PlayStation 5 vs Series X – Buyer's Guide

In this article, we’ll take a look at what each console is offering and what one is worth your time.

With the next generation about to kick off, Sony and Microsoft have once again brought out the big guns, and just so happen to be releasing them just weeks apart.

Disclaimer: For this article, we’ll be basing price and spec on the PS5 Discless model and Series X. We would like to add that the disc-based version is roughly $100 more expensive. We went with the discless as it puts the two consoles on a level price point with the X Series not having a discless version. See our full X Series vs S Series for full examples.

PlayStation 5 specs and pricing

  • Price – US$499/£449/$749AU
  • Release date – November 12

Xbox Series X specs and pricing

 

 

  • Price – US$499/£449/$749AU
  • Release date – November 10

How do the PlayStation 5 and Series X compare

Firstly, the PS5 is a large, and slightly weird-looking beast. It looks more like a standing fan or large router. While the X Series is a classic (if very large) black box. The issue here might be simply where to put them. With most Ikea cabinet frames simply not large enough to give these consoles adequate space, the next generation of consoles might be best placed on top of the table alongside your TV.

When it comes to opening up the console and cleaning it out or expanding the storage. Both companies have gone very different directions here. For Sony, they welcome users to open up the PS5 so they can clean it out or expand on the internal M.2 SSD slot. Microsoft, however, has decided to not let you open it up (easily) and has instead given users a proprietary expansion slot for storage expansion.

Spec-wise, the two consoles are pretty similar, however, they do have some differences. The X Series sports an additional 0.3 GHZ of CPU power, though both consoles use the same AMD Zen 2 processor. On the GPU front, it’s a similar story with the Xbox coming out on top with an additional 1.7 teraflops of computing power. Like the CPU, both consoles use the same AMD RDNA 2 chip. Both consoles also feature the same 16GB of GDDR6 memory.

For storage, the PS5 has less onboard storage at 825GB compared to the Xbox 1 TB. Speed-wise, Xbox is using an NVMe SSD, while Sony claims its custom M.2 SSD is where they have the edge. Both consoles will target 120 fps, though the results will vary. For the models compared, only the Xbox features a disc drive, with the Xbox sporting a 4k UHD Blu-ray drive (the PS5 features the same drive on the disc-based system).

So spec-wise, it’s hard to see past the Xbox X Series on this one, though we’ll have to see if Sony’s SSD claim holds water once the two systems launch.

Backwards compatibility

Both systems will feature backwards compatibility, though Microsoft has promised that every Xbox One game will work on the Series X. Not only that but the Series X will also upscale older titles, making them run at 120 fps or 4k resolutions. This feature will be most common on more popular titles.

Sony is going for a software-based approach to getting PS4 titles on the PS5. With enhancements on the PS5 being present on any PS4 game that already had PS4 Pro enhancements. What we do know is PS1, PS2, and PS3 titles will not be compatible with the PS5. For Sony, they seem to be making sure the “top 100” (based on playtime) will be working best on the PS5. It seems that checking beforehand is the best practice on the PS5.

Game Pass vs PS Plus/Now

This might be the biggest win for Xbox this far, at least from what we can tell so far. To be clear, PlayStation Now and PSPlus are very good services, though the need for them to merge is apparent when you compare them to Game Pass and XCloud.

For Xbox, Game Pass is the secret sauce and is clearly a huge drive for them this generation. With the service officially launching on PC in 2020, it’s only set to grow on the X/S Series and what Sony does in response to it will be key.

PlayStation Plus has been ever-present on the PS4, and has been fairly consistent with its titles. While mostly offering older titles, two major wins came in the form of Rocket League, and more recently Fall Guys.

For Game Pass, paying a monthly subscription and receiving all first-party Xbox games and a splattering of third-party and indie titles seems like a much better deal on paper.

PS Now is certainly Sony’s big advantage in this space, however, with xCloud now launched, Microsoft also has a horse in the streaming race.

Long-term forecast

It’s important to remember that these consoles are here to stay for at least the next six to eight years. For us, we think waiting might be the best option. A lot of the early exclusive titles have been delayed until 2021, with almost every “exclusive” title on the PS5 and X Series also releasing on the current generation. One big test for current-gen might come from Cyberpunk 2077 (if it ever releases).

Early reviews of Watch Dogs: Legion (a launch title on next-gen) doesn’t appear to raise any alarm bells that the current-gen is dead just yet.

Ultimately, we think you should wait for post-Christmas sales and look for any launch issues with the two consoles to help make a decision. It will also be interesting to see what company blinks first at any sort of price drop or game bundle. With the two consoles releasing just days apart, holiday 2020 sales could impact how the less popular consoles are perceived going forward.

Early reports say that Sony might have the victory in the pre-order space, with the PS4’s huge lead on the current generation looking set to continue. Friend groups will also impact what console does best, with the playground likely to decide what most households go for. The Xbox 360 was the console of choice when it launched, though Sony did manage to take late PS3 momentum in the PS4 generation.

From a consumer perspective, it will be interesting to see what happens if Sony gets an early lead, with Microsoft slow to react this current generation to an early loss, with the much more recently released Nintendo Switch already surpassing the Xbox One by 12 million in sales. For Sony, the PS4 sold over 112m units thus far (more than double the Xbox One), so they’ll be looking for that trend to continue.

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