But wait! I'm not slamming the PlayStation 4. A gaming PC is not a gaming console. Unlike gaming PCs, which can be overclocked and water cooled and often cost north of $1000, consoles need to balance performance, cost, and thermals in order to appeal to the mainstream masses while simultaneously staying small and quiet enough for living room use. These constraints place inherent limits on what these next-gen consoles can accomplish.
"Given consumer pricing, and given the cost of production of a gamer PC and the amount of watts of power it needs--which is like a fridge--it's impossible [for next-gen consoles to match the power of gaming PCs]," Crytek's Yerli explained in his Eurogamer interview.
All that said, Sony's design decisions make a lot of sense. (Just ask Doom creator and programming prodigy John Carmack.) Assuming AMD's Jaguar cores follow the lead of their Bobcat predecessors, they'll sip power and run cool and quiet.
Sure, an entry-level mobile CPU may not match the raw power of a decent desktop processor, but the PlayStation 4's power will still blow the pants off the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in terms of sheer computing chops--and the GPU has always been the more important component for consoles in any case.
Simply focusing on nuts and bolts, however, ignores the biggest trick the PlayStation 4 has up its sleeve.
"Hardware-only, the PS4's 2TFLOP capabilities put them on the same bar as AMD's 7870 when you factor in GPU and CPU," Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst at Moor Insights and Strategy, told us via email. Important note: Moorhead was a longtime VP of Strategy at AMD prior to founding his firm.
"This is only one view, though--the other being software," Moorhead says. "Sony's development kit and games operate closer to the actual metal of the hardware, meaning they can get it to do more for games than a traditional PC. The PS3 has seven-year-old graphics technology in it, yet it can deliver some very good graphical experiences. Imagine what the PS4 will be able to do with current high-end technology."
Better yet, don't imagine. The video below shows a live demo of the PlayStation 4 title Killzone: Shadow Fall being played on "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon." (Jump ahead two minutes to cut straight to the gaming action.) Uncanny valley, here we come!
What does it all mean?