On the fence on whether to grab a next generation PS5 or opt for the competing Xbox Series X?
We wouldn’t blame you if you haven’t managed to snatch up the PS5 or Xbox Series X just yet, not only is the chip shortage and stock issues making it difficult, but it can be hard to choose which console is the best choice for you.
What’s more, with the PS5 and Xbox Series X having been out for almost a year, quite a lot has changed since they first launched. Here to help make sure you pick the right console for your personal need we’ve updated this guide to reflect how they compare in the here and now.
Starting with the basics.
The Cliff Notes
Sony, in a similar way to the PS4, is focusing on traditional generational leaps with blockbuster exclusives that show off what the new hardware can do, while Microsoft is looking to expand its ecosystem with the continued focus on Xbox Game Pass.
We’ve managed to review both Sony’s and Microsoft’s next-gen consoles and the truth is the differences here are slight and a lot of them come down to user interface and the type of experience you want on a console.
Which console is better will also depend on what types of games you’re interested in. Sony has a lot of exclusives coming out, including God of War Ragnarok and Horizon Forbidden West. But Microsoft is continually evolving its ecosystem, with its Xbox Game Pass subscription service giving gamers the chance to jump into multiple titles very easily without having to pay full price for access.
With that out of the way, here’s the detailed break down of how the PS5 and Xbox Series X compare on key metrics including price, specs and games.
Price – Not much difference
The PS5 and the Xbox Series X are both priced at £449/$499 for the standard models. The digital-only version of the PS5 that doesn’t have a disc drive costs a little less, retailing at £359/$399.
The Xbox Series S is the cheaper variation of Microsoft’s console, sitting at £249/$299. It is a much less powerful variation that has half of the SSD storage space, but it’s still a good price if you’re not after all the next-generation features and don’t have a TV with HDMI 2.1 – the connection standard required to fully take advantage of the PS5 and Xbox Series X’s more advanced features.
Specs – Both ridiculously impressive
Both companies have very much outdone themselves in terms of how powerful these consoles are. Regardless of which one you end up picking, you’ll be fine for a couple of years in terms of performance and technical capabilities.
You can check out a more thorough look at how the consoles compare just below:
|Xbox Series X||PS5|
|CPU||8x Cores @ 3.8 GHz (3.66 GHz w/ SMT) Custom Zen 2 CPU||8x Cores @ 3.8 GHz (3.66 GHz w/ SMT) Custom Zen 2 CPU|
|GPU||12 TFLOPS, 52 CUs @ 1.825 GHz Custom RDNA 2 GPU||10.28 TFLOPs, 36CUs @ 2.23GHz|
|Memory||16 GB GDDR6 w/ 320mb bus||16 GB GDDR6/ 256-bit|
|Memory Bandwidth||10 GB @ 560 GB/s, 6 GB @ 336 GB/s||448GB/s|
|Internal Storage||1 TB Custom NVME SSD||Custom 825 GB SSD|
|I/O throughput||2.4 GB/s (Raw), 4.8 GB/s (Compressed, with custom hardware decompression block)||5.5 GB/s (Raw), Typical 8-9 GB/s (Compressed)|
|Expandable Storage||1 TB Expansion Card (matches internal storage exactly)||NVMe SSD Slot|
|External Storage||USB 3.2 External HDD Support||USB HDD Support|
|Optical Drive||4K UHD Blu-ray Drive||4K UHD Blu-ray Drive|
|Performance Target||4K @ 60 FPS, Up to 120 FPS||4K @ 60 FPS, Up to 120 FPS|
The consoles don’t differ too much, mostly in terms of GPU and internal storage. However, Sony did recently upgrade the PS5’s firmware with support for additional storage via the NVMe M.2 solid-state drives, which means that you can get some additional storage if you do need it. Just be warned the process can be a little fiddly and there’s a limited number of compatible SSDs on the market. You can find out which SSDs work with the PS5 in the attached guide.
In terms of the GPU, Microsoft does win out by having more teraflops, but the difference is slight enough that most players likely won’t notice, and it’s in no way a game-changer when comparing the two. Teraflops also aren’t the best metric of performance, they’re more of a metric for how potentially powerful it could be.
Design – Tall and long or short and stout
Each console has its own specific design that is pretty iconic in its own way, but a lot of the aesthetic choices come down to personal preference, seen as the look of the console won’t be affecting performance.
The PS5 weighs in at 4.5kg while the Series X sits at 4.4kg. The negligible weight difference aside, Microsoft has kept the rectangular theme going, with the latest console not looking all too dissimilar to a large speaker.
The PS5 is a little more out there in terms of design; the ability to have it stood up straight or on its side is a nice touch, but it still looks strictly Sony. Either console will likely fit in well with your decor and set-up, both have sleek designs with classic colours.
In terms of ports, both consoles offer almost the same setup, with the options of HDMI, USB and Ethernet ports available.
Controllers – Haptic feedback is the way to go
Sony moved away from its own formula with the DualSense controller; alongside the inclusion of Haptic feedback, the controller feels very balanced and is satisfying to use. The Haptic upgrades and adaptive triggers also help to transform the game you’re playing to a new level of immersion, when used correctly in games it helps add to the experience.
The Xbox Series X controller doesn’t have as much oompf as Microsoft, taking on mostly the same design and feel as the controllers that came before it, this is still a very comfortable and satisfying experience, but the lack of Haptic feedback is noticeable once you’ve played on the PS5.
Features and upgrades – What’s new after a year?
Each console has been now been out for a full 12 months, so there are some expectations in terms of upgrades from both Sony and Microsoft.
As previously mentioned, Sony did upgrade the PS5 firmware, allowing users to add another SSD card to the previously dormant expansion slot, so the overall SSD has been improved since the consoles first release.
There have also been upgrades in regards to specific games; Horizon Zero Dawn can now be played at 60fps while maintaining the maximum graphics, with some upgrades that improved the overall system performance.
There are few specific features that we can point to in terms of the PS5, as Sony seems more comfortable taking a moment-to-moment approach.
Microsoft, meanwhile, launched the Xbox Series X with the Quick Resume feature, which allows players to swap between active states of up to six different games at once. This allows you to jump right into a title without waiting for the loading title, which is a feature that the PS5 currently does not have.
In terms of upgrades, the Xbox Series X has improved its UI, upgrading it from 1080p to up to 4K when connected to a 4K display, making scrolling the Home screen a lot more visually satisfying.
Another upgrade that was bought in Xbox Night Mode, which adjusts the light to keep the room dark and help players who are sensitive to light. You can also toggle and adjust the light from your connected display, which is not groundbreaking, but a nice add on in our experience.
User interface – Both have weaknesses
The PS5 feels like a PlayStation and does feel like the natural successor to the PS4. The tile-based system is unchanged, but now users can utilise the Command Centre, which puts all the relevant information in a convenient strip at the bottom of the screen.
These can include your friend’s list, profile, audio settings and more, with the addition of just making the experience of using the PS5 more streamlined and fluid.
Some features are not to everyone’s liking; the trophies are now presented as large icons, and Cloud settings are now hidden in the settings. These are not deal-breaking changes but it is noticeably less convenient than how the PS4 presented itself.
Microsoft instead chose to keep everything the exact same as before, so anyone who wasn’t a fan before will likely have the same issues now. It feels a little more time consuming to install a game or change a specific setting, but the speedy load times and specific sections for Xbox Game Pass, Microsoft Store and My Games do make it a more streamlined experience if you’re just hoping to turn on a game.
Exclusive games – God of War or Forza 5?
One of the biggest selling points for Sony in the last few years has been its long and impressive list of PlayStation exclusive games. As mentioned before, the sequel to God of War and Horizon Forbidden West are PS exclusives, alongside the newly released Deathloop, Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart and Death Stranding Director’s Cut.
There will likely be many more exclusive titles coming to the PS5 over its lifetime, so it depends on how much these games appeal to you if you’re on the fence about which console to buy.
Mircosoft, meanwhile, also has a fair few exclusive titles to its name, with Halo Infinite and Microsoft Flight Simulator being the standouts. It is down to personal preference, but it can feel like Sony has a better handle on its exclusives, with most of them becoming iconic games.
But where Microsoft may be lacking in terms of exclusivity, it is winning in terms of game streaming, with Xbox Game Pass making some great strides this past year, offering not only cloud streaming but an expansive game library.
It will depend on each gamers personal taste and how often they try out new titles; Sony is great at releasing a couple of exclusive quality games, while Microsoft is offering up thousands of games for a monthly price. It will ultimately come down to which games you prefer and if you like to stick with what you know or venture out into unknown territory.
Online play – To stream or not to stream?
In terms of online play, both consoles have small advantages, but overall you won’t be missing out if you choose one over the other.
The Xbox Series X does inch out the PS5 in terms of its video steaming abilities, with the ability to stream on multiple platforms, and the plans to bring in a dedicated Smart TV app.
This also comes down to games, as some games are more conducive to online play than others, but since both consoles boost such impressive graphics, there is little noticeable difference between the two in terms of online play past Microsoft’s streaming abilities.
Stock – It’s still hard to buy
Unfortunately, both consoles are still pretty difficult to buy, despite the fact that they were both released in November of last year. It would be too difficult to judge which console is easier to grab, the chip shortage has made it harder to buy a lot of technology recently, including phones and computers.
It wouldn’t be fair to claim one is harder to buy than the other, the only way you can grab one is to stay updated on when new stock is coming in, but there is a lot of luck involved.
Verdict – Who won?
All in all, both the PS5 and the Xbox Series X are incredibly impressive consoles that have naturally built on what came before while also improving on key aspects of the experience.
In a perfect world, we would recommend that you buy both consoles, but if you’re on the fence and still can’t decide, it seems that the most significant difference between the two are the games that you can play. Both consoles pack in some brilliant exclusive titles, with Microsoft putting more emphasis on its new Game Pass library; it’s worthwhile thinking about what games you want to play and how you want to play them.
But in terms of everything else, there are a few areas where one console edges out the other, but we reckon that you’ll have a blast on either console, as long as you’re enjoying the game you’re playing.