Deep Dive: Is the Xbox Series X Better Than the PlayStation 5?

Now that we know something about both the Xbox Series X and PS5, which one is better than the other?

Microsoft released specs for the Xbox Series X in mid-March and Sony followed up fairly quickly with the “PS5 Talk” that did give us some information but still left us hanging on design and backward compatibility. We’ve finally learned more about the PS5’s backward compatibility, and now we’re left with nothing but time to wait for the new systems to launch and deciding which system to buy. That raises the question: Is the PlayStation 5 better than the Xbox Series X? Without actually playing a AAA game on each system, that’s a difficult question to answer, but we’ll start by looking at the specs for each system.  

Xbox Series X vs. PlayStation 5 – Specs Comparison

Xbox Series X PlayStation 5
CPU 8x Zen 2 Cores at 3.8GHz (3.6GHz with SMT) 8x Zen 2 Cores at 3.5GHz (variable frequency)
GPU 12 TFLOPs, 52 CUs at 1.825GHz, Custom RDNA 2 10.28 TFLOPs, 36 CUs at 2.23GHz (variable frequency)
Die Size 360.45mm2 N/A
Process TSMC 7nm Enhanced N/A
Memory 16GB GDDR6 16GB GDDR6/256-bit
Memory Bandwidth 10GB at 560GB/s, 6GB at 336GB/s 448GB/s
Internal Storage 1TB Custom NVMe SSD Custom 825GB SSD
IO Throughput 2.4GB/s (Raw), 4.8GB/s (Compressed) 5.5GB/s (Raw), Typical 8-9GB/s (Compressed)
Expandable Storage 1TB Expansion Card NVMe SSD Slot
External Storage USB 3.2 HDD Support USB HDD Support
Optical Drive 4K UHD Blu-ray Drive 4K UHD Blu-ray Drive

As you can see from the table above, both the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X are somewhat similar. They both feature similar CPUs and GPUs, and each feature the same about of ram. The biggest difference between the two falls in the CPU speed (Xbox Series X wins by 100-300Mhz), teraflops delivered (Xbox wins by nearly 2 Tflops but PS5 delivers at a higher frequency), and memory bandwidth, which is a bit of a mixed bag since the PS5’s runs consistently at 448 GB/s while the Series X delivers a faster speed from 10GB or ram and a lower speed for the other 6GB. Storage expansion and internal storage also separate the two consoles, but neither are deal breakers.

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This is a lot of data to take in, so let’s break it down a little bit.

Raw Graphics Power – PS5 vs. Xbox Series X

On paper, the Xbox Series X has an edge over the PS5. With the Series X offering more TFLOPS than the PS5, the Xbox is the clear winnder here (12 vs. 10.28). If you’re not aware, TFLOPS is a measurement of how many floating point operations per section a video card can perform. So, with this data, we can say that, in theory, the Xbox Series X should have slightly better graphics. But, at this level of gaming, the difference will hardly be noticeable. And, to be blunt, the Xbox Series X doesn’t dominate the PS5 across the board.

GPU – Xbox Series X vs. PS5

Looking at the GPU numbers in the specs sheet above, the Xbox Series X should run games at a higher framerate and higher resolution than the PS5. But, it’s not that cut and dry, and it doesn’t mean the PS5 is the weaker system. The PS5 might have few computer units (CU) than the Xbox but the GPU runs at a significantly higher frequency – 2.23 GHz vs. 1.825 GHz. The frequency offered by the PS5’s GPU is very high, even for high-end video cards, and this gives the PS5 an edge despite having fewer CUs, as each of the PS5’s CUs will process more than those of the Xbox. That means that the PS5, in terms of raw GPU processing could be better than the Xbox Series X.

CPU Comparison PS5 vs. Xbox Series X

Again, on paper, the Xbox Series X is the clear winner here. It runs at 3.8 GHz or 3.6 GHz with SMT. Meanwhile the PS5 runs at variable frequency at a max of 3.5 GHz. While this might give Xbox fanboys a reason to brag (not a very big reason, if they really know what they are talking about,) the CPU really isn’t all that important in the grand scheme of things. Both systems run Zen 2 CPUs that are a huge step forward from the last-gen systems, and this is what will remain critical in the first five years of next-gen console life.

Data Throughput – The PS5 Will Load Faster and support Larger, More Detialed Games

When it comes to what you will really notice when gaming – in-game detail, loading times, and game size – the PS5 will probably dominate the Xbox Series X hands down. In fact, it beats the Xbox so bad, that it feels Microsoft must have really overlooked this aspect of the Xbox Series X, but let me explain. Data (I/O) throughput is, basically, the amount of information the console can stream. The PS5 has a PCI Express 4.0 data interface that can push 5.5GB of information per second. To put that into perspective, the Xbox Series X can only push 2.4GB of information per second. That means that the PS5 can stream more data from a world (think visual depth, graphic details, etc.) than the Series X. Because of this, the PS5 will be able to offer bigger, more detailed games that will require virtually no loading time whatsoever. This was explained a bit during the initial PS5 talk in which it was said the PS5 will be able to load textures instantaneously as you move – so, you know, no sudden blade of grass popping into your view, for example.

This is actually a big deal, and could end up being the thing that really hurts the Series X, especially when it comes to serious gaming.

Internal and Expandable Storage

When it comes to storage, the PS5 and Xbox Series X are, in a way, worlds apart. The Xbox Series X comes with a 1TB SSD built in while the PS5 comes with an SSD good for just 825GB. That’s, probably, the difference between one next-gen game, at best. We’re already seeing some games approaching 150GB and even 200GB, so external storage will be very important for next-gen consoles. Both systems have their own unique solution to this and, to be honest, which will end up being better will come down to pricing.

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We knew it was coming thanks to leaked images, so it wasn’t a surprise when we learned that the Xbox Series X requires a proprietary memory cards for storage expansion. At launch, these will be 1TB only, but size could increase in the future. Now, if these end up being affordable, this could put the Series X on top, but right now, it looks like PS5 has the edge. The PS5 comes with an expansion slot for aftermarket M.2SSD drives. This means that you can buy and M.2SSD that you want and use that for storage expansion. Cost for these drives vary by brand and size, but if decent 1TB M.2SSD cars turn out to be cheaper than Microsoft’s 1TB expansion card, the PS5 could be at a major advantage.

On that note, both systems all connecting an external harddrive (SSD or HDD) vis a USB, and both will be required for playing games from previous systems (aka backward compatibility.) However, the Xbox might have the edge here because you’ll be able to store Series X games on your usb HDD and simply transfer those games to your internal SSD when you want to play – something that should be relatively quick, if we’re to believe what Microsoft has said so far. As for the PS5, this capability doesn’t exist as of the time of this writing, so an M.2SSD may be required if you want to store more than a handful of PS5 games at one time.

Sound Delivery – Worlds Apart But The Same

Sony has worked exceptionally hard to provide us with a true 3D sound experience. What that means is that you’ll be able to pinpoint exactly where a noise in the game is coming from. If someone knocks on the wall behind you in the game, it will sound exactly like that. The Xbox Series X is said to have special sound, which we assume is basically the same thing. So, both systems will offer a drastically improved method of sound delivery, and it should allow us to get even deeper into the games we play.

So, Which System Is Better?

When it comes to the Xbox Series X and the PlayStation 5, this could be the very first time in gaming history that you can say the systems are different enough that you can’t really say which is better. On paper, both have their own strongpoints, and, at the end of the day, the hardware is generally similar. Most of the good stuff we’ve discussed here will have a bigger effect on game developers than it will us as players. We could actually be entering an era of gaming where it’s not which system is better, but what games are available. That, my friends, is what opens the door to genuinely wanting to own both systems so you can experience the world’s best games. The next-gen console wars are going to be like nothing we’ve ever seen and tough decisions will fall upon all of us.

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Robert Moore
Robert is an automotive expert and gaming fanatic that somehow manages to split his time between doing both and blending in some family time as well. His gaming history goes all the way back to Atari, the Commodore 64, and the original Nintendo, and he can proudly say that he’s owned every single mainstream console since, including duds like the Sega Dreamcast and Nintendo Wii. He currently owns a Nintendo Switch, Xbox One X, PlayStation 4 Pro, and a custom-built gaming PC. His all-time favorite games include Assassin’s Creed, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 (zombies, specifically), League of Legends, Diablo 3, and even a little World of Warcraft. Robert has been working as a journalist for nearly 15 years, primarily in the automotive segment and now in the gaming segment.

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