Let's take a look at the specs, release windows, performance, and more for Sony's PlayStation 5 and Microsoft's Xbox Series X next-gen consoles.
Sony's PlayStation 5 and Microsoft's Xbox Series X finally had their big reveals leading into the holiday season, so now we can get a proper look at the two next-gen consoles side-by-side. Both are being released in November 2020. It will cost $499 for the base versions of both consoles, which come with optical disc drives, while the digital variant of the PS5 and the digital-only Xbox Series S will cost $399 and $299 respectively. But there's more to know when trying to decide which of the next-gen consoles to jump on this holiday season. Specs and performance, storage, the lineup of launch games, and other features can make a world of difference.
Below, we'll dive into the differences and similarities between the PS5 and the new Xbox. 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.
Below, we've rounded up the system specs for both variants of the PlayStation 5 and the new Xbox--the PS5 base and digital variant, and the Xbox Series X and digital-only Series S. We'll need hands-on time with both consoles to see how they actually play games, handle loading times, and utilize storage, but this should be a good starting point to determine which console fits your specific criteria.
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. Plus, the digital-only editions of both consoles let you trade off some of the power and the ability to play physical games using a disc drive for affordability. However, the digital-only consoles vary depending on whether you choose PlayStation or Xbox, with the latter offering a far cheaper system with weaker performance.
Here are some of the specs we know of so far:
|PlayStation 5 (Base and Digital)||Xbox (Series X and Series S)|
|Processor||8-core AMD Zen 2 CPU cores clocked at a variable frequency of 3.5 GHz||8-core 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||12.15 teraflops, 52 CUs clocked at 1.825 GHz (Series X) / 4 TFLOPS, 20 CUs clocked at 1.565 GHz (Series S)|
|RAM||16GB of GDDR6 SDRAM||16GB of GDDR6 SDRAM (Series X) / 10GB GDDR6 SDRAM (Series S)|
|Storage||825GB SSD||1TB SSD|
|Expandable Storage||NVMe SSD slot||1TB Microsoft expansion card slot|
|Optical Drive||4K UHD Blu-ray (Base) / None (Digital)||4K UHD Blu-ray (Series X) / None (Series S)|
|I/O Throughput||5.5GB a second raw, 8-9GB a second compressed||2.4GB a second raw, 4.8GB a second compressed|
|Display||Up to 8K (Base and Digital)||Up to 8K, target 4K (Series X) / Up to 4K, target 1440p (Series S)|
|Max Refresh Rate||120Hz||120Hz|
|VR Support||Yes||Unconfirmed (but doubtful)|
|Cloud Gaming||PlayStation Now||Microsoft Project xCloud|
|Backwards Compatibility||Yes (PS4)||Yes (Xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox One)|
|Dimensions||15.4 in × 10.2 in × 4.1 in (Base) / 15.4 in × 10.2 in × 3.6 in (Digital)||5.9 in × 5.9 in × 11.9 in (Series X) / 5.9 in × 2.6 in × 11 in (Series S)|
|Release Date||November 12, 2020 (NA)||November 10, 2020|
|Price||$499 (Base) / $399 (Digital)||$499 (Series X) / $299 (Digital-only Series S)|
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--the Xbox One X previously had a pretty sizeable advantage over PS4 Pro, but the newer systems should be fairly close. If the numbers above mean little to you, the general breakdown is that the Xbox Series X is slightly more powerful than the PS5.
- Xbox Series X Specs: Twice As Powerful As The Xbox One X
- PS5 Specs: Sony Reveals CPU, GPU, SSD, TFLOPs Details And More
- PS5's Expandable Storage Doesn't Use Proprietary Tech, But Don't Buy An SSD Yet
- Here's How Many TFLOPs PS5 Has--But Sony's Mark Cerny Says That Can Be Misleading
- Xbox Series X Requires Proprietary Cards To Expand Its Storage
- Xbox Series X: See Quick Resume And Faster Loading In Action
- Xbox Series X Specs Further Detailed: Smart Delivery, Backwards Compatibility
- Xbox Series X: See How It Uses Ray Tracing To Dramatically Improve Graphics
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. 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. You also won't have access to this entire amount for your games, as a certain amount if needed for basic system files and the OS. 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. Single games, even both updates, can be north of 50GB each. 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. Expansion cards will also be available, but they are very expensive.
- PS5's Much Faster Load Times Demonstrated In New Video
- PS5 Will Use Solid-State Drives: Here's Why That's Important
- Xbox Series Uses An NVMe Solid-State Drive For Ultra-Fast Load Times
The PS5's DualSense controller is a major evolution on the design used for the DualShock 4 before it. The console includes haptic feedback, including adaptive triggers that can add resistance based on the game. It also includes a speaker and a similar touchpad to the one included on the DualShock 4. The changes make it slightly bigger, but with a form-factor PlayStation fans will recognize.
The Xbox Series X controller also has a few new features to improve on 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 as well.
PlayStation Plus will be available on the PS5, with an upgraded benefit for PS5 users called the Plus Collection. Xbox Live Gold and the highly-successful Xbox Game Pass will be a large part of the Series X experience as well.
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 will also be transferred to PS5.
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, and it even announced a new PS5 upgrade to PlayStation Plus called the Plus Collection, which makes a bunch of critically-acclaimed PS4 games available on the PS5 at launch.
- PS5 Backwards Compatibility Will Support PS4's Most Popular Games At Launch
- PS5 Cross-Gen Multiplayer Teased Alongside Backwards Compatibility
Playable Games At Launch
The Bluepoint Games remaster of Demon's Souls and a few first-party games from Sony, like Spider-Man: Miles Morales, will be launch titles for the PS5. Check out our full list of PS5 launch games for more.
Microsoft first revealed Halo Infinite as a Series X launch title but the game was later delayed to 2021. It also showcased 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, but certain first-party games such as Gears Tactics will be coming to the console along with Xbox One.
- Xbox Series X Exclusive: Say Hello To The New Console Formerly Known As Project Scarlett
- Ubisoft Planning Rainbow Six Siege For PS5 And New Xbox, But Still Against Sequel
- All The Games We Expect Are Coming To PS5 And Xbox Series X
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.