It’s been six years since the launch of the Xbox One and PS4, and boy does that make us feel old. Sony came out swinging with the PS4 while Microsoft stumbled out of the gate thanks to mixed messaging and some unpopular ideas about what a console should be. Fast forward to 2017 and both companies decided to take another shot by launching mid-generation refreshes to their console lines. The Xbox One X and PS4 Pro were born.
These new powerhouses were not new consoles themselves, merely more powerful versions of the PS4 and Xbox One with 4K gaming capabilities. But who came out on top in round two? Stick with us as we break down the Xbox One X and PS4 Pro to see which is the best 4K games console.
Xbox One X vs PS4 Pro: Specs and graphics
Both Microsoft and Sony set out to create 4K gaming machines, giving their respective consoles a significant power boost over the launch versions.
The Xbox One X features a 2.3 GHz 8-core Custom AMD CPU and a 6 teraflop AMD Radeon based GPU, which is around four times as powerful as the original Xbox One. It also has 12 GB of GDDR5 RAM and a 1TB internal storage HDD. To keep all that power in check, the Xbox One X also features an advanced liquid cooling system and a supercharger-style centrifugal fan.
Meanwhile Sony’s PS4 Pro also offers 8-core Custom AMD CPU along with a 4.2 teraflop AMD Radeon based graphics engine. When it comes to memory, the PS4 Pro has 8GB of GDDR5 RAM and also features a 1TB internal storage HDD.
The raw numbers tell the story here — the Xbox One X is significantly more powerful than its rival the PS4 Pro thanks to its more powerful GPU and extra 4GB of GGDR 5 RAM. This power difference is evident when you look at the output resolutions of various games on the competing consoles.
For example, Rockstar’s stunning western Red Dead Redemption 2 outputs at a native resolution of 1920x2160, using an advanced checkerboarding rendering solution to upscale the image for 4K screens. Meanwhile the Xbox One X is capable of running the game at a native 4K resolution, resulting in much clearer, crisper image quality.
Xbox One X vs PS4 Pro: Games
So, we’ve seen the power of these machines, but what’s a games console without games? Just a hunk of plastic taking up space in your living room, that’s what. What we need to look at is the games.
Microsoft’s exclusive library has been lagging behind Sony’s for this entire console generation (and the back half of last generation too). They didn’t have enough first-party studios to keep up with Sony and it showed. Worse still, there have been some high profile studio closures and game cancellations which kept Microsoft firmly in last place.
Since their launch woes, Microsoft has done a lot to right the ship though and they now have a respectable number of critically acclaimed titles under their belt including Forza Horizon 4, Halo 5: Guardians, and Gears 5. They have also invested heavily in their first-party studios, buying or building eight new studios in the past few years including Obsidian Entertainment and Double Fine Productions. We’re only starting to see the effects of this renewed games push though, so it’ll be a few years before Xbox is challenging for the top spot.
By contrast, Sony has been smashing it out of the park since day one. The Last of Us, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, Gran Turismo Sport, Bloodborne, Death Stranding, Spider-Man. The list goes on and on. Sony’s first-party lineup is staggering and they're showing no signs of slowing down with the gorgeous looking Ghosts of Tsushima launching next year too.
Both consoles have exceptional third-party support from the big game publishers including EA, Activision, Ubisoft and 2K Games so you won’t have to worry about missing out on Madden 20 or Call of Duty: Modern Warfare no matter which console you choose. There are a lot of de facto exclusives on the PS4 Pro thanks to the companies Japanese origins though this is happening less and less. So if you’re looking to play some of the more niche Japanese role playing games then the PS4 Pro is the obvious choice.
All in all, this is a clear win for the PS4 Pro.
Xbox One X vs PS4 Pro: Subscription services
Both Sony and Microsoft offer a pair of gaming subscription services that gamers will need to consider. Sony offer their PlayStation Plus (PS+) and PlayStation Now (PSNow) subscriptions, while Microsoft has Xbox Live Gold and Xbox Game Pass. Let’s compare these offerings.
Xbox Live Gold costs $9.99 per month or $59.99 if you sign up for 12 months and is required for online multiplayer gaming. You also get access to exclusive sales and discounts as well as four free games per month as part of the Games with Gold program. Two of these free games will be Xbox One titles, while the other two will be backwards compatible Xbox and Xbox 360 games.
PS+ also costs $9.99 per month or $59.99 for a 12 month subscription and is required for online multiplayer gaming. Likewise, you also get access to exclusive discounts and sales along with two free PS4 games per month.
Additionally, Microsoft offers Xbox Game Pass which is more akin to Netflix, but for games. A monthly subscription costs $9.99 per month. Microsoft says this gives you access to a library of over 100 games, but they’re selling themselves short here — there are currently around 250 games available on the service. As long as you are subscribed, you can download and play these games. New games are added every month and all of Microsoft’s first-party exclusives launch directly into the service.
Microsoft also offer a combined service, called Xbox Game Pass Ultimate which combines Xbox Live Gold, Xbox Game Pass and Xbox Game Pass for PC into a single subscription for $14.99 per month. Even if you ignore Xbox Game Pass for PC, this still saves you $5 a month over subscribing to Xbox Live Gold and Xbox Game Pass separately.
By contrast, Sony’s secondary subscription service is PSNow which costs $9.99 per month or, you guessed it, $59.99 for a 12 month subscription. You get access to a library of hundreds of PS4, PS3, and PS2 games. There are around 700 games on the service which can be streamed to your console, while around 300 PS4 games can be directly downloaded. Streaming is quicker and saves on hard drive space, but you need a fast internet connection and even then, you’re going to experience some latency. Many of Sony’s first-party exclusives end up on PSNow, but unlike Xbox Game Pass they don’t launch directly into the service.
There are pros and cons to both services, but in the end we have to give this one to the Xbox One X. Xbox Live Gold offers more free games per month than PS+ does, while Xbox Game Pass offers brand-new first party exclusives on launch day. PSNow does offer more games than Xbox Game Pass, but many of them can only be streamed.
Xbox One X vs PS4 Pro: Appearance
It might not matter to some people what their games console looks like, but aesthetics can be important when assembling your home entertainment setup. Luckily, both the Xbox One X and PS4 Pro are fine mighty looking machines.
The Xbox One X measures 11.8-inches long, 9.4-inches wide and 2.4-inches tall making it the smallest console Microsoft has ever built, even edging out the Xbox One S, a console named for how small it is. It has comes with a matte black finish as standard, though there are some special editions with alternative color schemes. Beyond that there isn’t much to say. Microsoft has taken a very minimalist approach to the Xbox One X.
The PS4 Pro’s design has a little more going on, carrying over the slanted profile of the original model. But while the PS4 and PS4 Slim had only two sections with a small gap in between, the PS4 Pro has three sections to showcase that it is the bigger, beefier model in the range. The PS4 Pro measures 11.6-inches long, 12.9-inches wide and 2.2-inches tall. It comes in black or white as standard, though again there are special edition color schemes available.
Both consoles look great in a living room setup thanks to their sleek and understated designs, so we’ll call this one a draw.
Xbox One X vs PS4 Pro: Virtual Reality
Sony has developed their own VR headset, the PlayStation VR (PSVR) which is fully compatible with all PS4 models, including the PS4 Pro. If you’re looking to get into virtual reality gaming, then the PS4 Pro and PSVR combo is probably the best entry route. The PSVR even has a healthy suite of exclusive games that can’t be played anywhere else including the fantastic Astro Bot: Rescue Mission.
Microsoft has no VR support for any of their consoles. When pushed on the topic by GamesIndustry.biz, Head of Xbox Phil Spencer said “It's isolating, and I think of games as a communal, kind of together experience. We're responding to what our customers are asking for and... nobody's asking for VR.” So, don’t expect to see VR support on Xbox anytime soon.
A clear win for the PS4 Pro here.
Xbox One X vs PS4 Pro: Multimedia
Both consoles have similar capabilities when it comes to multimedia streaming services. Bot the Xbox One X and PS4 Pro have access to popular video streaming apps like Netflix, YouTube, Disney+, Hulu, and more. Both also have access to the biggest music streaming services like Spotify, Soundcloud and Pandora.
Where the Xbox One X differentiates itself is with its 4K Blu-ray drive, a feature that the PS4 Pro lacks. In this digital age, the lack of a 4K Blu-ray player isn’t a huge deal breaker, but it does mean that the Xbox One X is the obvious choice if you have, or intend on getting, a 4K Blu-ray collection.
Xbox One X vs PS4 Pro: Price
The Xbox One X has an MSRP of $499, making it the most expensive games console on the market today. The PS4 Pro is a whole $100 cheaper with an MSRP of $399. Both consoles can often be found bundled with free games and both often have sales which discount their costs. The Xbox One X is the more powerful machine so the extra cost is understandable, but we have to give the edge to the PS4 Pro here.
Xbox One X vs PS4 Pro: Verdict
When we look back at the results, we can see that the Xbox One X clearly takes the victory when it comes to specifications, subscriptions and multimedia while the PS4 Pro wins Games, Virtual Reality and Price which means… it’s a draw. I know, it’s a cop out but in reality it depends what you’re looking for in a games console.
If you want to play the biggest third-party games at the highest graphical fidelity then the Xbox One X is the choice for you. But if you want access to the best exclusive games lineup on the market, then the PS4 Pro is your perfect match. For our money, the Xbox One X just sneaks out in front due to the phenomenal value of Xbox Game Pass but both are fantastic choices. There’s never been a better time to play video games.