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

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

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 — and in the case of Xbox Scarlett we know it won’t, 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 Custom AMD with Zen 2 and Navi technology 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 Yes
4K Yes Yes
HDR
Ports
Online subscription
Connectivity
Price Likely $500
Availability Holiday 2020 Likely 2020
Digital Trends review Coming soon Coming soon

Performance

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As yet, we only have bits and pieces of information regarding the performance and internal specifications of the new consoles. Neither system actually has an official name yet — conventional wisdom tells us Sony will call its system the PS5, while Microsoft confirmed it is currently calling its system Scarlett during E3 2019.

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. According to a report from Game Informer’s Andrew Reiner, the console could be more powerful than Xbox Scarlett, as well.

We know less 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.

The Xbox Scarlett will also be making use of a custom AMD CPU that uses Zen 2  and Navi technology. It will be equipped with GDDR6 SDRAM, and Microsoft confirmed during its E3 2019 press conference that the system would be capable of running games at 8K resolution and up to 120 frames per second.

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.

The Xbox Scarlett will also be making use of a solid state drive. It has not confirmed the size, but during its E3 2019 press conference, the company stressed that it would drastically reduce loading times .

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 confirmed during E3 2019 that Xbox Scarlett will support every previous generation of Xbox games, similarly to how Xbox One does so now. However, it isn’t clear if this means certain games will still be ineligible, as they are now on Xbox One and Xbox 360.

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 to, or are 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.

Microsoft has confirmed that Halo Infinite will be a launch title for Xbox Scarlett, which is the first time a Halo game has launched with an Xbox since the original system in 2001. This version is being released in addition to the previously-announced Xbox One and PC versions, and the Xbox One version will also be playable on the Xbox Scarlett.

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. You will also be able to stream games from your own console to a mobile device for free, and all of your purchased games on Xbox systems are eligible.

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