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PlayStation 5 vs. Xbox Series X: Performance, price and games compared
Who will win the next console war?
The world of video games changed forever in November 2020. That’s when PlayStation 5 (PS5) and the Xbox Series X (XSX) launched, thus beginning the newest generation of consoles. Which one will you buy — or have bought already?
As new generations of consoles release, many gamers stick with the brand they know best. This is especially significant this time around since the PS5 allows for backwards compatibility of all your PS4 favorites, while the Ultimate Game Pass lets you access games across your Microsoft devices, including Xbox, PC and Android.
But if you’re brand agnostic and still on the fence about which console is best for you, we’ve compared everything you need to know about both systems to help you decide.
PlayStation 5 vs. Xbox Series X vs Xbox Series S
To help you decide which console best fits your gaming needs, we’ve compared all the key specs and information. We’ve also included the Xbox Series S, Microsoft’s lower-cost, all-digital console, which launched alongside the Series X.
|Xbox Series X||Xbox Series S|
|Power||10.28 teraflops||12 teraflops||4 teraflops|
|CPU||8-core AMD Zen 2, 3.5 GHz variable frequency||8-core custom 7nm Zen 2, 3.8 GHz||8-core custom 7nm Zen 2, 3.6 GHz|
|GPU||Custom AMD RDNA 2-based GPU||Custom Radeon RDNA 2 GPU, 52 CUs @ 1.825 GHz||Custom Radeon RDNA 2 GPU, 20 CUs @ 1.565 GHz|
|Memory||16GB GDDR6 256-bit with 448GB/s bandwidth||16GB GDDR6 SDRAM with 320mb bus; (10GB at 560GB/s + 6GB at 336GB/s)||10GB GDDR6 SDRAM (8GB @ 224 GB/s + 2 GB @ 56 GB/s)|
|Storage Size||NVMe M.2 825GB at 5.5GB/s to 9GB/s read speed||NVMe M.2 1TB at 2.4GB/s (raw) to 4.8GB/s (compressed) read speed||NVMe M.2 500GB at 2.4GB/s (raw) to 4.8GB/s (compressed) read speed|
|Optical||4K UHD Blu-ray (premium model only)||4K UHD Blu-ray||No|
|Backwards compatibility||PS4, PSVR||Xbox One, Xbox 360, Xbox||Xbox One, Xbox 360, Xbox|
|Features||3D audio, ray-tracing, 8K ready, HDMI 2.1||Dolby Atmos, DirectX 12 Ultimate, ray tracing, 8K ready, HDMI 2.1||Dolby Atmos, DirectX 12 Ultimate, ray tracing (on some titles), 4K upscaling, HDMI 2.1|
|AV output||8K or 4K at 120fps||8K or 4K at 120fps||1440P @ 60FPS|
|Availability||November 12, 2020||November 10, 2020||November 10, 2020|
The standard edition of the PlayStation 5 also costs $499. This is a bit of a shock, as many assumed the PS5 would come in at a higher price point. The disc-free Digital Edition, meanwhile, sells for $399. That’s $100 more expensive than the Xbox Series S. However, it’s worth noting that the two PlayStation consoles are identical (apart from the missing Blu-ray drive), whereas the Xbox Series S uses a less powerful graphics card than the Series X.
Nevertheless, if you’re looking for the cheapest way to experience next-gen gaming in 2020, the Xbox Series S is the clear winner.
Processing and graphics
When it comes to processing and hardware, the systems are pretty comparable. The Xbox Series X runs on a custom Zen 2 eight-core processor running at 3.8GHz per core. The PlayStation 5 sports an eight-core Zen 2 processor too, but at 3.5GHz per core. The RAM inside both is identical: 16GB GDDR6.
Both run RDNA 2 graphics, but the Xbox Series X has a slight advantage. Its GPU has 12 TFLOPS of power across 52 CUs. The PS5, other the other hand, has 10.3 TFLOPS of power across 36 CUs. But both display impressive handling over games with full resolutions and ray tracing.
Both are capable of pushing 8K video in the future, when or if it becomes mainstream. But for now, they can produce up to 4K resolutions. They can also output as much as 120 frames per second (fps), which will be an option on some games, like Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War.
Some might argue the Xbox Series X pulls ahead a little in this category. It supports auto low latency mode (ALLM) and variable refresh rate (VRR). This means your TV will automatically switch to ‘game mode’ and its refresh rate will match the console’s, resulting in a smoother gaming experience. While the PS5 might add these features in a future update, they are not available at launch.
Memory and storage
This generation of consoles is all about solid state drives (SSD), and both systems utilize it for speedier loading times.
The Xbox Series X hosts more storage of the two: a 1TB internal SSD. After OS system installs and updates, there’s approximately 802GB left for the user. It’s also capable of read speeds of up to 2.4 GB per second, or 4.8GB per second uncompressed. While the PS5 has less storage space — 825 GB total, but only about 660 GB available after the OS and updates — it runs quicker than the Series X, up to 5.5 GB per second.
For both consoles, gamers can increase their storage through expansion cards. Xbox fans can purchase an official 1TB Storage Expansion Card. It slots into a dedicated port at the back of the console. The PS5 also has a dedicated port and can utilize compatible third-party SSD cards. But once again, that option is not available at launch and will be added in a future update. And even once it’s activated, you can only store PS4 games off the system. PS5 games stored on an external drive will not work at all.
Again, it’s nearly a tie. Both systems feature 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray drives. But here’s where they differentiate. The Xbox Series X boasts Dolby Vision support for future games and media streaming. However, its 4K Blu-ray drive is not available at launch and will only be added in a future update.
While the PS5 does not have Dolby Vision at all, you can work around it for 4K Blu-ray playback by outputting bitstream audio, which you can find in the player app menu.
Also keep in mind that their digital-only counterparts, the PS5 Digital Edition and Xbox Series S, do not include any disc drive whatsoever.
The Xbox Series X ships with a slightly smaller controller than what you get with the Xbox One X, and the D-pad has been redesigned from a cross shape to a circle style. If you’re a social media guru, you’ll enjoy the dedicated Share button — which simplifies uploading and sharing your screenshots and video clips.
The PS5 controller is dubbed the DualSense, and it represents the bigger departure from the previous generation’s controllers. For the first time, Sony has dispensed with the iconic colored shape buttons for a sleeker, two-toned look. Other improvements include an improved microphone array for headphone-free online chat, an ergonomic design for a variety of hand sizes, and a Create button, which replaces Share.
While there are plenty of differences, both controllers utilize haptic feedback. Think of it like scaled rumbling — the bigger and closer the explosion in the game, the more you’ll feel it in the controller. This gives players a better sense of depth and in-game directionality, leading to a more immersive experience.
While the technological innards of a video game console are usually every gamer’s primary concern, let’s not discount the importance of looks. After all, if a console has been forged to be a fugly monstrosity, you’re the one forced to look at it for the better part of a decade.
Microsoft gave its grand reveal of the Xbox Series X back in 2019. It’s a monolithic, tower-like beast with a green-lit top that errs towards the convex “inhaling” design aesthetic that was used with the Xbox 360. It gives the impression of a console that’s outright expected to be vertically stood. This is atypical as far as consoles go — especially since vertical consoles don’t fit in most entertainment units.
There’s a method to this madness, however. A PC tower-style configuration will, according to Microsoft, allow the XSX to be as quiet and efficient as possible while crammed to the hilt with next-gen components.
Note: You can stand almost any console from the PS2 onwards upright, but they also offer a central, symmetrical horizontal stance. It’s been confirmed that your XSX will function perfectly fine if you lay it flat. Just expect one viewing angle of it to look amazing and the other to look considerably more boring.
When Sony unveiled its console, the online reaction to the new look has been mixed. Unlike the XBX, the PS5 requires a stand if you want to position it vertically. The black and white color scheme and curvy chassis are reminiscent of an Alienware gaming PC. An all-black version is also rumored to be in the works, which may be the more attractive choice.
Sony has officially unveiled more than 30 games for the PS5. Notable titles (not all of which are exclusive) include Horizon: Forbidden West, Godfall, Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Sackboy: A Big Adventure, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, Resident Evil 8: Village, Diablo IV, NBA 2K21, Ghosts of Tsushima and NBA 2K21.
For those with a PS Plus subscription, the PS5’s day-one catalog is a little richer. The PlayStation Plus Collection includes backwards compatibility for PS4 games that defined that console’s era.
- Batman: Arkham Knight
- Battlefield 1
- Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 — Zombies Chronicles Edition
- Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy
- Days Gone
- Detroit: Become Human
- Fallout 4
- Final Fantasy 15 Royal Edition
- God of War
- Infamous Second Son
- Monster Hunter: World
- Mortal Kombat X
- Persona 5
- Ratchet and Clank
- Resident Evil 7
- The Last Guardian
- The Last of Us Remastered
- Until Dawn
- Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
A PlayStation Plus subscription costs $59.99 for 12 months, $24.99 for three months, and $9.99 for one month.
The Xbox Series X also looks to have an impressive games lineup. We’ll be digging into Halo Infinite, Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II, Everwild, Forza Motorsport 8 and more as console exclusives.
The big win for Xbox is its Game Pass, which gives subscribers unlimited access to over 100 amazing games for a flat monthly fee of $9.99. Then there’s Game Pass Ultimate, which costs $14.99 per month and allows gamers to access games on their Xbox, PC and Android mobile devices from the cloud.
PS5 vs. XSX vs. Nintendo Switch
Though they’re technically in the same generation of console gaming, the PS5 and XSX are worlds apart from what the Nintendo Switch has to offer. The first two are about raw horsepower and up to 8K gaming, whereas Nintendo has carved out its own unique handheld/console hybrid niche in the market.
Frankly, the gaming experiences you’ll get between these two camps will be night and day, visually speaking. We’re talking Ultra High Definition hyper-realism versus quirky, barely 1080p cartoony eye candy.
We certainly wouldn’t go so far as to suggest one way of gaming is superior to the other — because Nintendo punches way, way above its weight in the entertainment stakes. In fact, Nintendo arguably has the most talented developers in the world working on exclusive titles. But there’s definitely a huge graphical discrepancy to factor into your purchase decision.
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