Xbox Scarlett vs. PS5: Here’s what we know so far

How will Microsoft's Xbox Scarlett and Sony's PS5 stack up?

The Xbox One and PlayStation 4 have reached the final stretch of their lifespans. Soon, Microsoft and Sony will release the next-generation of consoles, which are sure to be loaded up with new features, as well as major improvements in processing power to run the latest video games.

We don’t think the systems will launch in 2019, but we do have information trickling in on what we can expect from them. From hardware to games, we’ve compared the Xbox Scarlett vs. PS5 so you can better judge which system you should buy come launch day.

Specs

Xbox Scarlett PS5
Dimensions
Weight
Color
CPU Eight-core AMD Ryzen
GPU Allegedly “Arcturus 12” Radeon Navi with ray tracing support
Memory
Memory bandwidth
Storage SSD, size unclear SSD, size unclear
Optical drive Yes
4K Yes
HDR
Ports
Online subscription
Connectivity
Price Likely $500
Availability Likely 2020 Likely 2020
Digital Trends review Coming soon Coming soon

Performance

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With neither the PS5 or the Xbox Scarlett consoles officially announced yet, we are left with bits and pieces of information regarding their performance and internal specifications. Neither system actually has an official name yet – conventional wisdom tells us Sony will call its system the PS5, while leaked information suggests Xbox Scarlett is Microsoft’s system’s code name. However, we have also heard that Scarlett could be two consoles: the more affordable option called “Lockhart” and the more powerful dubbed “Anaconda.”

Lockhart being the more budget-friendly alternative will likely provide a next-gen experience with hardware that is only a modest improvement over the Xbox One X. Anaconda, however, is sure to be a more considerable upgrade from the current generation of Microsoft consoles and about the same price as the PS5. For the sake of this comparison, we’ll be comparing the PS5 to Microsoft’s more powerful system.

On the PS5 side, we know the still-unnamed console will be using AMD chips across the board. This includes an eight-core CPU running on a modified version of the Ryzen line. This CPU will use “7nm Zen 2 microarchitecture.” Assuming the processor is similar in power to AMD’s Ryzen 7 line, we could be looking at about twice the maximum clocking of the PS4 Pro.

The PS5’s GPU will also be from AMD, based on the Radeon Navi line, and it will support the resource-intensive process known as ray tracing. This information comes from an interview Lead System Architect Mark Cerny had with Wired, but he did not share more technical details on the GPU. The console will support 4K resolution, as did the PS4 Pro, and it will also support 8K resolution.

We know very little about the internal hardware of the Xbox Scarlett, but allegedly leaked documents detailing technical specifications make mention of GPU called “Arcturus 12.” We can anticipate it being stronger than the Xbox One X GPU, which is capable of 6 TFLOPS. In fact, according to a post on Reset Era by Jason Schreier, both Sony and Microsoft are aiming higher than the 10.7 TFLOPS that the Google Stadia will supposedly be capable of. The Xbox One X also uses 12GB of GDDR5 RAM, and even a small boost to this would likely be sufficient for future games.

Storage

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At long last, Sony will be moving away from hard drives in favor of solid state drives for the PS5, as revealed in Wired’s interview with Mark Cerny. We don’t have a storage capacity nailed down yet for the console, but we do know that it will use a higher bandwidth than is used on current PC systems. This means that games will load much more quickly, especially when compared to the base-model PS4 that launched in 2013.

Microsoft has not given information on the size or type of storage device included in Xbox Scarlett. With the Xbox One X currently available with a 1TB capacity, however, we anticipate it will be at least this much space.

Game selection and backward compatibility

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Unlike the PS4, Sony’s next console will be backward compatible. At this point in time, we know this will mean it can play PS4 games in addition to its own library of titles, as well as PlayStation VR games. It will also be backward compatible with the PlayStation VR headset supported by the PS4, but this doesn’t mean we won’t also get a new VR headset down the line.

Microsoft has spoken in vaguer terms thus far, only pointing at its previous track record with backward compatibility as a hint of what is to come. Because the Xbox One uses software-based technology to allow for backward compatibility with Xbox 360 and original Xbox games, it seems very likely that Xbox Scarlett will also support these systems’ games.

The company is apparently working on a project called “GameCore” that will help streamline the game development process for Microsoft’s gaming consoles and PC platform. It seems the goal here is to make it easier for developers to create games for Microsoft’s consoles that can be more easily brought or even inherently compatible with Windows PCs.

Sony hasn’t yet revealed any games coming to the PS5, with its focus still on releasing games like The Last of Us: Part II, Ghost of Tsushima, and Death Stranding for PS4. However, it’s possible that these games will be cross-generation releases, or have ports for the PS5 at a later date. With no release date in sight for Death Stranding, this game seems an especially likely candidate.

On Microsoft’s end, the most likely candidate for Xbox Scarlett is Halo Infinite. This game was announced for both Xbox One and PC, but 343 Industries is still in the very early stages of development and announced the project in order to show off the capabilities of its new engine. As Microsoft continues to blur the line between generations – more on that below – this could mean Xbox One and Xbox Scarlett players could enjoy the game with each other, and possibly with PC players.

Online Services

Subscriptions to Xbox Live Gold and PlayStation Plus were both necessary for playing the majority of games online back when the Xbox One and PS4 launched in 2013, and we anticipate that this will remain the case with the next-generation of systems. However, because of the increased focus on game streaming, these won’t be the only online services to expect.

On the PlayStation side, we anticipate Sony will further emphasize and flesh out its PlayStation Now service, which allows you to stream games you don’t own, directly to your console. This could possibly be the solution for backward compatibility with PlayStation 3 games, which is not possible on the PS4 otherwise due to the systems’ different architecture. This streaming will not replace traditional game ownership, as the PS5 still supports physical media.

Microsoft is going all-in on game streaming as well with its Project xCloud service. Though it doesn’t have an official name yet, the game-streaming service will allow you to play games on everything from your Xbox to a mobile phone. The success of Xbox Game Pass should supplement this, providing those who want to download games instead of streaming them with another option.

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