Xbox One X vs PS4 Pro: Price, specs and features compared
The age of the souped-up console is here, but which one is worth the upgrade?
With the price of 4K TVs dropping ever lower and retailers stocking fewer and fewer 1,080p models, it's easy to find yourself taking home a flashy 2,160p LCD TV even if you didn't intend to. If that happens, you'll at least want to pick up a console capable of taking full advantage of all those extra pixels.
This is where the PS4 Pro and the Xbox One X come in. Marking the first time either Sony or Microsoft has disrupted the traditional console cycle by releasing upgraded hardware mid-generation, both the Pro and the X are designed for gamers wanting to live on the bleeding edge of 4K technology.
Looking to pick up a new 4K console?
The question is, though: which one is more deserving of your hard-earned cash? Sure, the Pro is cheaper, but the X comes with the lofty title of being the most powerful console ever made. Unsurprisingly, the choice isn't a simple one, so we've broken it down piece by piece to see how the two systems shake out.
To start with, let's take a look at the specs:
|Specs||Xbox One X||PS4 Pro|
|CPU||8 custom x86 cores running at 2.3GHz||8-core AMD "Jaguar" running at 2.13GHz|
|GPU||6 teraflops with 40 customised compute units running at 1,172MHz||4.2 teraflops with 36 compute units running at 911MHz|
|Memory||12GB of GDDR5 RAM||8GB of GDDR5 RAM|
|Optical drive||4K UHD Blu-ray/DVD drive||Standard Blu-ray/DVD drive|
|Size||30cm x 24cm x 6cm||32.7cm x 29.5cm x 5.5cm|
|Ports||HDMI 2.0a in, HDMI 2.0a out, 3 x USB 3.0, S/PDIF, IR out||HDMI 2.0a/b out, 3 x USB 3.1, S/PDIF|
|Price||$649 COMPARE||$559.95 COMPARE|
Though both the Pro and the X represent a significant step up from their predecessors, the size of that step differs greatly between the two. The Pro's upgraded GPU runs a full 200MHz slower than that of the X, resulting in a performance cap of 4.2 teraflops compared to the X's 6 teraflops. In practical terms, this means the X is able to run games at higher resolutions and higher framerates as well as support fancier graphical effects – provided developers program their games to take advantage of the X's additional power, of course.
Just as important as that faster GPU is the additional RAM the Xbox One X packs. Packing 1.5 times as much memory as the Pro, the X doesn't need to load in data off its hard drive as frequently, limiting instances of stutter and texture pop-in that certain games suffer. The memory bus runs faster, too, which in many instances can cut down loading times quite considerably.
The X has the edge in terms of raw grunt, but for that to matter, it needs games that take advantage of that extra power. Both Microsoft and Sony have programs in place for identifying games that leverage the capabilities of their new hardware, labelling them as "Enhanced" titles. While Microsoft's messaging in this regard is far from perfect, the use of standard labels denoting games with 4K or HDR support is far easier to understand than Sony's approach of simply classifying games as "PS4 Pro Enhanced" without properly explaining what that means.
Beyond the messaging, the PS4 Pro beats out the Xbox One X from a pure numbers perspective, with over 220 games officially marketed as "Enhanced" compared to the roughly 130 currently billed as "Enhanced" for Xbox One X. The catch here is that "Enhanced" can mean drastically different things from game to game, with some titles on both platforms featuring full 4K resolutions with HDR lighting and higher framerates, while other titles feature "enhancements" so minor they're unlikely to be noticed by all but the most technically-attuned gamers. Until we get our hands on the X and can determine just how significant the Enhanced titles really are, we can't say for certain which system features better 4K gaming support.
Enhancements for older games
Alongside games specifically tuned to leverage the X and Pro's additional power, both systems are capable of delivering increased performance on older titles even if they haven't been explicitly "Enhanced". On PS4 Pro, this is achieved through Boost Mode, an optional feature that can improve the frame rate – but not the visuals – of certain older games. Support is sporadic, and some games may even perform worse with Boost Mode active.
The Xbox One X, meanwhile, promises that all Xbox One, Xbox 360 and original Xbox games will play better on Xbox One X even if they're not explicitly "Enhanced". This could mean sharper textures, higher framerates or faster loading times, with the specific improvements differing from game to game. Unlike Boost Mode, though, Microsoft doesn't expect any instances of worse performance or incompatibility with older games.
4K might be one of the biggest selling points for Sony and Microsoft's new consoles, but there are still advantages to be had for those sticking with their 1,080p TVs. Both the PS4 Pro and the Xbox One X use a technique called supersampling to improve image quality on standard HD televisions. In essence, supersampling involves rendering an image at a higher resolution, such as 4K, then scaling it back down to a lower resolution – in this case, 1,080p. This produces a smoother picture with fewer sharp edges, and is more effective than traditional anti-aliasing techniques.
How noticeable the effects of supersampling are differs depending on both the game and the person playing it, but it's generally far less impressive than the clarity of a 4K display. Because of this, the differences between supersampling on Xbox One X and PS4 Pro will likely be minor or potentially non-existent.
Playing 4K video is something the X and the Pro do equally well, though the Pro does suffer from one glaring oversight: its Blu-ray drive doesn't support 4K UHD discs. To watch 4K content on the Pro, then, you need to stream it through a service like Netflix or Stan, chewing through a decent chunk of your Internet cap in the process.
However, the Blu-ray drive on the X will read 4K UHD discs just fine. If you're a movie buff, especially the kind who prefers a physical collection over a digital one, the X is probably the way to go.
HDR, or high dynamic range, refers to the broader range of colours and luminance available on an increasing number of newer TVs. Brighter lights and darker shadows are possible using HDR, producing a more vibrant picture that is often more striking than even the jump from 1,080p to 4K.
Technically, both the Xbox One X and the PS4 Pro are on level ground in their implementation of HDR. Each supports the HDR10 standard and will play compatible videos and games in HDR – provided your TV supports it, of course. The only difference is in what games support HDR on each console, with the Pro currently boasting just under 40 HDR-compatible games while less than 20 titles have been confirmed as supporting HDR on the X.
The PS4 Pro is a bulky unit, clocking in 2cm longer and 5cm wider than the Xbox One X. It is slightly shorter than the X, though, and weighs in 500g lighter. Still, unless you plan on lugging your new system around a lot, or you're really tight for space in your entertainment centre, both consoles stack up much the same.
Here's where the real battle kicks off. In most regards, the Xbox One X outperforms the PS4 Pro, but the tables turn when it's time to reach for your wallet. At $649, the X is $90 more expensive than the $559.95 RRP of the PS4 Pro, but that $90 gets you plenty of extra bang for your buck. However, what's interesting is that some retailers are starting to drop the Pro's price even further, selling it for $460 or less. At nearly $200 cheaper than the X, the Pro begins to justify itself as a premium console without a premium price tag.
Like the clash between the original Xbox One and PS4, the choice between the Xbox One X and the PS4 Pro comes down to the type of gamer you are. If you accept no substitutes when it comes to the best visuals and performance, the X is the system for you. On the other hand, if you're simply looking for a console capable of showing off your new 4K TV, snapping up a Pro for the $460 it's started selling for could be the better option.
As with any console purchase, you also need to consider where your friends are going to be playing. If your gaming pals are all on PS4, picking up the Xbox One X is going to mean finding a new crew to team up with. Similarly, if all your friends are gaming on Xbox One, purchasing the PS4 Pro will leave you stuck with strangers when playing online. Depending on your investment in multiplayer gaming, this could be more important than any other factor in dictating your purchasing decision.
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