There are two products that dominate the video game console market. These are the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X. Both are also part of the ninth generation of video game consoles that compete with both the consoles from the eighth generation, which include the Nintendo Switch and Nintendo Switch Lite, and the older PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and other video gaming platforms, which include traditional desktop and laptop PC gaming, mobile gaming, handheld PC gaming, and cloud gaming platforms.
Nevertheless, considering their market positions, these two gaming consoles have been pitted against one another. There are some similarities between the two. However, in certain aspects, there are also notable differences. This article discusses the PlayStation 5 vs Xbox Series X debate and compares them based on their hardware specifications, gaming performance, their respective selection of gaming titles, unit price and gaming title costs, the user experience, and the availability of value-added services.
A Comparison of PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X
1. Hardware Specifications
One of the similarities between the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X is their respective CPU and GPU. Both are powered by a custom 8-core AMD Zen 2 CPU and a custom GPU based on AMD RDNA 2 microarchitecture. The main difference lies in the details of the processor specifications which translate to a slight difference in processing performance.
The PS5 has a CPU that has a variable frequency that maxes to 3.5 GHz and a GPU based on 32 compute units that maxes to 2.23 GHz and a TFLOPS that peaks to 10.3. The Xbox Series X has a CPU with a base frequency of 3.4 GHz under simultaneous multithreading and peak frequency of 3.8 GHz. The GPU has 52 compute units at 1.825 GHz and a 12.16 TFLOPS.
Both also have the same 16GB GDDR6 SDRAM. However, when it comes to storage, each has a different specification. The first PS5 came with a custom PCIe 4.0 NVMe solid-state storage at 825GB but the 2023 version now sports the same SSD at 1TB. The Xbox Series X has a custom PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSD with 1TB of storage from Western Digital.
The internal SSD of the PlayStation is removable and can be upgraded to up to 8TB SSD. It can also be attached with an external hard disk drive or solid-state drive of up to 8TB via a Universal Serial Bus or USB. The Xbox Series X supports a PCIe 4.0 storage expansion card of up to 2TB from either Western Digital or Seagate for external storage.
2. Gaming Performance
Nevertheless, based on the slight difference in their hardware specifications, it can be considered that the Xbox Series X theoretically has better processing capabilities because its CPU operates at a higher frequency and its GPU has a higher number of compute units and better TFLOPS or floating point operations per second albeit at lower frequency.
The aforementioned is still variable. Both the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X are equipped with base capabilities for running video games. The two also support up to 8K resolution video output at up to 120 frames per second and sound output based on Dolby Atmos, the 7.1 surround sound standard, and the DTS:X audio codec for multi-dimensional sound.
It is also worth mentioning that the discrete GPUs of both consoles support hardware-based ray tracing for a more realistic rendering of lighting, shadows, and overall graphics. The main CPU and the graphics processors in these consoles are designed for video gaming. Loading time is also almost the same because both use an internal solid-state drive.
However, in certain instances, PlayStation 5 is faster when it comes to loading. This is due to its better custom SSD. Similar titles can load up to 5 to 8 times faster than the Xbox Series X. Both still have equal in-game performance. There are instances when one is better than the other. This is more of a hardware-software optimization issue of a particular game title.
3. Game Title Selection
The main comparison between these two gaming consoles is not centered on their hardware and gaming performance. The PlayStation 5 vs Xbox Series X debate is focused more on their game libraries. Both have a decent selection of game titles to choose from. The number of these titles is shaping up well since the two consoles were launched in 2020.
Note that there are game titles available for both. These include Elden Ring, Grand Theft Auto V, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II, and FIFA 24. Each console also has exclusives. The PS5 is also backward compatible with PS4 and some PS3 games. Xbox Series X is compatible with all Xbox One and some Xbox 360 and the original Xbox game titles.
However, between the two, and considering backward compatibility, the PlayStation 5 dominates because of its more extensive library of games. This comes from the fact that Sony is focused on first-party exclusives or game titles developed by their own or partner studious and are released either as exclusives or first-to-market for the PlayStation 5 platform.
It is also important to note that game developers tend to have a slight bias toward the PS5 due to the fact that it has a larger market share, is more popular with the public, marketing deals, and the historical performance of the PlayStation brand. However, over time, the gap is narrowing with Microsoft pursuing acquisitions of game studies and exclusive deals.
4. Design and Controls
Another difference between PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X is the design of their console units and game controllers. The original PS5 boasts a daring design. It is larger and taller than the PS4 and other previous generations. Its two-tone black-and-white color scheme and ununiform form factor give a more edgier, futuristic, daring, and monolithic look.
There are problems with this design. The large size and uneven profile make it difficult to store in a spot with limited headroom. There are also some issues with stability if it is placed in an upright position. The bold and edgier design principle makes it stand out. This might not appeal to people who want to keep a uniform look in their rooms or living spaces.
It is important to note that the Xbox Series X is also a large console. However, compared with the PS5, it is more uniform and blends well without attracting too much attention. It is still large while also looking uninspired or boring. The Xbox Series S is smaller but less powerful. The PlayStation 5 Slim is a better option. It is smaller but as powerful.
Both consoles use game controllers with the same basic orientation. However, for the purpose of comparison, the DualSense of the PS5 is a more advanced controller. It features haptic feedback and adaptive triggers. It also has a built-in microphone. The Xbox Wireless Controller has good ergonomics and latency but it is not as feature-rich as the DualSense.
5. Unit Price and Game Price
The PlayStation 5 vs Xbox Series X debate ends with pricing and overall costs. Both products have the same price of around USD 499.00. Some stores offer discounts or sell these units at a slightly lower price point than the original pricing. Nevertheless, with regard to options, the PS5 has a more flexible selection of device models for would-be consumers.
It is worth mentioning that the PS5 Disc Edition is the most expensive model. The PS5 Digital Edition is cheaper at USD 399.00. This model only supports digital copies of games. The PS5 Slim Disc Edition is priced the same as the bigger model while its Digital Edition is a little bit expensive than its bigger and original counterpart at USD 449.90.
The more affordable model of the Xbox Series is the Xbox Series S. It retails for around USD 299.00 and it is a digital-only device. It is also less powerful than the Series X and it would not compete against the PlayStation 5. It is important to note that all models of the PS5 have the same processor and hardware specifications and gaming performance.
Moreover, when it comes to the price of game titles, both consoles have titles that are priced the same in most cases. Most new Triple-A or AAA games retail for around USD 59.99. Both also have a selection of downloadable free-to-play games. Xbox Series X has a slight edge because the Xbox Game Pass offers access to hundreds of games at USD 9.99 per month.
6. Exclusive Gaming Services
Another difference between PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X is their respective gaming services that are exclusive to each platform. The former has a PlayStation Plus while the latter offers the Xbox Game Pass. These two are subscription-based. Each is priced at USD 9.99 per month. The two differ in the range of value-added services and other inclusions.
PlayStation Plus offers subscribers with online multiplayer access and a few video games that are rolled out each month. The Premium tier also offers access to hundreds of downloaded games for the current and previous generations of the PlayStation brand. There is also a very few selection of PS3 game titles that can be streamed and played on PlayStation 5.
The Xbox Game Pass is more expansive in terms of services and inclusions. Remember that its subscribers can have access to hundreds of free games. This is perfect for those who are serious gamers or for households with multiple gamers. Xbox Game Pass Ultimate is a higher-tier plan that is priced at USD 16.99 per month and comes with more services.
A defining advantage of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate is that it comes with an access to the Xbox Cloud Gaming platform. The platform offers hundreds of game titles that can run on different platforms such as personal computers, Android smartphones and tablets, and iOS and iPadOS or iPhone and iPad devices. There is no Sony equivalent to this service.
Choosing Between PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X
The PlayStation 5 vs Xbox Series X boils down to choice. It is important to note that PS5 has a slight advantage when it comes to the selection of game titles and the selection of models with different price points. Xbox Series X shines because of its Xbox Game Pass gaming service and the possible expansion of its game library in the future. These two consoles remain the same in terms of hardware specifications, processing capabilities, and gaming performance.
One should choose PlayStation 5 if he or she prefers having slightly more game title options and owns or wants to own and play games from the previous PlayStation 4. However, for access to Xbox Cloud Gaming and games from the previous generations of the Xbox brand, the Xbox Series X is the better choice. This console is also more flexible when it comes to cloud gaming because it also supports Nvidia GeForce NOW cloud gaming via the Edge browser.