Today’s most prominent players in the console space are undisputedly Microsoft with the Xbox and Sony with the PlayStation. Both the PlayStation and the Xbox are powerful and excellently designed gaming machines. Perhaps the most significant difference between them lies in the chassis design and the exclusive games available on each platform. However, finding one of either is a rare stroke of luck for any potential customer in the present market. In this article we would be talking about is the PS5 better than the Xbox series X?
Shortage of consoles
With the worldwide semi-conductor shortage in full swing without hopes of dying down any time soon, supply continues to fall short of the demand that both consoles have generated amongst their customers. GPUs are perhaps the worst hit market of them all, with both AMD and Nvidia launching mediocre products at exorbitant prices followed by not producing enough stock to supply to enormous demand. At such a time, many amongst us wonder if and when would the GPU prices normalize. Amongst all this chaos and scalpers charging the weight of each device in gold, if you have been able to find one at all, consider yourself incredibly lucky.
The showdown between the most powerful consoles yet, the Xbox Series X and the PlayStation 5 is bound to be an exciting one. This article intends to inform in great detail the various aspects in which one overshadows the other or is neck to neck and the features you should be looking for when you consider purchasing one. But before we start with the comparison, let us take a brief look under the hood and figure out what makes these next-gen consoles so fast, powerful and capable.
Components in a PlayStation 5
The PS5 features a GPU and an octa-core processor from AMD, clocked at 2.23 GHz and 3.5 GHz, respectively. The processor is a 3rd Gen Ryzen (Zen 2) CPU with SMT (Simultaneous Multithreading) enabled, giving it a total thread count of 16. On the other hand, the GPU is based on the AMD Radeon RDNA 2 architecture with 16GBs of GDDR6 RAM shared between the CPU and the GPU. Said configuration gives the PS5 a theoretical compute performance of 10.3 TFLOPS (Tera Floating-point Point Operations Per Second).
The memory technology integrated into the PS5 allows for a peak bandwidth of 448 GB/s. The new RDNA 2 based GPU from AMD is the most powerful graphics card to be situated in a PlayStation to date and makes the device capable of hardware-accelerated real-time Ray Tracing. Ray Tracing is an advanced lighting technique that works by tracing the path of light as pixels on an image plane, resulting in highly real-life lighting effects in a game world.
The GPU gets all its power from 36 Compute Units while over on the storage department, the PS5 comes with 825 GBs of Internal Storage. However, the storage solution in the new PS5 is no slouch. Sony has opted for a custom NVMe SSD, based on the PCIe Gen 4 interface, capable of blazing-fast read/write performance, achieving a raw throughput of 5.5 GB/s. What does this mean for an average gamer? Cerny has said that Sony has built custom software and connectivity for the PS5’s SSD to enable drastic improvements in loading times and generate game environments. This improvement means we can finally say goodbye to long loading screens and texture pop-ins due to slow storage medium, which would have significantly diminished the immersion of the gaming experience.
The PlayStation 5’s specs, as discussed above can be summarized in the following table:
|Manufacturer||Custom AMD Ryzen|
|Frequency||3.5 GHz (variable)|
|SMT (Simultaneous Multi-threading)||Yes|
|Manufacturer||Custom AMD Radeon|
|Frequency||2.23 GHz (variable)|
|Computer Performance||10.3 TFLOPS|
|Interface||PCIe Gen 4|
|I/O Throughput||5.5 GB/s (Raw), 8-9 GB/s (Compressed)|
Components in an Xbox Series X
Like the PS5, the Xbox Series X is powered by an octa-core Ryzen processor based on the Zen 2 architecture and a Radeon GPU with 52 Compute Units. The processor incorporated into the Series X has a clock speed locked at 3.8 GHz or 3.66 GHz if SMT (Simultaneous Multithreading) is enabled. The GPU is the Series X based on the RDNA 2 architecture and accompanied with a locked clock @1.825 GHz, making it capable of a theoretical compute performance of 12 TFLOPS. What all this means is that the Xbox Series X is an extremely capable console, just like the PS5 as discussed earlier, and is indeed the most powerful console Microsoft has ever made.
TFLOPS or Teraflops is a value that describes how many trillions of floating-point operations a processor can perform in a second. The higher the said value, theoretically, the more powerful the processor. However, this might not always be the case in real-world performance; nevertheless, TFLOPS serves as a good baseline to draw comparisons.
Like the PS5, the Xbox Series X also features 16 GBs of GDDR6 unified RAM with a 320-bit wide bus. 10 GBs of the total 16 packed into the Xbox Series X has a higher throughput of 560 GB/s and is used primarily in conjunction with the graphics system. The remaining 6 GBs has a 336 GB/s throughput and is used for other computing functions. The Series X’s system software uses up almost 2.5 GBs leaving about 13.5 GBs for running games and other functions, but the same draws only from the slower memory pool.
The Xbox Series X’s internal memory comes in a 1 TB NVMe SSD with support for expandable storage. However, said expandable storage is proprietary to the Series X/S. One would have to purchase a 1 TB Seagate Expansion card for the Series X/S. Other than the SSD, support for USB 3.1 and external HDD is also present. In terms of I/O performance, the included 1TB NVMe SSD is capable of 2.4 GBs per second (Raw) and 4.8 GB/s (Compressed, with custom hardware decompression block).
The technical specifications of the Xbox Series X have been summarized in the following table:
|Manufacturer||Custom AMD Ryzen|
|Frequency||3.8 GHz, 3.66 GHz (with SMT), (fixed)|
|SMT (Simultaneous Multi-threading)||Yes|
|Manufacturer||Custom AMD Radeon|
|Frequency||1.825 GHz (fixed)|
|Computer Performance||12.15 TFLOPS|
|Bandwidth||10 GB @560 GB/s, 6 GB @336 GB/s|
|Interface||PCIe Gen 4|
|I/O Throughput||2.4 GB/s (Raw), 4.8 GB/s (Compressed)|
Performance comparison on paper
Now that we have established the technology incorporated into both consoles, it is time to compare them based on the same and see how they stack against each other. Naturally, this comparison does not consider other areas such as aesthetics, software optimization, backward compatibility, etc., which we have incorporated into the later parts of this article.
The table below briefly summarizes the differences between the Xbox Series X and the PlayStation 5.
|COMPONENT||XBOX SERIES X||PLAYSTATION 5|
|Family||Custom AMD Ryzen||Custom AMD Ryzen|
|Frequency||3.8 GHz, 3.66 GHz (with SMT), (fixed)||3.5 GHz (variable)|
|SMT (Simultaneous Multi-threading)||Yes||Yes|
|Architecture||Zen 2||Zen 2|
|Family||Custom AMD Radeon||Custom AMD Radeon|
|Frequency||1.825 GHz (fixed)||2.23 GHz (variable)|
|Architecture||RDNA 2||RDNA 2|
|Computer Performance||12.15 TFLOPS||10.3 TFLOPS|
|Capacity||16 GB||16 GB|
|Bandwidth||10 GB @560 GB/s, 6 GB @336 GB/s||448 GB/s|
|Capacity||1 TB||825 GB|
|Interface||PCIe Gen 4||PCIe Gen 4|
|I/O Throughput||2.4 GB/s (Raw), 4.8 GB/s (Compressed)||5.5 GB/s (Raw), 8-9 GB/s (Compressed)|
As a general overview, both the consoles pack more-or-less similarly capable hardware, while one edges out the other in specific cases, although not by a considerable margin. Naturally, such a comparison only reveals a part of the story since the real-world performance depends on a wide range of factors beyond simple hardware specifications.
The Xbox Series X has a slightly faster CPU due to a higher clock speed on the same architecture. However, the PlayStation’s variable clock speed allows it to be more power-efficient and is thus slightly easier to cool, perhaps allowing for quieter operation. The Xbox, on the other hand, has a fixed clock, although its colling system is more than capable of handling the heat output while remaining quiet. We have compared the cooling performance of the two consoles in the later sections of this article.
The graphics solution incorporated with the Xbox is faster than that of the PlayStation in raw performance. The Xbox, with its 12.15 TFLOPS of compute performance and 52 Compute Units, should be faster than the PlayStation on paper. However, in real life, the PS5 and the Xbox Series X stack up almost similarly in most games, as has been compared later in the Performance section of this article.
The Xbox Series X’s solution, incorporating memory chips of differing throughput for different workloads, on paper, gives it a slight advantage over the PS5 when it comes to gaming performance. This advantage is due to the Xbox using the 10GB memory pool primarily for the graphical workloads, which has a higher peak throughput than the PS5’s memory solution.
Although the Xbox has a higher capacity SSD (1 TB) than the 825 GB present in the PS5, the latter’s I/O throughput is significantly faster than the Xbox. However, the relatively slower storage on the Xbox should still be a considerable improvement in shortening loading screens and avoiding texture pop-in issues. Thus, both the Xbox Series X and the PlayStation 5 stack up similarly in this situation.
Based on the comparison drawn above, in terms of raw compute performance or inclusion of higher-spec hardware, the Xbox Series X is the clear winner. As mentioned earlier, the hardware specs tell only a part of the story as real-world performance in games depend on a wide range of factors beyond pure hardware capabilities. The later parts of the article, where we compare other factors such as aesthetics, accompanying services, peripherals, power efficiency, etc., would be crucial in concluding a decisive winner.
Comparing either console’s involved cost.
Both Sony and Microsoft hiked the prices of their next-gen consoles by about 100 USD. Said hike cumulates to a difference of roughly 8-9k INR. The Xbox Series X and the PlayStation 5 retail for around 500 USD and 50,00 INR. However, the said estimate assumes that you can find one at MSRP, or rather find one at all. With the silicon shortage occurring worldwide, chips are in short supply from every major manufacturer, and prices are sky-high due to the massive disparity between supply and demand.
The PlayStation 5 comes in two variants, one without a Blu-ray drive, called the Digital Edition and the other with the same. The Digital Edition PS5 with the 4k Blu-ray drive is priced at 10,000 INR below the non-Digital Edition PS5. However, the Digital variant PS5 incorporates identical hardware as the non-Digital variant, except for the Blu-ray drive. On the Xbox side of things, the Xbox Series S, the more budget-oriented version of the Xbox Series X, has a significantly worse hardware configuration under the hood, i.e., less RAM, weaker GPU, and smaller SSD and so on.
The PS5 digital variant is thus the clear winner in the cost category. If the absence of the Blu-ray drive is not a concern for you, it does not diminish the gaming experience by offering weaker hardware compared to the non-digital variant. However, the Xbox Series S is a significantly weaker system, albeit at a price of roughly 36,000 INR. Although the Series S is priced lesser than the digital-only PS5, the difference is only 4000 INR, which, in our opinion, is not enough to justify receiving lower-spec hardware.
Winner: PlayStation 5 Digital Edition
How many titles can you enjoy on your console?
Sony and Microsoft have fundamentally different philosophies regarding the games you want to enjoy or how you want to manage your library. Microsoft assumes that you would want to pick up the same games you left off, on a newer and more powerful console, with performance-optimized across the board to suit the capabilities newer hardware brings forth. On the other hand, Sony assumes you would always want to enjoy new and often exclusive titles on the next-gen consoles Sony makes. Thus, Sony’s launches are often littered with PlayStation exclusive titles, while Microsoft’s Xbox launches often do not have new/exclusive titles at all. Instead, they opt for titles that have been optimized to run faster and smoother on their next-gen hardware.
It is hard to deny that the PS5 has a more exciting lineup of PS exclusives available to play right now. The list includes Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Demon’s Souls, Sackboy: A Big Adventure, Astro’s Playroom and a multitude of other titles available to play on both consoles, along with big new launches lined up for the future. The PlayStation also has a list of classic PlayStation 4 titles that can be played on the PS5, although including more similar titles would be greatly appreciated by long-time PS players.
Winner: PlayStation 5
Both the next-gen consoles have excellently designed chassis and internal layout. While the Xbox Series X sports an industrial design and manages the internal volume masterfully, the PS5 manages to look exceedingly futuristic, with sleek curves and beautiful contrast between the white exterior and the black plastic piece in the middle. However, it is the same futuristic aesthetic, a primary point of contention amongst the customers. While many people seem to love the new and different styling and cannot get enough of it, others cannot stand the lack of proper internal volume utilization and the bulky design of the PS5.
It is thus a very personal decision, as aesthetics most often are, on the part of the person interested in purchasing either console. Naturally, this category is a tie between the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X.
Are the peripherals any better?
Both the PlayStation and the Xbox controller have always been very tactile and responsive. The Xbox controller also has an excellent layout for button placement, along with very satisfying switches for said buttons. The new controller features an improved D-pad, a new “share” button and tactile dot patterns on triggers and bumpers.
The new PlayStation DualSense controller, on the other hand, has a host of new and innovative features such as extremely sensitive haptics with excellent feedback and a built-in mic. The haptic feedback has also been used very innovatively, such as imitating the feel of objects rolling in an enclosed space and exerting natural resistance when you push the trigger. Having said the same, the DualSense controller also has a wide range of flaws, such as a large amount of wasted space on the same along with often-faulty haptic feedback.
The PS5 DualSense controller knocks it out of the park in terms of sheer innovation. However, the Xbox Series X controller has a better layout that supports a wide range of playstyles and is more reliable. Until Sony does not iron out the mentioned flaws, the Xbox controller would be our preferred choice.
Winner: Xbox Series X
Comparing backward compatibility
While both the Xbox Series X and the PlayStation 5 have excellent backward compatibility, the Xbox is designed with backward compatibility in mind and thus reaches farther back into Microsoft’s library. Backward compatibility is critical enough for Microsoft to design the Xbox Series X to be compatible with the Xbox One and Xbox 360 titles; it also doesn’t break compatibility with many games made for the original Xbox.
With the PS5, on the other hand, backward compatibility extends upto the PlayStation 4 and not much further back. Hence, the Xbox Series X is the clear winner in this aspect.
Winner: Xbox Series X
Are there accompanying services worth considering?
A primary aspect where both Microsoft and Sony have focused their effort is in developing a comprehensive cloud gaming service. However, before we discuss the various cloud gaming solutions Sony and Microsoft offer on their consoles, here is a brief explanation of cloud gaming. Most gamers must store the required game files in their local machine and use the same machine’s processing power to run said game. This process involves a lot of capital and physical space. Today, major cloud gaming providers offer a service where one can stream any game in real-time from the service provider’s servers and pay a subscription for availing of the service. This approach negates the need to own a monstrous gaming rig personally and enables cross-compatibility between various platforms, such as an Xbox and a PC or tablet.
On the PlayStation 5, Sony offers the PlayStation Now service that allows streaming of various PS5 and PS4 titles on a PS5 or PC. PlayStation Now also allows users to download a few PS4 titles and costs at least 8 USD a month. However, it hasn’t yet been released in India since Sony’s plans to launch them were postponed due to the pandemic. On the other hand, the Xbox Game Pass, available with the Xbox Series X, can be availed right now. The Xbox Game Pass Ultimate can be purchased for 699 INR and opens access to hundreds of titles, old and new, on multiple platforms such as PC, Android, etc.
Winner: Xbox Series X
Is there any significant performance difference?
Comparing raw FPS on consoles is a particularly challenging task. Naturally, most of the comparisons are heavily qualitative, except for loading time comparison tests on various games. Even so, loading times and texture pop-in issues are primarily memory and storage dependent and barely indicate which console delivers superior in-game performance. The PS5, in most cases, edges out the competing Xbox Series X in terms of game loading times. The PS5 also faced no texture pop-in, which happened relatively more often in the Xbox Series X.
In terms of in-game performance, both the consoles effortlessly delivered consistent 60 FPS at 4k. Any difference was minute enough to be barely noticeable, if at all. However, based on the excellent loading times posted by the PlayStation 5, the verdict based on this segment goes to the same.
Winner: PlayStation 5
Both the devices are competent and practically evenly matched when it comes to the performance department in real-life workloads. The Xbox edges out the PlayStation when it comes to conserving desk space, extending backwards compatibility to its older titles and offering a superior controller. The Xbox Game Pass, presently, is also a complete service when compared to the PlayStation Now.
The PlayStation 5, on the other hand, combines a futuristic aesthetic with an excellent library of new games and PlayStation exclusives right from the launch date. Although not as exhaustive as the Xbox, the PlayStation still maintains excellent backward compatibility with its previous titles. With PlayStation Now, other devices can also stream PS exclusives titles. Although it is not as complete as the Xbox Game Pass, Sony is rapidly adding new titles and pushing it towards a complete and seamless service. If you aren’t presently interested in cloud gaming, the PS5 also has a broader selection of new games and AAA titles to choose from.
However, perhaps the most significant consideration when purchasing a new console is the cost involved. In the Indian market, the PlayStation 5 Digital Edition is a winner, offering flagship horsepower at an affordable price. Based on the previous comparisons, both the Xbox and the PlayStation win 3 with one tie, making this conclusion extremely difficult. However, according to the mentioned considerations, the PlayStation 5, in our opinion, seems like a better choice overall.