It’s time for an old fashioned showdown. With the PS5 specifications out in the open, we’ve finally got a comparison point between the defining consoles of the next generation. Nintendo Switch? You keep chugging along doing your own awesome thing.
Each new wave of consoles offers a fresh and difficult fork in the road: Should you stick with your current platform of choice, or venture down a new path by swapping over? While much is still unknown, let’s take a look at the PS5 and Xbox Series X to compare what we know and can expect from the two next-generation consoles, and figure out which one might be right for you.
|Hardware||PS5||Xbox Series X|
|CPU||8x Zen 2 Cores (3.5Ghz variable)||8x Zen 2 Cores (3.6Ghz variable)|
|GPU||10.28 TFLOPS, 36 Compute Units (2.23GHz)||12 TFLOPS, 52 Compute Units (1.83GHz)|
|Internal Storage||825GB SSD, 5.5 GB/s (Raw), 8-9.0 GB/s (Compressed)
||1TB NVMe SSD, 2.4 GB/s (Raw), 4.8 GB/s (Compressed)
|Expandable Internal Storage||NVMe SSD slot||1TB proprietary expansion card|
|External Storage||USB HDD support||USB 3.2 HDD support|
|Memory||16GB GDDR6 (256-bit bus)||16GB GDDR6 (320-bit bus)|
|Memory Bandwidth||448GB/s||560GB/s (10GB), 336GB/s (6GB)|
|Optical Drive||4K UHD Blu-Ray drive||4K UHD Blu-Ray drive|
We’ll start by breaking things down with the hard numbers, and here it’s clear that the Xbox Series X comes out ahead, though that’s far from the full picture. The two consoles have been designed for different strengths, which should make this a very interesting generation indeed.
The Xbox Series X is built as a powerhouse console, outranking the PS5 in GPU and CPU strength. With CPU cores that rise to 3.8GHz when multi-threading is disabled, the Series X is the clear leader of the pack in terms of brute strength. The PS5, conversely, favors flexibility. Sony’s Road to PS5 talk detailed special SSD architecture they hope to get games running even faster, and when it isn’t at full operation, the CPU’s 3.5GHz cores can shift their unused power to support the GPU instead. This is complex stuff, and we’ll really need to see a demanding game in action to compare how each console performs.
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In their hardware reveal broadcast, Sony also spent a good deal of time on their 3D audio HRTF technology. The Tempest Engine is capable of tailoring its audio output to best match your head, allowing you to more precisely locate sounds around you. The PS5 also won’t force proprietary external hard drives, meaning you can buy whatever brand you want to get that extra space. You can even install old titles on external storage, saving the SSD room for the modern games that need it.
When it comes to power, the Series X definitely has the edge, but whether we see that in practice with the console will depend on how well developers make use of the technology. If you’re a power fiend who needs to own the beefiest console on the market, the Series X is the one for you. But if you’re an audiophile or enjoy headset/surround sound gameplay, the PS5 could offer an unrivalled experience.
The biggest question mark currently hanging over the two consoles right now are the games we can expect to find on each. Details have slowly begun to drizzle out, and we expect much more in the coming months of the year from both companies. The PS5 may have dominated the exclusives market during the PS4’s life, but there’s no certainty that’ll roll over to the PS5. Here’s what we know so far:
For the Xbox Series X, we know that Halo Infinite will be a launch title, and that Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2 will also be coming to the Series X. In the last few years, Microsoft has also been slowly gobbling up development studios. Ninja Theory, Undead Labs, Mojang, The Coalition and Compulsion Games are all under the wing of Xbox Game Studios, so we can’t imagine there will be any shortage of titles for the new machine.
On the PS5 side of life, things are far more secretive. We know that Watch Dogs: Legion will also be available on PS5, and that Counterplay Games’ Godfall will be a PS5 and Epic Game Store exclusive. We’re still waiting to see more of Godfall, but the initial glimpse is giving off serious Destiny vibes. All we know so far is that it’s a third-person game with co-op elements and plenty of loot.
Now here’s something we do know a lot about. Backwards compatibility is a big deal in this coming generation, and Microsoft has been unabashed in their drive to support older games, saying they’ll “set a new bar” for compatibility. Both 360 and Xbox One games will be backwards compatible, and from the get-go as well.
The PS5 is also aiming for plenty of backwards compatibility, though right now we only know that PS4 games will be supported, and that not all will be available from launch. Sony issued a clarification following the hardware reveal that the “overwhelming majority of the 4,000+ PS4 titles” will be supported by the PS5’s backwards compatibility.
While you might think backwards compatibility is a reason to stick with your current side, it’s also a great reason to swap. Missed out on the brilliant PS4 exclusives in the current generation? There’s no reason you can’t buy a PS5 this year and catch up on God of War or The Last of Us, and vice versa for PlayStation 4 owners.
Price and Release Date?
No such luck just yet. Right now all we know about the Xbox Series X and PS5 prices and release dates is that they’re due in the Holiday season this year. Expect further news this summer.
So which should you buy?
Right now, we wouldn’t recommend locking your sights in on any particular console. More than ever, it seems like it’s the games and price that are going to matter the most, and we simply don’t have enough information there. However, you can certainly start leaning towards one side or the other.
With stronger specs, greater backwards compatibility and a robust catalogue of developers in-house, Microsoft is in a strong position for the launch of the Series X, provided the price is acceptable. However, if you’re someone who likes to test the more exciting developments in tech or are a big fan of headphones gameplay, the PS5’s Tempest Engine may make for a very tempting proposition.
It’s also worth taking into account Game Pass and PS Plus memberships, with Microsoft already confirming that the former will carry over to the Series X with all your achievements. If you like how these systems work on your platform, you may want to stick with it.
So we’re sitting on the fence until juicer details about the games on each platform come to light, but what about you? Have you already made up your mind regarding which console you want to buy? Let us know your thoughts down in the comments.
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Henry Stenhouse was formerly a PhD physicist before being born anew in the fires of game journalism. An unashamed Super Smash Bros. fanatic, he’s still waiting for the rest of the editorial team to accept his daily challenges for an Ultimate showdown. Other genres of interest include FPS, RTS and western RPGs. You can follow him on Twitter at @Fernoface