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June 26, 2017

Nintendo Switch vs PS4 vs Xbox One: Which should you choose?

by John_A

With the Nintendo Switch doing remarkably well and Microsoft to release the Xbox One X on the build up to Christmas, you could be forgiven for being stumped when it comes to your next console choice. The PS4 Pro is even winking at you from another corner of your local game store.

And then there is the Xbox One S and standard PS4, for those on a tighter budget. It’s enough to make your head spin faster than the waltzer at a travelling fairground.

That’s why we look at the three major games consoles and their variants to see which would best suit you.

  • Nintendo Switch review: Return of the king?
  • Nintendo Switch vs Wii U: What’s the difference?

Nintendo Switch vs PS4 vs Xbox One: Hardware

The Nintendo Switch is markedly different from its rivals in hardware terms. Without going too deep into the specifications, it has a mobile processing architecture from Nvidia that is a heavily modified Tegra X1 chipset, while the PS4 and Xbox One consoles all opt for more conventional computing power.

What this means in real terms and how most games will run will be established more over time.

Our initial experiences are that games such as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild run in 900p 30fps on the Switch in TV mode and 720p in 30 frames per second in handheld mode. Other games, such as Mario Kart 8 Deluxe have the potential of running in 1080p/720p 60fps. Most Xbox One S and standard PS4 games run at 1080p these days, with some achieving 60fps.

The PS4 Pro and Xbox One X are capable of stretching that up to 4K resolutions.

Both the Xbox One consoles and PS4s are capable of high dynamic response (HDR) graphics too. The Switch is not.

Where the Switch has a distinct advantage over its direct rivals is in portability. It doubles as both a home console and handheld games machine so is the only one you can take on your travels with you, to play the exact same games on its built-in 6.2-inch screen.

Nintendo Switch vs PS4 vs Xbox One: Disc drives and storage

The Xbox One S, Xbox One X, PS4 Pro and PS4 have physical disc drives, with the Xbox One consoles even able to play 4K Ultra HD Blu-rays. Weirdly, Sony, even as a founding member of the Blu-ray Disc Association, decided against adding a 4K deck to its latest consoles. They are still able to play conventional 1080p Blu-rays, however.

The Nintendo Switch can do neither. The Japanese firm has opted to dispense with discs altogether, with games coming on cartridge instead, much like the 3DS and Nintendo consoles of yore.

Games are also be available via download stores, but considering how stingy Nintendo has been with on-board storage, you’ll have to invest in a microSD card to store more than a couple at a time.

  • Nintendo Switch storage full? The best microSD card offers to buy and avoid download disappointment

The Xbox One S can be spec’ed from 500GB to 2TB, although the 1TB version is the max you’ll really find in stores. The Xbox One X will also come with a 1TB drive on release in October.

The latest PS4 and PS4 Pro can be spec’ed up to 1TB. All Xbox and PlayStation machines have the ability to increase the storage through third-party hard drives – via external USB 3.0 HDDs. The PS4s can also be expanded through swapping the internal 3.5-inch internal drives.

The Switch, on the other hand, comes with 32GB of built-in storage. 32GB. The new Zelda takes up around half of that if you buy it from the Nintendo eShop. 

Nintendo Switch vs PS4 vs Xbox One: Games

When it comes to quantity of games, the Xbox One and PS4 consoles clearly win hands down thanks to being around for more than three years apiece. The Nintendo Switch is only just starting its life cycle.

But the Switch’s line-up is expanding at a rapid pace, and the confirmed games list for the rest of 2017 is actually looking healthy. More than 100 games are coming before the end of 2017.

  • All the Nintendo Switch games: Launch titles and every game for 2017 revealed

Quality is more subjective. Nintendo has some bone fide triple-A titles out now or coming up that you won’t find on any other platform, such as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Super Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Super Mario Odyssey. The former is on Wii U too, but won’t appear on any non-Nintendo machine.

Of course, both Xbox and PlayStation have their own exclusives, with Forza Motorsport 7 and Sea of Thieves coming soon for the Xbox One and Uncharted: The Lost Legacy coming for PS4. The PlayStation also has the superb Horizon Zero Dawn, which is available now.

The area where Nintendo Switch needs to improve upon, over the Wii U anyway, is in having some of the same big, multi-platform games as the others. FIFA 18 is coming, for example, but there’s no sign of a Red Dead Redemption 2 or the like.

One area that Switch does trump its rivals is in motion gaming. While the other two have largely shunned the format, the Switch embraces its Wii heritage with its clip-on Joy-Con controllers also doubling as motion remotes. This could bring families back to Nintendo in their droves.

Nintendo Switch vs PS4 vs Xbox One: Media

All Xbox One and PS4 consoles are great media streamers as well as games machines. They each have Netflix and Amazon Video apps, with the Xbox One S offering both in 4K HDR (as will the One X). The PS4 Pro offers Netflix in 4K HDR too.

BBC iPlayer and other terrestrial TV catch-up services can be found on the consoles too.

The Nintendo Switch doesn’t have any of the services available, at least not at present. Nintendo said that it is concentrating on games primarily and could introduce media streaming somewhere down the line.

Nintendo Switch vs PS4 vs Xbox One: Price

As both the PS4 and Xbox One have been around for a while, prices have dropped dramatically since their original launches in 2013.

You can buy an Xbox One S at an RRP of £250, although it can be bought for as little as £200 if you shop around. A standard PS4 costs around £250. What’s more, they both come with at least one game.

The Nintendo Switch is £280. And it doesn’t come with a game.

The PS4 Pro will set you back around £350 with a game.

Microsoft’s Xbox One X – dubbed the “most powerful console ever” – will be priced at a staggering £450 on launch.

Game prices for all consoles range between £40 and £60. But if you shop around you can make some significant savings, even for brand new Switch games. Check out, for example, it has many of the big titles for as much as £15 off.

Nintendo Switch vs PS4 vs Xbox One: Availability

Both the Xbox One S and PS4, in both its new and PS4 Pro guises, are readily available.

The Nintendo Switch is also widely available now.

The Xbox One X will be released on 7 November 2017.

  • Xbox One X: Release date, price, specs and everything you need to know
  • Xbox One X pre-order: How, where and when to pre-order

Nintendo Switch vs PS4 vs Xbox One: Conclusion

It is clear to see that the Nintendo Switch is a very different games console to the other machines. In many ways, it could be seen as an ideal second machine for hardcore gamers.

If anything, from what we’ve seen so far, it could be a Nintendo 3DS or PS Vita replacement as much as a home console alternative.

The motion gaming aspects could be a big draw too, especially if plenty of family-oriented games are made available. This is an area where Nintendo excelled with the Wii and it therefore offered something different to the Xbox 360 and PS3 of the time. The same could be true again.

The biggest barrier is price, with the Switch considerably more expensive than the standard Xbox One and PS4 thanks to being the new kid on the block. It might be worth waiting until Christmas, therefore, when Super Mario Odyssey is due to join the fray.

But then, Microsoft’s Xbox One X will be looming large around the same time, albeit at an even chunkier price point.

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