Let's dive into the nitty-gritty.
After first discussing it earlier in the year, Sony has officially announced the PlayStation 5 and confirmed more of the next-gen console's specs. With those details confirmed, we can begin diving into the differences and similarities between the next-gen Xbox Scarlett and PlayStation. Granted, we don't have enough to give a just comparison between Project Scarlett and the PS5, but we can at least start with what Microsoft and Sony have already given us. We'll continue to update this as the companies reveal more about their next-gen systems as their late 2020 release dates approach.
In the following article, we dive into the differences and similarities between Microsoft and Sony's respective next-gen consoles. Though both companies have been keeping details close to the chest, they have revealed certain specifications for their respective consoles, as well as what those nitty-gritty numbers translate into in a performance sense. In response to the growing market of players who are buying games digitally, both companies have laid out how storage will work on their next-gen consoles too. We go into all that, and more, below.
Sony is the only one of the two to announce the name of its next-gen console. And--surprising literally no one--it's PlayStation 5, or PS5 for short.
Microsoft refers to its next-gen console as Project Scarlett. For the sake of convenience, we're going to refer to the console as Xbox Scarlett, or Scarlett for short.
Both consoles are currently scheduled to release within the same window, the holiday season in 2020. Much like the Xbox One and PS4 before them, Scarlett and PS5 will be going head to head during the biggest shopping window within the same year. If you're planning on buying both, you may want to begin saving now.
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There's a lot about the exact specifications of each console that we don't know yet, like how much each one is going to cost. We do have enough to at least begin comparing Scarlett and the PS5 though. As you'll see below, both consoles aren't all that different though. Both support ray-tracing, for instance, which will allow them to better simulate light in games.
|PlayStation 5||Xbox Scarlett|
|Processor||8-Core AMD Ryzen Zen 2 CPU||1.6GHz AMD Ryzen Zen 2 CPU|
|Graphics||AMD Radeon Navi GPU||AMD Arcturus GPU|
|RAM||unknown||16GB GDDR6 SDRAM|
|Optical Drive||Yes (4K Blu-ray)||Yes|
|Max Output Resolution||8K||8K|
|Max Frame Rate||120fps||120fps|
|Cloud Gaming||PlayStation Now (unconfirmed)||Microsoft xCloud (unconfirmed)|
|Backwards Compatibility||Yes (PS4 games)||Yes (Xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox One games)|
|Release Date||Holiday 2020||Holiday 2020|
Regardless of which console you go for, you're getting an upgrade. Scarlett's specs suggest a much stronger console than the Xbox One X, while the PS5 sees a similar improvement over the PS4 Pro.
Both Scarlett and the 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 Scarlett in comparison to Xbox One, which Microsoft already confirmed at E3 2019; but by how much has yet to be announced. That said, results will vary by game.
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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 Scarlett, on the other hand, will be compatible with Xbox One controllers. We haven't had a look at the actual Scarlett controller yet.
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, it's also probable that Xbox Game Pass will return on Scarlett.
The key difference this time around will be cloud-streaming, which has picked up in recent months--with Google entering the fray in November 2019 with Stadia. Microsoft has Project xCloud, which will likely make its way onto Scarlett 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 Scarlett and PS5 will have backwards compatibility support. Scarlett will support backwards compatibility with original Xbox, Xbox 360, and Xbox One games. 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.
Playable Games At Launch
Sony has yet to announce any launch titles for PS5, but we do know Bluepoint Games, the studio behind the Uncharted and Shadow of the Colossus remasters, is working on "a big one." Microsoft has revealed only one for Scarlett: Halo Infinite.
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A previous version of this article listed the CPU and GPU information for Microsoft's next-gen console incorrectly--implying the PS5 and Project Scarlett had much more similar specs than they do. Both pieces of information have since been amended.