The next generation of gaming consoles is upon us, and the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 (PS5) are coming up over the horizon. Both consoles’ technical specifications have been detailed, and we’re starting to get a clearer picture of how they’re shaping up. Here is what we know so far.
|Xbox Series X
|Dimensions||15.1 x 15.1 x 30.1 cm||–|
|CPU||3.8GHz Custom Zen 2||3.5GHz Custom Zen 2|
|GPU||12 TFLOPS 1.825GHz RDNA 2||10.28 TFLOPS 2.23GHz|
|Memory||GDDR6, 16GB||GDDR6, 16GB|
|Memory bandwidth||10GB at 560GBps, 6GB at 336GBps||448GBps|
|Storage||1TB custom NVME SSD||825GB SSD|
|Optical drive||4K Blu-ray||Yes|
|Ports||HDMI x 2, USB 3.2 x 2, Ethernet, storage, power||Includes USB and NVME slot|
|Availability||Holiday 2020||Holiday 2020|
|Digital Trends review||Coming soon||Coming soon|
We only have bits and pieces of information regarding the performance and internal specifications of the new consoles. Sony is, naturally, calling its console the PS5, while Microsoft’s console will be called Xbox Series X.
On the PS5 side, we know the 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. Its CPU is, on paper, slightly less powerful than the Xbox Series X CPU.
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 that Lead System Architect Mark Cerny had with Wired, and we later learned the GPU would run at 10.28 TFLOPS with 2.23GHz, putting it in relative competitive with the Xbox Series X GPU.
The PS5 will also come with a 4K Blu-ray player, putting it in line with the Xbox One S and Xbox One X, and we know that discs will have a capacity of 100GB — double that of the current generation.
The Xbox Series X will feature 12 TFLOPS of power and up to eight times more graphical performance than Xbox One and twice as much as the Xbox One X.
Xbox Series X will have 16GB of GDDR6 RAM. The Xbox One X uses 12GB of GDDR5 RAM, and even a small boost to this would likely be sufficient for future games. We also know it will support features like a variable refresh rate, Variable Rate Shading technology, and a low-latency mode so you can get better responses out of your games.
This could be just one of two Xbox next-generation consoles, however, with Microsoft apparently also working on a console internally named Lockhart with around 4 TFLOPS of power. This system will reportedly not include a disc drive and is aimed at more casual players and those using Project xCloud for streaming.
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. It will be a custom super-fast 825GB SSD, with a slot for expanding storage via NVME.
The PS5’s SSD also allows it to segment how you install content. If you only want to install the campaign in the latest Call of Duty game, for instance, you will be able to do that and get to playing it much more quickly. You can also load directly into certain modes from the dashboard, allowing you to hypothetically jump right into a multiplayer match with a friend instead of having to navigate all of the menus first. You will even be able to see what rewards you can get for completing possible activities right from the dashboard, with game servers providing this information.
The Xbox Series X will also be making use of a solid-state drive. It is a custom 1TB SSD using NVME technology, and it will support proprietary expansion cards. Both consoles support external HDD as well, but they are not fast enough to run next-generation games.
Only Microsoft has shown the final design for its console, and the Xbox Series X will resemble a PC tower. It is substantially larger than the Xbox One X and Xbox One S systems, but still features a power button and disc drive on the front. The top of the system caves slightly inward and is made entirely of ventilation holes for better airflow. It can also be positioned horizontally to better fit entertainment centers.
We do have an idea of what the PS5 could look like — or at least its development kit. Already in the hands of developers, the development kit is reportedly odd in appearance, with a large cutout section in the middle surrounded by vents. It looks to be fairly small, by console standards, though the final consumer version may not resemble this.
The PS5‘s official controller doesn’t have a name yet — presumably, it will be called the DualShock 5 — but Sony has detailed what we can expect from the device. Speaking to Wired, Sony revealed that it would be ditching traditional rumble motors in favor of haptic feedback. This new technology will allow for more specific responses in games, such as resistance in the analog sticks when you are walking on a tough surface. There will also be variable resistance in the triggers, mimicking the action being performed, such as pulling back the string of a bow.
Additionally, the battery packed into the controller will sport a higher capacity than its predecessor. This was one of the biggest drawbacks with the DualShock 4 in the current generation.
The PlayStation VR built for PS5 could also be getting a new controller, if a Sony patent filing is any indication. Published in February 2020, the filing includes information and drawings of a controller with individual finger tracking similar to the Valve Index.
Microsoft shared its design for the Xbox Series X controller during The Game Awards 2019, and it isn’t drastically different from the Xbox One controller. There is a new share button, which works much like the same button on the DualShock 4, as well as an updated directional pad based on the Xbox One Elite 2 controller’s pad. It also features a slightly different form factor.
The controller will be cross-generation compatible with Xbox One, as will the Xbox One’s accessories. This means any controllers players already own will work on the new system.
Game selection and backward compatibility
Unlike the PS4, Sony’s next console will be backward-compatible. At this point, 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.
It appears the PS5 will only play a selection of PS4 games out of the gate, however. Of the “top 100” games ranked by playtime on PS4, the majority will be backward compatible at launch.
Microsoft confirmed during E3 2019 that Xbox Series X will support every previous generation of Xbox games, similar 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 said to be 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 has only revealed one game coming to the PS5, the melee combat game Godfall, 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.
We do know one studio that is currently working on a PS5 game: Bluepoint Games. Best known for remastering the first three Uncharted games and the ambitious Shadow of the Colossus remake, the studio is possibly working on another remastered version of a classic PlayStation game but hasn’t shared specifics aside from it being large-scale. It is speculated that it could be a remake of Demon’s Souls, From Software’s precursor to the Dark Souls trilogy.
Microsoft has confirmed that Halo Infinite will be a launch title for Xbox Series X, 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 Series X.
Microsoft’s system is also getting a feature called Smart Delivery. Because of its approach to no true exclusives for at least a year, all players who buy the Xbox One version or Xbox Series X version of a first-party Microsoft game will release the other version for free, without having to do anything to make sure you install the correct one. Xbox Game Pass will also continue on Xbox Series X, and previous Game Pass titles will still be free on the newer system. Gears 5 will make use of Smart Delivery at launch, with its newer version receiving resolution and frame rate upgrades, along with more detailed textures and lighting.
Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II, will be coming to the Xbox Series X as well. It was announced during The Game Awards 2019 with an in-engine trailer and will feature the same protagonist as the original game. It is once again developed by Ninja Theory, which is now a first-party Microsoft studio.
The Xbox Series X will not be getting any true generational exclusives for at least its first year, and possible first two years. In an interview with MCV, Xbox Game Studios’ head Matt Booty said that all games would still be releasing on Xbox One and PC as well, to make them good purchasing decisions for new Xbox players.
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 be the solution for backward compatibility with PS3 games, which is otherwise not possible on the PS4 due to the systems’ different architectures. 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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