We wanted to test the install times of both new consoles, so we plugged a PS4 into an Xbox One's TV input and watched them race to install a game. You can see in our video, there's a big difference in the two systems.
Both the Xbox One and PS4 require all games to be installed from the disc, due to the increasing size of games and the relatively low speed of optical drives. So both consoles have a feature that allows you to launch a game as soon as enough content is installed to begin running it, while the rest of the data continues to install in the background. Our test was how long it takes to launch the game from the time you insert a disc, with a normal console connected to the internet.
We tested six multiplatform games on both consoles and every time, the PS4 was under a minute while the Xbox One install was several minutes long and required downloading an update before beginning the installation. When you include downloading those updates for each Xbox One game that happen in the background on PS4, the install times can get as high as fifteen minutes before you can even launch the game.
Remember that this is only a test of how long the games initially take to install. Once the games are fully installed, they take about the same amount of time to boot up on either console.
So here's the general idea: You put in a game to install it, a progress bar comes up, and at some point you can launch the game and start playing while it keeps installing.
On PS4, after inserting a disc, you'll be shown a progress bar that ends when you're able to launch the game, and if there's a day-one update, it downloads in the background, and you can install it when you want to play online or whatever the case may be for that update.
On Xbox One, you insert a disc and are shown a progress bar showing the percentage of the full installation, and when enough is installed to run the game, you'll see a message that says "Ready to Start!" The only difference is that the installation from the disc doesn't seem to start until you've downloaded and installed the update.
Now, there's another big difference here. Both consoles will let you know when the game is ready to launch. But once you get into the game, some parts may not be finished installing. For ACIV and Battlefield 4, that would mean the multiplayer modes (on both platforms). However, it seems that Xbox One lets you launch a game even before some singleplayer content is ready. I tested this with Madden 25 on Xbox One. Once the game was "ready to start" most modes like Connected Franchise or Practice were locked off until the game was completely installed. However, after installing the same game on PS4, those modes were playable after the initial install, which took 38 seconds.
We tested Assassin's Creed IV on two different Xbox Ones, and had the same issue, resulting in standing in that beautiful Animus loading void while it installed the last bits of singleplayer content required to start the story. Although in that case it only required a couple of extra minutes to get those modes. Unlike Madden, the full disc didn't need to be installed. On both consoles, the game has a timer or progress meter in the main menu telling you the progress of the full install. So at least you aren't left blindly guessing when you'll be able to play.
Since all of the games we were testing required an update, we factored this into our times. On the PS4, they happened in the background and didn't affect our ability to install or begin the game, while on Xbox One, the installation from disc wouldn't begin until after the update finished.
I was using an Xbox One connected via Wi-Fi, getting about 9-11Mbps download speed, so we ran a test with another Xbox on a faster internet connection installing Assassin's Creed IV to see how much of a difference that could make in downloading the update. To give you an idea of the time difference the 300-500MB updates added, we tested installing Assassin's Creed IV on two consoles with the internet disconnected.
[Since this has been asked in the comments a lot: We recorded these times with the consoles hooked up normally. Even though having the PS4 plugged into the Xbox shouldn't affect anything, we only did that for the video]
Assassin's Creed IV:
Xbox One (offline, no update): 5 minutes 50 seconds
Xbox One (with update, fastest connection): 7 minutes 2 seconds
Xbox One (with update, 10Mbps connection): 10 minutes 32 seconds
PS4: 42 seconds
The rest of these were tested on our office Wi-Fi which is around 9-11Mbps. It may have been faster on a wired connection, but you can compare your own connection speed here. These are our results:
Need For Speed Rivals:
XBO: 09:25 (including update)
Just Dance 2014:
XBO: 08:48 (including update)
NBA Live 14:
XBO: 16:26 (including update)
XBO: 16:06 (including update)
XBO: 9:38 (including update)
Do you have an Xbox One or PS4? Time a test, and let us know what you get. Include your internet speed, and make sure to note any other important information. Like if you timed from putting the disc in to launching the game, or actually getting to gameplay, or some other metric.
Song by stelios_strong