Nintendo Switch vs PS4: Which one to buy?
Nintendo Switch versus PS4. Who will emerge victorious from a battle between these two consoles? Both options are exciting in their own way and offer a lot in terms of game design, 3D art, UI, or just a way to relax, but they offer very different experiences.
The Switch is Nintendo’s latest console and offers a less powerful but more versatile gaming experience than the PlayStation – or Xboxes or PCs, for that matter. It’s also cheaper and at least a little easier to find in stock too.
The PS4, despite not being the last PlayStation since the arrival of the PS5, is still a good buy for now as PlayStation game developers are still producing plenty of titles for the console. And considering how difficult it is to buy a PS5 at the moment, buying the old model as a stopgap solution isn’t such a bad idea.
While there is more than one model of each of these consoles, our Nintendo Switch vs PS4 face-off below will primarily compare the standard Switch and PS4. Read on for a feature-by-feature breakdown. Once you’ve made your choice, be sure to check out our guides to the best Nintendo Switch deals and cheapest PS4 deals
Nintendo Switch vs. PS4: Design
The Switch is a much friendlier device than the PS4, especially if you buy it in its original neon red and blue color scheme. It consists of several parts: the console itself, the two detachable Joy-Con controllers, and the Switch Dock, which lets you play games on a separate screen, charge the Switch, and plug in an additional USB accessory ( see our full Nintendo Switch review for more details).
The PS4 is available in black or white, with black being by far the most common color. It certainly looks good with its neat tiered build and subtle logos, which is just as well considering it could live right in your front room and shouldn’t distract people. Something Sony apparently forgot with the PS5!
Of these two consoles, only the Switch is designed for mobile gaming. It’s easily lightweight and small enough to put in a bag, while the PS4 is designed to live near a TV or monitor full time.
Nintendo Switch vs. PS4: Display
This category is for the Switch, as it comes with a built-in 6.2-inch 720p (HD) LCD display. Alternatively, you can get a 5.5-inch HD LCD display on the Switch Lite or a 7-inch 720p OLED display if you decide to go with the OLED model. However, we also need to compare Switch and PS4 outputs to connect them to a monitor as well.
When docked, the Switch can output up to 1080p (Full HD) at 60 frames per second, just like the PS4. So if you’re sitting around gaming at home, you won’t notice any difference in resolution or frame rate. But you’ll probably notice a difference in graphics quality, for reasons we’ll cover below.
Nintendo Switch vs. PS4: Battery
We have already mentioned portability. Unless you have a massive power bank or portable generator on your person, the PS4 has no battery life; it is a DC console only. The Switch does, however, and its battery lasts between 4.5 and 9 hours on a single charge.
Nintendo Switch vs. PS4: Controllers
The Switch comes with a pair of Joy-Con controllers. These are particularly versatile, being able to act as a full controller, motion controls or even two separate controllers with a single joystick and a pair of shoulder buttons each. They also contain an NFC reader and an infrared remote control for use with certain games and accessories.
The Dualshock 4 that comes with the PS4 isn’t nearly as versatile, but it’s more specialized. It offers the same combination of face and shoulder buttons in a slightly different arrangement. It has motion control capabilities, but it’s rare to find PS4 games that use them.
There’s also a touchpad in the center of the controller, which can be used as an extra button or more precise input depending on the game you’re playing. On the back of the controller, you’ll find the “light bar”, which glows in different colors to indicate in-game action or to show which player is which in a multiplayer game. On the front, you’ll find a 3.5mm headphone jack, which can be used with headphones to play games silently.
The load of these two types of controllers is also different. The Joy-Cons charge when connected to the Switch in handheld mode or stored on the docked console. The DualShock 4 recharges via a micro USB port, either from the USB cable supplied with the console, or from any other source.
Nintendo Switch vs. PS4: Performance
The Switch runs on a custom Nvidia Tegra X1 chipset, while the PS4 packs an AMD Jaguar CPU and 1.84 TFlops AMD Radeon GPU. This translates to the fact that even though it was released several years before the Nintendo Switch, the PS4 surpasses it in terms of overall computing power.
If you look at the type of game graphics available for either system, you’ll have no trouble telling them apart thanks to the PS4’s higher graphics fidelity. You’ll notice the difference even more if you find a PS4 Pro. This console offers extra processing power and can output games in 4K.
Nintendo Switch vs. PS4: Games
While neither console leaves you hard to choose from, the best Nintendo Switch games generally tend to focus on family, local co-op, or multiplayer experiences, while PS4, like Xbox or PC, aims for a more dedicated online audience, including titles for more mature gamers.
Games for both consoles come in two different formats. The Switch uses a unique game card format, while the PS4 accepts Blu-Ray discs. Both consoles also support download-only games.
Another important difference with the gaming experience on these consoles is their built-in storage. The Switch has 32GB of storage by default (64GB on the Switch OLED), but can take up to 2TB of additional storage via a microSD card. The PS4 comes with 500GB or 1TB of storage by default depending on the model you buy, but can also be expanded with external USB hard drives or SSDs, or even opened up to swap out a larger 3.5-inch hard drive if you’re feeling daring.
Nintendo Switch vs. PS4: Entertainment
The PS4 comes into its own when it delivers experiences beyond gaming. It lets you download a selection of media streaming apps for video and music, and can connect to different streaming services to let you to play games with an audience. You can also use the Blu-Ray player to play Blu-Rays and DVDs (although CDs won’t work), or connect USB devices to play music and movies.
There is a YouTube app available for the Nintendo Switch, but that’s about it. The Switch will not function as a full home entertainment center if you connect it to your TV.
Nintendo Switch vs. PS4: Price
The standard Nintendo Switch starts at $299/£259, the Lite costs less at $199/£199 and the OLED model costs more at $349/£309. The PS4 started at $400 / £350 when it launched, but that price has since fluctuated due to new design revisions and rarity.
However, there is also the issue of availability. Despite supply difficulties, the Nintendo Switch continues to roll out of factories and retailers are regularly restocking. On the other hand, while it still produces PS4s, it can be hard to get one now that it’s been replaced by the PS5 (which is also hard to get!)
Nintendo Switch vs. PS4: conclusion
Overall, there is no clear winner in our Nintendo Switch vs PS4 battle. Beyond being machines for playing games, the Switch and the PS4 are completely different experiences. Nintendo’s option is best for playing a variety of games with traditional or motion controls right out of the box and is the only one of the two to offer a convenient portable experience outside of your home. It also has the advantage of being a current-gen console, so more updates and games will only increase its desirability.
The PS4, meanwhile, is now in its twilight years, so we’ll see fewer and fewer games launching for the console. However, it still has a huge library of great games, many of which are more spectacular than anything you’ll get on the Switch in terms of looks. It’s also the best console for features beyond gaming, thanks to its streaming capabilities, but it can be hard to track down.