Next-Gen Consoles Compared - Which is The One 4 U?

Next-Gen Consoles Compared - Which is The One 4 U?

 

With the Singapore availability and pricing of Sony's Playstation 4 revealed, it's time to take an in-depth comparative look at each next-gen console: Microsoft Xbox One, Sony PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Wii U. First, let's compare the specs:

 

Microsoft Xbox One

Sony Playstation 4

Nintendo Wii U

CPU
  • 64-bit 8-core AMD x86 "Jaguar"
  • 1.75GHz
  • 64-bit 8-core AMD x86 "Jaguar"
  • 1.6GHz
  • 32-bit Tri-Core IBM PowerPC "Espresso"
  • 1.24GHz
GPU
  • AMD Radeon GPU
  • 12 CUs (Compute Units)
  • 768 Stream processors
  • 853MHz
  • 1.32 TFlops of single precision performance
  • AMD Radeon GPU 
  • 18 CUs (Compute Units)
  • 1152 Stream processors
  • 800MHz
  • 1.84 TFlops of single precision performance
  • Custom AMD Radeon GPU "Latte"
  • 550MHz
RAM
  • 8GB DDR3
  • 2100MHz
  • Memory Bandwidth: 68.3GB/s
  • 8GB GDDR 5
  • 5500MHz
  • Memory Bandwidth: 176GB/s
  • 2GB DDR3
  • 1600MHz
  • Memory Bandwidth: 12.8GB/s
Optical Drive
  • Blu-ray
  • Blu-ray
  • Wii U Optical Disc
Hard Drive
  • 500GB Non-removable HDD
  • 500GB Removable HDD
  • 8GB (Basic) / 32GB (Deluxe)
Expandable Storage
  • Yes
  • No
  • Yes
Simultaneous Controllers
  • 8
  • 4
  • 6 (2 Wii U Gamepads + 4 Wiimotes)
Notable Exclusive Titles
  • Halo 5
  • Titanfall
  • Forza Motorsport 5
  • Ryse
  • Dead Rising 3
  • Killer Instinct
  • Quantum Break
  • Killzone: Shadow Fall
  • Knack
  • Drive Club
  • Infamous: Second Son
  • The Order: 1886
  • Mobile Suit Gundam
  • The Last Guardian
  • Bayonetta 2
  • Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
  • Mario Kart 8
  • New Super Mario Bros U
  • Untitled Legend of Zelda game
  • Rabbids Land
  • Shin Megami Tensei X Fire Emblem
Backwards Compatible?
  • No
  • No
  • Yes
Camera
  • Kinect 2.0 (included with console)
  • No controller required
  • Playstation Camera (sold seperately for $87.90)
  • Compatible with PS4 controller
  • Built into Wii U Gamepad
  • Compatible with Wii and Wii U controllers
Power Supply
  • External (Power Brick)
  • Internal
  • External (Power Brick)
Dimensions
  • 333 x 274 x 79mm
  • 305 x 275 x 53mm
  •  269 x 172 x 46mm
Availability
  • TBA
  • 19th December 2013
  • Out Now
Price
  • TBA (US$499)
  • S$639
  •  S$489

 

 

Hardware Comparisons

Surprisingly, for the first time ever, the two big players - in this case Microsoft and Sony - have chosen very similar hardware for their next-gen consoles. Sony has ditched its notoriously hard-to-develop-for Cell-based architecture, and both companies are now utilizing x86 AMD APUs. Nintendo has opted for a custom APU utilizing an IBM PowerPC CPU with a custom AMD Radeon GPU.

CPU

With an x86 AMD APU at the heart of each, both Sony and Microsoft consoles are essentially PCs - although not particularly powerful PCs. AMD's Jaguar CPU core is used in its Kabini and Temash APUs, which are generally only found in low-power notebooks and tablets.  Both console CPUs do however sport eight cores, as opposed to the two or four usually found in Kabini/Temash devices in retail. Originally, both consoles were clocked at 1.6GHz, however, Microsoft recently announced that its release model will sport a 10% clock speed increase to 1.75GHz.

It's also worth noting that Microsoft has told developers that games will only have access to six of the Xbox One's CPU cores, with the remaining two cores reserved for other tasks - presumably this is partially due to the Xbox One's multi-tasking dual-OS functionality.

Nintendo's offering is far less powerful than its competitors, but includes a few optimization tricks to keep games running smoothly. For example, a dedicated ARM processor handles all internal OS processing, and a dedicated DSP handles all audio processing.
 

GPU

In terms of GPU, all three consoles utilize AMD Radeon GPUs. Again, both Microsoft and Sony are technologically quite similar, based on AMD's Graphics Core Next (GCN) architecture, which gives them support for OpenGL 4.3, OpenCL 1.2 and Direct3D 11.2. The main difference between them is that the's PS4 GPU is notably more powerful, with 18 Compute Units and 1152 stream processors compared to the Xbox One's 12 Compute Units and 768 stream processors - that's a 50% higher CU count.

In PC terms, this would make the PS4 GPU similar to a upper mid-range card like the Radeon HD 7870, while the Xbox One GPU is more like a low mid-range GPU like the Radeon HD 7790.

Like its CPU, Microsoft has also reserved 10 percent of the Xbox One GPU's processing power - in this case, we know that the reserve is for Kinect.

As for the Wii U, it also utilizes an AMD Radeon GPU, however, it appears to be based on AMD's older Radeon HD 5000/6000 series.
 

RAM

While the Xbox One and PS4 both offer 8GB RAM there is one major difference between them: Microsoft has opted for 2133MHz DDR3 RAM, similar to the RAM found in your notebook or PC, while Sony has gone with 5500MHz GDDR5 RAM, which is specifically designed for graphics and is what you'll find on any current generation graphics card. As a result, Sony holds a massive memory bandwidth advantage, boasting 176GB/s compared to the Xbox One's 68.3/s. 

However, Microsoft does have an ace up its sleeve. If we take a look at the Xbox One's SOC diagram, you'll notice that it has a 32MB cache consisting of four 8MB units of super fast SRAM with memory bandwidth of 204GB/s. This could effectively nullify any differences between the two systems.

Nintendo is completely outclassed by both of its competitors, utilizing just 2GB DDR3 RAM with a bandwidth of 12.8 GB/s. Having said that, Wii U games are far less memory intensive, so it doesn't make sense for Nintendo to utilize GDDR5 RAM.

 

What Does This Mean for Gaming?

On paper, the PS4 has the most powerful hardware out of the three consoles, with the Xbox One slightly behind and the Wii U trailing quite far in the distance.

Early in-game comparisons clearly favor the PS4. Battlefield 4 is rendered at a resolution of 1600 x 900 pixels on the PS4, but only 1280 x 720 pixels on the Xbox One. However, this might be due to game developers needing a little longer to get used to the Xbox One's unusual memory system. Likewise, while Call of Duty: Ghosts will run at 1080p resolution on both systems, the Xbox One's version is actually upscaled from 720p, while the PS4 will run at 1080p resolution natively.

 




Controllers

Both the Xbox One and PS4 use revamped versions of their current controllers. Sony's Dualshock 4 adds a large rectangular trackpad to the middle of the controller (it remains to be seen how useful the trackpad will be, and for now at least, it looks a bit gimmicky), while Microsoft's Xbox One controller remains largely the same, with just a few refinements (the rear battery pack bulge is gone!). Microsoft has stated that the D-pad - a source of much complaint for the Xbox 360 controller - has been greatly improved.

For both controllers, the overall dimensions and shape remains mostly the same as the current Xbox 360 and PS3 controllers, so gamers with larger hands might find the Dualshock 4 slightly on the small side, and conversely, those with smaller hands might find the Xbox One controller a bit big. Additionally, as with current controllers, the Xbox One uses AA batteries, while the Dualshock 4 has a non-removable rechargeable internal battery.

Sony also offers the unique ability to use its latest handheld console, the PS Vita, as a controller, with its display functioning as the main screen for the PS4.

As for Nintendo, the Wii U Gamepad seeks to address the limited functionality of the original Wii's Wiimote, utilizing a tablet-like form factor with dual analog sticks, two bumpers, two triggers and a large touchscreen. The touchscreen can display secondary in-game information or, like the PS Vita, can serve as the primary display for the Wii U. Unfortunately, due to the touchscreen, the controller isn't the most ergonomic and additionally, many Wii U games do not currently utilize the controller's full functionality.


Software

While console exclusive titles are becoming slightly less common now, they are still a major factor in the console purchasing process. Over the course of the current console generation, Sony has lost its once exclusive Final Fantasy franchise, and it will lose another big name this generation when Metal Gear Solid 5 goes multi-platform too.

Remaining in Sony's camp are its various SCE Studio and subsidiary developed franchises, which includes Killzone, God of War, Uncharted, The Last Guardian, and Gran Turismo among others.

As for Microsoft, it has retained all of its most successful exclusive titles, including Halo 5, Forza Motorsport and, according to Microsoft Game Studios head, Phil Spencer, Microsoft hopes to bring a new Gears of War installment to Xbox One as well. Microsoft has also added some new exclusive franchises including the reboot of cult-classic fighter, Killer Instinct and the much anticipated Titanfall.

Nintendo exclusives are mainly limited to games developed and published by Nintendo themselves, including Legend of Zelda, Super Mario, Mario Kart and Donkey Kong. However, surprisingly, Nintendo was also able to secure Platinum Games' Bayonetta 2 as a Wii U exclusive.


Availability & Pricing

With the Xbox One not making its way to Singapore until next year, if you're looking for a holiday purchase, you're left with just the PS4 and the Wii U. The Wii U is currently available for S$489, while the PS4 is scheduled to release on 19th December for S$639. Between the two consoles, for just S$150 more, the PS4 is a far more powerful machine, with a much wider selection of games.

 
 
The Xbox One is expected to arrive in Singapore sometime next year. Pricing is currently unknown, but based on the US pricing of $499 it is likely to be at least S$700 or more.
 
Currently the best bet for both consoles is to purchase from overseas. The Playstation 4 will launch in Hong Kong on 17th December and will retail for just HK$3380, or about S$545, making it S$94 cheaper than a local set. The Xbox One will be available in the US on 21st November for US$499, alternatively, the closer to home (but more expensive) option is Australia, where it will retail for AUD$599 (approximately S$696).
 

Buy Now or Wait?

While both Sony and Microsoft have announced over 20 launch title games for their respective consoles, next year's offerings look much stronger with the likes of Destiny, Metal Gear Solid 5, Titanfall, Final Fantasy XV, and Dragon Age: Inquisition all scheduled for release.

It is however worth noting that out of those five titles, four of them (the exception being Final Fantasy XV) will also be released on Xbox 360 or Playstation 3. In fact, both current generation consoles should continue to be supported with release titles for at least the next year. Historically, Sony has done a great job continuing support for its consoles - in fact, FIFA 14 was released for PS2 as recently as September this year!

If you already own the existing consoles, you could opt to hold off upgrading till later when the prices for both the next-gen consoles are revised more favorably in due time. However, there's a catch - you can't run your old games on the next-gen consoles. So if you love some of your older game titles, don't sell off or give away your old console yet!

 

Conclusion

Unless you're planning on purchasing all three consoles, the choice of which to buy may not be easy (although one of our writers has already made up his mind). In terms of raw power, Sony definitely has Microsoft beat, with a better GPU and faster GDDR5 RAM. However, both CPUs are on par - actually Microsoft's is slightly faster thanks to its recent clock speed incresae - and it remains to be seen if Microsoft's 32MB SRAM cache will make a difference.

As far as games are concerned, Microsoft probably has the edge at this point, with better exclusive titles overall, however Sony does still have a few gems on its side. This category really comes down to personal preference.

As for pricing and availability, Sony has Microsoft beat for now, with a pre-2014 first wave release date for the PS4 on the 19th December 2013 in Singapore. While the steep price may turn off many prospective buyers, they can either wait for future price cuts, purchase one from overseas or bite the bullet as it's the only really new console this holiday season.

Microsoft has an opportunity to make up for its delayed release date with an affordable price somewhere in the region of the US pricing (which would be around S$625). This is of course wishful thinking until it finally makes its way to Singapore with its eventual suggested retail price.

As for the Wii U, it can't compete with either Microsoft or Sony in terms of hardware or game lineup, and the motion control gaming that made the original Wii so successful has now been bettered by Microsoft's Kinect peripheral. The Wii U does however have a niche for quirky party games such as the Rabbids franchise, as well as classic franchises like Legend of Zelda and Super Mario.