With GDC 2020 postponed and E3 2020 canceled, both Microsoft and Sony have had to share additional details about their respective next-gen consoles on their own terms, revealing insight into the hardware specs, games, and features that players can come to expect in the next generation. If you haven’t been keeping up, Sony’s next-gen console is called PlayStation 5, or PS5 for short (surprising literally no one). Microsoft’s Project Scarlett has been officially unveiled to be the Xbox Series X–check out our exclusive coverage of the new console in an interview with Xbox boss Phil Spencer, including insight into why it’s named Series X.
In the following article, we dive into the differences and similarities between Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5. We still don’t have all the details (Sony has yet to officially reveal what its console looks like, for example), but we have enough to make some preliminary comparisons. Both Xbox Series X and PS5 are currently slated to release within the same window: the holiday season in 2020. So unless you’re prepared to drop the cash for both, consider using this article to help you figure out which next-gen console is the one you want.
We don’t have all the necessary specs to make a complete comparison between the two consoles, but both Microsoft and Sony have revealed a majority of the details that we need to begin contrasting the two. It remains to be seen how those numbers translate–we’ll need hands on time with both consoles to see how they actually play games, handle loading times, and utilize storage.
However, a cursory glance reveals that the Xbox Series X and PS5 are fairly similar. There are key differences (backwards compatibility being perhaps the most noticeable in that Series X will do far more than PS5 at launch), but both consoles represent clear upgrades from their respective predecessors, the Xbox One and PS4. Both consoles support ray-tracing as well, which will allow them to better simulate light in games. Here are some of the specs we know of so far:
|PlayStation 5||Xbox Series X|
|Processor||8 AMD Zen 2 CPU cores clocked at a variable frequency of 3.5 GHz||8 AMD Zen 2 CPU cores clocked at 3.8 GHz|
|Graphics||10.28 teraflops, 36 CUs clocked at a variable frequency of 2.23 GHz||12.16 teraflops, 52 CUs clocked at 1.825 GHz|
|RAM||16GB of GDDR6 SDRAM||16GB of GDDR6 SDRAM|
|Storage||825GB SSD||1TB SSD|
|Expandable Storage||NVMe SSD slot||1TB Microsoft expansion card slot|
|Optical Drive||4K UHD Blu-ray||4K UHD Blu-ray|
|I/O Throughput||5.5GB a second raw, 8-9GB a second compressed||2.4GB a second raw, 4.8GB a second compressed|
|Max Output Resolution||8K||8K|
|Max Refresh Rate||120Hz||120Hz|
|VR Support||Yes||unconfirmed (but doubtful)|
|Cloud Gaming||unconfirmed (but likely PlayStation Now)||Microsoft Project xCloud|
|Backwards Compatibility||Yes (PS4)||Yes (Xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox One)|
|Dimensions||unknown||5.94″ wide, 5.94″ deep, 11.85″ high (15.1 cm wide, 15.1 cm deep, 30.1 cm high)|
|Release Date||Holiday 2020||Holiday 2020|
Regardless of which console you go for, you’re getting an upgrade. Series X’s specs suggest a much stronger console than the Xbox One X, while the PS5 sees a similar improvement over the PS4 Pro. But if the numbers above mean little to you, the general breakdown is that the Xbox Series X is more powerful than the PS5. That does possibly also translate into a higher price point though. We’ll just have to wait and see.
Both the Series X and PS5 are using solid-state drives, or SSDs, this time around. PlayStation 5 users should see a noticeable improvement in the time it takes for a game to load on the next-gen console in comparison to the PS4 as a result. The same is true for Xbox Series X in comparison to Xbox One, which Microsoft already confirmed at E3 2019; but by how much has yet to be clearly defined. In the PS5’s hardware reveal, it was said that load times in Marvel’s Spider-Man could go from roughly 15 seconds (PS4) to 0.8 seconds (PS5), while Phil Spencer asserts that developers now have the ability to “virtually eliminate” load times. That said, results will vary by game.
Series X also has more storage, 1TB is a lot more than 825GB. Now, both consoles rely on SSD, so both are going to load a lot faster than their predecessors. The problem, of course, comes with the increasing sizes of games. Both Xbox One X and PS4 Pro already use 1TB when it comes to storage, and that’s already beginning to feel a little small–especially with games like Call of Duty: Warzone having massive download sizes. So you’re already starting out with a bit more to work with on Series X. You theoretically won’t have to juggle your digital library of games or invest in external storage as frequently with an Xbox Series X, but we don’t know how much of the storage on Series X and PS5 is reserved for games and apps. Some of that storage will be going to other software, just like on Xbox One and PS4.
We may have gotten our first look at the PS5 controller through patent design images from Sony. It’s not clear yet if Sony will be calling this the DualShock 5, but based on these early concepts, it seems pretty similar to the DualShock 4, but with a few major changes: a USB-C charging port, larger triggers, and no more light bar.
The Xbox Series, on the other hand, will be introduce a new version of its tried-and-true controller. The new controller has a slight reduction in size, a share button, and a hybrid four-way and eight-way directional pad. You’ll still be able to use Xbox One controllers with the Series X, and the new Series X controller can be used on Xbox One.
Neither Microsoft nor Sony have announced how online multiplayer will work on their next-gen consoles, but it would not be surprising to see both Xbox Live Gold and PlayStation Plus make their return. Given its success, Xbox Game Pass will be a large part of the Series X experience.
The key difference this time around will be cloud game streaming, which has picked up in recent months–with Google entering the fray in November 2019 with Stadia. Microsoft has Project xCloud, which will make its way onto Series X in some form. Sony already has a game-based cloud-streaming service, PlayStation Now, which presumably would be supported on PS5 to some capacity.
Both Series X and PS5 will have backwards compatibility support. Series X will support certain games for the original Xbox and Xbox 360 and all Xbox One games at launch. What will and won’t be playable on PS5 is a little trickier, largely because of PSVR. Sony hasn’t announced whether their next-gen console will support the current-gen headset–which is mandatory for playing certain PS4 console exclusives, like Beat Saber. However, Sony has at least confirmed that PS5 will support backwards compatibility with certain PS4 games.
Playable Games At Launch
We know that Bluepoint Games, the studio behind the Uncharted and Shadow of the Colossus remasters, is working on “a big one.” And Gearbox’s Godfall, set to release during the holiday 2020 season, will come to PS5.
Microsoft first revealed Halo Infinite as a Series X launch title, though it did showcase Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2 alongside the Series X reveal at The Game Awards 2019. No word has been given about Hellblade 2’s release date.
A previous version of this article listed the CPU and GPU information for Microsoft’s next-gen console incorrectly–implying the PS5 and Xbox Series X had much more similar specs than they do. Both pieces of information have since been amended.