PS4 vs Xbox One Episode 3: Graphics
When it comes to picking a game console that’s supposed to last the better part of a decade having enough performance to keep up is a big deal. To start let’s take a look at the CPU on both the PS4 and Xbox One. With both consoles using custom AMD APUs this is one area where they’re incredibly similar. Each uses an eight core processor, the PS4 being clocked at gigahertz where the Xbox has a slight advantage at gigahertz. They’re both based on AMD’s Jaguar architecture which is fairly low powered, typically being used in entry level desktops and laptops.
Interestingly the Athlon 5150 processor is almost identical to what’s being used on the consoles, just with four cores instead of eight. While you should take these estimates with a grain of salt it gives us a good baseline to compare, it’s clear that while they might have a lot of cores neither console can come close to even a modest gaming PC on the processor side. Making things more complicated is that while they have eight cores they can’t actually use all of them for gaming. The PS4 reserves two cores for the operating system and while there’s a huge advantage in being able to multitask that means games only really have six cores to work with. The Xbox has a similar setup but developers have access to a seventh core as long as a game doesn’t need to use Kinect or custom voice commands. It’s not a massive difference but this paired with the clock speed advantage gives the Xbox One a slight edge here. While things are nearly identical on the CPU front get into the graphics and you’ll find some bigger differences.
Both are using AMD Radeon graphics but the PS4 has a clear advantage with a bigger GPU that’s rocking 1152 stream processors compared to 768 on the Xbox One. As we’re talking about the same GCN hardware this basically is an apples to apples comparison, the PS4 has a 50% advantage here. Microsoft does have a slight lead when it comes to clock speed but the end result is still a win for the PS4 with a total of teraflops of performance over on the Xbox. Another big difference between the consoles is memory. We’re looking at eight gigabytes across the board which is a massive advantage over the last generation but not all of this is available, only five gigs are there for games to take advantage of.
The bigger difference is the type of memory, while the Xbox One uses standard DDR3 the PS4 uses GDDR5. Typically DDR3 is used for CPUs, it’s doesn’t have enormous bandwidth but it’s good for quickly delivering smaller amounts of data. GDDR5 is the opposite, it has lots of bandwidth but it can’t be accessed as quickly which makes it ideal for a graphics card. Purely looking at performance the PS4 has a big advantage with 176 gigabytes per second compared to just 68 on the Xbox but Microsoft does have a trick up their sleeve: ESRAM. This is a small 32 megabyte chunk of super fast memory dedicated to the GPU which can make up a lot of the difference however it requires the developers to properly take advantage of it.
On the other hand the PS4 can take the brute force approach with lots of fast memory that just works giving it the clear victory here. So what does all of this mean for actual games? With very similar hardware you shouldn’t expect a massive difference in graphics. Both consoles support 1080p but many games give up a bit of resolution like Star Wars Battlefront which runs at 900p on the PS4 and an even lower 720p on the Xbox One. Most games like Grand Theft Auto 5 are capable of the full 1080p output but here you’re trading resolution for performance as both consoles top out at 30 FPS. The PlayStation and Xbox are capable of 1080p at 60 frames though, less graphically intense titles like Rocket League along with remasters like The Nathan Drake Collection run no problem on the PS4. Forza 6 is a great example of a game that’s able to keep a consistent 60 FPS even at 1080p on the Xbox but this is the exception rather than the rule. Most of the time to keep up the high refresh rate you sacrifice resolution like in Titanfall which only runs at 792p.
While on paper both consoles are similar they each have their advantages. The Xbox One has a slightly faster CPU but the larger GPU and faster memory means the PS4 almost always gives you a better gaming experience, giving it the win this time around. Of course a slight performance advantage doesn’t tell the whole story, check out the last couple episodes if you missed them and definitely stay tuned for the next one, this comparison isn’t over yet.
As found on Youtube