PS5 vs. Xbox Series X vs. Xbox Series S: Which console will the Laptop Mag staff buy?

(Image credit: Future)

Now that we know the price and release date of the PS5, Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S, it's time to decide which console to buy. With the "flagship" models both selling at $499, neither PlayStation nor Xbox has a pricing advantage this generation. That makes the decision more difficult than ever, especially when you consider how many features and components the two consoles share.

But there is a new wrinkle in the consoles wars this year: a third and fourth option. For Sony, it comes in the form of the PS5 Digital Edition, which is identical to the standard version but drops the disc drive for a $100 price reduction. Xbox took a different route by launching the Xbox Series S, a $299 console that is less powerful than the Xbox Series S. It's an intriguing option for those who just want a door into next-gen but don't care about having the best resolution or the highest frame rates. 

  • PS5: Specs, price, release date and how it compares to gaming laptops
  • Xbox Series X: price, release date, specs and how it compares to laptops
  • Xbox Series X vs. PS5: Which console is right for you?

Choosing between the PS5 or Xbox Series X (or Series S) is a subjective decision based on a lot of factors, but we thought it'd be fun for the Laptop Mag staff to divulge our allegiances to the world. While some of us will end up with both consoles, the majority of staffers at Laptop Mag are on Team Sony. Here are the console's we're buying and why. 

Sherri Smith, Editor-in-Chief 

I like to consider myself gaming agnostic. That means I’ve hardly ever met a game console I didn’t like (With the exception of the Wii and Wii U, a pox on their houses!). That stated, I already knew way before I saw the Xbox Series X or PlayStation 5 that I’d be getting both on launch day. I’ll do the same with the Nintendo Switch 2 when it debuts. As it stands, I’m getting the Series X and the PS5 that can take physical disks. 

In the case of the Series X, my choice stems from my love of all the bells and whistles. The promise of 8K resolution on the horizon is too tempting to pass up. And while I would have liked to get the sleeker-looking digital edition of the PS5, because publishers like to send physical review copies of games every now and then, I’m going with the chunky boi. Either way, both systems will have a home next to my gaming laptop, PC and Switch.

Xbox Game Pass is a steal — so why aren't people using it?

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In terms of games, Xbox is hitting all the right notes with Xbox Game Pass. If you get the Ultimate subscription, you get access to over 250 past and present titles across the console and PC. You also get Xbox Live Gold (multiplayer access, additional free games and deals), xCloud, the cloud gaming service and the rebranded EA Play, which brings 60 additional free games. So if I don’t have the immediate appetite to spend $70 on a game, I have a sizable games library to fall back on. I’m not sure if I’m going to have that luxury with PS5 though. 

Even though PS Plus Collection is making a comeback, touting backwards compatibility to PS4 games, PS3, 2 and 1 titles are off the table as well as launch titles. This means I’ll be forking out the dough for Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Ratchet and Clank, Horizon Forbidden West and the next God of War, whether I like it or not. 

Phillip Tracy, Editor 

I'm buying a PS5, but not for the same reason as my colleagues. While it wasn't intentional in the past, I've swapped sides the past few console generations, going from the PS3 to the Xbox One and now the PS5. This allows me to enjoy the exclusives I missed on the opposite console from the previous generation while getting a new flock of them on the new hardware. 

This isn't the only reason why I'm choosing the PS5 over the Xbox Series X. What really won me over was the first major games showcase for Sony's next console. There was more creativity, variety and intrigue in those games than in anything Xbox has shown to date. Titles like Stray, Bugsnax and Horizon Forbidden West were filled with unique landscapes, splashes of vibrant colors and bizarre premises. Xbox, on the other hand, showcased a lineup of dark, dreary post-apocalyptic games and Halo: Infinite gameplay that, well, looked unfinished (and it turned out it was). 

I'm also more excited about the PS5's hardware. Sure, it's less powerful and much larger than the Xbox Series X, but the custom SSD and 3D audio in the PS5 have the potential to make tangible enhancements to gameplay. Not to mention the new DualSense controller with its haptic feedback and dynamic triggers. 

Bugsnax: Release date, gameplay story and more

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As for which PS5 I'm getting, well, that's an interesting story. Full disclosure: I've already pre-ordered the PS5. I originally hoped to snag the Digital Edition to save some cash, but my best efforts weren't enough to outbuy other quick-fingered shoppers. Instead, I paid an extra $100 + tax for the standard version — is it too late to start a Blu-Ray collection?

Rami Tabari, Staff writer 

Both the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X will be taking up an obnoxious amount of space in my entertainment set up on launch day. As far as games go, the PS5 is championing day-one purchases for me: Demon’s Souls and Spider-Man: Miles Morales. I also have every other PS5 exclusive to look forward to, like God of War 5 Ragnarök and Final Fantasy XVI.

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Meanwhile, the Xbox Series X doesn’t really have anything to offer on day one for me. So why buy it? Three reasons. One, there are plenty of Xbox Game Pass games that I can play for free (with a subscription) on the Xbox Series X that I can’t play on PC. Two, the Xbox Series X gives me access to several generations of video games that I already own so I don’t have to rebuy them anywhere else. Three, the games that I’ve already played on Xbox One can just hop on over to Series X, so I get to keep all of my progress.

Then there’s the performance advantage. Sure, you can argue that a couple of teraflops won’t make a huge difference, but when it comes down to it, third-party games will look better on the Xbox Series X. And unless I want to drop a couple thousand dollars to upgrade my PC, the Xbox Series X is the more affordable option for gaming at a high resolution and high frame rates.

Kimberly Gedeon, Staff writer 

Although the Xbox Series X is the most powerful next-gen console to date, the PlayStation 5 has won me over. Admittedly, Sony has lured me into their PS5 trap by snagging irresistible PlayStation exclusives such as The Last of Us series. Hitman 3, the one game I'm most excited for, will be available on both the Series X and the PS5. However, its VR port will only be available on PlayStation VR. So once again, Sony has snatched me into its PS5 web.

IO Interactive

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Lastly, all Xbox games can also be played on PC, which is why I'm in no particular rush to go chasing after the Series X. And quite frankly, I'm sure Microsoft doesn't mind — the tech giant seems more gung-ho on hawking its Xbox Game Pass subscription service. The Redmond-based tech giant has done a great job at persuading me, and countless others, to buy into the XGP craze. Microsoft may not win the console sales battle, but it will win the subscription-service war.

Sean Riley, freelancer 

Having sat out most of the current console generation after building a gaming PC for the first time in quite a few years, I think I might be jumping back into the console world with both feet this time around.

DualSense PS5 Geoff Keighley Hands On

(Image credit: Geoff Keighley)

I have a pre-order in for a PS5 currently. Sony just continues to kill it when it comes to exclusives, including weird games that I find compelling as well as massive franchises like Final Fantasy (timed exclusives maybe, but I hate waiting) and Spider-Man. And while it may all be smoke and mirrors, Sony does have a more compelling hardware story to me with some of the upgrades to the DualSense controller, its focus on audio, and of course, the PSVR 2 somewhere down the road.

If I do purchase an Xbox, it is likely to be the Series S. I already have a solid gaming PC that, with Game Pass, will get me a large swath of the best games for Xbox. While the convenience of the console is definitely worth something to me, I think it’s more in the neighborhood of $299 than $499. Also, I can’t resist the design of the Xbox Series S hardware, I wish Microsoft had figured out how to give the Series X a little of that character.

Mohammad Tabari, freelancer 

Microsoft provided a handful of reasons to be excited for the potential of Xbox’s platform. But there’s no identifiable reason for me to invest into an Xbox Series S or Xbox Series X at launch.

Sony is directly pandering to my tastes with its launch lineup. LittleBigPlanet is my favorite game ever, making Sackboy: A Big Adventure seem like the perfect nostalgia trip. Although I only played Demon’s Souls last year, it became an experience I’ll never forget and it’s one of the most striking games in my journey as a gamer. Not only have I been a rabid fan of the Soulsborne series for many years, but Bluepoint’s re-imagining of Demon’s Souls looks like everything I wanted.

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When you consider we’re also getting the incredible Spider-Man: Miles Morales, the adorable (and thankfully free) Astro’s Playroom and the possibly decent looter-slasher Godfall, it’s hard to imagine how Microsoft could win me over in the coming months. This is especially true due to the delay of Halo Infinite.

And even if Xbox boasted a phenomenal launch line-up for the Xbox Series X, all of their exclusive games are available on PC as well. It’s hard to find an excuse to spend anywhere from $300 to $500 on a console that can currently offer me nothing.

So yes, The PlayStation 5 is my choice. Sony can just take my damn money already.