Xbox Series X vs. PS5

The classic battle between Microsoft’s Xbox and Sony’s PlayStation continues as both prepare to roll out a new gaming console for 2020. And while we don’t advocate for console wars of any kind, it is important to know which system will suit your needs. Both the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 are now available — if you can find them — putting gamers in a tough spot when picking a next-gen console (especially since both are so similar in specs). 

In this guide, we’ll compare specs, design, game lineups, and a host of other important factors so you can make an informed decision when it comes time to purchase.

Xbox Series X review  PlayStation 5 review

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Specs

Xbox Series X
PS5
Dimensions 15.1 x 15.1 x 30.1 cm 39cm x 26 x 10.4 cm
Weight 9.8 pounds 10.54 pounds
Color Black Black and White
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
4K Yes Yes
HDR Yes Yes
Ports HDMI x 2, USB 3.2 x 2, Ethernet, storage, power Includes USB and NVME slot
Online subscription Xbox Live PS Plus
Connectivity
Price $499 Digital: $399

Disc: $499

Availability November 10, 2020 November 12, 2020
Digital Trends review 3.5/5 4.5/5

On the PS5 side,  the console uses 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 is also from AMD, based on the Radeon Navi line, and it supports 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 runs at 10.28 TFLOPS with 2.23GHz, putting it in relative competitive with the Xbox Series X GPU. The PS5 also comes with a 4K Blu-ray player, placing it in line with the Xbox One S and Xbox One X, and the discs have a capacity of 100GB — double that of the previous generation.

The Xbox Series X features 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 supports 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.

There’s a less expensive console in Microsoft’s lineup, though: Xbox Series S. At $299, the console isn’t nearly as powerful as its more expensive sibling, targeting 1440p gaming rather than 4K. Still, it offers the same functionality as the Series X minus a disc drive and some horsepower. The PS5 has a digital-only option as well.

Storage

At long last, Sony has moved away from hard drives in favor of solid-state drives for the PS5. It is 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 can 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 the menus first. This is implemented on a game by game basis, of course, but is still neat that it’s available at all.

You are even able to see what rewards you can get for completing possible activities right from the dashboard, with game servers providing this information. Unfortunately, at the time of writing, there is no way to store or play PS5 games from an external device, but the feature might be added in the future. You can, however, use an external hard drive to store PS4 games only, which will certainly help in freeing up the PS5’s precious storage space. Hopefully, we’ll be able to do the same with PS5 games in the near future.

The Xbox Series X also makes 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. It’s recommended to wait to purchase external hard drives in the next couple of years so they’re up to par with the requirements of current games. You are able to store Xbox Series X games on a specific external device, giving you a wider array of games to choose from at your fingertips, though be prepared to spend a pretty penny since they cost $219.99. Much like the PS5, you can use an external device to store Xbox One and Xbox 360 games, too.

Design

Xbox Series X

Now that both consoles are in our hands, we know how they stack up against one another, visually. The Xbox Series X resembles a tall 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.

PS5 (standard and digital editions)

As for the PS5, it looks quite unusual, with a combination of black and white colors and curves on each side of it. In much of the promotional material, the system is shown standing up vertically, but you are able to place it on its side. Though, with the curve on the bottom, it’s unclear if the system will come with some sort of stand to make it flush with the surface it’s on. The system doesn’t look a whole lot like the PS4, or any previous PlayStation system, for that matter. There is also be a disc-less version that is slightly smaller and less expensive — but is mostly identical to the disc-based version.

You are able to swap out the white panels on the side, though Sony hasn’t made any first-party replacements quite yet. That isn’t stopping third-party sellers, though!

Controller

DualSense

The PS5‘s official controller is called the DualSense, dropping the DualShock moniker altogether. Prior to its release, Sony 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 allows for more specific responses in games, such as resistance in the analog sticks when you are walking on a tough surface. There is also 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 sports a higher capacity than its predecessor. This was one of the biggest drawbacks with the DualShock 4 in the current generation. The controller itself resembles the console, with a combination of black and white colors. It seems to be a bit bulkier than the Dualshock 4. The DualSense incorporates the same basic button layout as previous controllers, but with a few minor changes. Gone is the Share button. Instead, Sony opted to include a Create button to take its place, and it functions the same, with added features. It also includes a built-in mic and headphone jack.

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. Though, no new PSVR headset has been officially confirmed.

Xbox Series X controller

Xbox X Controller

The Xbox Series X controller 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 design. Its most noticeable change is the new Share button in the center, serving as a way to upload and manage screenshots and videos.

The controller is cross-generation compatible with Xbox One, as are the Xbox One’s accessories. This means any controllers players already own for Xbox One will work on the new system. It seems Microsoft is going in a totally new direction than Sony when it comes to next-generation controllers. Microsoft is showing that, once again, consumer-friendly decisions like these are at the forefront. The new Xbox Series X controller also features a USB-C charge port instead of micro-USB found on previous versions.

Backward compatibility

Unlike the PS4, Sony’s newest console is backward-compatible — at least in some capacity. The PS5 is able to play PS4 games in addition to its own library of titles, as well as PlayStation VR games. It is also 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. After what seemed like an eternity, Sony finally gave us the details on how backward compatibility will work.

As confirmed in a PlayStation Blog post, indeed most of your PS4 games will work on PS5. In fact, only a small handful of games are incompatible. The list is as follows:

  • DWVR
  • Afro Samurai 2 Revenge of Kuma Volume One
  • TT Isle of Man — Ride on the Edge 2
  • Just Deal with It!
  • Shadow Complex Remastered
  • Robinson: The Journey
  • We Sing
  • Hitman Go: Definitive Edition
  • Shadwen

It’s unclear why these games in particular aren’t backward compatible with the PS5, but you can rest easy knowing the overwhelming majority of your PS4 games will work on the new machine. Unfortunately, backward compatibility stops at PS4 games. Sony might continue to release PS2 ports as it has with PS4, but in terms of “true” backward compatibility beyond that, it seems unlikely.

As for Xbox, 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. This means you’ll be able to play eligible original Xbox games, Xbox 360, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S games all on the new machine — a huge win for game preservation. While the Xbox Series X might not have the exclusive launch lineup the PS5 has, Microsoft should be praised for its consumer-friendly approach to backward compatibility.

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.

Game lineup

Sony released its last few exclusives for the PS4 in 2020, like The Last of Us: Part II, Ghost of Tsushima, and Iron Man VR. However, it’s possible these games will be cross-generation releases or have ports for the PS5 at a later date. Following September 2020’s PS5 showing, a huge mixture of first-, second-, and third-party games are (or will be) available for PS5, including Horizon Forbidden West, Gran Turismo 7, Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, a remake of Demon’s Souls, and Resident Evil Village, among many others.

The launch lineup of the PS5 was strong, but what’s even more exciting are the games coming in the future. These are titles like God of War: Ragnarok, Deathloop, and whatever else Sony’s first-party studios are working on.

Here is a list of every confirmed PS5 game (launch games are in bold):

Aragami 2 Dragon Age 4 Heavenly Bodies Metal: Hellsinger Returnal
Atelier Ryza 2 Dustborn Hitman 3 Moonray Riders Republic
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla Dying Light 2 Hogwarts Legacy Mortal Kombat 11 Sackboy: A Big Adventure
Astro’s Playroom Dynasty Warriors 9 Hood: Outlaws and Legends NBA 2K21 Scarlet Nexus
Atomic Heart Earthlock 2 Horizon: Forbidden West No Man’s Sky Sherlock Holmes: Chapter One
Battlefield 6 The Elder Scrolls Online Hyper Scape Nth^0 Infinity Reborn Solar Ash
Bloodbowl 3 Far Cry 6 Immortals: Fenyx Rising Observer: System Redux Soulborn
Borderlands 3 FIFA 21 The Invincible Oddworld: Soulstorm Stray
Bugsnax Final Fantasy 16 In Sound Mind Outriders Subnautica: Below Zero
Call of Duty Black Ops: Cold War Final Fantasy XVI JETT: The Far Shore Overcooked: All You Can Eat Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League
Chivalry 2 Five Nights at Freddy’s: Security Breach Just Dance 2021 Paradise Lost TemTem
Chorus Fortnite Kena: Bridge of Spirits Party Crash Simulator Tribes of Midgard
Control Ultimate Edition For Honor King Arthur: Knight’s Tale The Pathless Ultimate Fishing Simulator 2
Cris Tales Ghostrunner LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga Planet Coaster: Console Edition Unknown 9: Awakening
Cygni: All Guns Blazing Ghostwire: Tokyo Little Devil Inside Pragmata Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2
Cyberpunk 2077 God of War: Ragnarok Little Nightmares 2 Project Athia Vampire the Masquerade – Swansong
Dead by Daylight Godfall The Lord of the Rings: Gollum Psyhotel Vigor
Death Loop Goodbye Volcano High Madden 21 Quantum Error Warframe
Demon’s Souls Remake Gotham Knights Maneater Rainbow Six: Quarantine Warhammer: Chaosbane – Slayer Edition
Destiny 2 Gothic Maquette Rainbow Six Siege Watch Dogs: Legion
Destruction: All-Stars Gran Turismo 7 Marvel’s Avengers Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart The Witcher III: Wild Hunt
Devil May Cry 5: Special Edition Grand Theft Auto V Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered Recompile Worms Rumble
Dirt 5 Guilty Gear Strive Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales Redo! Enhanced Edition WRC 9
DOOM Eternal Haven MicroMan Resident Evil: Village Yakuza: Like a Dragon

Microsoft originally announced Halo Infinite as a launch title for Xbox Series X, but it has since been delayed. After a disappointing gameplay showcase, 343i went back to the drawing board with a Bungie veteran to bring a fresh coat of paint to the game. It is slotted for a fall 2021 release now, launching simultaneously across PC, Xbox One, and 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. Other games like Fortnite, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, Destiny 2, Cyberpunk 2077, and Watch Dogs: Legion will also be available — plus, whatever Microsoft’s newly acquired first-party studios are working on at Double Fine. During The Game Awards 2020, we got a look at The Initiative’s new game, which will be a reboot of Perfect Dark. This still has a lot of development time left, but it seems like it will be one of Microsoft’s flagship games — whenever it comes out.

The Xbox Series X will not be getting any true generational exclusives for at least its first year, possibly two. 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.

As part of Microsoft’s recent Xbox Games Showcase, we got to see many of the new games we’ll get to play on the Series X, including a deeper look at Halo Infinite, Forza Motorsport — which appears to be a reboot of the series, though it’s unconfirmed — State of Decay 3, and a new Fable.

Below are the games confirmed for Xbox Series X (launch games are in bold):

12 Minutes Dirt 5 The Gunk Mortal Kombat 11 Ultimate Song of Iron
Aragami 2 Doom Eternal Halo Infinite NBA 2K21 Soulborn
ARK: Survival Evolved Dragon Age 4 Halo: The Master Chief Collection No Man’s Sky S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2
As Dusk Falls Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age Haven Nth^0 Infinity Reborn State of Decay 3
The Artful Escape Dying Light 2 Hello Neighbor 2 Observer (System Redux) Subnautica: Below Zero
The Ascent Dynasty Warriors 9 Hitman 3 Ori and the Will of the Wisps Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla Earthlock 2 Hogwarts Legacy The Outer Worlds Tetris Effect: Connected
Avowed Echo Generation Hood: Outlaws and Legends Outriders Tell Me Why
Balan Wonderworld Enlisted Hyper Scape Overcooked: All You Can Eat The Touryst
Battlefield 6 The Elder Scrolls Online Immortals: Fenyx Rising Paradise Lost Tunic
The Big Con Evergate In Sound Mind Party Crasher Simulator Ultimate Fishing Simulator 2
Blood Bowl 3 Everwild The Invincible Perfect Dark Unexplored 2 – The Wayfarer’s Legacy
Borderlands 3 Exo One Just Dance 2021 Phantasy Star Online 2 Unknown 9: Awakening
Bright Memory 1.0 Exomecha King Arthur: Knight’s Tale Planet Coaster Vampire the Masquerade – Bloodlines 2
Bright Memory: Infinite Fable King Oddball Pragmata Vampire the Masquerade – Swansong
Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War The Falconeer Lake Psychonauts 2 War Thunder
Call of the Sea Far Cry 6 Last Stop Psyhotel Warframe
Chivalry 2 FIFA 21 LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 Warhammer 40,000: Darktide
Chorus Fortnite Little Nightmares 2 Rainbow Six Quarantine Warhammer: Chaosbane Slayer Edition
Control Ultimate Edition Forza Horizon 4 The Lord of the Rings: Gollum Rainbow Six: Siege Watch Dogs Legion
Cris Tales Forza Motorsport Mad Streets Recompile Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood
Crossfire X Gears 5 Madden NFL 21 Resident Evil: Village White Shadows
Cuisine Royale Gears Tactics Maneater Sable The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Cyberpunk 2077 Ghostrunner Manifold Garden Scarlet Nexus WRC 9
Cygni: All Guns Blazing Gotham Knights Marvel’s Avengers Scorn Yakuza: Like A Dragon
Dead by Daylight Gothic Remake The Medium Sea of Thieves Yes, Your Grace
Demon Turf Grand Theft Auto V Metal: Hellsinger The Second Extinction
Destiny 2 Graven MicroMan Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2
Devil May Cry 5: Special Edition Grounded Moonray Shredders

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 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, Sony announced PlayStation Plus Collection. At launch, the service will allow PS5 owners subscribed to PlayStation Plus to download and play a small library of games. The service should grow over time, but as of now, the roster includes 2018’s God of WarPersona 5, Uncharted 4, Bloodborne, and Fallout 4, among other heavy hitters. The PlayStation Plus Collection will be available to those who are PS Plus members at no additional cost. Remember, a PS Plus Subscription costs $60 for the year and gives you access to online play and a batch of games each month, including PS5 titles like Bugsnax and Destruction All-Stars!

In addition, Sony is still supporting PlayStation Now, a streaming service similar to Xbox Game Pass, wherein you can play a massive library of games for a monthly (or yearly) fee. Sony has continued to build upon this library, adding fantastic games that are sure to resonate with you. However, the community has been vocal about its criticisms toward the service, particularly in that you cannot download the available PS3 games — instead, you must stream them, and depending on your internet connection, this could make them unplayable. PS Now will set you back $60 for the year.

Microsoft is going all-in on game streaming as well with its xCloud service. This 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.

And of course, one of the main reasons to be an Xbox player is to enjoy Xbox Game Pass, a service that offers a hefty library of games, including first-party Microsoft titles. This means you’ll have access to all of Microsoft’s excellent exclusives like Halo, Forza, Sea of Thieves, and whatever else the company has in the works — all at no additional cost. It’s a truly revolutionary way to go about getting games in the hands of its community. You can purchase Xbox Game Pass for $9.99 per month on consoles.

The service offers other perks like bundling in Xbox Live Gold with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, and also includes EA Play, Electronic Arts’ new game subscription service. Xbox Game Pass Ultimate is $14.99 per month and features a ton of extra perks. In short, you can get an Xbox Series X with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate and have access to hundreds of games without having to actually buy them. Plus, Game Pass works on PC and other devices, meaning you can play these games nearly anywhere. What Microsoft lacks in exclusive launch games, it makes up for with consumer-friendly services like Game Pass.

Conclusion

Both the PS5 and Xbox Series X have enough features to justify a purchase, but also have downsides you should be aware of. In terms of price, the least expensive way to get the best-looking games is by purchasing the Digital Edition PS5 for $399, though these are difficult to find. If you’re someone who has loved Sony’s excellent output of first-party exclusives, the PS5 should be your go-to. The company will continue releasing top-tier exclusives like Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Demon’s Souls, God of War: Ragnarok, Gran Turismo 7, and Sackboy: A Big Adventure, to name a few.

Though if those games don’t appeal to you, and you’re more of a fan of ubiquity and easy-to-use services, the Xbox Series X might be the choice for you. Sure, the system doesn’t have a worthwhile first-party lineup just yet, but it does offer an easy way to play nearly every one of your Xbox games, from the original to Xbox One — all in one place. Game Pass is a revolutionary way to get your hands on an ever-growing library of games, and eventually, Microsoft’s first-party studios will deliver highly anticipated titles like Halo Infinite, Fable, the next Forza, and a new Perfect Dark reboot via The Initiative

Ultimately, right now is a great time to love video games — whichever system you choose.

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