Xbox 360 Vs. PlayStation 3 Graphics Comparison: Now With PC!

You asked for it. We went back and looked at several games from past Xbox 360 vs. PlayStation 3 graphics comparison features to see how the graphics compare when we add the PC to the challenge.

Back in 2006 (when the current generation of consoles was still called the next generation) we did our first Xbox 360 vs. PlayStation 3 graphics comparison. Since then we've released rounds 2, 3, and 4, but we hadn't touched the third rail--the PC--until now. The graphics comparison features started out as a way to examine which console had better graphics, but readers began asking us to include PC image comparisons for games available on all three platforms. We focused on more recent games for our current comparison, because those are the games people are still buying and playing. You'll likely recognize many of the shots from our previous graphics comparisons. The results aren't terribly surprising, but the differences are still interesting to see. A well-equipped PC beats both consoles easily--of course, that same PC also costs three to four times more than either of the consoles.

On the PC, we used FRAPs to capture images at 1920x1080 resolution. We equipped our test PC with high-end components, a GeForce 280 GTX, and a quad-core Intel Core 2 CPU. The PC allowed us to enable high-quality settings in most games and have plenty of power left over to kick antialiasing up to 4x and anisotropic filtering up to 8x. For the consoles, we captured all of our images over HDMI with games running at 720p resolution, and we enabled full HDMI range on the PS3.  

Each game has four sets of rollover images. The first image is a full screenshot set resized to fit the width of the page, followed by a zoomed-in image set that we created by cropping the original screen grabs to show you how the games look at a 1:1 pixel ratio. To easily compare the PC to the consoles, we scaled down the original 1920x1080 PC images to 1280x720 and cropped from there. The third and fourth image sets follow the same pattern. Mouse over the captions to swap the images back and forth. Keep in mind that these are large screenshots, so viewers with slow Internet connections should expect to wait a while for images to load.

Fallout 3

A Washington, DC, teeming with automotive executives seeking government aid isn't nearly as dismal as the postapocalyptic DC setting in Fallout 3. Shadows and lighting change according to the game's day-and-night cycle, and we made sure to match timestamps for our comparison shots. In what will come as no surprise, the PC shames both consoles in the image-quality comparison. Everything from the textures to the antialiasing to the reflections looks better on the PC. Foliage, piping, and far-off buildings look far superior on the PC due to transparency antialiasing effects. Even draw distance is better on the PC, as the rocks and a fence near the burned-out bus aren't even visible on the consoles.

PC Xbox 360 PlayStation 3

PC Xbox 360 PlayStation 3

PC Xbox 360 PlayStation 3

PC Xbox 360 PlayStation 3

Dead Space

Dark corners, slow player movement, intense music, and monsters with a propensity to crawl out of walls left us reaching for a pair of adult diapers while taking screenshots. Once again, the PC is the overall champ here. A high-end video card goes a long way when it comes to running a game at insanely high resolutions with detailed textures and superior antialiasing. Objects in the seating area and the sheets of paper in the middle of the room get blurrier and blurrier as you switch between the platforms. Even the text readout that's practically in front of your character's face looks better on the PC.

PC Xbox 360 PlayStation 3

PC Xbox 360 PlayStation 3

PC Xbox 360 PlayStation 3

PC Xbox 360 PlayStation 3

Call of Duty: World at War

Call of Duty: World at War puts you in the thick of both the Japanese and Russian WWII fronts. The platforms look largely the same, except that the PC edges out both of the consoles in antialiasing and textures, which you can see in higher detailed surfaces and smoother edges in the PC shots. Interestingly enough, we also noticed that the water-landing scenario shown in the second set of shots plays differently in the PC version. When your character gets pulled up from the water at the start of the level in the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions of the game, he remains stationary. In the PC version, the waves actively push your character around, making screenshots more difficult to capture.

PC Xbox 360 PlayStation 3

PC Xbox 360 PlayStation 3

PC Xbox 360 PlayStation 3

PC Xbox 360 PlayStation 3

Grand Theft Auto IV

Grand Theft Auto IV finally made it to the PC; unfortunately, it arrived with its fair share of performance problems. At times we experienced massive texture issues that caused the game to render nothing but water with our lonely car sitting on top of the waves. The game's lighting and shadowing also rendered incorrectly, creating nasty shadow bands over the buildings and streets. We didn't include images of the graphical artifacts because we didn't see them frequently enough warrant documenting. Generally GTAIV runs fine, and RockStar has released a patch since our testing that should clear up most of these visual oddities.


GTAIV is the one game we tested for this comparison that didn't let us max out the image-quality settings on the PC. At the moment, no video card has enough RAM to load up high-quality textures with high resolutions at maximum-quality settings. We could, however, load up medium textures with very high-quality rendering and mostly maxed-out sliders. Surprisingly, GTAIV does not support antialiasing in any form, which heavily detracts from the game because the city environment has a lot of hard edges, wires, and random foliage. Even with all the problems, GTAIV looks better on the PC by a wide margin. The PC's high resolution and draw-distance levels keep higher-quality textures, lighting, and transparency effects visible farther into the distance.

PC Xbox 360 PlayStation 3

PC Xbox 360 PlayStation 3

PC Xbox 360 PlayStation 3

PC Xbox 360 PlayStation 3

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Discussion

4245 comments
purutrehan
purutrehan

cccccbbbbbbaaaaaaddddddddddddddest

Antarte
Antarte

There is something wrong in this comparison, PC can run this game at 1080 but these pictures are all at the same resolution. There is no comparison between PC and consoles, PC is in other league and looks another game, just search youtube gameplays at 1080 and filtered to compare. (Not mention the mods that make the real sense of this kind of games).

CMONSTA211
CMONSTA211

Fallout 3 :

360 looks like it has much better lighting and a longer draw distance than PS3

 

problems with the console versions: look at the trees and see how they're pixelated particularly PS3, and the bushes look terrible (you can see the bottom of the grass bunches) and they don't blend in with the terrain on the right,  in the first picture the rocks and bushes in front of one of the buildings aren't there on both consoles (render distance).

ShinjiEx
ShinjiEx

PS3 version looks awful... I was thinking of grabbing the PS3 version for the heck of it but I'll stick to the 360 The PS3 is failing to focus the resolution correctly resulting in muddy textures

colonialpikachu
colonialpikachu

@zeno99 There wouldn't be a difference if there were higher speced hardware for the slim versions. Specs make a difference in PC games because games are made to be scaleable, that is, they're programmed so that you can choose different graphics quality levels for different hardware. It takes effort to code that, and generally has to be redone for each platform you release a game for. So if there were different hardware in the old PS3 and the Slim, to take advantage of it, developers would have to add new code. Either that, or make games Slim exclusive, which would piss off Old PS3 owners.

Flavorysoup
Flavorysoup

The difference between PC and console games, is that console games use extreme amounts of contrast to cover up the sloppy graphics. If the game is bright it's easier to pick out details, and in console games, the details to be found are not very good.

zeno99
zeno99

the ps3 and xbox 360 are under powered. the slim versions should have been designed with higher speced hardware. how ever can a high end pc fix gta 4 slow game play and other problems like how slow niko moves,the brick on ice traction,slow vehicle acceleration,and crap weather changes. custom controller maping and saving the game away from a safe house should be possible on a pc. my hope is that gta 5 is next gen and that much more than the graphics are improved.

olleost
olleost

The consoles looks like PC looked for a couple of years ago...

billyfozz
billyfozz

@ SuperJim20 Well said. ;) The bush in the last picture looks like wire wool on PS3, lol

billyfozz
billyfozz

@ Ur_Daddy_711 That's a silly thing to say. You can get cracked 360 and Ps3 games too. Also to everyone else going on about pc being more expensive because you need a good graphics card. Check out the prices. £10 cheaper PC games usually are, buy ten games and you've already saved £100 that will buy you a pretty good gpu now. :)

Ur_Daddy_711
Ur_Daddy_711

I've only played this game on the PS3, but I can tell the 360 version is better. The colors are more vivd and the res looks sharper. I've never played the PC version of this game, but I've played the classic GTA's and the verdict is definitely out that Rockstar isn't very hard for the PC market. I don't blame them. Why put forth time and effort into a game that's just going to be cracked and made available on iPirate.com.

tonybendoni
tonybendoni

PC>Xbox360>PS3 for all the games featured in this comparision, GTA IV for PS3 is dark. GTA IV is best on Xbox 360 because you need at least a quad core processor and a 2 GB graphics card for PC, but then if you have a quad core you will get random crashes in Fallout 3 because it is not optimized for anything over 2 cores. Also PS3 started to look as good or better than Xbox 360 for 2007 games. But now Xbox 360 dominates the PS3. The main reason is because both consoles are graphics limited. And both have almost the same graphics power. The main reason why Xbox 360 is better is because more games are optimized for xbox 360 and then ported to PS3. If developers took time to optimize games for the PS3 it would look better than Xbox 360 an example is Oblivion IV which was relased first on xbox 360 then on PS3, where the PS3 version is a lot better. For PC you need at least a ~ \\$400 PC to play Fallout 3 on high and ~ \\$900 PC to play GTA IV. The equivalent graphics card for the PS3 and Xbox 360 is about a 7900 GTX

daniel_meigh
daniel_meigh

i had gta on xbox and the quality was amazing, i then bought a ps3 and got gta on that and the picture quality is terrible! I play 720p on a 19" LG monitor and the picture is amazing for all my other games like cod and killzone, but its all blurry and dark for gta!

ps3frevr
ps3frevr

i have played gta 4 on my ps3 and it never looked that dark

elapo
elapo

@Mrgoldfish 1 aside from looks and some minor hardware changes (USB ports) the difference is non-existent ESPECIALLY NOT in GPU/CPU. Your statement is FALSE

MrGoldfish1
MrGoldfish1

I own a Playstation 3 Slim. I think PC has the best graphics but is that the original PS3 or the Slim. Because I think the Slim would have the best graphics.

risseer23
risseer23

Torrasque,Your a troll to even bring up Cell.First off if it's program right it makes the best looking console games around.Both the Ps3 and xbox are really old in pc terms they are like Dinosaurs.The thing is you can't buy a pc for 200-300 dollars that runs these games.Sony shoulda put 1gig of xdr ram in it and 512 vram this woulda made a world of good but since blu-ray was included that took up the budget.Cell acts as a second Gpu to a point.You can off load things the gpu does, on it.This is the reason Ps3 has the better looking games.It actualy makes the gpu better since it's frees it up for other tasks.Both consoles are very old i have no idea why you are killing em.For the money the Ps3 has more bang for the buck,the 360 has things people like as well.Thats how it works out.The cpu in the 360 is pure trash as well,fk if it wasn't for ati's gpu the 360 woulda been xbox 1.3.Cell is a better Cpu hands down.

Torrasque3132
Torrasque3132

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

Grovilis
Grovilis

They all look pretty similar. -_-

Vikasgames94
Vikasgames94

PC is better but the problem is i play mostly sports games which are better on consoles

aidinmolouki444
aidinmolouki444

I always play on PC, but PS3 and Xbox360 have a higher rendering speed. Who cares if the game looks better on PC if it is really slow to play.

takeragent
takeragent

when i switch from ps3 to pc, its like putting on my glasses..... i have a 14/20 vision.

TheVGamer
TheVGamer

The hell is going on with the comments?

aleks_989
aleks_989

The PC wins everywhere...END OF THE STORY

snoopgang
snoopgang

i Just see that diferences: Water reflexes, and more darker on the consoles!

zeroflame33
zeroflame33

why couldnt they just set the same brightness?Anyway,although i own a ps3 and an old pc i would say pc is way better than both ps3 and xbox.

mrwmom
mrwmom

in terms of this comparison the order of better graphics is PC>Xbox360>PS3... Normally it would just be PC>Xbox360=PS3 because both consoles are truly the same graphics power, I know everyone likes to throw hardware power into the equation, but it doesn't matter because unless a game is an exclusive it is made on PC then ported down to consoles so they almost always have worse graphics than PC and have equal graphics compared to each other. I'm sorry I had to break that to ya'll the hard way.

mrwmom
mrwmom

@ifoundyou37 are you an idiot or something? All 3 have HD!

kool_zed_speaks
kool_zed_speaks

Lol exactly! What IS THIS ??? This is a brightness level bias, the PC is deliberately kept at the highest brightness and therefore called 'clear', the Xbox360 darker than that and the PS3 the darkest so that people wouldn't be able to see the power of the consoles. And what is this special bias against the PS3?

CSP2009
CSP2009

Someone should change the damn brightness on the PC. Someone likes it a lil too bright haha.. Completely Bias like all the other comparisons which Gamespot do

ali_o63
ali_o63

why does the games on the xbox look much better and the edges are really smooth and nice ?!!

dakan45
dakan45

I just dont see any apparent diffirence in fallout 3, sorry, i just dont see it.

SuperJim20
SuperJim20

:D PC easy wins. Just look at the trees... PC is much better.

Greelax
Greelax

You can't really compare the graphics fairly, because where both Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 both shine are their exclusives, which you can't compare side-by-side. I mean, Uncharted 2 and Killzone 2 right there are graphically amazing games.

Serentor
Serentor

pc contrast is too high, or the light setting is too high, turn it down and the game automatically looks better.

andre_macd
andre_macd

In general i have to agree the pc looks best but the article says "the reflections looks better on the PC" , judging by the picture given the reflections look both more detailed and more realistic in the xbox 360 version, the pc versions are jagged and lack any depth in comparison. ( i have neither so i'm totally impartial , go ps2 gameplay trumps all :P )

draydox
draydox

*consoles tries to hide there shame*

TonyKoeffler
TonyKoeffler

People, people stop it. PS3 and 360 are both great. We need to see the real problem here...those Nintendo fools over in Japan. PC, PS3, 360 need to team up and kick some Nintendo ass.

johnnyd735
johnnyd735

wolfenstein plays better "looks better "on 360 then on my rig . its how the game is ported . newer games might cater to consols. "good info on the net but a lot of info is outdated."

Rey619fan
Rey619fan

The Pc looks brighter than the other consoles so it is mostly about the brightness

murekkep
murekkep

Wow bluriness on consoles makes me blind.

Daputti
Daputti

WarLokk, you're correct, but the PC is a much, much more expensive platform. And you can never guarantee a stable FPS. +The PS3 fails at lighting even after all these years. Die away.

Vikasgames94
Vikasgames94

PS3 is very dark and texture is also very bad. PS3 only has some games which have extremely great graphics and those games only release on PS3. X Box has better graphics from ps3. But one thing is fine that PS3 is very expensive but has great hardware. The biggest thing in graphics of pc is that it is very clear.

Vikasgames94
Vikasgames94

For Dead Space ps3 is very dark and pc again the best.