Xbox Series X vs. PlayStation 5
The next generation of games is almost here, with both Microsoft and Sony releasing new consoles soon. So how well do they stack up against each other? New Atlas compares the specs and features of the Xbox Series X and Series S against the PlayStation 5.
Generally speaking, the Xbox Series X has a slightly more powerful GPU, while the PS5 has a faster solid state drive (SSD). But the race is very close and those numbers don’t tell the whole story. In the end, the real differences will probably come down to services and exclusive games.
XSX/XSS: November 10, 2020
PS5: 2020 Holiday season
XSX/PS5: Plays 4K UHD Blu-ray, Blu-ray & DVD
XSS: None - digital download and streaming only
XSX: Custom AMD Ryzen Zen 2, 8 cores @ 3.8 GHz
PS5: Custom AMD Ryzen Zen 2, 8 cores @ 3.5 GHz
XSS: Custom AMD Ryzen Zen 2, 8 cores @ 3.6 GHz
XSX: Custom AMD Radeon RDNA 2, 12 TFLOPS, 52 CUs @ 1.825 GHz
PS5: Custom AMD Radeon RDNA 2, 10.3 TFLOPS, 36 CUs @ 2.23 GHz
XSS: Custom AMD Radeon RDNA 2, 4 TFLOPS, 20 CUs @ 1.565 GHz
XSX: 1 TB SSD, 2.4 GB/s raw read speed, 4.8 GB/s compressed
PS5: 825 GB SSD, 5 GB/s raw read speed, 9 GB/s compressed
XSS: 512 GB SSD, 2.4 GB/s raw read speed, 4.8 GB/s compressed
XSX/PS5: 16 GB GDDR6 RAM
XSS: 10 GB GDDR6 RAM
XSX/XSS/PS5: HDMI 2.1
XSX/PS5: 8K, 4K, Full HD, HD
XSS: 4K, Full HD, HD
XSX/PS5: up to 120 fps
XSX/XSS: All previous generations of Xbox games, all Xbox One accessories
PS5: About 100 PS4 games at launch (most others to follow), plus PSVR headset and Move controllers
As with any generation, the majority of games will be playable on both consoles – but exclusives are often the deciding factor. Here are the major exclusive titles for each console, keeping in mind that many Xbox Series X and S games are also playable on PC and Xbox One.
Xbox Series X/S
- Halo Infinite
- Gears 5
- Bright Memory Infinite
- Call of the Sea
- Scarlet Nexus
- Senua's Saga: Hellblade II
- State of Decay 3
- S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2
- The Medium
- The Ascent
- Second Extinction
- The Medium
- Orphan of the Machine
- Spider-Man: Miles Morales
- Horizon Forbidden West
- Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart
- Gran Turismo 7
- Sackboy: A Big Adventure
- Demon's Souls
- Destruction AllStars
- Astro's Play Room
- Ghostwire: Tokyo
Using SSDs (solid state drives) means both consoles are able to drastically cut loading times and duplicated data.
On paper the Xbox has the larger storage capacity, while the PlayStation has the faster raw read speed. But there might be caveats that close both gaps. The PS5’s 825 GB capacity is a strange number that leads us to suspect that it might be a 1 TB drive – Sony could just be reporting the capacity available to the user after system software is installed. In that case, the Xbox Series X would have a similar drop in usable space.
Storage space in both consoles can be expanded too. The Xbox Series X uses a special 1 TB Storage Expansion Card, produced by Seagate and available at launch. Meanwhile, the PS5 will be expandable via third-party SSDs – but these need to be certified by Sony, and there aren't expected to be any available on day one. In the long run, though, Sony's approach should give users more options.
As for read speeds, the numbers suggest the PS5 is more than twice as fast as the Xbox Series X. The PS5 is aiming to retrieve raw data at 5 GB/s, compared to the Xbox's 2.4 GB/s. When compressed, those speeds jump up to 4.8 GB/s for the Xbox Series X, and 8 to 9 GB/s for the PS5.
Another way Sony is taking advantage of the SSD is by allowing users to only install certain parts of games, for example, just the single player portion.
Hardware-accelerated ray tracing
The GPUs in both consoles enable ray tracing. This rendering technique precisely tracks the path of light as it moves through an environment, creating realistic lighting, reflections, transparency and shadows.
The same ray tracing concept has been applied to audio, allowing sound waves to be tracked as they pass through and bounce off of objects. Microsoft simply calls it audio ray tracing, while Sony dubs it Tempest 3D AudioTech.
The Xbox Series X and Series S have a Quick Resume feature that allows several games to be suspended at once. That means players can jump straight back in without so much as a loading screen.
The PS5 has a new user interface system that displays individual missions and modes from multiple games on the main menu, so players can jump straight into that activity without booting the game up first.
Microsoft has confirmed that the Xbox Games Pass subscription service will continue on Series X and S, giving players access to 100 games (and growing) for a monthly or yearly fee.
Sony will most likely continue its PlayStation Plus and PlayStation Now services, or replace them with something similar, but has yet to confirm details.
Microsoft's Smart Delivery feature means that buying a game on any console – whether the Xbox One family or Xbox Series S or X – will automatically get you the other version for free.
The Xbox Series X features a cloud streaming service called Project xCloud, but no solid details have been released yet. Sony already has the aforementioned PlayStation Now game streaming service for PS4, but it's unconfirmed whether this or something similar will make an appearance on PS5 – although it's likely.
The PS5 controller will have an advanced haptic feedback system that is capable of reproducing different sensations, such as car crashes, running through mud, and sports tackles. The triggers also have adaptive resistance, so that actions like drawing a bow feel different to firing a gun.
The Xbox Series X controller has a new Share button to instantly save and share screenshots and video clips to social media (that said, this is something that’s been on the PS4 and even Nintendo Switch since the beginning). There’s also a new hybrid D-pad and tactile dots on triggers for grip.