900p Versus 1080p: Is It Noticeable?

When the next generation consoles were first revealed, the common assumption of many gamers was that they would be able to run games natively in 1080p. This, however, has proven not to be the case, as many big titles such as Assassin's Creed: Unity have been downscaled to accommodate limits of the hardware inside the consoles. This downscaling has been the cause of a lot of debate. Thus, the question arises: Is 900p noticeably lower quality than 1080p? Let's look at some side-by-side comparisons of affected games running on both consoles to find out.

The first comparison is between the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 versions of Thief, a game that is notorious for requiring lots of video memory for textures and anti-aliasing. While the PlayStation 4 version of the game runs natively at 1080p, the Xbox One only runs the game at 900p. Below is a screenshot (click to enlarge) comparing both versions of the game side to side.



Do you notice any difference? I don't ... nothing major anyways. When closely examining the above image, slight improvements to textures are visible on various objects in the scene, but for the most part, both versions of the game render the exact same image.

Now let's take a look at a screenshot from Metro Redux. Once again, the PlayStation 4 version of the game runs at a native 1080p, while the Xbox One suffers from a slight resolution reduction.


Metro Redux Xbox one vs Playstation 4 Comparison


This screenshot shows a bit more of a difference. When examining the bump-mapping on the table, the Xbox One version has slightly lower quality.

Now that we have seen two examples of differing resolution, it's time to answer the question: Is it noticeable? The short answer: No, not really.

Take into account the bias of a side-by-side comparison when measuring the two consoles' graphical performance. Technically, the PlayStation 4 versions of the game look better. How could they not? Higher resolution will always result in higher image quality. However, you must ask yourself: If you were trying to compare the two games in real time, would you be able to spot the differences? The comparisons above show nearly imperceivable differences in quality. If a side-by-side comparison fails to show a reasonable difference in image quality, it is safe to say that the slight resolution reduction from 1080p to 900p is not noticeable, and criticism of such downscaling is solely for the purpose of fueling the console wars.

- Reid Wildenhaus

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