A New Front Opens Up In The Console Wars
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Sony and Microsoft are ready to bring the console wars into the next generation with the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X. It’s far too early to declare a victor, but we’ll take a look at specifications, games, controllers, pricing, and more to see how things really stack up in the battle of PS5 vs. Xbox Series X.
While your decision is largely going to be based on which consoles you’ve adopted in the past, it’s important to weigh your options. Beyond the obvious aesthetic differences between these consoles, there are some considerable differences in terms of not just the hardware being used, but their capabilities and features as well. We’ve broken both consoles down into a handful of categories, with a clear winner for each category as well as on overall.
Quick Resume On Xbox Series X
Perhaps the most welcome of the Xbox Series Xs features is Quick Resume. The purpose of Quick Resume is to allow you to continue a game from a suspended state pretty much instantly. So, within seconds, you can jump back into the game where you left off, as if you never stopped playing, without having to sit through loading screens again. Not only that, but you can jump between multiple games that have been left in this suspended state in no time at all.
We found that we could seamlessly jump between gameplay in a matter of seconds, as long as the games you’re hopping between have already been booted up at some point beforehand. We were able to jump from being in a timberyard as Alan Wake to being Alyson Ronan in Dontnod’s Tell Me Why within 11.4 seconds by pressing the Xbox button on the controller and selecting the game from the sidebar. That’s from gameplay to gameplay no loading screens. If we wanted to access Tell Me Why from the Xbox dashboard home screen, selected as the current game we were playing, the time from the dashboard to gameplay was 2.7 seconds.
Microsoft hasn’t said if there’s a limit to the number of titles that you can have in a suspended state at one time, but we found more than four would start taking a toll on the machine. And we found that if we stacked more than four games in a suspended state, some required a full boot-up again, with the console closing the first game opened.
Xbox Series X Performance
- 4K/60fps gameplay
- Auto HDR
The Xbox Series X is an absolute powerhouse, rocking an eight-core AMD Zen 2 processor running at 3.8GHz, a custom RDNA 2 AMD GPU that puts out 12 TFLOPs of processing power, 16GB of GDDR6 memory, and a 1TB Custom NVMe SSD.
Heres what the Xbox Series X specs look like on paper:
- CPU: 8x Cores @ 3.8 GHz Custom Zen 2 CPU
- GPU: 12 TFLOPS, 52 CUs @ 1.825 GHz Custom RDNA 2 GPU
- Die Size: 360.45 mm2
- Memory: 16 GB GDDR6 w/ 320b bus
- Memory Bandwidth: 10GB @ 560 GB/s, 6GB @ 336 GB/s
- Internal Storage: 1TB Custom NVME SSD I/O Throughput: 2.4 GB/s , 4.8 GB/s
- Expandable Storage: 1TB Expansion Card
- External Storage: USB 3.2 External HDD Support
- Optical Drive: 4K UHD Blu-ray Drive
- Performance Target: 4K @ 60fps, Up to 120fps
So what does that mean in terms of real-world performance?
Ps5 Vs Xbox Series X: Performance
Comparing PS5 and Xbox Series X performance is difficult at present. While the Toms Guide crew works from home indefinitely, we dont have the tools to measure resolution and frame rate in great depth, nor can we watch games side-by-side or even solicit second opinions.
Bearing that in mind, I compared two games qualitatively across both systems: Assassins Creed Valhalla and Devil May Cry 5: Special Edition. The former is a huge open-world title, where its easy to measure load times as you fast travel from one distant point of the map to another. The latter is a fast, frenetic action game, where any drop in framerate is immediately noticeable.
First: Sonys ambitious claims about the PS5s load times arent exaggerated, as far as I can tell. Assassins Creed Valhalla went from the main menu into the game in less than a minute fast travel took less than 10 seconds from point to point. However, while the Xbox Series X took longer to load the game initially , fast travel time was exactly the same.
Gameplay-wise, if you handed me an ambiguous controller and put either the PS5 or Xbox Series X version of Assassins Creed Valhalla on a screen in front of me, I honestly wouldnt be able to tell the difference. Both systems ran the game at 4K at 60 frames per second , and neither one seemed to have any major difference in animation fluidity, lighting, etc. Texture pop-in seemed a little more noticeable on the Xbox Series X, although that may have just been the area I was in.
Playstation 5 Vs Xbox Series X Games
At launch, neither next-gen console can boast of a stellar line-up. PS5 has , Demon’s Souls, Astro’s Playroom, Sackboy: A Big Adventure, The Pathless, Godfall, Bugsnax, and Destruction AllStars . But very few of these are actually PS5 exclusive, they are also on PS4 and/or PC.
Meanwhile, Xbox Series X boasts of Gears 5, Forza Horizon 4, Halo: The Master Chief Collection, Yakuza: Like A Dragon, and The Medium . Most of them are games from the Xbox One era or older, and one is an exclusive only for a limited time.
The launch line-up for PS5 and Series X is much bigger beyond PlayStation Studios and Xbox Game Studios. We’ve the likes of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, Watch Dogs: Legion, Immortals Fenyx Rising, FIFA 21, NBA 2K21, Dirt 5, Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, Rainbow Six Siege, Just Dance 2021, Mortal Kombat 11, Borderlands 3, No Man’s Sky, and Destiny 2.
If it’s more exclusives you’re after, 2021 has a fair few. On the PS5 front, there’s Horizon Forbidden West, God of War: Ragnarök, Deathloop, Returnal, Ghostwire: Tokyo, Gran Turismo 7, and Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart. The Series X will get Halo Infinite, Flight Simulator, STALKER 2, CrossfireX, The Gunk, and Sable.
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Quick Resume Versus Switcher
Possibly the biggest appeal of the Xbox Series X|S, Quick Resume has been a literal game-changer of a feature since it was introduced with the consoles last year. The idea of being able to just switch between games at a snappy pace and pick up where you left off sounds like sci-fi technology, but Quick Resume is a very real and very handy addition to the familiar perks of the Xbox ecosystem. Five to six games can be suspended, and switching between them is quick and breezy thanks to the user interface.
It’s not entirely perfect, as the online nature of some games–thank you very much for reminding me about this, Hitman 3 and Destiny 2–means that you’ll be instantly transported back to the main menu instead of a paused run through Berlin or Trostland. Occasional hiccups aside, Quick Resume’s ability to host a number of games in a suspended state is convenience taken to another level. Even switching the console off fully won’t interrupt these sessions, and combined with the Smart Delivery functions of the newer Xbox consoles, having the best version of a game instantly accessible at any given time feels like a landmark moment in video game console evolution.
Ps5 Vs Xbox Series X Vs Xbox Series S: Specs
|PS5 DE: £349.99/ $399.99/ 399.99||£449.99 / $499.99/ 499.99|
|Spider-Man Series, Horizon Series, God of War Series, Gran Turismo Series||Halo Infinite, Senuas Saga: Hellblade Series, Forza Series, Gears of War series||Halo Infinite, Senuas Saga: Hellblade Series, Forza Series, Gears of War series|
|Backward Compatibility||Almost all PS4 games, including optimized PS4 Pro titles||All Xbox One games / Select Xbox 360 and original Xbox games||All Xbox One games / Select Xbox 360 and original Xbox games|
|CPU||8-core 3.5 GHz AMD Zen 2||8-core, 3.8 GHz AMD Zen 2||8-core, 3.6 GHz, AMD Zen 2|
|GPU||10.28 TFLOPs, 36 CUs at 2.23GHz||12 TFLOPS, 52 CUs at 1.825 GHz||4 TFLOPS, 20 CUs at 1.565 GHz|
|1 TB custom NVMe SSD||512GB custom NVMe SSD|
|4K UHD Blu-ray||4K UHD Blu-ray|
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Xbox Series X Vs Ps: Price Comparison
Microsoft’s disc-based Xbox Series X console retails for $499 / £449 / AU$749, while the standard PS5 is also $499 / £449 / AU$749. It makes choosing between an Xbox Series X pre-order or a PS5 pre-order bundles a tough choice.
One of the reasons the PS4 proved the more popular console during the last generation was the fact that it launched at a more attractive price point of $399.99 / £349.99. That was a relative steal compared to the $499 / £429 Xbox One, which at launch had to factor in the cost of its ill-fated Kinect motion tracker. The Kinect was initially hailed as one of the key differentiators between the consoles, but proved unpopular with both developers and gamers, leading to Microsoft slowly phasing it out in an effort to drive the price of the overall package down with later console revisions.
Neither has made that mistake with their new consoles making the top-tier versions identically matched. It’s the digital-only versions then where the real differences become visible.
The digital-only Xbox Series S lands at $299 / £249 / AU$499 while the PlayStation 5 Digital Edition comes in at $399.99 / £359.99 / AU$599.95.
But it’s not a like-for-like comparison. Microsoft’s digital console is weaker than the others it focuses on 1440p resolution instead of 4K, and targets 60/120 fps. With the PS5 Digital Edition, however, it’s exactly the same spec as the standard edition just minus that physical disc tray.
The Best User Experience
Whichever machine you end up getting, you’re unlilkely to have a bad experience as they each offer a comprehensive suite of apps and useful features.
However, the Xbox does have a slight edge in this department. For a start, its mobile app is significantly more user-friendly, allowing you to download games remotely with the simple tap of a button. If you are a fan of photo modes, then all of your screenshots will be immediately uploaded to your phone as well .
In addition to this, the Xbox also has its Insider’s Hub community, which enables you to trial upcoming accessibility features and even beta test new releases. Then there’s also the fact that you can utilize cross-save with PC games, allowing you to start something like Psychonauts 2 on your computer and seamless transfer that progress over to the Xbox version.
In 2021, Microsoft also made it way easier to run emulators on the Series X than it is on the PS5. As always, it is important to note that it is illegal to download copyrighted ROM files when doing this.
The PlayStation 5 does have its own unique gimmicks of course. Most notably, Astro’s Playroom showed off the creative possibilities of the DualSense controller’s haptic feedback, but these features have hardly been touched since .
Verdict: In general, the Xbox is more intuitive when it comes to its functionality, and it lets you more comprehensively tweak your experience.
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Ps5 Vs Xbox Series X: Verdict
As we mentioned right at the start, this is a new console generation unlike any before it a console generation that doesnt unlock gaming in a new resolution, and doesnt bring with it a raft of new games that can only be played on the new machines. That leaves the PS5 and Xbox Series X having to justify their next-gen credentials in other ways, and Sonys console does this far more effectively than Microsofts.
That could well change in the future. This first batch of cross-platform games is also cross-generational. Almost every one of them has been designed to run on no fewer than ten consoles, from the original Xbox One to the Series X on one side, and the original PS4 to PS5 on the other, so expecting them to be fully optimised for next-gen is just silly. Once fully optimised games become a reality, likely in the next year or two, perhaps well see performance gaps between the PS5 and Xbox Series X appear but, for now, there just arent any of real significance.
None of which is to say that the Xbox Series X isnt a very good console. It delivers on its performance targets, its near-silent at almost all times, its decidedly compact next to the PS5, and its controller has had some neat little tweaks. It just doesnt go quite far enough, particularly in comparison to the PS5.
** Overall winner: PS5 **
Auto Hdr On Xbox Series X
Like the Xbox One, the Xbox Series X allows for calibration of HDR for games. We’d advise setting this before playing any games, as it ensures the balance of contrast is spot-on, giving you the best visuals possible.
For our initial review, we primarily had access to a selection of backwards-compatible titles which are the best indicator of the boost in performance the Xbox Series X delivers over its last-gen counterparts. With the above settings enabled, we found that the games immediately looked better on the Xbox Series X which isn’t particularly surprising, given that Microsoft has implemented native HDR for these titles.
We go into detail as to how this performance boost improves Xbox Series X Optimized titles further down, but in short, when playing backwards-compatible titles on the Xbox One S and Xbox Series X versions side-by-side we could clearly see the visual upgrade.
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Specifications: Slight Edge To Microsoft
CPU: 8x Zen 2 Cores at 3.5GHz.
GPU: 10.28 TFLOPs, 36 CUs at 2.23GHz.
Memory: 16GB GDDR6/256-bit.
Storage: Custom 825GB SSD + NVMe SSD slot.
CPU: 8x Zen 2 Cores at 3.8GHz.
GPU: 12 TFLOPs, 52 CUs at 1.825GHz
Memory: 16GB GDDR6/256-bit.
Storage: 1TB Custom NVMe SSD + 1TB expansion card.
The raw specifications of the PS5 and the Xbox Series X are extremely close all the way down the line, with both consoles featuring similar CPUs, GPUs, memory, storage, and more. Microsoft gets the slight edge in terms of raw numbers, but both consoles are likely to provide similar performance in the real world.
The Xbox Series X has a slightly faster CPU, and its GPU is capable of more teraflops than the PS5. However, the clock speed of the Xbox Series X is slower than the PS5, which is backstopped by just 36 compute units versus the 52 CU found in the Series X GPU.
In plain terms, the PS5 has a faster, more efficient GPU, but the Xbox Series X is more powerful. This is most likely to make a difference in GPU-intensive tasks like ray tracing, although we won’t know how much of a difference until we can make side by side comparisons.
The most notable difference between these consoles is their size and form factor, with the footprint for the PS5 being markedly larger than either version of the Xbox, and the asymmetrical, two-tone aesthetic that may be a turn-off for some.
Ps5 Vs Xbox Series X: Which Is Better
After the longest-lasting console generation in the modern era of games, the new next-gen is finally here in the form of the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5.
Sadly, even as 2021 draws to a close, both consoles are proving incredibly difficult to find. For the best chance of laying your hands on a console, check out our Xbox Series X stock and Sony PS5 stock pages.
This isnt like previous generations of console wars, which have tended to usher in a resolution revolution, because the leap to 4K and HDR was taken care of by the mid-generation Xbox One X and PS4 Pro. You might expect 8K to therefore be the big news here, particularly as each manufacturer suggested as much in its early marketing, but 8K is in fact not supported by either console.
To some, that will sound like hot air, and the case against the new consoles will only solidify when we reveal that you dont need to buy one of them in order to play the latest games. With some notable exceptions, every game that you can play on a next-gen machine will also play on its predecessor.
But that doesnt tell the whole story, and both consoles take gaming to new, previously inaccessible levels one more convincingly than the other. Then theres the small matter of which is the best streamer and 4K Blu-ray player. Let battle commence!
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Ps5 Or Xbox: Which Is The Better Controller
Oof, man, really putting me on the spot, huh? As you can see from the above, there are benefits to both controllers. For versatility and battery life, you really cant beat the Xbox controller. Meanwhile, the PS5 controller packs in modern features that will make playing certain games a lot more engaging . For sheer audacity and ambition, it feels like the PS5s DualSense has the edge here, but if youre looking for a multi-platform workhorse, go with the Xbox controller.
The Xbox Series X will be released worldwide on Nov. 10, followed by the PlayStation 5 on Nov. 12. For this review, Polygon tested an Xbox Series X provided by Microsoft, and a PlayStation 5 provided by Sony. Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, though Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links. You can find