While both new generation consoles are serious gaming machines, there are a handful of key differences between the two that might sway you one way or another. If you’re trying to decide between grabbing a standard PS5 or the disc-less Xbox Series S, we’re here to help you out. We’ve taken a look at both consoles and broken down everything you need yo know about each console while weighing the decision.
- I own a PlayStation 5 and an Xbox Series X, but only one of them stole my heart
- All cross-platform games (PS5, Xbox Series X, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC)
- Xbox Series X vs. PS5
Right off the bat, we need to point out that the PS5 and Xbox Series S are aimed toward slightly different audiences, and their specs do differ a considerable amount. The PS5 is aimed toward a “premium” audience, looking for high-end visuals and performance, while the Series S is presented as more of an affordable option to get as many players on board as possible. You’ll notice the PS5 is a more powerful system in many ways than the Series S, but that doesn’t necessarily mean deciding between the two will come easily. When it comes to specs, both offer custom SSDs (solid-state drives), meaning games and apps will load incredibly fast. This is a huge upgrade from the current generation’s HDDs (hard disk drives), which are starting to show their age as games become much larger in scope.
The main difference between the two on the surface is that the Series S lacks a disc drive, while the standard PS5 will accept 4K UHD Blu-Ray discs. This could be a major factor for some, especially those with less reliable internet connections. And while the standard PS5 will cost more than the Xbox Series S, a lower price point could prove to be the most enticing factor when choosing one over the other.
Another main difference in specs is attributed to the PS5’s 10.3 TFLOPS, 36 CUs, and 16GB GDDR6 memory — compared to the Xbox Series S’s 4 TFLOPS, 20 CUs, and 10GB GDDR6 memory. We’ll get into the specifics of what that means later on, but the point is that you’re getting a less powerful but more affordable machine if you buy a Series S. Microsoft has also noted that the Series S is the “smallest Xbox ever,” and while we don’t know the exact dimensions of it, you can guarantee it will be more compact than the PS5. This, again, might make a difference depending on the space you have at your disposal.
Here’s what to expect from each system, in terms of specs.
|PlayStation 5||Xbox Series S|
|Color||Black and White||White|
|CPU||8-core, 3.5GHz Custom Zen 2||8-core, 3.6 GHz, AMD Zen 2|
|GPU||36 CUs, 10.3 TFLOPS, 2.23GHz||20 CUs, 4 TFLOPS, 1.565GHz|
|Memory||16GB GDDR6||10GB GDDR6|
|Storage||825GB Custom SSD||512GB NVME SSD|
|Optical drive||4K UHD Blu-ray drive||No, digital only|
|4K||Yes||1440p, scalable 4K|
|Ports||Includes USB and NVME slot||USB|
|Online subscription||PS Plus||Xbox Live Gold|
|Availability||November 12, 2020 in the US (November 19 in other territories)||November 10, 2020|
|Digital Trends review||Coming soon||Coming soon|
But what about visuals? This is yet another possible major factor for some when choosing between the two. Despite the noticeable difference in specs, either one will offer beautiful visuals — it just comes down to what you’re looking for in a console. But let’s compare each system’s teraflops (TFLOPS), as it’s a great place to start when evaluating the visual fidelity of the machines. You’ve probably seen or heard this term pop up recently as a buzzword throughout the marketing of each system. A TFLOP is a measurement of a computer or console’s performance, and it refers to the ability of a machine to calculate one trillion floating-point operations per second.
When comparing the two, the PS5 features 10.3 TFLOPS, over double that of the Series S’s 4 TFLOPS. This means the PS5 can calculate 10.3 trillion floating-point operations per second, compared to the Series S’s 4 trillion. This is partially why the PS5 will be able to output at a higher resolution than the Series S. In fact, the Series S has fewer TFLOPS than that of the PS4 Pro, which sits at around 4.2. Still, the Series S is way more powerful than its predecessor, the Xbox One — and intends for it to offer 1440p resolution at up to 120 frames per second, without the need for a 4K display.
The PS5 will feature 36 CUs and a GPU frequency capped at 2.23GHz — compared to Xbox Series S’s 20 CUs and 1.565GHz. In essence, these figures determine a machine’s clock speed, or the rate at which the system can perform internal operations. The PS5 will allow for a variable clock speed, based on what is required of the GPU. As for the Series S, it will deliver four times the processing power of the Xbox One, making it a worthy choice for a next-generation machine, especially at that price.
All in all, despite one being more powerful than the other, you might not “need” a system with 10.3 TFLOPS. Even with the less powerful Xbox Series S, it’s still a beast compared to what we have now, and it’s able to deliver faster load times and higher (and more steady) frame rates, all thanks to the Xbox Velocity Architecture.
In terms of resolution, you’ll notice a difference between the two machines — particularly in that the PS5 supports 4K output at 120Hz, and is said to be future-proofed with 8K support as well. Since 8K won’t be the standard for several more years, that might not be a huge factor for you right now, but it is forward-thinking that Sony is opting to future-proof its machine with 8K support. The Xbox Series S, on the other hand, delivers great visuals at 1440p resolution and up to 120 frames per second, and can also scale your games up to 4K if you have a display that supports it. This means you can still get beautiful-looking games without the need for a 4K screen, though if you have one, games will look even better.
Both machines seem to offer support of “up to 120 frames per second,” though you’ll need a display that can render these fast frame rates. With each system, you’ll have a much better visual experience with less screen tearing if you’ve got a monitor that features 120Hz refresh rates — which the Xbox Series S and PS5 will support.
In yet another attempt to future-proof, both will feature an HDMI 2.1 port, and despite this not being the standard quite yet, the systems will be ready to go once HDMI 2.1 becomes more ubiquitous. HDMI 2.1 will allow for much lower latency, improved frame rates, and eventually, 8K support — just don’t expect to enjoy resolutions that high with the Series S.
Again, if high resolution is important to you, the PS5 should be your first choice in this regard, as the Series S is capped at 1440p (with scalable 4K).
Yet another important factor with each system is the amount of onboard memory they’ll come with, and the two differ in this regard. The Xbox Series S comes with a 512GB NVME SSD, while the PS5 will launch with an 825GB SSD. This might seem like a tremendously low amount on both fronts, and while it technically is, the power of the SSD will likely make up for it. With the PS5, its custom SSD features a raw read bandwidth of around 5.5GB per second, meaning it will be able to run more efficiently than a standard SSD off the shelf. In other words, it will run more efficiently and it will allow for the decompression of file sizes, due to the Oodle Kraken algorithm from RAD Game Tools.
This decompression of file sizes is key and will free up space and lower the amount of texture pop-in — allowing files to be read in milliseconds. This means that despite the seemingly low hard-drive size of the PS5, the files for games themselves should, in theory, be smaller, and you’ll get more mileage out of the SSD overall. This will, of course, be up to the developer, but we’ve got our fingers crossed that the days of 150GB+ install sizes will be over.
The PS5 plays most PS4 games, and we got to see footage of just how fast the SSD will work, last year. Takashi Mochizuki of Bloomberg uploaded a video of the PS5 running the PS4 version of Marvel’s Spider-Man, compared to the same game running on a PS4 Pro. The result was staggering, as the game was able to load on PS5 in less than a second, compared to eight seconds on a PS4 Pro. Now, bear in mind, this is a less technically demanding game than something you might see on PS5 natively, but it’s still a great way to measure the SSD’s speed. Check out the footage below:
Sony's official video comparing performance of PS4 Pro vs next-gen PlayStation pic.twitter.com/2eUROxKFLq
— Takashi Mochizuki (@6d6f636869) May 21, 2019
As for the Xbox Series S, it, too, will feature an SSD, though it is different than the one included with PS5. We do know the Series S’s hard drive will feature a read speed of 2.4GB per second, which is less than half of that of the PS5. Even at 2.4GB per second, this is still a massive leap compared to what we have with the current generation in which the Xbox One X only reads at 120MB per second.
And if you’re worried about storage space on your machines, both the PS5 and the Xbox Series S allow for external storage upgrades. However, as Mark Cerny mentioned in his rundown of the PS5 earlier this year, the M2 SSDs required for an upgrade won’t be available on the market until as early as 2021 — possibly later. You’ll also be able to purchase separate custom 1TB storage cards to use on your Xbox Series S, and you’ll need them if you plan on storing next-generation games, as they must be installed onto either the system or these storage cards, as opposed to a USB drive or external drive.
While we know how fast both SSDs will be based on sheer numbers, it’s not exactly clear how they will perform in practice, as it will ultimately depend on what you’re trying to run. As the technology improves, the size and scope of games likely will, too, so everything seems to be scaling upward. At the end of the day, the PS5 will come with a larger hard drive than the Xbox Series S, so keep that in mind when making your decision to purchase.
Price is likely the most important factor for consumers looking to purchase a next-generation machine. In fact, many potential buyers will not compare specs at all, and will purchase whichever system is less expensive. For this reason, Microsoft has prioritized low cost with the Xbox Series S, making it easy for consumers to jump into the next generation of games. The Series S is less powerful than the PS5, yes, but it will only cost $299.99. This is a massive win for Microsoft, especially compared to the price of both PS5s, which are more expensive than the Series S — but remember, you certainly get what you pay for.
Microsoft is offering the Series S as part of its All Access program, allowing you to pay a monthly amount to gain immediate access to the system and Game Pass Ultimate with no upfront cost — just like buying a new smartphone. With the Xbox Series S, specifically, it will cost you $24.99 (34.99 for the Xbox Series X) each month, and you’ll receive your console right away, along with two years of Game Pass Ultimate. This, again, is just a testament to Microsoft’s consumer-friendly approach.
When it comes to the PS5, the Digital Edition will be $399.99 and the Standard Edition will be $499.99, which is on par with what many were predicting. In terms of the power of the systems, you can get the best looking next gen experiences for the least amount of money by getting the Digital Edition PS5. But many consumers might not take this into consideration and opt to go with the Series S, despite it being inferior from a technical standpoint.
Aside from price, the other major factor that will sway consumers is the games available on each machine. Both will feature many of the same third-party titles like Cyberpunk 2077, The Lord of the Rings: Gollum, Fortnite, and Resident Evil: Village. We already know of a lot of games that will appear on both systems, and will likely find out more as we approach their launches.
When it comes to a first-party lineup of games, Sony will have a wider selection, at least at first. Microsoft has spent recent years acquiring more studios and focusing more on exclusive games, but it will likely be a while before we’ll see those games come to fruition. We know the PS5 will have heavy-hitter exclusives like Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Horizon 2: Forbidden West, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, and the remake of Demon’s Souls, along with the followup to God of War.
As for Microsoft, we know we’ll be getting a new Fable, Forza Motorsport, Obsidian’s new RPG, Avowed, Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II, and of course, Halo Infinite. It takes time to acquire studios and develop games, so expect to see more from Microsoft as the generation progresses. When comparing the lineups of both platforms, there are a lot of similarities, especially with the third-party games.
Microsoft seems like it’s focusing more on shooters and online experiences like Gears, Halo, Sea of Thieves, and State of Decay — while the games you’ll get on the PS5 will lean more into single-player, narrative-driven adventures. That isn’t to say the PS5 won’t feature shooters and Xbox Series S won’t include story-focused games, though. A game like Hellblade II will absolutely prioritize its story, and it’s an Xbox exclusive.
Here are the games confirmed to come to PS5:
|Assassin’s Creed Valhalla||Dustborn||Hogwarts Legacy||Oddworld: Soulstorm||Scarlet Nexus|
|Astro’s Playroom||Dying Light 2||Hood: Outlaws and Legends||Outriders||Sherlock Holmes: Chapter One|
|Atomic Heart||The Elder Scrolls Online||Horizon: Forbidden West||Overcooked: All You Can Eat||Solar Ash|
|Battlefield 6||Far Cry 6||Hyper Scape||Outriders||Spider-Man: Miles Morales|
|Bugsnax||FIFA 21||Immortals: Fenyx Rising||Paradise Lost||Stray|
|Call of Duty Black Ops: Cold War||Final Fantasy VII Remake||JETT: The Far Shore||The Pathless||Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League|
|Chivalry 2||Final Fantasy XVI||Just Dance 2021||Planet Coaster: Console Edition||TemTem|
|Chorus||Fortnite||Kena: Bridge of Spirits||Pragmata||Tribes of Midgard|
|Control||Ghostwire: Tokyo||Little Devil Inside||Project Athia||Unknown 9: Awakening|
|Cris Tales||Godfall||LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga||Quantum Error||Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2|
|Cyberpunk 2077||Goodbye Volcano High||The Lord of the Rings: Gollum||Rainbow Six: Quarantine||Vampire the Masquerade – Swansong|
|Death Loop||Gotham Knights||Madden 21||Rainbow Six Siege||Warframe|
|Demon’s Souls Remake||Gothic||Marvel’s Avengers||Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart||Watch Dogs: Legion|
|Destiny 2||Gran Turismo 7||Maquette||Recompile||The Witcher III: Wild Hunt|
|Destruction: All Stars||Grand Theft Auto V||Metal: Hellsinger||Resident Evil: Village||Worms Rumble|
|Dirt 5||Haven||NBA 2K21||Returnal||WRC 9|
|DOOM Eternal||Heavenly Bodies||NBA Live 21||Riders Republic||Yakuza: Like a Dragon|
|Dragon Age 4||Hitman III||Observer: System Redux||Sackboy: A Big Adventure|
Xbox Series X (and Series S) games:
|12 Minutes||Dragon Age 4||Hogwarts Legacy||MicroMan||Shredders|
|Aragami 2||Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age||Gothic Remake||Moonray||The Sims 5|
|As Dusk Falls||Dying Light 2||Grand Theft Auto 5||NBA 2K21||Song of Iron|
|The Artful Escape||Earthlock 2||Graven||Nth^0 Infinity Reborn||Soulborn|
|The Ascent||Echo Generation||Grounded||Observer (System Redux)||S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2|
|Assassin’s Creed Valhalla||The Elder Scrolls Online||The Gunk||Ori and the Will of the Wisps||State of Decay 3|
|Avowed||Everwild||Halo Infinite||The Outer Worlds||Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League|
|Balan Wonderworld||Exo One||Haven||Outriders||Tetris Effect: Connected|
|Battlefield 6||Exomecha||Hitman 3||Overcooked: All You Can Eat||Tell Me Why|
|The Big Con||Fable||Hello Neighbor 2||Paradise Lost||Tunic|
|Blood Bowl 3||The Falconeer||Hood: Outlaws and Legends||Party Crasher Simulator||Ultimate Fishing Simulator 2|
|Bright Memory: Infinite||Far Cry 6||Hyper Scape||Phantasy Star Online 2||Unexplored 2 – The Wayfarer’s Legacy|
|Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War||FIFA 21||Immortals: Fenyx Rising||Planet Coaster||Unknown 9: Awakening|
|Call of the Sea||Fortnite||In Sound Mind||Pragmata||Vampire the Masquerade – Bloodlines 2|
|Chivalry 2||Forza Horizon 4||In Sound Mind||Psychonauts 2||Vampire the Masquerade – Swansong|
|Control||Gears 5||Last Stop||Rainbow Six Quarantine||Warhammer 40,000: Darktide|
|Cris Tales||Gears Tactics||LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga||Rainbow Six: Siege||Watch Dogs Legion|
|Crossfire X||Gotham Knights||Little Nightmares 2||Resident Evil: Village||Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood|
|Cyberpunk 2077||Gothic Remake||The Lord of the Rings: Gollum||Sable||White Shadows|
|Cygni: All Guns Blazing||Grand Theft Auto 5||Mad Streets||Scarlet Nexus||The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt|
|Demon Turf||Graven||Madden NFL 21||Scorn||WRC 9|
|Destiny 2||Grounded||Marvel’s Avengers||Sea of Thieves||Yakuza: Like A Dragon|
|Dirt 5||The Gunk||The Medium||The Second Extinction|
|Doom Eternal||Halo Infinite||Metal: Hellsinger||Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2|
It’s also worth touching upon the notion of backward compatibility — which both systems will indeed include, though each platform will be handling this feature differently. The Xbox Series S and Series X will handle backward compatibility the same way as Xbox One. It all works through software, instead of “true” backward compatibility in the traditional sense. The solution Microsoft has come up with is consumer friendly, cost efficient, and works with a huge library of games from the original Xbox to current titles.
With the PS5, it’s a little more ambiguous, especially since Sony hasn’t focused on backward compatibility this generation. We do know the company has confirmed that “the overwhelming majority of the 4,000+ PS4 titles will be playable on PS5,” but this statement isn’t clear. Which games will work? How does the company decide which games will be compatible? What about PS3 and older titles from the PlayStation catalog? We’ve heard rumors that the PS5 will only be backward compatible with PS4 games, so it might be best to temper expectations when thinking about playing older titles from previous generations. During the recent PS5 showcase, we got an all new look at PS Plus Collection — a new addition to PlayStation Plus, which will give PS5 users access to a slew of PS4’s best exclusives like Bloodborne, Persona 5, and Uncharted 4.
We do know a large selection of current-generation games will feature upgrades to the next-generation versions within the same family — some free, and others will cost a small fee. For example, games like The Witcher III, Cyberpunk 2077, Grand Theft Auto V, Rainbow Six Siege, and Control will all be upgradable, and the list continues to grow as we get closer to this holiday season. Do keep in mind that the Series S versions of these games will be presented at a lower resolution than the Series X counterparts — as well as the PS5 versions.
Both the PS5 and Xbox Series S systems will come packaged with a controller, so let’s get into the differences of each. The Series S will feature the same controller that comes with the Series X, but it will be Robot White instead of black. This controller mirrors the Xbox One controller but comes with some new enhancements for the upcoming generation. Microsoft boasts “improved ergonomics,” a new hybrid D-pad, better grip on the triggers, and the new Share button. It won’t be much of a departure from the already fantastic Xbox One controller, but will come packed with some new bells and whistles that make it better.
The PS5’s new controller, DualSense, is an even bigger departure from its predecessor for many reasons. Obviously, dropping the DualShock moniker is a major difference, but the controller itself is a fresh take, as well. It will feature adaptive triggers that offer varying degrees of resistance based on how hard you pull them. The DualSense will also feature haptic feedback, and replaces its Share button with a new Create button, instead. This new button will likely be coupled with enhanced software that focuses not just on sharing, but editing and creating videos and images.
The biggest change comes with the DualSense’s appearance — dropping the solid color found with most PS4 DualShocks. What you get is a mix of black, white, and blue, mirroring the PS5 system itself. Sony hasn’t confirmed the existence of other colors, but we’ll likely see more pop up as time goes on. The same can be said about the Xbox Series S and X controllers.
Both seem comparable, but the true test will be how each will feel in your hands. At this point, we have a better idea of what the Xbox controller will feel like, since it’s modeled after the same one from this generation. However, the DualSense seems to be a lot different than what we might be used to.
It’s currently unknown how much the Xbox controllers will cost, but we do know the price of the DualSense. With the Xbox Series S controller, we have a better understanding of its value since it’s so similar to that of the Xbox One, which you can purchase new for between $50 and $65. We assume we’ll have more info about accessory pricing once Xbox pre-orders go live on September 22. As for the DualSense, the PS Blog explained that they will cost $69.99.
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