The Xbox Series X and PS5 from Microsoft and Sony, respectively, are due to arrive in 2020, almost 7 years after the launch of the Xbox One and the PS4.
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Sony's PS4 was the clear winner of the last generation, but Microsoft has learned from its early mistakes with the Xbox One and promises not to repeat them this time around.
Let's take a look at how these two consoles stack up based on everything we know so far.
Xbox Series X vs. PS5: Price and release date
Neither company has given us an official price on its next-gen console yet, but comments from executives along with some leaks offer us clues as to the price range of the Xbox Series X vs. PS5.
While it's far from definitive evidence, pricing for the PS5 has been pegged as starting at $499, according to an Ace Research Institute report (via Twinfinite) and IronManPS5, a leaker with previous credibility. A cost of goods estimate on the PS5 by Bloomberg places the console at around $450, which adds further support for the $499 price point.
We have less to go on with the Xbox Series X price, but our one source is the head of Xbox, Phil Spencer. In an interview with The Verge, he said, "we will not be out of position on power or price." This is as compared to the Xbox One, which was both $100 more expensive and less powerful than the PS4 at launch. This doesn't give us a definite answer, but it does tell us that there should be little if any price difference between the consoles at launch.
Both Microsoft and Sony have identified "holidays 2020" as the launch timeline for the consoles.
A leaked release date for the PS5 DualSense controller from the same IronManPS5 named above, points to a November 20 launch for both the controller and likely the console as well. This is the week before Thanksgiving in the U.S. and aligns well with previous console launches, the PS4 came out on November 15, 2013 with the Xbox One following it a week later on November 22.
Our expectation is that both consoles will launch during this same mid-November timeframe.
Winner: Tie. Without the actual pricing for either console, it's impossible to call a winner here. But with identical launch timing and Microsoft suggesting they won't be beaten on price, it's likely this will end in a draw.
Xbox Series X vs. PS5: Design
We know pretty much everything about the Xbox Series X's design and it's basically a monolith. Microsoft has opted for an extremely minimalist design with the Xbox Series X, a rectangular "tower" that resembles a small desktop PC with an illuminated Xbox logo and a disk slot on the front.
The console is approximately 11.9 inches tall and 6-inches wide and deep. It's not large by any means, but it might be a difficult fit in some entertainment centers.
A single large fan at the top of the Xbox Series X will provide cooling and allow it to be positioned vertically or horizontally and should allow for relatively quiet performance.
Again, information about the PS5 design is a bit more sparse. We have a Sony patent image depicting a more traditional console shape, but with a large V carved out of the top central portion of the device for airflow. The front of the device features a disk slot and several USB Type-A ports.
This sketch reportedly matches up with a PS5 dev kit image sent to Gizmodo, but it seems unlikely that this is the final retail design.
Winner: Xbox One X. To be fair, we don't have an official image of the PS5 yet, but based on what we know at the moment, we like the understated look of the Xbox Series X.
Xbox Series X vs. PS5: Specs
|Xbox Series X||PS5|
|CPU||8x Cores @ 3.8 GHz (3.66 GHz w/ SMT) Custom Zen 2 CPU||8x Cores @ 3.5 GHz (variable frequency)|
|GPU||12 TFLOPS, 52 CUs @ 1.825 GHz Custom RDNA 2 GPU||10.3 TFLOPS, 36 CUs @ 2.33 GHz (variable frequency)|
|Die size||360.45 mm||TBD|
|Memory||16 GB GDDR6 w/ 320mb bus||16 GB GDDR6|
|Memory bandwidth||10GB @ 560 GB/s, 6GB @ 336 GB/s||448 GB/s|
|Internal Storage||1 TB Custom NVME SSD||825 GB Custom NVME SSD|
|I/O Throughput||2.4 GB/s (Raw), 4.8 GB/s (Compressed, with custom hardware decompression block)||5.5 GB/s (Raw), up to 8-9GB/s (Compressed)|
|Expandable storage||1 TB Expansion Card (matches internal storage exactly)||NVMe SSD Slot|
|External storage||USB 3.2 External HDD Support||USB External HDD Support|
|Optical drive||4K UHD Blu-Ray Drive||4K UHD Blu-Ray Drive|
|Performance target||4K @ 60 FPS, Up to 120 FPS and 8K||4K @ 60 FPS, Up to 120 FPS and 8K|
Winner: Xbox Series X. Sony put a lot of weight into the speed of its SSD and we'll have to see what that looks like in real-world performance, but at least on paper, the Xbox Series X is the more powerful gaming console.
Xbox Series X vs. PS5: Performance
In both cases, the proof will come when we can actually see these consoles perform, but for the time being, we have the claims from both companies and they are very close to one another.
The PS5 will be capable of 4K gaming at up to 120 fps and have support for 8K with no specific frame rate target identified yet.
Support for ray tracing is another big addition for the PS5 as this will both deliver considerably more realistic lighting in games as well as some of the 3D audio effects that Sony has boasted about.
Things are fairly similar on the Xbox Series X side with 4K gaming at up 120 fps with 60 fps as the minimum target, although not all games might reach that mark. Support for 8K gaming is also present, but without specific frame rate targets. Ray tracing is also coming to Xbox Series X, although they have made no related audio claims.
Both consoles will also feature custom SSDs that they are promising will deliver dramatically reduced load times versus the previous generation. The PS5 could be the winner on this front with dramatically faster (5.5 GB/s vs. 2.4 GB/s) throughput for its SSD.
Winner: Xbox Series X. With both the Xbox Series X and PS5 having virtually identical stated performance it's too hard to make a determination here, but given the better overall specs of the Xbox Series X until we have real-world evidence to the contrary it seems like it will have the edge.
Xbox Series X vs. PS5: Controller
Neither company is straying far from the basic controller design of the previous generation consoles, and most of the updates look to be internal. If you want a deeper dive we have done a full comparison of the PS5 DualSense vs. the Xbox Series X Controller, but here are the highlights.
The most notable addition to the Xbox Series X controller is a prominent share button in the center of the controller to send content to friends, much like Sony introduced with the PS4's DualShock 4.
Less visible changes are the updated hybrid D-Pad and improved latency to eliminate the delay between a button press and action on the screen. Finally, the new controller is slightly smaller than the Xbox One controller and will be backward compatible with the older console.
On the Sony side, there have also been relatively minimal outward changes to the controller, flashy white colorway notwithstanding. The glowing lightbar has been removed with a glow now simply emanating from below the slightly larger touchpad. Slight changes to the angles of the triggers and the grip are meant to have improved the feel of the controller.
And like the Xbox Series X controller, there are internal changes with the controller providing dramatically improved haptic feedback capable of depicting, for example, the change in the feel of the road in a racing game, and the triggers will offer variable resistance based on the activity being performed in-game.
Winner: PS5. Some of this is going to come down to personal preference certainly, but the DualShock 4 was our favorite controller of the previous generation. Prior to testing the improved haptics and variable resistance triggers, the PS5 DualSense sounds amazing.
Xbox Series X vs. PS5: Backward compatibility
Microsoft and Sony have both promised backward compatibility with previous generation consoles.
Xbox Series X claims the title for backward compatibility champ with Microsoft promising the next-gen console will not only play Xbox One games, but it will also include Game Pass games and over 600 Xbox 360 and original Xbox titles. In addition, Microsoft said these games will all play better than ever before with improved load times, frame rates and visuals.
Beyond games, Xbox One accessories will also be supported by the Xbox Series X.
Sony isn't far behind, however, with confirmed backward compatibility for almost all of the top 100 PS4 games at launch as well as PSVR hardware.
Winner: Xbox Series X. Sony learned its lesson and is at least offering backward compatibility, but Microsoft has made far more extensive commitments for those that are already invested in Xbox or would like to explore the extensive back catalog of past Xbox consoles.
Xbox Series X vs. PS5: Games
With similar architecture between the Xbox Series X and the PS5, most PC titles should find their way to both consoles given the presumably reduced developer costs of doing so.
Some of the exclusive highlights for the Xbox Series X include Halo Infinite, Dirt 5, Yakuza: Like a Dragon, Bright Memory: Infinite, and Outriders.
Godfall is one of the only confirmed exclusives for the PS5 currently, but of course, we expect sequels to God of War, Horizon: Zero Dawn, and Spider-Man. Some exclusive releases due out this year, such as Last of Us: Part II and Ghosts of Tsushima, will also likely be ported to the new console.
Delayed titles that should find their way onto both consoles near launch should include Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Quarantine, Gods and Monsters, and Watch Dogs: Legion.
We expect this picture to clear up over the coming months as both companies ramp up towards the console launches.
Winner: Xbox Series X. I have every expectation that this could flip as we get closer to launch as the PS4 was the consensus winner of this category in the previous generation, but with a much heavier roster of exclusives already lined up for early launch dates the Xbox Series X is taking it for now.
Xbox Series X vs. PS5: Outlook
While there is a lot yet to be decided, the Xbox Series X is the front runner so far.
The specs for the PS5 don't quite hold up to the Xbox Series X, and until Sony can show real-world results that its hardware is up to the challenge, we have to give the nod to the Xbox Series X.
Sony continues to have the more popular lineup of exclusive titles (even if we don't have launch availability info yet) and no major shakeups or announced exclusives have changed this yet. For nostalgic gamers, the Xbox Series X offers considerably more backward compatibility.
The PS5 also has one of the few clear differentiators between the two consoles in the form of PSVR. Microsoft has made it clear that VR is not part of its console plans.
This is shaping up to be a much closer competition than the Xbox One vs. PS4 at launch, but based on what we know right now, the Xbox Series X has the edge.