering attractive designs that look great under a TV and can fit into a backpack without a problem. The newest PS4 has a slight edge in terms of sheer smallness, though it lacks an optical input for high-end gaming headsets. 

Credit: Tom's GuideCredit: Tom's Guide

Sony's 4K-ready PS4 Pro has a chunkier, hamburger-like design, while the Xbox One X, which is even more powerful than the Pro, is somehow slimmer than the Xbox One S.

Both consoles start with 500GB of storage that you can easily expand by connecting an external hard drive. PS4 owners also have the option of opening up their consoles to swap in a new 2.5-inch or SATA drive.

The Xbox One S and Xbox One X. Credit: Tom's GuideThe Xbox One S and Xbox One X. Credit: Tom's Guide

Each controller has its perks — the Xbox One pad has textured grips and can be customized via the Xbox Design Lab, while Sony's DualShock 4 is highly ergonomic and has a touchpad and reactive lightbar. The PS4 controller is the only one that supports micro USB charging right out of the box — Xbox One owners will need to rely on AA batteries or buy a $25 charging kit.

Thanks to the $299 PlayStation VR headset, PS4 is the only of the two consoles to currently support virtual reality. The PSVR's game lineup has grown quite compelling over the years, too, headlined by such major titles as Tetris Effect, Resident Evil 7, Astro Bot: Rescue Mission and Moss.

There's currently no equivalent for Xbox One, and it doesn't look like Microsoft plans to bring VR to Xbox anytime soon.

Microsoft's console is currently the only of the two to support mouse and keyboard controls for gaming, with select titles such as Fortnite and Warframe supporting PC peripherals such as the Razer Turret.

Winner: PS4. Sony's console is more attractive, packs a more feature-rich controller and currently is the only of the two to support virtual reality.

Performance and Graphics

If you're concerned about nuts and bolts, the starting versions of both consoles have an 8-core x86-64 AMD Jaguar processor with 8GB of RAM, an AMD Radeon GPU and a 500GB hard drive.

While games generally look and play great on both systems, PS4 has the edge in terms of resolution. For example, according to IGN's database, games such as Batman: Arkham Knight and Shadow of Mordor all run at full 1080p on PS4, while Xbox One gamers have to settle for 900p on those titles. If getting the best possible crispness for most games is a priority, PS4 comes out on top.

However, when it comes to the premium versions of both consoles, Xbox has an edge. The $499 Xbox One X plays many titles in native 4K, and has the most powerful overall specs of any console out there. The $399 PS4 Pro technically plays games in 4K, but the experience is oftentimes upscaled rather than true 4K. For a detailed look at how these consoles stack up, check out our Xbox One X vs. PS4 Pro face-off.

Folks with HDR-ready TVs should also consider High Dynamic Range support, which allows for richer colors and better brightness. The Xbox One X, Xbox One S, PS4 Pro and standard PS4 all support HDR, though the list of HDR-enabled games varies by console.

Winner: PS4. Games look stunning on both systems, but the stock PS4 offers better resolution for many titles.

User-Friendliness

After years of updates, the Xbox One interface has gone from sluggish and messy to snappy and highly customizable. Microsoft continues to roll out useful new features, such as the ability to gift games to friends, get instant tech support with Xbox Assist and even avoid those pesky notifications with Do Not Disturb mode. And thanks to the new Xbox Skill, you can even control your Xbox One with your voice using Alexa devices such as the Amazon Echo Dot.

Still, the PS4 menu simply feels better to navigate, and Sony's console is still king in terms of capturing gameplay moments and sharing them with friends. A quick tap of the DualShock 4's Share button lets you record a clip, broadcast your gameplay or take a screenshot. And the PS4-exclusive Share Play feature lets you give control of your game to an online friend for up to 60 minutes, so long as that person has Plus.

Both consoles can broadcast gameplay directly to Twitch, though only PS4 can stream to YouTube. PS4 players can share their screenshots and videos to Facebook and Twitter, whereas Xbox owners are limited to the latter network. Xbox One gamers have the option of streaming to Microsoft's Mixer service.

Both systems also permit off-TV play, for those times the family is hogging the living room. Sony's Remote Play feature lets you stream PS4 games to a PlayStation Vita handheld, select Xperia devices, or your PC and Mac. Xbox One players, on the other hand, can stream their games to their Windows 10 laptops or tablets.

Winner: PS4. The PS4 interface is slightly more user-friendly, and has better options for sharing gameplay with friends.

Entertainment

For sheer options, Xbox One is the superior entertainment machine. The system has the unique ability to transmit your cable box's TV signal, allowing you to quickly switch between playing a game and watching a show. The Xbox One S, Xbox One X and PS4 Pro can all stream 4K content, but only Microsoft's consoles can play 4K Blu-rays. However, the new Xbox One S All-Digital Edition has no disc drive at all, and is limited to 4K streaming.

Unlike PS4, Xbox One supports Dolby Atmos, allowing folks with compatible home theater products to enjoy immersive spatial sound, and will soon support Dolby Vision for improved HDR quality.

The Xbox One is also the only console that features Kodi, a highly popular media server app that lets you access any movies, TV shows, images or songs you have stored on any of your devices around the house.

Other than that, both PS4 and Xbox One cover most entertainment essentials, from major apps like Netflix and Hulu to more niche stuff like WWE Network and Crunchyroll. PS4 and Xbox One both offer Spotify, which lets you rock out to tunes in the background of whatever you're playing. Xbox One features a few other notable music services such as SoundCloud, Pandora and Deezer.

Both consoles make it easy to cut cable. PS4 offers Sony's own PlayStation Vue online TV service (starting at $40 a month), which features lots of major cable channels, such as MTV and Nickelodeon; a slick interface; and a nearly limitless DVR.

Xbox One owners have access to Sling TV, a similar online TV service that offers top networks such as ESPN and AMC for $20 a month, with add-on packages that bring in the likes of Epix and HBO. Even if you don't have cable or Sling, Xbox One has the ability to receive basic over-the-air live TV, as long as you have a separate antenna and adapter handy.

MORE: Sling TV vs. PlayStation Vue: Online TV Services Compared

Winner: Xbox One. PS4 has PlayStation Vue, but the Xbox One offers a 4K Blu-ray option, better media apps and Dolby Atmos support.

Online Experience

Microsoft's Xbox Live Gold ($60 yearly, $10 monthly) and Sony's PlayStation Plus ($60 yearly, $10 monthly) online services are both required for you to play any game's online multiplayer mode, and both come with their fair share of extra goodies. Xbox owners also have the option of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate ($14 per month), which bundles together Xbox Live Gold and Xbox Game Pass for a modest discount.

PlayStation Plus members get two free games per PlayStation console per month, while Microsoft's Games with Gold provides the same service for Xbox gamers. Both programs have given away everything from new indie games to older blockbusters from franchises like Assassin's Creed and Metal Gear Solid.

The value of each of these free-game programs largely depends on the hardware you own; PlayStation Plus covers PS4 (the program stopped supporting PS3 and Vita in March 2019) while Games with Gold applies to Xbox One and Xbox 360. Xbox One has a slight edge here, as all Xbox 360 Games with Gold games are backward-compatible. The free games offered by either service will remain in your library for as long as you're subscribed to Xbox Live Gold or PlayStation Plus.

Both services offer frequent discounts on digital games, and both provide cloud storage in different capacities. PlayStation Plus provides 100GB of cloud storage, whereas all your Xbox One saves are backed up to the cloud regardless of whether you have Xbox Live Gold.

Even more important than free games and cloud storage is online stability, an area in which Xbox Live's reputation is better. The PlayStation Network has suffered some pretty infamous outages, including a few recent ones that occurred after Sony hiked the annual price up to $60 (£49.99/AU$70). 

Xbox Live has long allowed users to change their gamertags -- free for the first change, and $10 (£10/AU$15) for any change after that. Sony has finally followed suit as of April 2019, with same basic rules and pricing for its PSN name changes (though there are some caveats around potentially losing some online data).

Winner: Xbox Live. Xbox Live is more stable, has better cloud storage, and gives Xbox One players more to play every month.

Value

The Xbox One S starts at $299 (£300/AU$399), putting it on par with the $299 (£300/AU$399) PS4 Slim. However, it's worth noting that both consoles go on sale all the time, and you can often find them both for as low as $200 (£200/AU$320). The One S doubles as a 4K Blu-ray player, so you're arguably getting the most tech for your money with that machine.

If you're on an extra-tight budget, you can opt for the Xbox One S All-Digital Edition ($249), which has no disc drive and includes Forza Horizon 3, Minecraft and Sea of Thieves. However, the standard Xbox One S drops to that price frequently, so you're probably better off waiting for a sale and getting the 4K Blu-ray drive for cheap -- especially if you don't want to rely entirely on digital downloads.

If you want 4K gaming, Sony's PS4 Pro costs $399 (£399/AU$600), while the Xbox One X runs a hefty $499 (£499/AU$649). That's a pretty big price gap, though Microsoft's console offers a richer 4K gaming experience.

Winner: Xbox One. The $249 (£300/AU$399) Xbox One S is the cheapest console out there and doubles as a 4K Blu-ray player, and Xbox All Access offers the most affordable upfront gateway to console gaming.

Bottom Line

The PS4 is our overall top pick, but only by a hair. While the Xbox One's rich entertainment features, better network stability and backward compatibility are all impressive, the PS4' superior lineup of exclusives and better overall user-friendliness give it a slight edge.

Xbox will continue to be the home of Halo, Gears of War and Forza, just as PlayStation will host Uncharted, God of War and Infamous, so your choice might come down to your favorite exclusives. Your decision also might be as simple as which platform your friends are already playing on, because, let's face it — nobody wants to play Apex Legends alone.

Both Xbox One and PS4 have a healthy lineup of stellar games, making anyone who buys either of these consoles the real winner. But overall, the PS4 is our current favorite.



28 comments
    Your comment
  • Phatso Brown
    Brilliant write up, and I agree that the XBox One is slightly ahead, even as it struggles to match PS4 sales. Great time to own both systems. One in the bedroom, one in the living room. Good to be a gamer.
  • Nednarb_1
    It's all matter of personal preference when it comes to choosing the right console for yourself or a loved one. The Xbox One seems to be more worth it because of it's entertainment features alone and it's backwards compatibility. Where the Xbox One may be a flop in the visual department it's damn good pick for casual Gamers like myself I don't need fancy hardware to have a good time.
  • Jwdkillz
    If you had your PSN for a long time before the PS4 came out, you can play online without the purchasing of Playstation Plus.
  • Megabeing
    It may be worth noting that none of the Xbox One cable tv features are available in the UK, but we do get access to BBC iplayer, although that is also on the PS$ along with ITV, All4 and 5Hub
  • Megabeing
    Sorry - PS$ should be PS4 - fat fingers on the shift key of a UK keyboard!
  • ryan_154
    but out of your comments which is better ps4 or xbox1
  • Megabeing
    I own both and I prefer the dualshock controller and the PS4 interface, but that is purely personal taste. I own several of the exclusive games and all have their merits, so the real deciding factor is which platform your friends play on - mine are on the PS4.
  • Mahmoud_21
    by my experience

    PS4: hardware design dualshock controller online and connecting to PS vita and Xperia more technological with touch board in the controller

    Xbox one : kinect

    PS4 FTW !!
  • Julian_16
    Since nobody wants to give a clear cut answer, I will. I had the PS4 when it originally released. After having the 360 (and loving it) I decided to go back to my original gamer console..the PlayStation. I first was disappointed with the PlayStation and decided to trade it for the one, I thought it still had the arcade on it and come to find out it didn't, that initially pissed me off but I just figured to keep it and wait on some games. It literally has been almost three years and Xbox has yet to deliver anything that moves me. They have only two exclusive titles (I'm not interested in halo or gears of war..and sunset overdrive is a joke so that doesn't count) and Microsoft doesn't give its consumers what they want, they promised us fight night on backwards compat...we NEVER got it, by the time it comes on there I probably won't even have an Xbox one anymore. If all you care about is graphics and gaming, LISTEN TO ME!! Get the PS4 and don't think twice. All that other shit that Xbox does on the interface and online gadget like attractions is all smoking mirrors. To me in my eyes, the Xbox one is a failure.
  • Jayden_12
    what about guitar hero
  • GreenLantern_252
    Ps4 is better for gaming, Xbox one is better for tv show/movie entertainment purposes. Especially since the console that goes against the One S hasn't even came out yet and the regular PS4 out performs it still hardware wise, illness laggy, way more fluent. I own both consoles and play the Xbox one more lately but it's just because I wanted to beat Dead rising 3, but it's so glitchy, there was cars floating in the air the other night lol, I'm getting agitated with it and think I'm just gonna go back to PS4.
  • Akeshia
    is it true you can play online on the ps4 with other people for free? if you have internet already?
  • Slave_1
    Playstation Vue starts out at $30 a month not $40.
  • Slave_1
    AKESHIA, no, you cannot play online for free. You must have a Plus membership.
  • hrishikesh_2
    What about games... i mean can i get games from any of my friends or i have to buy it every time...??
  • Jack_234
    Thanks for providing a great insight to both. I think the choice is according to personal preferences and vary from person to person. Some will always say that the PS is better, while for others it's the Xbox.
  • MasterChief86
    Nice post. PS4 is a more powerful piece of machinery but when half the user-base digs netflix, media and 4k blu-rays things really start getting interesting.
  • MarkA67UK
    Something that might be worth pointing out about the free games every month on both consoles. Xbox 360 games are free forever once redeemed from Games with Gold meaning you don't need Gold to play them, Xbox One games only remain playable if you have Gold. The PSN isn't as generous and ALL games redeemed become unplayable if you choose not to renew Plus
  • scrappy_1
    False.i had a 4 that I traded for an xbox.why? Gears,halo,halo wars2,forza,sunset all multi-player online first party titles which Sony lacks. Single player is amazing on ps4 with nioh and horizon but no multi-player support,including God of War 4 a days gone. They both have 3rd party multi-player games but not first party.
  • lordlogancool
    Actually, PS Plus usually comes with 4 games, just hidden in the menus. Go to PS Store ---> PS Plus ---> Free Games ---> that one thing to the left of the first game that appears and to the right of the subscription options. There you will see Sony sneakily hid more games.
  • mrydolly
    Wow I want to get back into video gaming and I can't decide what to get into thinking about the Xbox one because of its backwards compatibility, I've been a PlayStation dude my whole life 1-3 and owned a 360 once, so theirs mad Xbox games I have not played and I would love to start a twitch account. What should I do, because what everyone is saying been going on for year ps has better graphics, Xbox has better online play what should I do?
  • esperanza1210
    What if you just want to play Just Dance or Zumba games and use it for streaming? Would the Xbox One S be the best option?
  • selva2animation
    1. Xbox One S hardware is far better than PS4 Slim and its competing to PS4 Pro (Upto now no console match with Xbox One X)
    2. Xbox controller is widely accepted as the best controller in the world
    3. Playstation exclusives are huge blockbuster in the world (But Xbox also but few only)
    4. Playstation is best for exclusives only but overall gaming Xbox wins the race
    5. Xbox has backward compatibility, less priced games, 4 free games on Gold membership
    6. Microsoft opening many studios for exclusives.
    7. Playstation Interface is cleaner than Xbox
    8. Playstation lacks entertainment media support (now consoles are not just old school consoles)
    9. Most of the playstation games are Japanese, Chinese and South Korean based games
    10. Most of the xbox games are shooters without good story but best in shooting experience
    11. Graphics wise Xbox One S is slightly better than PS4 Slim and slightly anti-aliasing less than PS4, So overall Xbox One S having better graphics
    12. Playstation has superior frame rates
    13. Both Xbox One series and PS4 series has HDR 10 bit but more Xbox games are being enhanced to HDR than PS4 games
    14. Design wise Xbox One S, X and PS4 Slim looks stunning but PS4 pro is garbage
    15. Xbox Live is faster, stable and playable than PS4 network. thats why PS4 is still concentrating on Story games
    16. Xbox offers are cheaper than Sony during Black Friday, Christmas Eve.
    17. Xbox released their exclusives for all but Sony never because PS deeply depend upon exclusives