Article 1 - Playstation 3 vs Xbox 360 Graphics Comparison

Many of you are wondering whether to purchase the Playstation 3 (PS3) or Xbox 360 (X360), or even to forgo either opportunity and wait for the next-generation consoles. I'm not going to tell you which console to purchase, there are simply too many factors to consider, such as exclusive games, gamepad comfort, or graphics. I can, however, inform you of the basic differences of graphics supported on each console. While I will be discussing about graphics, I'll give you a good informative comparison about each console's video output rating. I know there are thousands of other comparisons performed between these two consoles, but I'll give you a more informed comparison.

I'll ignore the bashing between loyal fans of each console and how one system is superior to the other. But do they know the truth about the the console that they support?

Let's examine the rated video output of each console. The PS3 is rated at 1080p, similarly, the X360 is also rated at 1080p. For those who are unfamiliar, 1080p represents a 16:9 ratio video output consisting of 1920 horizontal pixels and 1080 vertical pixels; hence, the 1080p rating. In order to achieve a 1080p video output, you must have the correct cable (HDMI, vga), and supported television.

If you got the hardware requirements, that's good, but does that necessarily mean you will be playing games at that resolution? Not necessarily, in fact, many games do not even output at that resolution although, the game box indicates otherwise. These corporations are not lying, nor are they overstating the rating. So what's the big deal?

In order for you to play the game at maximum resolution, the game must be outputting that resolution at that exact moment. Many games do not.

Take for example, Gran Turismo 5 (GT5), Final Fantasy 13 (FF13), Grand Theft Auto 4 (GTA4), and Metal Gear Solid 4 (MGS4) each do not output at 1080p all the time. I use these games as an example, because they are one of my favourites, and still are, despite I feel cheated because I play these games at an upscaled resolution.

Each of these games output at around 720p (GT5 is slightly higher, but is far but 1080p). There are only selected moments where 1080p is truly being streamed to your television; for example, during 1080p cutscenes in FF13.

So, what does upscaled mean? Upscale refers to the pixel expanding of a video output to fit a raster screen that is larger than the outputted resolution. For example, if a game outputs at 720p (usually 1280x720), and your television has a native resolution of 1080p, then each outputted pixel is somewhat copied twice onto your television. I say *somewhat* because other filters and adaptive graphical processes such as anti-aliasing changes each pixel a little and rastering is an approximation in terms of graphics.

I have included some comparison images below from FF13. You may need to open them to view them in full sizes to see the differences.

Original 720p FF13 Wallpaper.

Upscaled 720p FF13 Wallpaper. Notice the blurring of the text underneath the Final Fantasy logo.

Original 1080p FF13 Wallpaper.

We need upscaling because it smooths the picture for our eyes to accept. The eye can tolerate a little bit of noise, and thus, this upscaling approach is a way to make our eyes not notice the doubling of each pixel. If upscaling did not occur, then pictures will look blocky and unfavourable, definitely not what these game companies would want.

I will admit, there are a handful of games that are purely 1080p, but these games are typically at a slower pace or more simple in terms of hardware requirements. For example, Tetris might fit an example, since the graphical requirements is by far lower than some others such as the FF13's super realistic in-game visuals.

Next time you purchase a game, do consider the actual video output of a game instead of purely relying on the stated rating.

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