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Xbox One X vs PS4 Pro: 4K HDR may be important, but which beast is the best for you?

Vaughn Highfield Nathan Spendelow Thomas McMullan
26 Jan 2018
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Sony's PS4 Pro has a tough challenger to fight off in the shape of Microsoft's Xbox One X, but which is best?

The Xbox One X and PS4 Pro represent the very best that games consoles have to offer the world right now. Microsoft's Xbox One X is the world's most powerful console – a fact they love to throw around – and Sony's PS4 Pro is the most powerful PlayStation ever made – a fact that really means very little. But what does that actually mean for you as a gamer? Which device is best suited to your needs? Can Microsoft's reliance on sheer power actually translate into something enjoyable?

It's been well over four years since this current generation of consoles first appeared. Back in 2013, the PS4 was the most powerful console on the market, and it had managed to carve itself a nice piece of the gaming landscape again after the blunder that was Sony's handling of the PS3's early days. Microsoft had ridden on the success of the Xbox 360 and grown fat on its rewards, launching a bloated console that came with so few of the features people actually wanted.

READ NEXT: What is 4K?

Now though, it seems that there's almost everything to play for. As we transition into a period of 4K, HDR gaming and a world where people love to stream games and watch others play, the Xbox One X and PS4 Pro need to be more capable than ever.

That's what we're here to find out. By breaking down what makes up the Xbox One X and the PS4 Pro, we'll pit them against one another to help you find the console that's right for you.

Xbox One X vs PS4 Pro: Premium consoles go head to head

Xbox One X vs PS4 Pro: Release date and price

Both the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X are available now, but Sony's device has been on the market for a year longer than Microsoft's beast. The extra time window has really only seen Sony hold a larger market share than Microsoft and hasn't really had much of an impact on compatible games as most developers who enhanced their title for the PS4 Pro were ready to roll with an Xbox One X performance update for the tail end of 2017.

The real difference is in cost. Sony's PS4 Pro is officially on sale for £350, but around Black Friday it dropped to under £300 and you're likely to find it bundled with a couple of games for about £340 – £360. The Xbox One X, on the other hand, is officially on sale for £450, and hasn't seen the price drop much below that. Once you start including games, most bundles are over £500 for an Xbox One X.

Xbox One X vs PS4 Pro: 4K compatibility

Both the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X support games and media content at 4K, 60fps resolutions with HDR. Before we delve into the nitty-gritty of it all, it's clear from the get-go that Microsoft's new Xbox is able to run smooth gameplay at 4K thanks to its much-touted six teraflop performance. 

Sony's PS4 Pro, on the other hand, uses some clever trickery to create a near-4K image for many of the games that just can't run at 4K 60fps, without needing as much power as Microsoft's console. Known as checkerboarding, this upscaling technique allows for a 2x2 pixel to be extrapolated out into a 4x4 equivalent. This effectively bumps the resolution up from 1080p to 2160p without diluting the image too much. It may not be "true" 4K gaming on every title, but the difference is largely unnoticeable when sitting at a comfortable distance for gaming. Even up close, the difference is marginal.

Placed side-by-side, most multiplatform games are completely indistinguishable when running native 4K on Xbox One X and Checkerboard on PS4 Pro. Even when PS4 Pro switches from native 4K to Checkerboard during dynamic resolution settings in certain games, you won't notice the difference.

On the Xbox One X, Microsoft has managed to ensure almost every game runs at 4K without breaking a sweat. There is a bit of a trade-off, however. If you want 4K at 60fps you’ll need to have Xbox One levels of detail. For high-resolution textures to go along with the 4K gameplay, you’ll be restricted to 30fps. There’s also the option play at 1080p with improved texture detail, which works in a similar way to the PS4 Pro’s downsampling.

Outside of games, both consoles support Netflix and YouTube in 4K HDR, with Amazon Prime Video also on the way. The Xbox One X also supports 4K UHD Blu-rays, something the PS4 Pro is lacking. 

READ NEXT: Best 4K Blu-ray player UK: The best Ultra HD Blu-ray players you can buy in 2017

Xbox One X vs PS4 Pro: Performance

Comparing the PS4 Pro's specs to that of the Xbox Project Scorpio is a little unfair. There's one clear winner here.

While both the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X are pitched as high-end machines, Sony's PS4 Pro has far more reserved specs. Utilising an eight-core, x86 AMD Jaguar CPU clocked at 2.1GHz and a GPU capable of 4.2 teraFLOPs (TFLOPs), it's clear this is more powerful than the original PS4's 1.8 TFLOP GPU. Sony has also stuffed in an extra slither of RAM to help with suspended applications and upped its transfer speed to 218GB/sec.

On the other hand, the Xbox One X is an absolute beast in the specs department, with a custom eight-core GPU clocked at 2.3GHz and a GPU capable of outputting 6 TFLOPs of power. It also has 12GB of GDDR5 RAM – that's four more than the PS4 Pro – with transfer speeds of up to 326GB/sec.

If you don't know what a teraFLOP is, or why you should care how many a console has, you can watch this useful video from the Frontier Scientists Channel to help clear the technical mumbo-jumbo up for you. Put simply, however, more TFLOPs equals more power. More power equates to better performance and thus a slicker gameplay experience.

Here's a handy chart to show you the power divide between Xbox One X, the Xbox One and the PS4 Pro. While the numbers don't make the PS4 Pro look impressive, it's worth remembering that having a more powerful console doesn't necessarily make for a better one – it really boils down to games. 

Xbox One XXbox OnePS4 Pro
CPUEight custom x86 cores clocked at 2.3GHzEight custom Jaguar cores clocked at 1.75GHzEight Jaguar cores clocked at 2.1GHz
GPU40 customised compute units at 1172MHz12 GCN compute units at 853MHz (Xbox One S: 914MHz)36 improved GCN compute units at 911MHz
Memory12GB GDDR58GB DDR3/32MB ESRAM8GB GDDR5
Memory Bandwidth326GB/secDDR3: 68GB/sec, ESRAM at max 204GB/sec (Xbox One S: 219GB/sec)218GB/sec
Hard Drive1TB 2.5-inch500GB/1TB/2TB 2.5-inch1TB 2.5-inch
Optical Drive4K UHD Blu-rayBlu-ray (Xbox One S: 4K UHD)Blu-ray

Xbox One X vs PS4 Pro: Games and VR

Both Sony and Microsoft said during the launch of their consoles that the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X wouldn’t get exclusive games – there will be exclusive titles for the Xbox and PS4 platforms, but these will appear across the Xbox One S and Xbox One X, and PS4 Slim and PS4 Pro.

These statements have since been clarified, with Microsoft claiming that Xbox One S and One X will have the same games – except for VR titles – and so far we're yet to see a PS4 Pro-only game come to market.

On launch, the Xbox One X supported just over 100 games. Some of those games already have support on PS4 Pro, while others weren't out at the time of launch but received support when they released. As far as we know, every game going forward will see a boost on Xbox One X.

Microsoft also talked about the Xbox One X as a VR-ready machine, likely using an Oculus Rift headset, but we've yet to see or hear anything on the matter since it's initial announcement. It's unclear if this has been shuttered or is simply just on the backburner while Microsoft hones its strategy on console VR gaming.

Sony's PS4 Pro uses the same PlayStation VR games as the PS4 Slim, offering up frame-rate improvements and supersampling for a sharper picture in VR.

READ NEXT: Sony PS4 Pro review: The best PS4 yet

Xbox One X vs Xbox One X Project Scorpio Edition

Very much like the Xbox One Day One Edition, Microsoft released the 'Project Scorpio Edition' alongside the regular Xbox One X. The exclusive console has the codename etched on the side in a classic Xbox-green colour. Other than the minor cosmetic changes, though, there are no differences between the two Xbox consoles.

Xbox One X vs PS4 Pro: Verdict

Having a definitive opinion on the PS4 Pro vs Xbox One X case is a bit redundant. It's nice to know which one has more oomph, but it always boils down to games and services. If you're already invested in Sony's PlayStation 4 ecosystem, moving to the PS4 Pro makes the most sense, and you absolutely won't be disappointed. If you're already using an Xbox One, and are happy doing so, the Xbox One X is almost certainly for you.

If, however, you have invested nothing in either and this is your first console, it's really worth weighing up what it is you want your device to be capable of. It's a big failing on Sony for not including a 4K UHD Blu-ray drive in the PS4 Pro, but at the same time it's not that much of an issue if you'd rather save £100 and you don't use Blu-ray disks in the first place.

Next is the games themselves, if you have a wide palette and don't want to miss out on some of the year's biggest games, Sony's PlayStation is definitely the more attractive option as Microsoft's 2017 was rather bare, and 2018 doesn't look much better. Again, it's down to preference as some people prefer Microsoft's brand of gaming over Sony's staunchly Japanese one.

Ultimately, nobody but yourself can decide these things. I know what device I'd personally go for, but that's just me.