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How Xbox Series X could overpower PlayStation 5

We're still roughly a year out from the battle between the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5, and until pretty recently, we didn't even know what either of the consoles might look like — much less how they'd perform. Microsoft surprised us all by showing off the Series X during the 2019 Game Awards, so we can at least check one of those boxes off. But we've still been in the dark about how much power the Series X is packing, and as far as the PS5 goes, we've not been able to nail down a single hard detail.

Until now.

The folks over at Digital Foundry recently reported on some very important leaks. These leaks purport to be the specs powering both the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5. If true, they give us our first real look at how powerful each console could be. And they paint a portrait of the very interesting role reversal that could kick off the next generation.

To put it quite simply: Microsoft is poised to have the more powerful console right out of the gate.

As far as processing power is concerned, Digital Foundry believes both consoles are using very similar technology. Both have turned to AMD to power their next-gen machines, and both consoles will likely come equipped with eight Zen 2 cores. Where you start to see separation, however, is in the AMD GPU technology each company is reportedly using.

It's believed the PlayStation 5 GPU will feature 36 custom Navi compute units at 2000MHz. That's no slouch, by the way. But when you compare it to what the Xbox Series X reportedly contains – 56 custom Navi compute units at roughly 1700MHz — you can see how the Xbox Series X packs substantially more GPU computing power.

What does this mean for price?

According to Digital Foundry, the outlet believes the PlayStation 5 side of the leak "points toward a device with more of a balance between price and performance." That is, it appears Sony could be sacrificing in some key areas to ensure the PlayStation 5 is still able to hit the $399 price point introduced by the original PlayStation 4 and, later, the PlayStation 4 Pro.

It also suggests that Microsoft is not interested in competing with the PS5 on price. Microsoft would much rather deliver a more powerful console that is targeted toward hardcore gamers and let the market decide which it wants more. It's widely believed the Xbox Series X could reach the same $500 price point that the original Xbox One and Xbox One X both targeted. However, Microsoft wouldn't be launching a more expensive yet inferior console in the next gen as it did with the Xbox One. The Series X appears poised to be the more powerful machine this time around.

That — and the presumption Microsoft won't bungle the launch with talk of DRM and TV features — means we could see things play out very differently, despite the Series X potentially coming with a higher price tag.

The next generation is an enormous jump

Both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 launched in Fall 2013, and back then, we were promised the world in terms of how much better our games would look than in the Xbox 360 and PS3 era. Did we really get that massive leap we were promised, though? If you think about it, Full HD was the target for this current gen, but there were still many games — especially on the Xbox One — that couldn't hit that mark. And don't even talk about frame rate. A measly 30 frames-per-second was more often the rule than the exception.

If you compare the leaked Xbox Series X and PS5 specs versus the current generation machines, though, you'll see we're actually getting a pretty substantial jump in power this time around.

Digital Foundry states the Xbox Series X could have "56 custom Navi compute units at approx 1700MHz." The original Xbox One, on the other hand, was only touting "12 GCN compute units at 853MHz." Definitely not as impressive. The Series X is expected to have much faster RAM, to boot, with transfer speeds of 560 GB/s versus the original Xbox One's 68 GB/s.

The PlayStation 5 is in the same boat in terms of being a massive improvement. Digital Foundry expects it to boast "36 custom Navi compute units at 2000MHz." The original PS4 could only offer up "18 GCN compute units at 800MHz." And the PS5 will get faster RAM, as well; 512 GB/s versus the PS4's 176 GB/s.

Needless to say, both the Xbox Series X and the PlayStation 5 are going to blow the current generation out of the water. Even the Xbox One X and PlayStation 4 Pro will have a hard time matching up against these monsters. We'll definitely be looking out for more information on the Series X and PS5, so when we come across more to share, we'll get it in front of you.