PS5 vs Xbox Series X – will either console have a clear edge in the next generation?

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The PS5 vs Xbox Series X battle has officially begun. We now have the PS5 price and a PS5 release date to go with the Xbox Series X release date and price, so we can contrast and compare the consoles and what they offer in terms of games, specs, and the damage points they’re going to do to your wallet. 

With Xbox Series X and PS5 both promising a leap forward in performance, – putting them on the same level as some of the best gaming PCs on the market – the question of PS5 vs Xbox Series X when it comes to which machine to invest in has never been bigger, or harder. And now we’ve got the Xbox Series S to think about too. 

Luckily, we’re by your side, combing through all those tech specs and fine details to help us figure out which machine will be crowned the winner in the Series X vs PS5 battle. 

PS5 vs Xbox Series X – specs

PS5 vs Xbox Series X

(Image credit: Microsoft)

One of the key components of any generational shift is the pursuit of power. You know the drill: bigger, badder, and more powerful. All those buzzwords will rear their heads again as we get closer to release day. 

It’s not an exaggeration, though. The introduction of new hardware gives developers an opportunity to adjust their ambitions, and they’ll be able to shoot for the stars now more than ever. Indeed, Sony and Microsoft will be able to redefine what is possible in interactive entertainment with the PS5 and Xbox Series X. Make no mistake – fundamental changes to the way we play are coming, and it all starts with the tech packed into a sleek black or white box.

At the heart of this next-generation initiative is the CPU (‘central processing unit’) and GPU (‘graphics processing unit’). If the CPU is a brain handling internal calculations, then the GPU is the heart; it’s used to render graphics and enhance the processor’s functionality by accelerating and redistributing data flow. Wondering what that means? Basically, the CPU and GPU need to work in harmony for the next-gen consoles to achieve more realistic visuals and the likes of ray tracing. Unsurprisingly, both Sony and Microsoft have opted to pair once again with tech-company AMD on this front.

The consoles’ SSD (‘solid state drive’) is equally important. This allows for much quicker loading, and it’s a real game-changer. Say goodbye to loading screens as we know them.

Is PS5 more powerful than Xbox Series X?

Let’s dive into the details. As announced via the initial PS5 specs, its CPU will be a custom third-generation Ryzen chip (an eight-core Zen 2 behemoth packed with AMD’s proprietary 7nm Zen Microarchitecture). As for the PS5 GPU, it’s a heavily customized variant of AMD’s Radeon Navi, which can simulate 3D audio and support ray-tracing. More specifically, it offers 10.28 teraFLOPs and 36 CUs (‘compute units’) at 2.23GHz. That’s paired with 16GB GDDR6 RAM. In terms of storage, the PS5 packs a custom 825GB SSD running at 5.5GB per second, with space for bonus NVMe SSDs or standard hard drives if you’d prefer. 

You can see the full spec lineup below, courtesy of Eurogamer/Digital Foundry.

PS5 vs Xbox Series X

(Image credit: Digital Foundry/Eurogamer)

Microsoft has been just as forthcoming with specifics on the Xbox Series X specs. Like Sony, they’ve been working with AMD to co-engineer a custom system-on-chip platform (which effectively means the CPU and GPU are integrated). They’ve also got an eight-core Zen 2 system, but theirs clocks in at 3.8GHz. Meanwhile, the GPU can handle 12 teraFLOPs with 52 CUs at 1.825GHz. This allows Xbox Series X to support hardware-accelerated real-time ray tracing, leading to gorgeous visuals. Finally, the console has 16GB GDDR6 RAM with a hefty 1TB SSD running at 2.4GB per second. If you want more, it can be supported with the official Xbox Series X Storage Expansion Card that offers an extra 1TB of space.

Again, we’ve posted the full specs below.

PS5 vs Xbox Series X

(Image credit: Microsoft)

So, let’s address the elephant in the room: on paper, there’s a big difference between the two consoles regarding CPU, GPU, and SSD storage. Specifically, the Xbox Series X seems to edge into the lead with each. 

Case closed? Not quite. Things are much more complicated when you dig a little deeper. To begin with, there’s only a tiny gap between the two CPUs in power (particularly because the Series X only manages 3.6GHz with simultaneous multithreading to improve efficiency), and they’ll probably be near-identical in terms of performance as a result. As for graphics, the Series X has the lion’s share of power thanks to those two extra teraFLOPs… but isn’t likely to trot it out much beyond exclusives. Games on both platforms will be limited by the lowest common denominator, after all, so even if they’re slightly prettier on Xbox, there won’t be a tremendous amount in it. And frankly, it’s not how many teraFLOPs you have that matter – it’s how you use them. 

Speaking of which, things are complicated further by the difference in CU speed. Even though PS5 has fewer teraFLOPs, each of its 32 compute units is running at a higher 2.23GHz (at the other end of the scale, the Series X has 52 CUs running at 1.825GHz). It’s hard to tell which approach will work out better – they’re very different philosophies.

And that’s PS5 vs Xbox Series X in a nutshell. Without seeing the two systems running side by side, all of this is little more than posturing. Both consoles natively support 4K resolutions at 60 frames-per-second with promises of 8K in the future, for example, not to mention frame rates up to 120Hz in certain cases.

The subject of SSDs is a different matter, however. Even though the PS5’s storage looks inferior at first glance (825GB compared to 1TB for Series X), it’s actually got the advantage. That’s because of its speed. The PS5 SSD can manage 5.5GB per second, and this is double the Series X’s 2.4GB per second. What does that mean in layman’s terms? The PS5 will potentially be able to load faster. Much faster. Yes, it’s only 825GB in capacity, but this can always be added to via external HDDs or SSDs. In fact, both consoles’ SSDs are advanced enough that they can be used as virtual memory, hence the boost in loading times, open-world smoothness, and quick seamless changes between game screens or types.

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To summarise: both Microsoft and Sony believe it has engineered a system that will offer improvements to performance, graphics, and audio immersion over what we’ve seen in the Xbox One X and PS4 Pro era. E.g., everyone wins. 

It’s also worth noting that both systems will still accept physical media for the most part, with Sony and Microsoft committing to supporting Blu-ray for the foreseeable future despite the announcement of a digital-only PS5. Will Xbox follow suit with a cheaper, digital version of the console, as has often been rumored? We’ll have to wait and see.

Design and aesthetics

Finally – we now know what both consoles look like. Well, we’ve known about the Xbox Series X for a while, but getting a look at the PS5 design seems like it’s taken an age. That means we can compare the two systems at long last.

While a lot of it will come down to subjective personal taste, there’s a big difference between the consoles yet again. Sony’s effort is a bit more artistic, abstract, and adventurous compared to Microsoft’s sleek black box, while the latest Xbox is more businesslike with its PC-esque appearance. 

Naturally, this has split everyone down the middle. Some of the GamesRadar+ team value the more outlandish style of the PS5, for instance; why should we stick to dark boxes that are only designed to melt into the furniture? At the same time, others find it a little much (and more akin to a wifi router, if we’re being honest). 

With that in mind, the one you favor will probably come down to whether you want a set-piece or something that disappears into the background. Each approach is totally valid.

And let’s be frank – the console’s appearance will make absolutely no difference in terms of their ability to play games. Both seem bigger than their predecessors to accommodate those specs, but each one has managed to play hardware Tetris in squeezing so much technological wizardry into such a narrow space. We’ll have to see if the fans need to work overtime to compensate.

Controllers

PS5 vs Xbox Series X

(Image credit: Sony PlayStation)

Now that the PS5 controller – the DualSense – and the Xbox Series X controller have been unveiled, we have reached one of the most important next-gen milestones to date. Now, the real battle can begin: which next-gen console has the better handset?

Naturally, the obvious caveat is that it’s an impossible question to answer truthfully because we’ve not been able to go hands-on with either, but there are some interesting comparisons to be made all the same. 

To begin with, both make use of very different buzzwords. For Sony, it’s ‘new’. For Microsoft, it’s ‘accessibility’. These concepts impact almost every talking-point the companies have made thus far. As an example, we’ve been told time and again that the Series X handset is designed to be comfortable for as many people as possible. Per Xbox.com’s deep-dive, that means “rounding the bumpers, slightly reducing and rounding parts around the triggers, and carefully sculpting the grips”. Meanwhile, the PS5’s DualSense goes all-in on fresh technology that’ll revolutionize the way we play. Although the features we know and love are still present, the PlayStation Blog announcement was at pains to highlight how it brings a “new feeling of immersion to players”. That includes the ability to chat with friends via the controller itself, adaptive triggers for increased tension, haptic feedback, and a ‘Create’ button Sony promises will be as significant as the ‘Share’ function on the PS4’s controllers. 

Both companies are polar opposites when it comes to the future, too. PlayStation is embracing the new and the different with the DualSense. It even emphasises touch control, a feature that didn’t really go anywhere in the PS4 era. Meanwhile, Xbox is putting its focus on backward compatibility to ensure that the controller is usable across console generations. It has the option of using AA batteries, for instance (conversely, the DualSense is rechargeable by USB-C cables out of the box). Neither is right or wrong, of course; it’s just an intriguing contrast that’s defined their approach to the controllers.

PS5 vs Xbox Series X

(Image credit: Xbox Wire)

So, does that mean the DualSense won’t be accessible and the Series X controller won’t have anything new to offer? Far from it. Microsoft’s forging ahead in its own way by including a ‘share’ function, not to mention features heavily inspired by the Xbox Elite controllers (more precisely, the triggers and handles have tactile bumps for superior grip, while the d-pad is an all-new hybrid that combines different styles of play). As for PlayStation, “the DualSense has been tested by a wide range of gamers with a variety of hand sizes, in order for us to achieve the comfort level we wanted, with great ergonomics”.

In other words, they’re both very solid contenders that are likely to serve you well. They also have their fair share of potential flaws. The DualSense is undeniably more ambitious, but it remains to be seen whether games will support its new features in the long run. As for the Series X, it’s great to see the return of a classic… but is it a little dull? And seriously, are we really going to have to buy another Play and Charge Kit?

With that in mind, the ‘winner’ of this battle will depend on what you value. Are you more interested in backwards compatibility and a lean, focused controller without many bells or whistles? Or are you ready for a change?

Launch date

(Image credit: Microsoft)

The Xbox Series X has been confirmed for November 10 – along with the Xbox Series S. 

PS5 will reach shelves a few days later, November 12 in US, Japan, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, and South Korea, and on November 19 in the rest of the world. 

Services

Game Pass Xbox Series X

Image Credit: Microsoft

Microsoft knows better than anybody that the future of games is in services. This is an area in which Xbox Series X will have a clear advantage over the PS5, thanks to Microsoft’s huge investment in services such as Xbox Live, Play Anywhere, Games With Gold, and Xbox Game Pass. The company’s also thrown its weight behind the support of cross-platform play, game streaming, and third-party subscription services such as EA Access.

Xbox Series X will launch with an established, tested, and stable platform to draw from. Players will be able to immediately jump into hundreds of games on Xbox Series X thanks to the combination of backwards compatibility support and Game Pass, a subscription service that rotates hundreds of Xbox One, Xbox 360, and Xbox games every month – including all of the first-party Xbox Game Studio exclusives. Microsoft has created an extremely player-friendly, player-focused ecosystem through its services as a result.

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PlayStation announced additions to its PlayStation Plus service in the form of the PlayStation Plus Collection, a huge library of PS4 games to PS5 at launch.

VR

PS5 vs Xbox Series X

(Image credit: Sony)

If you want to experience virtual reality on console, you’ll want to invest in a PS5. It isn’t even a competition when it comes to VR. Microsoft has restated its belief that VR belongs on PC time and time again, while Sony has recently gone on record by doubling down on its commitment to the emerging tech after shifting more than four million units since its launch in 2016.

PS5 VR will be there waiting for you at launch if you want it. The current PSVR headset will be forward compatible with the PS5, although we wouldn’t be surprised to see Sony take a revised headset to market just after the launch of its upcoming system. Look at something like Oculus Quest, the new and moderately priced wireless VR headset from Oculus, and it’s clear that manufacturing costs are starting to tumble while the quality of components and screens is starting to rise. It would make sense that Sony would want a next-generation PSVR headset working alongside its next generation PS5 console, and given the increased power output of the system, good things could be coming to PSVR as a result. 

Backwards compatibility

PS5 vs Xbox Series X

(Image credit: Sony)

The PS5 and Xbox Series X will support backwards compatibility, albeit to varying degrees. PS5 backwards compatibility will indeed let you play some of your PS4 games on the new system, with Sony even going as far as to commit to what it is calling “cross-generation” support, designed to ensure that PS4 players are able to play multiplayer games with those that have already made the jump to PS5. This, Sony believes, will not only help foster healthy communities but help players migrate over to the new platform in good time too. There’s no word yet on what this means for legacy titles – PS1, PS2 and PS3 games – but there’s always a chance that these will be available to play on PS5 via a service like PlayStation Now. 

Unfortunately, not every PS4 game is making the jump right away. As discussed by lead PS5 architect Mark Cerny during the reveal stream, “we recently took a look at the top 100 PlayStation 4 titles as ranked by playtime, and we’re expecting almost all of them to be playable at launch on PlayStation 5”. What does that mean for the other games? And will it be a simple case of popping our PS4 discs into PS5? It’s still a bit nebulous.

Microsoft, on the other hand, has confirmed that Xbox Series X backwards compatibility will span “four generations” worth of Xbox games. Microsoft understands how important preservation is, and is working to ensure that the best (and select) games released on the Xbox platform since 2001 will be playable on Xbox Series X. The Xbox One X allows for a 9x resolution increase on some Xbox and Xbox 360 games available through back-cat, while many others see basic graphical improvements and improvements to performance, it wouldn’t be a stretch to assume the Xbox Series X is being engineered to do the same. 

In short? This is one area of the next-generation battle where Xbox has a clear advantage over Sony.

If that weren’t enough, Microsoft has also committed to ensuring that all Xbox One accessories and peripherals will work on Xbox Series X. In fact, it has gone on record to state that your games, achievements, progression and accessories move forward with you. A generation shift doesn’t need to mean a change in the way you experience video games on your system of choice. 

Which console will play games better?

PS5 vs Xbox Series X

(Image credit: Sony)

If there’s going to be a true ‘game changer’ this new generation, it isn’t going to be the dawn of ray tracing, real-time or otherwise. Nor will it be the arrival of 8K resolutions and support of 120fps gaming. No, the real key to the next generation – and by extension, the PS5 vs Xbox Series X battle – will be on broader quality of life improvements to core game experiences. Both companies are taking a look at the annoyances that have become entrenched in the last decade and are seeking to eradicate them: long loading times, the constant patching, download times, and inconsistent performance on the biggest games… it could all be a thing of the past. In fact, PS5 load times were scrapped to “give the game designer freedom” to make whatever they want. In addition, PS5 updates will be much more streamlined.

To achieve these loft ambitions, both the PS5 and Xbox Series X will come equipped with solid-state drives – an SSD, as you may better recognize it. This may not sound like much, but a shift in philosophy from mechanical hard drives (which you’ll find in current-gen systems) to solid-state drives could be the key that unlocks the next generation’s true potential. For instance, Microsoft showed off incredibly fast Xbox Series X loading times recently, and the leaked PS5 gameplay reveal demonstrates Insomniac’s Spider-Man having its loading time reduced from an average of 15 seconds on PS4 Pro to just 0.8 seconds on a PS5 dev kit. That’s staggering.

Spider-Man PS5

Spider-Man, captured on a PS4 Pro

How do the consoles manage this? To explain, we’ve got to discuss how games work. When you do anything in a game, it is frantically scrambling behind the scenes to pull relevant information from the hard-drive in order to function. That’s one of the reasons we have elaborate loadout menus while you’re waiting for multiplayer games to kick into action; it’s why fast-travel systems aren’t all that fast anymore, and it’s why you’re only ever able to move through worlds at fairly consistent speeds – graphical effects and sleight of hand trickery used to simulate the illusion of momentum. The bigger games become, the better they begin to look, and the smoother they are expected to perform, the larger the strain on internal systems to sift through inordinate amounts of data and align them in place for you to play the game as intended. SSDs have the potential to fix this issue, because they can retrieve and sort that data so much faster. Current-gen consoles utilise 5400RPM mechanical hard drives with a read speed of 80MBps (more or less, anyway); meanwhile, SSDs for PCs that connect directly to your computer’s mainboard rather than via cable can boost read speed up to 3200Mbps. It’s a tremendous jump.

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It’s a leap we’re starting to get details on. Microsoft is promising that the Series X will come equipped with an SSD which offers up to 40x faster read speeds than that of the Xbox One family of systems. What’s more, that storage drive can also be used as virtual RAM to further boost data access by supporting the already-impressive GDDR6 RAM memory. The PS5 SSD is even faster; its custom 825GB device will almost remove load times completely thanks to it running at a blistering 5.5GHz per second. 

With that in mind, the jump to console SSDs will fundamentally change our relationship with gaming.

Launch games

PS5 vs Xbox Series X

For many, the PS5 vs Xbox Series X battle will ultimately be resolved by the games made available over the generation. Thanks to the latest reveals, we have a good idea of what to expect from the launch line-ups. 

PS5 has the below games confirmed as launch titles, and you can see the full library as it grows in our PS5 launch games list. 

  • Astro’s Playroom
  • Demon’s Souls
  • Destructions All Stars
  • Fortnite
  • Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales
  • Sackboy A Big Adventure

Xbox Series X currently has just a handful of games confirmed as launch titles – Halo Infinite has now slipped out of the launch window – and you can see more on the full list with our running tally of Xbox Series X launch games.

Cloud streaming

Image Credit: Microsoft

Image Credit: Microsoft

With Google Stadia teasing the introduction of a new way to play – taking the concept of game-streaming and cloud-processing mainstream – there’s no way that the power of the cloud won’t factor into the next-gen offerings from Sony and Microsoft in one way or another. It’s likely that both companies will offer limited services in this respect at launch, building out their architecture, data centers, and core platforms in the intervening years as streaming becomes more accepted, supported, and streamlined. You can see signs of this now, in the way that Microsoft has spent a generation cycle touting the potential of its Azure platform and its gradual transition towards a digital-first ecosystem. 

For now, however, all eyes will be on PS5 streaming via PlayStation Now and Project xCloud. Sony’s subscription service has been a quietly successful – and profitable – part of the PlayStation business for some time now, letting PS4 users download and stream select titles from an ever-growing library that already sits at a respectable 700+ games. You should expect to see this platform evolve, especially as it is currently Sony’s answer to backwards compatibility, where select PS2 games can be downloaded and played via the service, while a library of PS3 games can be played via the cloud. 

As for Microsoft, it’s investing in something far larger. Given its flirtation with cloud architecture with Azure this generation, its established digital platforms like Play Anywhere and Game Pass, and the introduction of Project xCloud, it would look as if Xbox is closer to making game-streaming a standard way to play than its competitor. xCloud is designed to complement the core-Xbox experience, letting you carry and seamlessly access your content and game saves immediately on just about any device that you have to hand. There’s still a long way for this tech to go, but there is potential for it to unlock Stadia-like streaming services across the Xbox family. Of course, this might be only half the story, given that Sony and Microsoft entered into a cloud partnership to “explore joint development of future cloud solutions in Microsoft Azure to support their respective game content-streaming services”. Either way, expect more importance to be placed on cloud streaming by both companies the further we move through this upcoming generation. 

Price

Casey Rodgers/Invision for Xbox/AP Images

Casey Rodgers/Invision for Xbox/AP Images (Image credit: Casey Rodgers/Invision for Xbox/AP Images)

Price. That’s the question on everybody’s mind, isn’t it? The Xbox Series X has now been confirmed to be priced at $499 / £449, while the cheaper Xbox Series S is $299 / £249.

The PS5 will be $499.99 / £449.99 for the version with a disc drive and $399.99 / £359.99 for the PlayStation 5 Digital Edition. 

Which should you buy?

Image Credit: Casey Rodgers/Invision for Xbox/AP Images

Image Credit: Casey Rodgers/Invision for Xbox/AP Images (Image credit: Casey Rodgers/Invision for Xbox/AP Images)

The PS5 vs Xbox Series X battle is close on price, with the full-featured machines both hitting the $500 price tag. It will all come down to exclusive games and services. 

Microsoft has spent years investing heavily in services and cloud technology, but PlayStation is fighting back with PlayStation Plus Collection, a library of classic PS4 games that will be available on PS5 at launch. 

Just how important will ray tracing be for Sony PS5 and Xbox Series X? We look at all of the information to work out whether it will be a true evolution for fidelity in the next-generation.

Content courtesy of GamesRadar.com published on , original article here.

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