A video offering a side-by-side comparison of Epic Games' Unreal Engine 4 running on a PC and on a PlayStation 4 has been released, offering gamers the first glimpse at what some in the industry claim will be putting gaming PCs to shame for years to come.
Much has been made of the potential performance of Sony's upcoming PlayStation 4 console: while its high-throughput - but relatively high-latency - 8GB of GDDR5 memory, shared between the system and the graphics processor, is certainly impressive, its use of AMD's accelerated processing unit (APU) technology for both central and graphics processing has others concerned. Early demonstrations of the console's capabilities at a press event - which did not, oddly, include actually showing off the console - helped demonstrate the difference between what is possible on the PS4 compared to the current-generation PS3, but stopped short of comparing the device to gaming PCs with more powerful graphics cards and faster, Intel-based central processors.
With Sony clearly unwilling to make the direct comparison, that's something that is going to be up to third-parties to do - and that's exactly what the latest video from game capture experts Digital Foundry
has done. Taking footage released by Epic in 2012 of its Unreal Engine 4 running on an Intel Core i7 processor with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 680 graphics card and comparing it to the same demonstration running on a PlayStation 4, released by Epic last week at the Games Developers Conference (GDC,) it's now possible for the first time to make a near-direct comparison between a gaming PC and the PS4.
We say "near-direct" with good reason, however: Eurogamer's Richard Leadbetter notes in the release of the video that Epic has made some fundamental changes to the demo since it was first released last year, meaning not all scenes are directly comparable. Despite this, it's still possible to make one clear observation: particle effects and other computationally-intensive aspects of the engine have been noticeably reduced in the PlayStation 4 version of the engine in order to keep things ticking along at an acceptable speed.
That's not as bad as it sounds, however: the video is still impressive, running as it is in real-time on a device expected to hit the market for around £300 - the sort of money that will barely buy you the Nvidia GTX 680 of Epic's 2012 demo release, never mind an entire high-end gaming PC.
What it does show, however, is that the PlayStation 4 will not be enough to win PC gaming aficionados across to the dark side of console gaming - and while a PS4-beating gaming PC might be significantly more expensive than just buying a PS4 when the device launches, towards the end of its life-span - typically around five years for a modern console - that balance will shift dramatically, especially for those who don't mind buying their gaming hardware second-hand.
In other words: claims by Avalanche Studios' Linus Blomberg that the PS4 will out-power gaming PCs for years to come
aren't exactly on the money, and while Nvidia's scorn for the console
may be somewhat closer to the mark - at least, for those with the budget to get involved in high-end PC gaming.