The next console generation is going to start with a bang with the release of four console SKUs across Sony and Microsoft. While the PS5's main competition is the Xbox Series X, it looks like the Xbox Series S will take on the PS5 Digital Edition. Both consoles drop the disc drive entirely, and they'll definitely be more affordable than their siblings.
PS5 Digital Edition vs Xbox Series S: What's the difference?
The Xbox Series S is a smaller Xbox Series X without a disc drive. It's a more affordable console with less powerful specs that still delivers the next-gen experience you've come to expect with ray-tracing, a solid-state drive (SSD), and targeting 120FPS. The PS5 Digital Edition is the exact same as the PS5, just without a disc drive. Because of this, the PS5 Digital Edition is wildly more powerful than the Xbox Series S on paper. That might not mean you should get it over Microsoft's system, though.
|Xbox Series S||PS5 Digital Edition|
|GPU||4 TFLOPS, 20 CUs @ 1.55 GHz Custom RDNA 2 GPU||10.28 TFLOPS, 36 CUs @ 2.23 GHz Custom RDNA 2|
|CPU||8x Cores @ 3.6 GHz (3.4 GHz w/ SMT) Custom Zen 2 CPU||8x Cores @ 3.5GHz Custom Zen 2|
|Memory||10GB GDDR6||16GB GDDR6|
|Resolution||Target 1440p, 4K upscaled||Target 4K, up to 8K|
|Frame rate||Target 60FPS, up to 120FPS||Target 60FPS, up to 120FPS|
|Storage||512GB SSD||825GB SSD|
|Controller||Xbox Series S controller||DualSense|
|Size||Unknown (60% smaller than Xbox Series X)||390mm x 92mm x 260mm|
What these differences mean for you
What do the CPU and GPU power?
You can think of the CPU (central processing unit) and GPU (graphics processing unit) as the brains of a console that work together to deliver the best possible games.
Microsoft knows how important the CPU and GPU are.
Every image you see on screen is created and rendered by the GPU, dictating how good an image looks. Because the PS5 Digital Edition has a more powerful GPU, it can render images at up to 8K (Full Ultra HD) resolution, with a normal target of 4K (Ultra HD). The Xbox Series S is targeting 1440p (Quad HD) resolution. To put that into perspective, 4K has four times the amount of pixels than that of a 1080p (Full HD) image. Either way you're getting stunning images, but 4K is technically sharper and clearer than 1440p. Not everyone can tell the difference, though. It also depends on what TV or monitor you hook your console up to — some can't render 4K at all.
The CPU exists to keep everything running. It processes all information and performs countless calculations per minute. Those pretty pictures don't mean very much if your console is running slow. Microsoft knows how important this is and equipped the Xbox Series S with a CPU that can match the PS5's, clocking out at a speed of 3.6GHz, nearly the same used within the Xbox Series X.
What should we expect with storage?
Both the PS5 Digital Edition and Xbox Series S use SSDs for their storage. Compared to the HDDs used in previous console generations, SSDs allows for more data to be read at faster speeds. An SSD differs from an HDD because it doesn't have any moving parts and data is stored on flash-memory chips. HDDs use moving mechanical parts to read/write information, slowing down the entire process.
While you'll be getting an SSD in whichever next-gen console you buy, the PS5 Digital Edition does offer more storage right out of the gate. It comes with an 825GB SSD as opposed to the 512GB SSD in the Xbox Series S. That could mean the difference between installing a handful of games on your system. Luckily, you will be able to buy extra storage for both. The Xbox Series S has a slot for a 1TB expansion card.
SSDs should also cut back on load times, latency, and texture pop-in. The PS5 touts load times for some games as nearly instantaneous.
What is Xbox All Access?
Here's the kicker. Microsoft is planning to offer the Xbox Series S through Xbox All Access, a financing program that was launched a couple of years ago. At $25/month over the course of 24 months, you'll get the Xbox Series S console and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. This means players have access to online multiplayer and hundreds of games on demand, with Xbox exclusives launching into Game Pass the day they're available. Xbox Game Pass Ultimate also includes Project xCloud game streaming and EA Play.
PlayStation has no similar program. If you want the PS5 this holiday, you'll need to purchase it outright from your favorite retailer for hundreds of dollars unless Sony announces otherwise.
What about price and release date?
Microsoft plans to release the Xbox Series S on Nov. 10, 2020 for $299. Sony plans on releasing the PS5 for $499 and the PS5 Digital Edition for $399 on November 12, 2020.
PS5 Digital Edition vs Xbox Series S: Bottom line
For most people, getting the Xbox Series S will be the smarter option. While the PS5 Digital Edition does have its specs on its side, the Xbox Series S can still deliver next-gen performance at an affordable price. When you think about the possibility of getting it through Xbox All Access, the decision is a no brainer.
I'd only go for the PS5 if you want Sony exclusives like Horizon Forbidden West and Spider-Man: Miles Morales, or if you absolutely need the top-of-the-line product.
Hopefully you can finance it
The Xbox Series S has a lot going for it, including an appealing price point and next-gen performance. If you're looking to save some money this November and still get in on the fun, this is the way to go.
Get your hands on it before it sells out
The Digital Edition costs $100 less than the standard PS5 and it's selling out fast, so you'll need to keep an eye out at your favorite retailers. Sony has power and exclusives on its side versus the Xbox Series S.
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