Feature Article

Xbox Series X Vs. PS5: These Are Major Differences Between The Next-Gen Consoles

Next-gen consoles share a lot in common, but major features like Xbox Game Pass, PS Now, exclusive games, controllers, and SSDs will set them apart.

In the year of our lord 2020, a new console generation is upon us. Between Sony and Microsoft, we're set to experience the technological jump in next-gen hardware with the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X. However, if you've been keeping up from a technical perspective, you may realize that these two upcoming systems share a lot in common. From the AMD-built CPU and GPU to the ultra-fast solid-state drives, both consoles are sure to deliver similar top-end performance. But here, we're going to focus on what sets them apart. Now that we've seen our first glimpse at what the PlayStation 5 can do, as well as several third-party titles running on Xbox Series X, more differences between the two systems have become clear. We will learn even more about the differences during Microsoft's first-party game showcase in July, during which we will see some of the console-exclusive titles it has in the works for Xbox Series X.

Aside from a few key hardware details, the PS5 and Xbox Series X have some notable differences. Exclusive games, subscription services, controllers, backward compatibility, expandable storage, form factor (we recently got our first look at the PS5 system)--these are all ways the new consoles are forming their distinct identities and setting the stage for the upcoming generation. The systems also look drastically different. While the PS5 features a tall and curvy design, the Xbox Series X is a much wider and box-like shape more evocative of a PC than a game console.

Also, if you're undecided on which platform to dedicate your time with, these are the things you should be aware of. Of course, not every detail is clear just yet--we still don't know how much either system will cost or their release dates yet, and Sony has said that PS5's price will be revealed at a later date. We'll continue to update this feature as we learn more about both consoles in the months ahead.

Platform-Exclusive Games

Microsoft has made significant moves in recent years by acquiring multiple development studios to bring into its first-party Xbox Games Studios umbrella. While it means that these dev teams get the support of a giant like Microsoft, it also means Xbox platforms get exclusive games. It's tricky to talk about in definitive terms given Microsoft's dedication to offering PC versions of first-party games, cross-generation support, and in some cases, timed exclusivity. But if we're comparing Xbox against PlayStation, we'll include what the consoles can offer over the other.

As far as what's been confirmed, Xbox Series X will have games such as Senua's Saga: Hellblade 2, the sequel to Ninja Theory's acclaimed Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice. While the makers of Observer and Layers of Fear, Bloober Team, are not an XGS developer, it is bringing its new game The Medium exclusively to Xbox Series X and PC. And of course, the heaviest hitter of them all, Halo Infinite, is set to launch alongside Series X and with an Xbox One version, too.

Microsoft and Sony differ in their early strategies for first-party games on the next-generation systems. For at least one year, Microsoft will publish all its first-party games on Xbox One in addition to Xbox Series X, meaning the games will have to work on both systems. Sony, meanwhile will have PS5 exclusives from the very beginning and the games will be incompatible with PS4.

We anticipate more exclusives to be announced as we get closer to the console launch and as XGS developers get further in the development of their upcoming games. This could come as soon as July during the big Xbox 20/20 showcase, which will give us a deeper look at Halo Infinite as well.

Sony hit strong with exclusives in the PS4 era (and still is with The Last Of Us Part 2 and Ghost Of Tsushima on the way), and that's looking likely to continue with the PlayStation 5. The first reveal featured 18 PS5 games, and while some will also come to other consoles, others will only be playable on PS5. Several first-party sequels have already been announced as PS5 exclusives, including the following:

Furthermore, both Deathloop and Ghostwire: Tokyo have been revealed as PS5 exclusive games. At the Game Awards 2019, Gearbox revealed Godfall, which is a PS5 and PC game set to launch by the end of the year, which was showcased again in the PS5 reveal. Counterplay, the developers behind Godfall, describe it as a third-person fantasy looter-slasher. We're also aware of a game called Quantum Error by Teamkill Media that's being developed for the PS4 and PS5, which appears to be a first-person horror experience. We'll continue to update as we get closer to the PS5's launch and learn more about its future game lineup.

There are, of course, several multiplatform games and live service games that've been confirmed for both PS5 and Xbox Series X such as Fortnite, Assassin's Creed: Valhalla, Dirt 5, Resident Evil: Village, Hitman III, NBA 2K21, Control, and much more.

Please use a html5 video capable browser to watch videos.
This video has an invalid file format.
00:00:00
Sorry, but you can't access this content!
Please enter your date of birth to view this video

By clicking 'enter', you agree to GameSpot's
Terms of Use and Privacy Policy

At Your Service

The future of the gaming landscape is going to revolve around subscription services more than ever. The differences we're experiencing now in this realm will carry over into the next generation, and as we transition to the PS5 and Xbox Series X, they are sure to evolve, too.

Xbox user or not, you have to admit that Xbox Game Pass has been a revolution in how games are discovered and played. In what you can easily deem 'The Netflix of Gaming,' Game Pass provides access to download and play any game in its library for a subscription cost, including all first-party titles on release day. Microsoft is fully embracing Game Pass as a key part of Xbox's future, offering high-profile games even on PC; Microsoft's aim is to simply get you in its Xbox ecosystem, console or otherwise. But when it comes to deciding which platform to lean toward for next-gen, Game Pass should be a major factor to consider.

Sony has been making moves as well with PlayStation Now. While it's not nearly as robust as Game Pass, it shares similarities in granting access to a large library of games; PS4 and PS2 games on PS Now can be downloaded locally or streamed while PS3 games can only be streamed. PS Now's focus, however, is on cloud-based game streaming. The service has made strides in terms of improving latency, functionality, and game offerings (even being available on PC), and we expect Sony to push it further as part of next-gen. Details on how PS Now will be integrated with the PS5 remains to be seen.

Microsoft hasn't shown its entire hand quite yet either when it comes to how Project xCloud fits into the Series X ecosystem, but we know for a fact that it will in some form. The company has indicated that details are coming in future Xbox 20/20 events.

Between Xbox Live Gold and PlayStation Plus, these premium online gaming services share many similarities. They offer access to online multiplayer gaming, additional features like cloud saves, and give out free games on a monthly basis. One thing to note is that subscribers of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate get Live Gold as well, sweetening the deal for both services.

Please use a html5 video capable browser to watch videos.
This video has an invalid file format.
00:00:00
Sorry, but you can't access this content!
Please enter your date of birth to view this video

By clicking 'enter', you agree to GameSpot's
Terms of Use and Privacy Policy

Backwards Compatibility And Smart Delivery

It's not always about the here and now; backward compatibility has been a huge feature in rounding out the Xbox One and continues to be a major key for Microsoft going into the Xbox Series X. Not only does Series X play every Xbox One game available, it also carries on all the work that's been done in making Xbox 360 and original Xbox games backward compatible as well. In many ways, Series X represents a unification of every Xbox generation.

Strengthening this philosophy is Smart Delivery. All first-party games and select third-party titles (like Assassin's Creed Valhalla and Cyberpunk 2077) will feature Smart Delivery, which means when you buy these cross-gen games once, you have them for both systems. Xbox will recognize the digital versions tied to your account and the hardware will recognize the proper version that's been optimized for whichever console.

Sony is embracing backward compatibility in a major way for the PS5, especially compared to how it has with the PS4 and PS3. However, the details on how it'll exactly work are a little iffy, even coming from Sony. The messaging has been that Sony "believes an overwhelming majority" of PS4 games will be backward compatible, but will have to evaluate this on a game-by-game basis. PS4 games are expected to take advantage of PS5's capabilities by boosting performance and resolutions, too.

Sensible Controller Improvements

Microsoft isn't deviating too far from its tried-and-true controller design for the next generation. The Xbox Series X controller has a minuscule (largely unnoticeable) change in ergonomics, a new share button at the center, and USB-C connection. The directional pad does feature a major overhaul by going with a disc-like 8-way d-pad by default. Otherwise, it's the familiar Xbox One gamepad, and still uses two AA batteries to power itself.

The PS5's DualSense controller not only continues to differentiate itself from Xbox's design, but it's also the biggest departure from the long-time DualShock. The initial model has a two-tone design and a slightly bulkier form, but a number of additional features are worth noting. The DualSense has a built-in microphone, a revamped Share button that's now called the Create button, adaptive L2 and R2 triggers, haptic feedback, and a USB-C connection. The DualSense uses a built-in rechargeable battery like its DualShock predecessor, and Sony states that it'll have improved battery life and a headphone jack.

Current Xbox users should be happy to know that all Xbox One controllers are forward compatible, meaning they'll work on the Xbox Series X, albeit without the new share button. Sony has yet to say anything about DualShock 4 controller being compatible with the PS5.

The PS5's DualSense controller.
The PS5's DualSense controller.

Changes In Form Factor

One of the more surprising things about the Xbox Series X when it was first revealed last year was its physical appearance. This is a major departure from most consoles in history, going with a primarily vertical rectangular form factor, like a big-ass brick. Of course, you'll be able to lay the console sideways but its dimensions are unlike any Xbox--or console--before it. It's designed in a way to have air flow out from the top of the console (when positioned vertically), making for efficient temperature management.

The Xbox Series X is the biggest departure from previous Xbox designs.
The Xbox Series X is the biggest departure from previous Xbox designs.

The PlayStation 5 has ditched the all-black design used for the PS2-4 in favor of a white exterior, and the result is a very distinctive design. The console sports a similar look to the DualSense controller with a two-tone design, and from a certain angle, when it's sat upright, it looks like it's wearing a hood. It'll come in two different models, including an all-digital edition for folks who don't want to keep using discs, and generally looks very different from either the competition or Sony's previous consoles. Opinions are divided on whether it looks good or not, but it's certainly unique.

The PlayStation 5 design is very distinctive--and totally different from the Series X.
The PlayStation 5 design is very distinctive--and totally different from the Series X.

SSD Storage Wars

Both the Xbox Series X and PS5 will utilize solid-state drives for ultra-fast storage, taking advantage of NVMe tech that's currently available on high-end PCs and even pushing that forward. Sony's been forthcoming with its benchmarks to showcase just how fast its SSD will be, and developers working with Xbox Series X have mentioned similar revolutions in storage speed on Microsoft's console.

However, internal storage capacity is slightly different between the two: Xbox Series X comes with a 1TB SSD while the PS5 has a 825 GB SSD.

Games are only getting larger in terms of install size and digital games are increasingly common, so you will most likely need to consider external storage. When it comes to the Xbox Series X, a proprietary 1TB SSD from Seagate will be available. Microsoft states that users will see no loss in speed between the internal and external SSDs due to the console's architecture and hardware tech. However, you can connect other external drives to transfer data and game installs, but any Series X game needs to be moved to either the internal or Seagate SSD before playing; Xbox One games can play off of external drives, though.

Sony is allowing the PS5 to be a bit more open when it comes to your expandable storage options. The PS5 supports certain m.2 NVMe drives currently on the market as the console features an internal m.2 expansion slot. However, Sony's system architect Mark Cerny stated that your SSD needs to be as fast as the one built into the PS5 since PS5 games will be made to specifically take advantage of that speed. Other USB drives can be used as external storage, and you'll be able to play backward compatible PS4 games directly off of it.

Please use a html5 video capable browser to watch videos.
This video has an invalid file format.
00:00:00
Sorry, but you can't access this content!
Please enter your date of birth to view this video

By clicking 'enter', you agree to GameSpot's
Terms of Use and Privacy Policy

The Slight Difference In Power

The debate of which console will be more powerful than the other is a rather fruitless one, especially since we don't even have them yet. Pointing to TFLOPs (the general estimate of graphics processing power) would be an oversimplification of matters, but yes, there's a difference on paper. The PS5 comes in at 10.28 TFLOPs while the Xbox Series X is rated at 12.18 TFLOPs, to be exact. Whether or not this translates to a difference in fidelity between games remains to be seen.

We know that both PS5 and Series X are capable of ray tracing, 4K resolution (and eventually 8K), and 120 FPS, though these graphical features largely depend on how developers build their games. Both consoles use custom hardware built by AMD, which is utilizing its Zen 2 CPU architecture and Navi-based RDNA 2 GPU tech. So, what's the big difference between the consoles? Just the numbers like clock speeds and compute units from what we know so far. Regardless, these are much more powerful than even the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X.

Regardless, on paper performance metrics from both consoles are nothing to scoff at. Even if the PS5 is rated slightly behind Series X, Epic Games' recent tech demo showing off Unreal Engine 5 aptly showcased the next-gen graphical leap with highly detailed assets, billions of triangles, and the impressive Lumen lighting system all while running on a PS5.

Please use a html5 video capable browser to watch videos.
This video has an invalid file format.
00:00:00
Sorry, but you can't access this content!
Please enter your date of birth to view this video

By clicking 'enter', you agree to GameSpot's
Terms of Use and Privacy Policy

Power consumption will be another story. Although we don't have much to go on quite yet, we at least know that Sony's revamping the rest mode for the PS5 to consume significantly less wattage compared to the PS4.

Here at GameSpot, we're going all-in on covering the upcoming consoles, so be sure to check out all our PS5 and Xbox Series X stories below.

Please use a html5 video capable browser to watch videos.
This video has an invalid file format.
00:00:00
Sorry, but you can't access this content!
Please enter your date of birth to view this video

By clicking 'enter', you agree to GameSpot's
Terms of Use and Privacy Policy

Now Playing: First Look at PS5 Console | Sony PS5 Reveal Event

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

highammichael

Michael Higham

Associate Editor at GameSpot. Southeast San Diego to the Bay. Salamat sa iyong suporta!

Back To Top