© 2020 The Royal Society of Chemistry. Complex faceted geometries and compositional anisotropy in alloy nanoparticles (NPs) can enhance catalytic performance. We report on the preparation of binary PtNi NPs via a co-thermolytic approach in which we optimize the synthesis variables, which results in significantly improved catalytic performance. We used scanning transmission electron microscopy to characterise the range of morphologies produced, which included spherical and concave cuboidal core-shell structures. Electrocatalytic activity was evaluated using a rotating disc electrode (1600 rpm) in 0.1 M HClO4; the electrocatalytic performance of these Ni@Pt NPs showed significant (∼11-fold) improvement compared to a commercial Pt/C catalyst. Extended cycling revealed that electrochemical surface area was retained by cuboidal PtNi NPs post 5000 electrochemical cycles (0.05-1.00 V, vs. SHE). This is attributed to the enclosure of Ni atoms by a thick Pt shell, thus limiting Ni dissolution from the alloy structures. The novel synthetic strategy presented here results in a high yield of Ni@Pt NPs which show excellent electro-catalytic activity and useful durability.