Xbox Series S vs PlayStation 4 Pro – the four teraflop face-off

We’re over two years into the present era of consoles, however true current-gen software program is skinny on the bottom. As a substitute, the overwhelming majority of key video games have been launched on each eighth-gen consoles and ninth-gen consoles, straddling seven distinct {hardware} targets throughout two generations to maximise gross sales. On the identical time, the Xbox Collection S continues to engender controversy. Whereas it’s a current-gen machine, it suffers from key GPU and RAM deficits that place it properly behind the PS5 and Collection X. The leads to precise video games are a little bit of a blended bag, and a few titles endure from points distinctive solely to that system owing to its pared again specification.

So we thought we would check out a collection of 2022’s greatest releases and recreation updates
to see simply how properly probably the most constrained current-gen machine fares in opposition to PS4 Professional. Sony’s enhanced machine makes for an fascinating level of comparability: it has a really comparable GPU configuration on the floor. Each machines pack roughly 4 teraflop GPUs, and each have circa 220 GB/s peak switch charges on their fundamental reminiscence swimming pools. Architectural and configuration variations muddle the waters right here however in broad strokes these techniques have equally succesful graphics {hardware}.

Nevertheless, whereas GPU compute is comparable, Collection S is much forward in a number of regards. Its Zen 2-based CPU know-how and NVMe storage enable it to ship a sooner, smoother, extra responsive expertise. And naturally, the GPU itself hails from a extra fashionable period with extra options and a rise in IPC – directions per clock. Nonetheless, it is early days for the brand new Microsoft console, whereas the Professional advantages from years’ value of expertise and extra mature growth instruments.

This is how the face-off mentioned on this web page interprets into video kind.

The checks delivered right now are a curious counter argument to the same piece I ran final yr, stacking up the Collection S in opposition to Xbox One X, geared up with an SSD. This was a lot of a pitched battle on the time – maybe as a result of last-gen techniques nonetheless acquired loads of focus from builders, whereas the One X’s GPU had sufficient brute power horsepower to ship tangible graphical variations. With a yr passed by and Professional because the comparability level, there’s been a profound shift in favour of the brand new machine.

Take Cyberpunk 2077, for instance, which launched in infamous kind on the last-gen machines, basically as a result of it is a next-gen recreation by nature. Its official ‘next-gen’ improve arrived and post-launch, Collection S specifically has acquired numerous love with the addition of a 60fps mode and FSR2 upscaling help. Primary picture high quality between Professional and S is sort of comparable, although Collection S appears to attract in additional environmental belongings, largely little bits of further geometry and texture layers.

Efficiency can be vastly improved – a wobbly 30fps on Professional turns into a nigh-on lock on Collection S, whereas the 60fps mode (though imperfect) is an evening and day improve. At common viewing distances, picture high quality is not too far off the standard mode both, particularly whenever you consider Cyberpunk’s attribute heavy post-processing. Loading occasions are one other game-changing enchancment for Collection S. For the report, whereas Professional has been our last-gen comparability level, Collection S can be a giant improve over Xbox One X too, decision aside.

The Callisto Protocol is analogous to Cyberpunk 2077 in that it is clearly designed for the brand new wave of {hardware} – and as soon as once more, Collection S copes higher than PS4 Professional and even Xbox One X, regardless of notionally increased rendering resolutions on last-gen machines (1440p vs circa 1080p on Collection S). Temporal anti-aliasing upscaling – TAAU – successfully bridges the decision gulf on this case and whereas the Collection S has cutbacks up in opposition to PS5 and Collection X, it is a far richer, much less compromised rendition of the sport with noticeably improved efficiency (the much less mentioned about last-gen’s 24fps cutscenes, the higher). It is one other complete win for the entry-level Xbox.

Much like Cyberpunk 2077, The Callisto Protocol is primarily designed for current-gen {hardware} – and regardless of a decision benefit, each PS4 Professional and Xbox One X fall type of the expertise delivered by Xbox Collection S.

Elden Ring is without doubt one of the larger technical curiousities of this era. It is undoubtedly an excellent recreation and in its personal approach, a fairly engaging one. Nevertheless, From Software program has made very poor decisions when it comes to the sport’s primary visible configuration, concentrating on unlocked frame-rates on the improved last-gen consoles and current-gen machines. It is a barely maddening setup made all the more serious by the just about complete lack of enchancment on consoles for the reason that recreation launched virtually a yr in the past.

PS4 Professional’s 1800p checkerboard presentation has an unlocked frame-rate that sometimes sits within the mid-30s. Drops beneath are potential, however the typical run of play is 30-35fps – a juddery, unstable mess. The Collection S has principally the identical efficiency stage in its 1440p high quality mode, however the system gives a frame-rate mode that clocks in at about 50-60fps more often than not, although it’s sometimes sub-60fps, annoyingly, and may drop into the 40s and 30s, accompanied by a dynamic decision drop. Nevertheless, system-level VRR saves the day, delivering a clean presentation on fashionable screens. That is one in every of a small handful of the way to salvage affordable efficiency from the console variations of Elden Ring, and it’s efficient, although it will not work for everybody.

Elden Ring actually requires a exact setup to supply a fluid gameplay expertise and neither Collection S or Professional offers an excellent out-of-the-box expertise however at the least Collection S is fixable with a great show, and within the occasion you should play the sport on a non-VRR panel the general frame-rate is respectably excessive at the least, although the judder is disagreeable. So Collection S chalks up one other win right here as properly, although neither machine is providing a very passable expertise in a traditional sense.

An in depth-up take a look at the brand new revision of The Witcher 3, with Collection S stacked up in opposition to current-gen counterparts and – sure – PlayStation 4 Professional.

The Witcher 3’s next-gen improve as soon as once more reveals some great benefits of a extra fashionable {hardware} design. If we had booted up this recreation a month or two in the past, we would be caught with the bottom Xbox One codepath on Collection S, producing some less-than-ideal outcomes. However Collection S is now residence to a local model delivering a 1440p goal decision high quality mode, up in opposition to PS4 Professional’s checkerboard 4K. Collection S seems much less detailed general, however CDPR’s use of FSR 2 handles aliasing way more successfully than the primitive anti-aliasing out there on the Professional, producing a way more steady picture. Efficiency mode takes one other step down right here as a byproduct of its decrease 1080p pixel goal, although it nonetheless seems fairly presentable.

Nevertheless, each different facet of the Collection S model is considerably improved over the Professional model. Foliage density, draw distance, and shading high quality all take a giant leap right here, producing a way more vibrant pure atmosphere. There are additionally boosts to mannequin high quality, city NPC density, and shadow decision – plus efficiency is improved, if not excellent. VRR once more gives a wonderful answer although the frame-rate points aren’t too impactful general, even on a conventionally-refreshed show panel. The Collection S pulls forward of the Professional on principally each significant metric right here, though the superior ray tracing of the Collection X, PS5, and PC variations is sadly absent.

I talked concerning the Xbox One X vs Xbox Collection S face-off I produced final yr – embedded in video kind on this web page – which was way more evenly matched, however in early 2023, the scenario could be very totally different. Throughout a wide range of cross-gen software program the Collection S is in a a lot stronger place, delivering considerably extra performant video games than the improved last-gen consoles. With generational enhancements in CPU velocity and storage, the Collection S has main elementary benefits that eighth-gen consoles merely cannot match. Throughout a wide range of titles, together with a number of that did not fairly make this video, consoles just like the PS4 Professional are getting left behind.

Wanting again at how Xbox Collection S stacked up in opposition to Xbox One X this time final yr.

And there is one other key issue that in the end favours the Collection S greater than anything: a spread of video games are merely not being launched on last-gen consoles. In 2023 most key software program has no deliberate eighth-generation console model. In 2022, PS4 Professional continued to ship some nice first-party exclusives like Horizon Forbidden West, Gran Turismo 7 and God of Struggle Ragnarök along with third celebration fare.

Seeking to 2023, main video games like Spider-Man 2, Lifeless House and Suicide Squad are unique to current-gen consoles and PCs. Whereas there are just a few main items of generation-straddling video games nonetheless to come back – most notably Resident Evil 4 and Diablo 4 – the overwhelming sense is that older consoles are quickly approaching their sell-by date, and even first-party help is dropping off. The final two years have been beneficiant to older {hardware}, with a frankly overwhelming quantity of cross-gen software program, however that’s about to finish. Even in 2022, titles like A Plague Story Requiem, Want for Velocity Unbound and Gotham Knights by no means made their approach onto the last-gen machines.

And that is for good purpose. Netbook-class CPUs and sluggish mechanical storage have hamstrung last-generation consoles and essentially restrict the capabilities of cross-gen video games. Collection S has the CPU and SSD grunt to hold with the premium current-gen consoles – techniques just like the PS4 Professional and Xbox One X don’t. The graphics {hardware} between the Collection S and last-gen machines is not a world aside, however fixating on uncooked graphics compute is a mistake, it is only one facet of a console design, and arguably probably the most scalable one. There is no doubt that builders could also be challenged by its limitations, however cross-gen comparisons plus UE5 deployments like The Matrix Awakens and Fortnite show that the machine is succesful sufficient as we transfer away from this extended cross-gen transition interval into the following period for gaming.