Is Xbox One Closing the Power Gap With PlayStation 4?

Developers are achieving improved efficiency on Microsoft's console, and even bigger changes are in the works. Can the Xbox One catch up to the PlayStation 4 in terms of graphical performance?

Apr 15, 2014 at 12:10PM

Screen Shot

Source: xbox.com

The PlayStation 4's graphical advantage over the Xbox One has frequently been cited among the reasons that Sony's (NYSE:SNE) console has built an early sales lead. The fact that Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) latest console carries a higher MSRP is likely a bigger factor, but stories of multi-platform games offering superior performance on Sony's console have entered the collective consumer conscience of early hardware adopters.

Every time that an Xbox One software release offers a lower resolution or frame rate than its PS4 counterpart, bad press for Microsoft's console is generated. The company has already released updates for the system designed to rebalance and improve performance, but the PS4's graphical performance advantage has remained largely unchanged. Now, recent developer comments and the announcement of Microsoft's DirectX 12 programming interface suggest that the Xbox One may get a significant power upgrade. Is Microsoft's console really getting stronger and closing the power gap with PS4?

Xbox One to become twice as powerful?
At last month's Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, Microsoft announced the DirectX 12 application programming interface for use across its hardware platforms. The new API has been built to allow for greater control of hardware resources and could allow for significantly improved CPU and GPU efficiency. After the announcement of DX12, multiple sources claimed that the new interface would double the Xbox One's performance. Brad Wardell, CEO of software developer Stardock, was quoted as saying the release would effectively double the capabilities of the One's GPU. This would allow Microsoft's console to more easily run games at a resolution of 1080p, a clear advantage currently enjoyed by Sony's PS4.

News of a possible performance boost, courtesy of DX12, was followed by claims from Oddworld series creator Lorne Lanning that the Xbox One had become a substantially more capable system over the months since its launch. Lanning stated that the performance gap between the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One was shrinking, citing improved toolsets that Microsoft released to developers. While developers will undoubtedly get more comfortable with the Xbox One and achieve better performance with ongoing updates, it remains unlikely that the console will ever be able to match the PS4 in terms of raw performance.

PS4's hardware advantage is too big to overcome
Compared to the Xbox One, PlayStation 4 has a greater supply of superior RAM, a greater number of compute units, and a substantially more powerful GPU. Put simply, the hardware in Sony's console essentially guarantees that the device will be more graphically capable than the Xbox One throughout the systems' respective lifecycles. The benefits that DX12 will bring to the Xbox One will likely be situational, and developers will also continue to improve on the PlayStation 4 as they become more familiar with it and better tool sets are released.

Rsz

Source: playstation.com

Even if DirectX 12 was to provide a significant across-the-board performance boost to the Xbox One, the interface won't be available until 2015. This means software that takes full advantage of the suite's new tools and resource management customization is still far off in the distance. Microsoft's console will have to endure press about its comparatively weaker hardware every time a multi-platform release runs better on PlayStation 4 -- a common occurrence in this hardware generation. With that in mind, Microsoft must concentrate on improving other elements of the user experience to improve the appeal of the Xbox One.

Raw power isn't everything
Previous hardware cycles have made it clear that offering the most powerful tech is not a surefire ticket to market leadership; the most successful console tends to be the one that offers the best overall package and value. Microsoft dominated the online landscape with its Xbox Live service early in the last generation, but Sony's PlayStation Plus platform currently offers users a greater amount of content for their subscription dollars. Xbox Live is central to Microsoft's gaming strategy, and the service will need to offer greater value to stop users from migrating to Sony's online network.

Xboxlive

Source: xbox.com

Microsoft must win on software and user experience
The Xbox One's future does not hinge on being the most powerful console on the market or receiving performance boosts. But, it has a slim chance of achieving market leadership if Sony is offering a more robust experience at a lower price. With the One's much-touted interactive TV and original programming features being slow to materialize, software and online ecosystem offerings become the console's primary means of meaningful differentiation. Xbox One will never match PlayStation 4 in terms of raw graphical power, so Microsoft's task is to convince consumers that its box is capable and that it offers experiences not provided by the competition.

Gaming and streaming are doing away with traditional cable, but do you know how you can get rich from its demise?
You know cable's going away. But do you know how to profit? There's $2.2 trillion out there to be had. Currently, cable grabs a big piece of it. That won't last. And when cable falters, three companies are poised to benefit. Click here for their names. Hint: They're not Netflix, Google, and Apple. 

 

 

Keith Noonan has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Money to your ears - A great FREE investing resource for you

The best way to get your regular dose of market and money insights is our suite of free podcasts ... what we like to think of as “binge-worthy finance.”

Feb 1, 2016 at 5:03PM

Whether we're in the midst of earnings season or riding out the market's lulls, you want to know the best strategies for your money.

And you'll want to go beyond the hype of screaming TV personalities, fear-mongering ads, and "analysis" from people who might have your email address ... but no track record of success.

In short, you want a voice of reason you can count on.

A 2015 Business Insider article titled, "11 websites to bookmark if you want to get rich," rated The Motley Fool as the #1 place online to get smarter about investing.

And one of the easiest, most enjoyable, most valuable ways to get your regular dose of market and money insights is our suite of free podcasts ... what we like to think of as "binge-worthy finance."

Whether you make it part of your daily commute or you save up and listen to a handful of episodes for your 50-mile bike rides or long soaks in a bubble bath (or both!), the podcasts make sense of your money.

And unlike so many who want to make the subjects of personal finance and investing complicated and scary, our podcasts are clear, insightful, and (yes, it's true) fun.

Our free suite of podcasts

Motley Fool Money features a team of our analysts discussing the week's top business and investing stories, interviews, and an inside look at the stocks on our radar. The show is also heard weekly on dozens of radio stations across the country.

The hosts of Motley Fool Answers challenge the conventional wisdom on life's biggest financial issues to reveal what you really need to know to make smart money moves.

David Gardner, co-founder of The Motley Fool, is among the most respected and trusted sources on investing. And he's the host of Rule Breaker Investing, in which he shares his insights into today's most innovative and disruptive companies ... and how to profit from them.

Market Foolery is our daily look at stocks in the news, as well as the top business and investing stories.

And Industry Focus offers a deeper dive into a specific industry and the stories making headlines. Healthcare, technology, energy, consumer goods, and other industries take turns in the spotlight.

They're all informative, entertaining, and eminently listenable. Rule Breaker Investing and Answers are timeless, so it's worth going back to and listening from the very start; the other three are focused more on today's events, so listen to the most recent first.

All are available for free at www.fool.com/podcasts.

If you're looking for a friendly voice ... with great advice on how to make the most of your money ... from a business with a lengthy track record of success ... in clear, compelling language ... I encourage you to give a listen to our free podcasts.

Head to www.fool.com/podcasts, give them a spin, and you can subscribe there (at iTunes, Stitcher, or our other partners) if you want to receive them regularly.

It's money to your ears.

 


Compare Brokers