Does resolution really matter on consoles?

Ever since the current gen consoles came out in late 2013 the Full HD debate has raged between the two.  On paper it still looks like the Xbox One is lagging behind the PS4 when it comes to managing native 1080p.  When they were both released there were even situations where the XB1 was only hitting 720p native resolution (Call of Duty: Ghosts) compared to the PS4’s 1080p.  Over the last year and a half this has changed as the developers get a handle on the XB1 hardware so the resolution discrepancy has dropped (1080p for PS4 and 900p for XB1 on some games).  For those who care that means the PS4 runs at 1920 x 1080 (2073600 pixels) resolution for most games while the XB1 runs at 1600 x 900 (1440000 pixels).  On paper that sounds quite substantial.

On a TV though – does it make that big a difference?

In the art of science and because I am one of those who actually would like the current gen consoles to always hit 1080p I actually have compared a few games to see if there’s a difference.  Keep in mind that I made these comparisons on a 60 inch Samsung TV with PC mode on (best for latency).

I have an XB1 and PS4 and have tended to play a lot more on the XB1 as it is my console of choice.  There are reasons for this:

1.  I love the achievement system.  Trophies just doesn’t excite me nearly as much.

2.  Most of my online gaming friends have sided with Microsoft and so we play on XB1.  The back end network infrastructure for online gaming is amazing and we have local Aussie servers for some of the big AAA titles (Forza Horizon 2 and Titanfall for example).

3.  I much prefer the XB1’s user interface.  The customisation features of this console for your dashboard is fantastic.  The PS4, on the other hand, still hasn’t released customisable folders so you can sort your games.  You can also use USB 3.0 drives to play your XB1 games from.  The PS4 has only recently allowed you to backup your data to USB.

4.  The Xbox One controller feels better to me.  I think the PS4’s controller is much better than the woeful PS3 controller but the Xbox One controller is just fantastic.

I still like playing The Crew – but why couldn’t it be a bit less jaggy on console?

Getting back to the resolution topic though, the games I’ve played on PS4 and the XB1 for testing purposes are Thief, Assassins Creed: Black Flag and The Crew (both consoles run this game at 1080p but I wanted to try this regardless).  Keep in mind with the limited budget I have that is why it is only a few games at this stage.

Now this is the part that hurts me the most (because I love the XB1) but I do notice a difference between the 900p versions of Thief and AC: Black Flag and the PS4’s 1080p counterparts.  Even The Crew, which runs supposedly at the same resolution seemed to have less jaggies on the PS4 version, though it was marginal (slightly increased Anti Aliasing perhaps?).  Everything just looks a bit crisper, which isn’t surprising really as I will explain shortly.

However, it isn’t that big deal of a difference on a TV when you are sitting six feet back from it.  If you are playing consoles on a monitor I would say you’d notice the resolution difference more.  900p and 1080p is not a big a difference as you would think on a TV though.  One of the XB1 exclusives, Titanfall, runs at 792p and yet it manages to look excellent when you are playing it as they have upped the Anti Aliasing to smooth out the rough edges.  I look at games like The Crew and wonder how the hell they can call that 1080p when it looks as jaggy as it does, yet games like Titanfall and Ryse (release title for the XB1 that ran at 900p) looks absolutely amazing.


Titanfall looks excellent even a year after release.

In the end the resolution difference between the two consoles comes down to the hardware and in a weird twist of fate it seems the XB1 is harder to develop for now than the PS4.

The Xbox 360 was a great bit of kit and was always seen as the easier console to code for as the PS3’s custom cell chip was tricky.  Now it seems to be the reverse.  The XB1 has the touted eSRAM and with Direct X 12 there has been a lot of talk about how this will really help provide more power to Microsoft’s Console (go here for a good read – but it still is a lot more difficult for developers to work with than the traditional PC hardware of the PS4.

I think this will change over the next year or two as Microsoft release better Software Development Kits (SDKs) for the third party developers and we get Direct X 12.  The XB1 can hit 1080p as looking at Forza Horizon 2 in action shows how good a game can look.  This is the difference though: Turn 10 and Playground Games are first party developers and have the direct backing of Microsoft, so they know how to utilise the eSRAM.  Third party developers are still trying to get their head around how to use the technology.

In the end if you had to pick between one console or the other you are best looking at the games line up and which console has which exclusives.  It comes down to those exclusives.  If you like Halo, for example, then you would go with the XB1.  If you like Uncharted and The Last of Us games, you would go with the PS4.  The occasional gaming dilemma only occurs when you have both consoles but for me the XB1 is my primary console, hence most of the third party games are bought on that platform.


The next most anticipated game for me – The Witcher 3.

One of the reasons I decided to write this article is because The Witcher 3 is coming out May 19 and I still haven’t 100% decided what platform to buy it on.  If I had a modern PC I would probably buy it on PC but due to limited finances it comes down to a decision between the consoles.  I am still siding with the XB1 at this stage for the reasons mentioned above, even though it is running at 900p and not 1080p as it will on the PS4.

What platform will you be buying The Witcher 3 on?  Let us know by leaving a comment below.

10 replies »

  1. That PCs are able to show many of these games at their absolute best is always going to be the strength of the platform and I wish it were a cheaper one for more people to be able to dive into the high end. But when consoles can offer an experience that is “close enough” for their needs, the lower set up cost will always win.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. From what i have seen, the PS4 is a better looking. However i find that Xbox has a much better interface, a much better voice recognition system with the Kinect (much better voice controls) and i find the Xbox One a better all around experience online. When i was younger graphics were the thing i looked at the most, as i grew up i strayed away from looking at how pretty the game looks and focused on the core gameplay. A fun game beats out a beautiful game any day.

    Liked by 2 people

    • It’s funny that as time progresses the consoles are becoming more alike (and more like PCs) so many of the metrics being used for comparisons (resolution, frame rate) now are nitpicking about games that are more or less the same on each platform. This is not like comparing a Spectrum to a C64, an ST to an Amiga, a SNES to a Genesis/Megadrive or even a DS to a PSP where many of those machines had radically different architectures and strengths.

      The hardware war is over – it’s all in software and services now. Xbox might still have an edge with consoles but there’s Steam on then PC and Apple with iOS and the App store which vaulted over everyone else to take the lead.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Very true. I used to be a fanboy and i like to think i have grown up since but my heart will always be favorable to Xbox. I’m sure if i had a powerful PC system i would be more into it but i don’t. I am really looking foward to seeing what Nintendo and DeNa can do with bringing their exclusives to my phone.

        Liked by 2 people

    • I guess I still struggle a bit as I like the game to look it’s best. I love my Xbox One as well which is why I get a little disappointed when it can’t match resolution. I love the UI, the controller and much prefer using the Xbox so I guess I’ve also hit that point where I’ll play it at 900p on a system I enjoy gaming on as opposed to 1080p on a system that doesn’t grab me as much. Still very much looking forward to The Witcher 3 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      • I know and i think Microsoft knows this how most people feel. I’m sure we will see updates in the past to accelerate the systems power. Or they will just announce a new and improved XboxOneS like they did with 360. I’m not a fan of that but that’s the logical choice for them. Witcher 3 will be stunning on any system and a gargantuan game.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. I’m currently tossing up whether to buy The Witcher on PC of XB1. Obviously the PC will have the better graphics. But I much prefer using a controller, which I can do on my PC.

    But the PC version lacks the achievements.

    I think ultimately it’s probably going to come down to price for me, and for some reason even the physical PC copies are almost £15 cheaper? I can’t remember the last time I bought a physical copy of a PC game…

    I’m not too bothered with the resolution because I think in general between the two consoles the differences aren’t that huge. Plus digital foundry have found in a lot of cases the XB1 version run with a slightly steadier FPS, but again it’s only marginal.

    In the end, if you want the best looking games and are bothered about resolution etc… Then you have to pick PC. It will always win.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah exactly Will.

      I should say that in the end I went with The Witcher 3 on XB1 digital. I do like achievements and I also like the ease of use at sitting on a couch with a XB1 controller. Currently on the PC there is no wireless receiver for the XB1 controller although with Windows 10 not far away I’m sure it is coming. Yes, I did pay more for The Witcher 3 on XB1 over PC but I just felt it was worth it.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. One thing worth mentioning is now that GOG Galaxy is out, it will be introducing achievements to games from that service. It is a dead certainty that The Witcher 3 (which comes from the same developer/publisher) will have a full suite of them.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Wish the Xbox achievements would also apply to PC games as well. I know I am hoping but with Windows 10 and Xbox One integrating it would be cool if you could get PC achievements tied to your Xbox account like the old Windows Live Marketplace.


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