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PlayStation 4 Review

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At launch, the PlayStation 3 was flush with technological bells and whistles: a multi-format memory card reader, user-upgradeable 2.5" serial ATA hard drive, and support for high-capacity Blu-ray discs. It had a powerful CPU, the Cell processor, whose simple name masked its notoriously complex architecture. Like the Emotion Engine in the PlayStation 2, the Cell called for a new approach to processor optimization and would go underutilized for years. Developers had to work harder to harness its potential, and it was expensive to manufacture, ultimately raising the barrier to entry on all fronts. In hindsight, it was perhaps too complex at the start for anyone's good.

Seven years later, the PlayStation 4 proves that Sony has learned its lesson. It was designed around semi-custom PC parts from AMD, a factor that lowers manufacturing costs and simplifies game development. It's less of a jack-of-all-trades than its predecessor, but it hits the necessary extra-curricular touchstones. Even the oft-criticized DualShock, a seemingly sacred PlayStation staple, was reinvented for the better. The PlayStation 4 is refined, both inside and out, and though there are minor imperfections to cope with, they hardly seem to matter in light of the system's numerous achievements.

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At a glance, the PlayStation 4's compact, rhomboid chassis is immediately impressive. Its matte-black and glossy panels are divided by a thin light-bar on the hood and a squared groove that circuits the perimeter, sheltering the slot-loading Blu-ray drive, USB ports, and air-vents. Given that it's arguably the most powerful next-gen console, and the only one with an internal power supply, it’s a credit to the engineering and design teams at Sony that the PlayStation 4 is so small and sleek while succinctly incorporating ventilation that not only works, but remains mostly out of sight.

Stood upright, the PlayStation 4 takes on a monolithic silhouette, though it needs a proper stand to secure its precarious position. Laying the system flat keeps it practically secure, but curiously, Sony designed it to sit on three offset feet. As a result, the system wobbles when downward pressure is applied on the left-hand side. For all the intelligence of the PlayStation 4’s design and its sturdy appearance, this is a ridiculous, though still minor flaw.

Sony veered away from its favorite form factor for the DualShock 4, elongating the handles and spreading everything slightly apart for a far more comfortable fit. It went to town with the extra space in the middle, incorporating a 2” x 1” touchpad that also doubles as a large, physical button. Beneath the touchpad sits a mono-audio speaker, the PlayStation home button, and a pair of ports: one for stereo headphones, and an EXT port with a yet unrealized purpose. Gone are the start and select buttons. In their place, straddling the top of the touchpad, lay the new share and options buttons. Perhaps in a move to avoid accidental button presses, these two buttons are unusually flush with the controller. As such, they're hard to press without checking the controller first.

The share button is the more interesting of the two, acting as the gateway to Sony's game capture and video streaming initiative, which we'll get to a bit later.

On the top of the DualShock 4, nestled between the improved, concave triggers, there’s a micro-USB port for charging the non-removable lithium-ion battery, and a multicolor light bar that can interact with the PlayStation Camera accessory. Its ability to change color and brightness allows developers to communicate with players in potentially interesting ways, such as in Sound Shapes where the light pulses on and off with the beat. Lastly, and perhaps least obviously, Sony upgraded the DualShock’s vibration and motion-sensing capabilities to offer greater sensitivity and range for developers to tinker with.

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Smartly, Sony chose PC-like x86-64 components for the PlayStation 4, and worked with AMD to develop a hybrid CPU capable of reaching clock speeds up to 2.75 GHz (rumored to run at 1.6 GHz), comprised of two quad-core Jaguar modules. This is paired with a semi-custom 800 MHz Radeon GPU, theoretically capable of 1.84 teraFLOPS, roughly in line with a GeForce GTX 660 or Radeon 7850.

Processors aside, the system’s biggest boon is the 8GB of GDDR5 RAM, an expensive variety of RAM typically reserved for graphics cards. It utilizes a 256-bit interface, clocked at 5,500 MHz, with a bandwidth potential of 176 GB/s. This is likely one of the more expensive components in the entire build, but the bandwidth and speed it lends to the system should prove invaluable to developers, and ultimately, result in better-looking games for players.

The included Blu-ray drive is faster than the one found in the PlayStation 3, but you'll need to wait before playing any games now that Sony requires all games to be installed to the system's internal hard drive first. Blu-ray discs are capable of storing up to 50 GB of data, and with a 500 GB hard drive, it's not unreasonable to worry about space. Granted, most games are well under 50 GB, but if you eventually find that you're running out of room on your hard drive, you have two options: delete game data, or install a new hard drive.

Thankfully, you don't have to void your warranty to accomplish the latter. Simply slide off the glossy panel using your hands and a bit of pressure, unscrew five screws, replace the hard drive, and reverse the process. Lastly, copy the system restore firmware from Sony's support website to a USB stick, and format your new hard drive via the PlayStation 4's operating system.

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Though you will only see a minimal performance gain if you upgrade to a faster 7200 RPM hard drive, it's an easy way to increase the amount of available storage space. If, however, speed is critical, you can also install a solid state drive, which will halve loading times in some cases, but these flash-based drives are expensive and storage space comes at a premium. Sadly, external drives may only be used to upgrade the system's firmware. That means no extra storage for game installs, and no support for media playback. Given that the PS4 uses high-speed USB 3.0 ports, this rather limited support seems like a missed opportunity.

Major components aside, PlayStation 4 features a reasonable assemblage of ports and connectivity options. It’s got a gigabit ethernet port, in addition to support for 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, though somewhat disappointingly, wireless support is limited to the oversaturated 2.4 GHz frequency band. Technically, 802.11n devices can support the less-saturated 5 GHz band, but this sadly isn't the case in the PlayStation 4.

This certainly isn't going to hold back the PlayStation 4 from doing what it normally would, but with the near-ubiquitous support for Remote Play and second-screen gaming on the Vita, a more advanced wireless radio could have gone along way to reaffirm the value of connecting the two devices together.

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Pairing a Vita to a PlayStation 4 is easy, only requiring that both devices are connected to the same network. The results are typically adequate for gaming, and certainly much better than the PlayStation 3's version of Remote Play, but it's still far from perfect. Depending on your range, and the saturation of the 2.4 GHz frequencies in your gaming environment, a slight delay between the Vita and PlayStation 4 can seriously impact your in-game performance. At the moment, it's a feature that's too inconsistent for everyday use, but has potential that's too attractive to ignore.

Apart from the DualShock 4, the Bluetooth radio is rather underutilized at launch. There's no support for wireless headsets, for example, though as a consolation, you can plug chat-enabled headsets into the controller’s 3.5 mm audio port for chat and/or in-game audio.

Otherwise, audio and video are limited to the HDMI and optical ports on the back of the system, with no support for analog connectivity. Users can take advantage of the system's breadth of audio support, including PCM, Dolby, and DTS audio formats. It's also worth noting that the PlayStation 4 is the first device that supports the brand new DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 format, providing near-lossless 7.1 surround sound for internet video.

While there are no games rendered at the lofty 4K resolution on the PlayStation 4, Sony has confirmed that photos and video will work. 3D support, on the other hand, which was once a priority for Sony, has been put on the back burner. It even neglected support for 3D Blu-rays, a format it pioneered just a few short years ago.

Online gaming hasn't changed a lot since the PlayStation 3, except for one major shift: the PlayStation 4 requires a PlayStation Plus subscription. This service carries a $50 annual fee, but with free games, cloud-save support, and exclusive discounts, it amounts to a fair trade in the end for the majority of customers.

Multiplayer gaming is and will continue to be a mainstay of the online experience, but Sony, like Microsoft, is laser-focused on video streaming and sharing. Though it will continue to evolve over time, the PlayStation 4 can currently log 15 minutes of video in the background, and with the simple press of the share button, you can initiate the video editing and sharing process. Disappointingly, gameplay footage can only be uploaded to Facebook at launch, though screenshots are sharable on both Facebook and Twitter.

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Sharing is valuable, but streaming gameplay to Twitch and Ustream proves to be a much more useful and intriguing feature. Again, the process is simple: press the share button, and choose the "broadcast gameplay" menu item, and choose from Twitch or Ustream to start sharing. Once you've logged into your account, you get to choose from a few options such as picture-in-picture broadcasting with the PlayStation Camera, microphone support, and on-screen comments. It's a simple process that works as intended with virtually no compromises, giving Sony an instant leg up in one of the most important aspects of next-gen console gaming.

The optional $60 PlayStation Camera plays a small part in streaming, allowing you to integrate your face and voice into video streams, but it also allows you to control parts of the PlayStation 4 operating system using voice commands. It's not as elaborate as Microsoft's plans for the Xbox One, but it's beneficial when it works as intended. At the moment, you can go to the home screen, start games, take screenshots, and power down the system. The added convenience of voice commands is tangible, but the real selling point of the camera is its integration with streaming video.

Unlike with the PlayStation 3, Sony got almost everything right immediately out of the gate with the PlayStation 4. It's powerful, good looking, and the support for streaming gameplay gives Sony a unique advantage as Microsoft races to catch up. Sony cut a few corners, though really, not having the latest Wi-Fi radio isn't damning, and there are other features that can be patched in through software updates in the future.

The focus on gaming is also readily apparent, especially when compared to Microsoft's overt entertainment-centric efforts. It shows in the hardware, especially with its GDDR5 RAM and beefy GPU, both of which offer significant performance advantages to Microsoft's console. The operating system is light on its feet as well, dedicating its resources to gaming and social features first and foremost. It's a powerful console with understated and forward-thinking designs applied throughout, and though it won't win awards for innovation, it's an impressive next-gen gaming console, and a big step forward for the PlayStation brand.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

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Peter Brown

Peter is Managing Editor at GameSpot, and when he's not covering the latest games, he's desperately trying to recapture his youth by playing the classics that made him happy as a kid.

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MacaulayMcDerp

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So Kinect-brawler Fighter Within for Xbone got an 1/10

Mastermind Microsoft has the best games.

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santinegrete

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<< LINK REMOVED >> but the Kinect 2.0 is a great piece of tech and is so advanced! Games are still shit tough. The important word here is "still". :D:D:D

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Horndawgie

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My brother's friend bought a PS4 last week and had to replace it twice. Twice. But I will be boycotting any Sony products from now on and not recommending it to customers because of the fanboy element.

Greatness awaits is what PS4 sells to the mindless masses, exactly the kind of crowd that fanboys love to hate, but the fact is PSN will be overrun with immature losers and trolls, and that is enough to turn anyone with any common sense away from online activity. Unless Sony starts screening and adding more servers and better support, Xbox Live is a clearly superior experience. Less idiots, better support = win.

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Sun-Tzu-GE

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<< LINK REMOVED >> It's funny because everything you said starting from the second paragraph is exactly what I think of xbox one.And I'm not saying this because I'm mad at you.That really what I think.

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northArrow

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<< LINK REMOVED >> If you're worried about immature losers and trolls then you should be avoiding Xbox Live as well. As a long time Xbox player I'm so tired of people falsely bragging of our fictional "superior experience" on XBL. There is literally no difference between the two. Immature losers and trolls are everywhere

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meatz666

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<< LINK REMOVED >> Funny, because what "PSN will be overrun with immature losers and trolls" has to do with "My brother's friend bought a PS4 last week and had to replace it twice"?

And anyone can say "the neighbor of my girlfriend's brother had to replace his xbone 3 times". Stating stuff without source is ok. But using it as an argument... Then you lose all your credibility.

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aXeem316

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IGN reviews:

PS4 : 8.2 (Excellent, greatness awaits)

xbone : the team at ign is hard at work to decide the most appropriate negative number to assign to the xbone. dont go anywhere we will be right back

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canuckbiker

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It's a 7.8 if I remember correctly. Score numbers don't mean anything for a systems future potential. The xbox1 will be great for people that want an all around entertainment console, and the ps4 will be great for people that want more focus on pure gaming functionality.

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victorcom

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I would say Xbox one exclusive FPS shooters are something that PS4 misses like Halo and Titanfall. Also Games like Kinect rivals. At least Sony should release a game that uses Eye camera.

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AjenoMerveilles

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Okay. Forgive my stupidity here. It is alluded to about PS+, so my stupid question is this. If I can, say, on my PS3 download a full free PS3 game and then play it, can I download a full free PS3 game onto my PS4 and play it?

Or indeed any PS3 game, free or otherwise, and play it?

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meatz666

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<< LINK REMOVED >> I know a lot of people already replied, but let's go. Currently, you can download all free PS3 and Vita games to your PS3. I do this every month, even without owning a PS Vita, because one day a friend or I might get one. I can't run Vita games on my PS3, but I can add them to my profile. I believe it'll work similar with PS4. You might be able to download games for 3 platforms, so you can install them any day in the respective platform, but I believe that in PS4 you'll only be able to run PS4 games.

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MrMilkmann

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<< LINK REMOVED >> To answer your qustion simply, I think you can download ps3 digital titles on the ps4. Ps3 discs won't work.

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EcksTheory

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<< LINK REMOVED >> or we could go with the correct answer that was already posted an hour before you got here.

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MrMilkmann

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<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> Or you could **** off, considering there weren't any other replies showing when I answered. Plus, I said "I think." You know what that means? It means I'm not certain.

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kohle36

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<< LINK REMOVED >> No, PS4 isn't directly backwards compatible, you have to download PS3 titles to your PS3; PS4 titles to your PS4. However, if you've bought certain PS3 digital titles and they release a PS4 version, you get access to the PS4 version free, even if they've up-resed or otherwise tweaked it. They already did this with Flower, Sound Shapes and a few others, but I'm not sure how common it will be going forward. If you don't own a PS3, they eventually intend to make the back catalogue available through Gaikai streaming, but they haven't said much beyond that.

Obviously, a PS+ membership will be most valuable if you have a PS3, PS4 and a Vita (as you get access to the most games that way). However, if you don't have a Vita yet, but plan to get one (and have either console and a Plus membership), you can download the Vita titles to your console (or start and cancel the download) to add it to your download list. Then you can transfer it to your Vita or re-download it later, so you still get access to all those free Vita titles while you had a membership. Soul Sacrifice just went up for Vita, and Borderlands 2 is coming in Dec for PS3 if you have either system.

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AjenoMerveilles

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Perfect. Appreciate that, my friend. I was debating with myself to sell my PS3 to ease the financial passage towards the PS4. That debate no longer exists. Thanks again. A perfect answer.

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kohle36

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<< LINK REMOVED >> Haha no problem! It's good to bounce ideas off other hobbyists before making decisions like those. In my experience, money comes and goes, but I've always only come to regret selling a system later on (to say nothing of the SNES my mom gave away while I was at uni). Worst case scenario, you have another bluray player / netflix streaming device

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shantd

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<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> Ah really? That's brilliant! I've got a ps4 & ps3, was kinda whiney about having to pay for online MP. But after realizing I've downloaded nearly 1k worth of games between the 2 systems, I feel I've been a fool for not signing up with ps+ sooner.

But to get back to your point, I don't have the Vita yet. Been planning on it. And you're telling me I can start downloading vita games now so that when I buy it in several months, I'll have a catalog of games waiting for it? Fantastic tip mate, thank you!

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shantd

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<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> - Another excellent tip, as now that I've got the ps4 and ps3, there's a LOT of HD space on my ps3 that simply won't be used anymore. Thanks mate, you're a lifesaver.


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kohle36

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<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> Yup! They've put up a number of big title Vita releases too. I think Uncharted Golden Abyss is still up there, Gravity Rush was (but I think it left), and Soul Sacrifice was this week. Also i think Hotline Miami is still there, which is awesome anyway, and the Vita version is supposed to be the best one (I've only played it on PC, so I can't say one way or the other, but I've heard good things about the dual analog / touch functionality they put into the Vita version).

Anyway, yeah, get your back catalogue ready to go and then when you grab a Vita you're set. Might as well make full use of your membership! Between my PS1 classics collection and all the PSP digis I've been picking up on sale recently, I've already got access to almost 30 games when I finally get my Vita, though I'm mostly worried about memory card space (*grumble grumble proprietary memory card grumble*).

Here's another space saving tip though: if you have some free HDD space on your PS3, download your digital Vita collection to the console and store it there. Then, when you transfer games to your Vita, select the option to NOT delete the original file (this works with PSP, haven't tested with Vita yet). That way, you can just use a cheaper 4-8GB card (those 32s man...), and delete and re-transfer when you feel like it. It's a bit more hassle, but much better than re-downloading titles every time (especially if you have data caps or slow connection speeds from your ISP). Enjoy man!

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canuckbiker

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It's a fantastic handheld device. You can also download any cross-buy games you bought for the ps3 to the vita at anytime for free. Enjoy.

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TristanPR77

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After reading GameSpot reviews for both next gen consoles it sounds to me like this:

PS4: 9/10

Xbone: 5/10

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Brockelley

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<< LINK REMOVED >> here's a question: who among us just games? I don't mean when they look for a new tv they find one that works well 80/20 gaming to tv watching, I mean 100% games..anyone? probably not...

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santinegrete

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@brockelley @TristanPR77 too fucking few games, wait a fucking year Grrr! D:

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Zepthire95

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<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> As far as what I do on a console or with the TV I'd say I am as close to 100% as you can be. I watch the occasional thing on a catch up service like iPlayer but I rarely watch any TV anymore.

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gottago42

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You are a playstation fanboy so you will interpret it that way

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force_user1975

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The thing that bugs me with these console reviews is that they should be reviewing the hardware as a standalone piece of hardware. Comparing it to the competition is pointless and really only encourages fanboy wars to break out. I notice Xbox One reviews rarely mention a PS4 or Wii U, but the PS4 reviews almost always mention the Xbox One or Wii U. Just not sure why it needs to be brought up.



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MrMilkmann

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<< LINK REMOVED >> Things need to be compared with the competition in order to, well, compare them with the competition. Reviews are meant to inform people, usually people who are on the fence about buying something. When 2 things are compared in honest reviews, that's a good way to help people decide which of the 2 or 3 or however many is best for them.

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Slagar

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"... especially with its GDDR5 RAM and beefy GPU, both of which offer significant performance advantages to Microsoft's console."

I think that's quite misleading. Anandtech has much more thorough comparisons for anyone interested in how the consoles compare IMO.

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sammoth

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<< LINK REMOVED >> Yeah this article says a ton about it.


<< LINK REMOVED >>

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ewjiml

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<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >>

It is not misleading. I already posted this yesterday so I will post it again:....

Graphics Card RANT for --- Xbone vs. PS4----

Even though I got a gaming PC, I am really looking forward to purchasing a PS4, especially with that GDDR5 RAM and hopefully a good array of games next year. You would think Microsoft would have built their console as the ultimate gaming machine but instead their games will be hindered by the Xbone's inability to process 1080P resolutions easily for graphically complex games. PS4 has already come out with multiple launch games that have showed off the capabilities of its hardware such as Shadow Fall (which was stunning and smooth) and other 3rd party games like Assassins Creed 4. Xbox has had trouble with Dead Rising 3's framerate running at a paltry 720P. Yes, there are millions of zombies on screen, however, the resolution is still last-gen. No excuse for games being 720P. We have been doing 720P for seven freaking years, time to upgrade.

I fear the Xbox One will fail pushing any games graphically for two reasons:

-the slower DDR3 memory. Microsoft included 32MB of eSRAM on its APU to help alleviate some of its graphics card concerns but unfortunately the eSRAM is only good for small amounts of data, not large ones.

-the 16 ROPs (render outputs/raster operations pipes) which are responsible for final pixel output in games. Playstation 4 has 32 ROPs which is the gold standard in PC gaming for achieving 1080P resolution on graphics cards. The REASON that the Xbox One only has 16 ROPs is because of that damn DDR3 and the eSRAM. There just isn't enough room for additional ROPs because of those. It is HIGHLY suspect that 3rd party games such as COD:Ghosts and Assassins Creed were running at lower resolutions on Xbone because those games were locked at 16 ROPs.

Granted, Forza runs at a smooth 60 FPS @ 1080P but then again, the game is not exactly pushing any boundaries since it is a racing game. Games with advanced shaders and rendering techniques are going to suffer if the Xbox One tries to push the resolution to 1080. Just you watch.

Cheers. End of Rant.


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Brockelley

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Perfect, except commas go before the and, not after it.

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ewjiml

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<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >>

<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >>

1) "You do know that GDDR5 has a higher latency...."

Let me guess you read that in an article and suddenly this epiphany of yours gives you evidence to back up MS's slower GPU? MS did not include top of the line hardware. DDR3 is much better for background tasks (especially for the Kinect 2.0) which is why is has lower latency. It also has much lower bandwidth. The eSRAM tries to fix this problem. It concludes with the Xbox One only having 16 ROPs. 32 ROP's is the standard for high-end graphics cards for producing at 1080P. Did I say it was impossible? No. Will it be more difficult than the PS4's? Yes.

2) Fanboy definition: Fan boy is basically a slang term for saying someone is way to attached to something. I play PC, Xbox, and PS3. So I guess that disproves your theory.

3) I gave not one but two examples of why the Xbox One GPU just plain sucks. I could go on and talk about the PS4 ACES 8x8 vs. the Xbox One's 2x2 as well but then again, it would be like talking to a fart in the wind. This is not my opinion but well known facts. And I am correct by saying Forza isn't pushing an boundaries here. If it was, then Dead Rising 3 would have been beautifully rendered @ 1080P w/ 60 FPS. FACT.
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sammoth

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<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> Again you're just talking out your @ss basing it on your own opinions. If you think the PS4 actually renders all it's games in 1080p you are sadly mistaken. It's idiots like you who spout out nonsense without any knowledge on hardware at all. Bottom line is both systems are very similar.

You're stupid analogy on GDDR5 is just another fanboy comment. You do know that GDDR5 has a higher latency than DDR3. Gddr5 is all well and good as long as the bandwidth is allocated right. I am by far not knocking the PS4 but, your lack of knowledge on the subject is amazing. To say Forza isn't pushing any boundaries is just plain stupid.

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darkknife20

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<< LINK REMOVED >> The ps4 won IGN people choice award. Currently dominating the global survey. PS4 is well developed

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GSJones1994

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<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> *cough* Red light of Death *cough*

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Pukshd

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Damn, I´m pretty noob when it comes to system requirements, gonna have to research more.

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