The 4K Battle: Xbox One S vs. PlayStation 4 – Which One Is Better?

Xbox One S vs Playstation 4

Xbox One S and PlayStation 4 Pro are correcting the big mistake Microsoft and Sony made with debut versions of these consoles. They are implementing support for 4K to enable playing in Ultra HD resolution. However, it’s easy to claim that a device has 4K support, but what’s the truth? That is the answer we are trying to give in this article and clarify the issue which is better for 4K – Xbox One or PS 4?

The Ability to Play UHD Blu-ray Discs

Only Microsoft’s console has the 4K Blu-ray drive which is a point in their favor right in the beginning. Are you wondering why? Then we urge you to play UHD BD on a 4K TV and see for yourself. It’s probably the best video experience currently available.

On the other hand, the performance of BD on Xbox One S is rather average. In fact, any stand-alone player does a better job. Despite that, it’s still better than PS 4 Pro which offers regular BD playback upgraded to 4K.

The 4K Streaming Issue

Both consoles provide 4K streams from Netflix, which means that you can enjoy your favorite shows in Ultra HD resolution. Microsoft also offers Amazon Video, Vudu, and Hulu 4K support. On the other hand, Sony’s device gives us YouTube 4K playback option, as well as Vudu and Hulu.

It is worth noting that both consoles also offer 4K playback from multimedia devices, such as USB sticks. However, Xbox One S supports several file formats, while PS4 Pro can play only MP4 files.

The Big Question

Consoles try to offer various ways to enjoy spending leisure time with their owners, but in the end, it all comes down to the gaming experience. The two devices we are discussing have a different approach when it comes to playing in 4K. As for the Microsoft’s console, it uses a bit simpler method. It takes an HD game and does a resolution upscale in case you have a TV with 4K support.

Xbox One vs PS4 Graphics Comparison

However, PlayStation 4 Pro did things in a more sophisticated way. The development teams have the option to use resolutions beyond HD. The console even supports true native 4K (3840×2160 pixel count) for a couple of titles, which is incredible. In case a game’s real resolution is lesser than 4K, the console does the upscaling and delivers the extra pixels. It does this by using one of the two methods – a conventional upscale circuit or ‘checkerboard’ engine provided by Sony.

The Theory Sounds Nice, but What about the Practice?

The crucial thing in answering which one is better for 4K lies on the screen. That is why we had to test some games and see how they look like and whether the consoles rise to the expectations. We thought it was only reasonable to play console exclusives on the same TV. Being led by that thought, we got ourselves a Samsung 4K TV, PlayStation 4 Pro with Horizon Zero Dawn and Xbox One S with Gears of War 4.

We are aware that we chose games from the different genre, but we targeted titles that are most recent exclusives. We went with that because there lies the biggest chance that a release can get close to maximum utilization of the hardware.

Horizon Zero Dawn 4K Impressions

When HZD started, we immediately noticed extremely high detail levels. There was a clear difference in playing the game in 4K compared to the standard HD version. That is true regardless of the fact that it’s not a native UHD release, meaning that the default resolution is below 4K. However, the checkerboard engine worked flawlessly and delivered phenomenal results. We are sorry that we hadn’t tried a native 4K game, but even like this Horizon Zero Dawn might be one of the best looking releases we have ever seen.

Horizon Zero Dawn PS4 Pro 4k

Gears of War 4 Impressions

The misfortunate turn of events for Xbox One might be that we played something so beautiful like HZD on PS4 Pro first. After playing Gears of War 4 for some time, we concluded that it doesn’t step up to the challenge to be better than its counterpart.

The most noticeable difference is that there is not enough going on in distant objects. We figured that it might be because the game focuses on close combat. However, the cut scenes and some other details also failed to impress us after seeing PlayStation 4 in action.

Gears Of War 4 Ultra

That being said, it’s not that GOW 4 doesn’t look great. On the contrary, it also performs excellent, especially when there is a lot of action on the screen. There are cool ambiance effects such as mist, smoke, and blowing leaves. Xbox One S undeniably made a step forward compared to its predecessor.

And the Winner Is…

We made this comparison with the idea that games will be the primary focus, which is why we have to pronounce PlayStation 4 Pro a winner. In our test, we noticed incredibly rich environments with a consistently large number of details. All that was secured but thanks to its approach to providing 4K experience to its players.

That doesn’t mean that Xbox One S does a bad job. On the contrary, it also managed to deliver excellent results thanks to its upscaling system. However, regardless of how great it is, it can’t compare to the PS 4’s option to increase the actual game’s resolution. On a more positive note, Microsoft’s console enables playing Blu-ray discs and is probably better if you also plan to watch or stream videos on your console.

At the moment, there are not many games that deliver an amazing 4K experience. We assume that it’s something that the developers will take some time getting used to. However, with the new consoles providing 4K support, we will see more UHD games every day. So, if you don’t have an Ultra HD TV, we suggest getting one real soon. Trust us; the investment will be worth your money because you will get the best possible quality of the video available.

Besides programming and cars, I love video games and I have a huge passion for tech. That's why I'm up to date with every new thing that comes out. In my spare time I write because I enjoy sharing my ideas and thoughts with people.

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