PS5 vs. Xbox Series X: Which should you buy?
Xbox Series X(opens in new tab)
Microsoft's Xbox Series X delivers 12 teraflops of graphical computing power, the likes of which consoles have never seen. With a fast SSD, 16GB of memory, and a beefy CPU, it makes for a powerhouse of a system. Combined with services like Xbox Game Pass and xCloud streaming, Microsoft is making gaming more accessible than ever across the world.
Xbox Series X
Power your dreams
PlayStation 5(opens in new tab)
The PS5 isn't quite as powerful as the Xbox Series X with its GPU and CPU, but it's still a beastly console, boasting a lightning-fast SSD that developers are praising. Experience near-instant load times in some of the biggest AAA games to come. Sony's first-party lineup adds even more value to the console with the likes of God of War and Horizon Forbidden West.
Play has no limits
This is easily one of the most exciting generations in a while, poised on the bleeding edge of technology. The Xbox Series X and PS5 deliver new gaming experiences never before possible on home consoles, each company pushing the other to go a step above.
PS5 vs. Xbox Series X: What's the difference?
Both the Xbox Series X and PS5 have a lot to offer their respective player bases, but Microsoft and Sony are approaching next-gen (current-gen?) differently than one another. We'll take a look at each console and these companies' ideologies moving forward into this generation.
|Category||Xbox Series X||PlayStation 5|
|Processor||8x Cores @ 3.8 GHz Custom Zen 2 CPU||8x Cores @ 3.5GHz Custom Zen 2 CPU|
|Graphics||12.155 TFLOPS, 52 CUs @ 1.825 GHz Custom RDNA 2||10.28 TFLOPS, 36 CUs @ 2.23 GHz Custom RDNA 2|
|Memory||16 GB GDDR6, 320mb bus||16 GB GDDR6, 256-bit|
|Memory Bandwidth||10 GB @ 560 GB/s, 6GB @ 336 GB/s||448GB/s|
|Internal Storage||1 TB Custom NVME SSD||825GB Custom NVME SSD|
|I/O Throughput||2.4 GB/s (Raw), 4.8 GB/s (Compressed)||5.5GB/s (Raw), 8-9GB/s (Compressed)|
|Expandable Storage||1 TB Custom SSD expansion card||NVMe SSD slot|
|External Storage||USB external HDD support||USB external HDD support|
|Resolution||Target 4K, up to 8K||Target 4K, up to 8K|
|Frame rate||Target 60FPS, up to 120FPS||Target 60FPS, up to 120FPS|
|Backward compatibility||Yes (Original Xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox One)||Yes (PS4)|
|Optical Drive||4K UHD Blu-Ray drive||4K UHD Blu-Ray drive|
|Dimensions||11.9x5.9x5.9 in.||15.3x4.1x10.2 in.|
|Weight||9.8 lb||9.9 lb|
What these differences mean to you
Graphics and performance: The CPU, GPU, and SSD explained
The CPU (central processing unit) and GPU (graphics processing unit) are the brains behind the console, and as their names suggest, they run the central processing and graphics of the console.
Video game graphics are rendered with the GPU. If you have a powerful GPU, that means sharper images with more effects on-screen. The Xbox Series X and PS5 target 4K resolution, which has four times the amount of pixels than a 1080p image. Both are also prepared to hit 8K resolution in the right scenarios, though games supporting 8K around launch are few and far between. Because the Xbox Series X has a 12 teraflop GPU compared to the 10.28 teraflop GPU — with a variable frequency, no less — in the PS5, it should hit 4K at 60FPS more consistently. This also means that its lighting and shading techniques, along with textures and character models can be more complex and realistic in the right circumstances.
The CPU keeps your console running, processing all of the information it takes to boot up, start a game, use the OS, and, well, pretty much everything. These calculations are performed countlessly every single minute. In this regard, both console's CPUs are comparable, though the Xbox Series X edges out the PS5.
What's even more interesting is the SSD packed in both consoles. The PS5's SSD is blazing fast, and Sony boasts that games have "near-instant" load times because of it. The PS5 SSD targets read times of 5 GB/s with instantaneous seek times, meaning it can instantly find where specific data is stored on a disc and read 5GB of this data every second. In perfect conditions, the PS5 can load 2GB in .27 seconds. This opens up a whole new toolset for developers to take advantage of. Where they previously had to design levels by line of sight and what assets could realistically be loaded at any given time, they will be given much more freedom in the future.
The SSD inside of the Xbox Series X isn't as fast as the one in the PS5, but it's nothing to sneeze at, either.
What is ray-tracing?
GPUs also employ ray tracing techniques that render realistic lighting effects by modeling how light interacts with and travels through virtual objects in a 3D environment. Simply put, this improves visual fidelity. PlayStation architect Mark Cerny even says that it improves 3D audio on PS5, as well.
"If you wanted to run tests to see if the player can hear certain audio sources or if the enemies can hear the players' footsteps, ray tracing is useful for that," he said. "It's all the same thing as taking a ray through the environment."
PS5 vs Xbox Series X: Backward compatibility
The PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X support backward compatibility, but it works differently on each console. For anyone unaware, backward compatibility refers to the ability of new technology to support older hardware or software. This means that PS5 and Xbox Series X can play games from PS4 and Xbox One, even if those games weren't designed with these next-gen systems in mind.
PS5 backward compatibility allows people to play up to 99% of PS4 games, with only a handful of games left out. Original PlayStation, PS2, and PS3 games are not natively compatible. It's unclear what is holding the console back from full backward compatibility. Rest assured that an overwhelming majority of the 4,000+ games on PS4 are running on PS5, though.
Xbox Series X backward compatibility is much nicer. Every Xbox One game is playable on Xbox Series X, no exceptions. It also supports backward compatibility with certain Xbox 360 and original Xbox games if they were already supported on Xbox One via that console's backward compatibility program. Your saves also carry over between Xbox consoles.
PS5 vs Xbox Series X: First-party studios
PlayStation Studios and Xbox Game Studios have a lot of companies under their belts, all dedicated to making the best possible games for their respective platforms. While Sony used to be known for its untouchable exclusives portfolio, Microsoft is giving it a run for its money lately with multiple acquisitions, including ZeniMax Media.
PlayStation's heavy-hitters are helmed by a few notable studios like Sony Santa Monica, Guerilla Games, Naughty Dog, and Sucker Punch. These studios have created IP like God of War, Horizon Zero Dawn, The Last of Us, and Uncharted — each regarded as some of the greatest games ever made. Sony also bought Insomniac in 2019 and now owns the likes of Spider-Man and Ratchet & Clank.
- Bend Studio
- Guerilla Games
- Insomniac Games
- Media Molecule
- Naughty Dog
- Polyphony Digital
- Sony Japan Studio
- Sony London Studio
- Sony San Diego Studio
- Sony San Mateo Studio
- Sony Santa Monica Studio
- Sony XDEV Europe
- Sucker Punch Productions
Xbox has a ton of studios as well due to several acquisitions from Microsoft. While the big three — Halo, Gears of War, and Forza — were flagship franchises carrying Xbox through the last generation, Microsoft has a lot more to work with now and is set to become a premier RPG house with Bethesda, Obsidian, and inXile. Not only that, but Xbox now owns series like The Elder Scrolls and Fallout, not to mention the upcoming Starfield.
Xbox Game Studios
- 343 Industries
- Alpha Dog Games
- Arkane Studios
- Bethesda Softworks
- Compulsion Games
- Double Fine Productions
- id Software
- inXile Entertainment
- Ninja Theory
- Obsidian Entertainment
- Playground Games
- Roundhouse Studios
- Tango Gameworks
- The Coalition
- The Initiative
- Turn 10 Studios
- Undead Labs
- World's Edge
- ZeniMax Online Studios
PS5 vs. Xbox Series X: Services and features
Xbox Game Pass vs PlayStation Now
Xbox Game Pass is far better than PlayStation Now in a number of ways. PlayStation Now may have more games in its service, but don't let that fool you. While both services aim to be the "Netflix for games" for their respective consoles, you're getting a lot more value out of Xbox Game Pass.
|Category||PlayStation Now||Xbox Game Pass|
|Price||$60/year or $10/mo.||$120/year or $10/mo.|
|Number of games||Over 800||Over 500|
|Previous generation games||Yes (PS2, PS3, PS4)||Yes (Xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox One)|
|Available regions||19 countries||40 countries|
|Exclusives launch into service||No||Yes|
|Offers discounts on games||No||Yes|
The biggest advantage that Xbox Game Pass has going for it is Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. This package bundles up Xbox Live Gold, Xbox Game Pass, Cloud streaming, and EA Play all for just $15/month. All Xbox Game Studios published games (like Halo Infinite, Gears 5, and The Elder Scrolls 6) launch into Xbox Game Pass the day they release at retail. Xbox Game Pass also provides members access to discounts on downloadable content.
Xbox Live Gold vs PlayStation Plus
Xbox Live Gold and PlayStation Plus are premium memberships granting players access to online multiplayer. Each also offers two free games a month and discounts on games. Whether or not you think the free games are better on Xbox or PlayStation in a given month is completely subjective.
Sony also offers the PlayStation Plus Collection, which grants subscribers access to a library of select PS4 titles for free on the PS5.
Quick Resume, Smart Delivery, and more
Quick Resume is one of the most exciting features of next-generation consoles. Microsoft notes that Quick Resume allows players to suspend and resume multiple games whenever they want, picking up at the exact moment where they left off. The PS5, in contrast, does not have Quick Resume between multiple games.
Microsoft's Smart Delivery ensures that you're playing the best versions of the games you own. With Smart Delivery, the Xbox Series X recognizes if you've purchased a supported title on Xbox One and automatically provides the Xbox Series X version at no cost to you. As Microsoft puts it, "Buy a game once and play the best version across generations with Smart Delivery." Games that support Smart Delivery are decided upon by their developers and publishers.
Sony offers nothing like Smart Delivery on PS5, but some developers and publishers are working to give players free PS5 upgrades of games they buy on PS4.
Despite a burgeoning partnership between Microsoft and Sony to Cloud streaming technology, Sony still tends to lag behind Microsoft in this regard. Some PlayStation Now games can be streamed, but Sony offers nothing like Cloud streaming with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. What Microsoft introduced as Project xCloud in its beta phase now lets players stream games to several mobile devices. You don't even need to own the games you want to stream. Right now there's a growing library of over 200 games you can stream with an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription.
PS5 vs Xbox Series X: Controllers
With every new console generation comes new controllers, this time in the form of the PS5 DualSense and Xbox Series X controller. Both companies want to improve immersion as much as possible, and they're doing so similarly with haptic feedback along with Adaptive and Impulse triggers.
|Header Cell - Column 0||PS5 DualSense controller||Xbox Series X controller|
|Buttons||PS button, touchpad, four face buttons (X, O, Triangle, Square), two triggers, two bumpers, Create, Options, D-pad, two thumbsticks||Xbox home button, Menu, View, four face buttons (A,B,X,Y), two triggers, two bumpers, Share, D-pad, two thumbsticks|
|Share button||Yes (Create)||Yes|
|Trigger layout||Symmetrical (inline)||Asymmetrical (offset)|
|Trigger type||Adaptive triggers||Impulse triggers|
|Battery||Internal||2x AA batteries|
|Release date||November 12, 2020||November 10, 2020|
The Adaptive triggers that Sony packs into the DualSense are more advanced than the Xbox Series X controller's Impulse triggers. They allow for players to feel varying levels of tension in their actions, a common example given is to think of the tension you'd feel while drawing back a bowstring. This tension, along with haptic feedback, creates a level of immersion that was otherwise impossible before.
Like the Xbox One controller before it, the Series X's Impulse triggers have rumble motors that can emit distinct vibrations depending on what you are doing in-game, providing a sense of directionality through the feedback. Combining this with the rumble motors in the chassis of the controller itself heightens the experience.
PS5 and Xbox Series X: Price and release date
The PS5 was released on November 12 in seven markets: U.S., Japan, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, and South Korea. The rest of the world, including Europe, the Middle East, South America, Asia, and South Africa, saw the PS5 the following week on November 19. It costs $499 / $629 CAD / £449.
The Xbox Series X released worldwide on November 10 for $499 / $599 CAD / £449. Microsoft also offers a financing plan called Xbox All Access. For $35/month over the course of two years, you'll get an Xbox Series X console along with an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate membership for the entire duration of your payment plan.
PS5 vs. Xbox Series X: Which should you buy?
When it comes between the Xbox Series X and PS5, the console that'll give you more bang for your buck is undoubtedly the Xbox Series X. The PlayStation 5 has a lot going for it, but its services can't match up to the value that Xbox offers. When both consoles start at the same price — not even considering Microsoft's financing plan — and the Xbox Series X is more powerful with more games, the choice is pretty clear if you're in the market for a new console.
Now if you're looking to save money while taking advantage of Xbox's games, you could get just Xbox Game Pass Ultimate (or even the Xbox Series S). With Xbox Game Pass you can download games to PC and stream to mobile through the Cloud. If you want the best of both worlds, it'd be smart to pick up a PlayStation 5 and get Xbox Game Pass on the side.
The best place to play
Microsoft's Xbox Series X seemingly has it all. It's powerful, has great services, fantastic exclusives, and offers a lot of value for what you're getting. If you can do without some of the games that PlayStation offers, the Xbox Series X is well worth your money and built to last for years to come.
For the players
Sony at its best
The PS5 is much easier on the eyes, but no easier on your wallet than the Xbox Series X is. With popular exclusives series and a blazing-fast SSD for near-instant load times, the future is almost here. And if you want to play your old physical PS4 games, it's best to get the standard PS5 over the PS5 Digital Edition.
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Jennifer Locke has been playing video games nearly her entire life. You can find her posting pictures of her dog and obsessing over PlayStation and Xbox, Star Wars, and other geeky things.
i feel like this doesn't focus enough on the controllers because the dualsense absolutely beats the xbox controller anyday and it's a pretty important factor what with it being the thing you hold when you game.