Let's dive into the nitty-gritty.
After first discussing it earlier in the year, Sony 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 Series X and PlayStation. Granted, we still don't have enough quite yet to give a straight comparison between the Xbox Series X and 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 came out of the gate first with an official name for its next-gen console. And--surprising literally no one--it's PlayStation 5, or PS5 for short.
Microsoft previously referred to its next-gen console as Project Scarlett, but recently at The Game Awards 2019, it was officially unveiled to be the Xbox Series X. We were able to get exclusive coverage of the new Xbox in an interview with Xbox boss Phil Spencer, and also got insight into why it's named Series X.
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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, Series X 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.
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 Series X and the PS5 though, and as you'll see below, both consoles share several similarities. Both support ray-tracing, for instance, which will allow them to better simulate light in games. Here are some of the specs we know so far:
|PlayStation 5||Xbox Series X|
|Processor||AMD Zen 2 CPU||AMD Zen 2 CPU|
|Graphics||AMD Navi-based GPU||AMD Navi-based GPU (est. 12 TFLOPs)|
|RAM||unknown||GDDR6 SDRAM (capacity not confirmed)|
|Storage||SSD (capacity not confirmed)||NVMe SSD (capacity not confirmed)|
|Optical Drive||Yes (4K Blu-ray)||Yes|
|Max Output Resolution||8K||8K|
|Max Refresh Rate||120Hz||120Hz|
|Cloud Gaming||PlayStation Now (unconfirmed)||Microsoft Project xCloud|
|Backwards Compatibility||Yes (PS4 games)||Yes (Xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox One games)|
|Dimensions||unknown||unknown (but design has been revealed)|
|Release Date||Holiday 2020||Holiday 2020|
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.
According to Phil Spencer, the Series X's GPU is eight-times faster than base Xbox One and twice as fast as the Xbox One X, while the CPU is said to be four-times more capable. Further performance metrics have not been given.
Xbox Series X News
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; but by how much has yet to be clearly defined.
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.
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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 Series, on the other hand, will be introduce a new version of 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.
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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, Xbox Game Pass will be a large part of the Series X experience.
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, and Spencer has implied. Sony already has a game-based cloud-streaming service, PlayStation Now, which presumably would be supported on PS5 to some capacity.
Both Series X and PS5 will have backwards compatibility support. Series X will support games for the original Xbox and Xbox 360, and it has been confirmed that all Xbox One games will be backwards compatible on 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.
Playable Games At Launch
We know that Bluepoint Games, the studio behind the Uncharted and Shadow of the Colossus remasters, is working on "a big one." And Gearbox's recently announced game Godfall will be on PS5, and is set for the holiday 2020 like the console.
Microsoft first revealed Halo Infinite as a Series X launch title, though it did showcase 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.
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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 Xbox Series X had much more similar specs than they do. Both pieces of information have since been amended.