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PS5 Vs Xbox: The Truth About Which Console Is More Powerful

When the PlayStation 4 and Xbox 360 launched back in 2013, some questioned whether that console generation would be the last. Fast forward to 2020, however, and console gaming is still very much a thing. Both Sony and Microsoft are prepping new machines for the holiday season. Both have high hopes they'll be able to capture the lion's share of the market. And now, both have officially rolled out the specs for their upcoming systems.


It's impossible to dive into every consumer's head, which is why it would be silly now to crown a winner before either console has released. That said, the information released by both Sony and Microsoft does offer insight into which console is more impressive from a technical standpoint.

Each machine seems to be concentrating on a few key areas. Based on spec sheets alone, there does appear to be a clear victor in terms of graphical potential. But there are other aspects worth looking at, too, including new features and other enhancements.

Who is winning the battle between the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X as of right now? Take a look.

Xbox Series X is more powerful on paper

Microsoft hasn't been shy about sharing Xbox Series X news these past few weeks. Observers have learned a whole lot about that console, including pretty much everything about its internals. Now that Sony's made the details of the PlayStation 5 official, you can take a side-by-side look at what each system is packing and determine which will have the upper hand in terms of power.


Based on the specs alone, it appears Microsoft's Xbox Series X will take this round.

On the CPU side, the PlayStation 5 comes strapped with an eight-core Zen 2 processor running at 3.5 GHz. The Series X, meanwhile, touts an eight-core Zen 2 processor running at 3.8 GHz — a slight advantage.

You get a similar outcome when talking about the GPUs included in both machines. The PlayStation 5 GPU comes in at 10.28 teraflops of computing power with 36 compute units, and runs at a clock speed of 2.23 GHz. The Series X GPU runs at a slightly slower clock speed — 1.825 GHz — but includes 12 teraflops of computing power with 52 compute units.

The two systems aren't all that far apart. But it's clear that, at least on paper, Microsoft's next-gen system has the edge.


PlayStation 5 will likely load games faster

What'll make this next-generation battle so interesting is that the PlayStation 5 isn't losing to the Series X in every department. In fact, Sony's new console seems to out-do Microsoft's in a couple of key areas. Everyone is thrilled about load times virtually vanishing when the PS5 and Xbox Series X arrive, right? It turns out one system will be able to load games and assets a good bit faster than the other.


Sony may have made some sacrifices on the graphical side of things, but it'll no doubt make up for that in speed.

The PlayStation 5 will include a ridiculously fast solid state drive, along with hardware that promises I/O throughput of 5.5 gigabytes per second. This is far more speedy than the Xbox Series X's I/O throughput of 2.4 gigabytes per second. This may sound like gibberish to you, but think of the assets a game uses — textures and so forth — as the liquid in a cup. The bigger your straw, the more you'll be able to sip.

Sony's PS5 is clearly coming with the bigger straw. This means your games will load up more quickly, and assets being streamed in — such as new areas of a city you're exploring in a game — will show up that much faster.


Sony definitely nailed this aspect of the PlayStation 5.

The two consoles approach storage differently

As far as storage itself is concerned, it doesn't really look like there's a clear winner. Instead, there are two totally different approaches being taken by both Sony and Microsoft. Each will have its pros and cons, no doubt. Which is better, though, will come down to personal preference.


Sony's PlayStation 5 will come ready-to-go with an ultra-fast 825 GB solid state drive. Should you decide you want more room, you can add an M.2 NVMe drive to your PS5, provided it meets Sony's specifications. The Xbox Series X, meanwhile, comes with a 1 TB solid state drive. That's more space at the start, but if you want to expand, you'll need to purchase a proprietary storage card from Microsoft.

Both systems, at the very least, allow you to use a traditional USB external drive to store next-gen games so you can transfer them to internal storage when you want to play them. And both systems will also let you play last-gen titles straight from those external drives.

At this point, though, it's tough to say who is making the smarter decision. Larger M.2 solid state drives are expensive. It's likely Microsoft's storage cards will be expensive, too. You'll have to wait until both consoles launch before you can render a final verdict on which approach is better.


Both systems support backward compatibility

Back at the beginning of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One generation, both Sony and Microsoft brushed off the idea of backward compatibility. Who would want to play games from past generations on a new console? Needless to say, consumers weren't pleased, and each company responded in its own way. Sony rolled out PlayStation Now, which streams older games from the cloud. Microsoft started a "back compat" initiative to get past titles from Xbox and Xbox 360 running on Xbox One.


When the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X arrive, both will support backward compatibility with at least one console generation.

At this moment in time, it's looking like the PlayStation 5 will only go as far back as the PlayStation 4. That's not to knock the effort at all, as the PlayStation 4 has a solid collection of exclusives — perhaps the best seen on a console to date. On the other hand, though, the Series X will reach all the way back to play select titles from the original Xbox, along with Xbox 360 games and Xbox One games.

If the ability to play older titles is important to you, it seems the Xbox Series X will have the upper hand.

PS5 promises much better audio

If you happened to catch Mark Cerny's recent chat about the PlayStation 5, you probably had one of a few thoughts. "I have no idea what this man is talking about" could've been one. "Did I accidentally start listening to an audiobook?" could've been another. It's a shame Sony put its lead system architect out there to not show the PlayStation 5 (and to get roundly roasted in the process), because Cerny had some very interesting things to say about new PS5 features.


One of those features — something called the "Tempest Engine" — could dramatically change how you hear sound in games.

Long story short: Sony doesn't want to do audio the old way anymore. The Tempest Engine is, according to Eurogamer, "a re-engineered AMD GPU unit" dedicated solely to sound. It handles the processing and positioning of all the noises you'll hear while playing, and aims to make you feel as though you're actually hearing them not through speakers or a headset, but in your physical space.

Sony has big ambitions for the Tempest Engine; namely, it wants to model sound for every person's individual ears so they get the most impact out of the technology. You'll likely see tons of memes soon about how Sony might want photos of your ears. That is a real thing Mark Cerny said, believe it or not. But there's at least a tech explanation behind that admittedly strange idea: to improve your aural experience.


There are more similarities than differences

How will the battle between the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X ultimately be decided? That's unclear right now. The creators have yet to show new games being played live on either console. Heck, it's not even clear what the PlayStation 5 looks like. One thing is obvious: both systems are remarkably similar.


Both the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X are built on AMD's Zen 2 architecture. Both seem to be targeting 4K visuals at 60 frames-per-second. Both are intent on speeding up load times through the use of solid state drives. Both are set to launch sometime during the holiday season later this year.

The decision for many will likely come down to where their loyalties have always fallen. Do you prefer Sony's lineup of exclusives? Are you confident a developer like Naughty Dog will push the PlayStation 5 to its limits? Perhaps the PS5 is the console for you. Do you prefer titles like Halo and Gears of War, or do you want to play multiplatform games on what'll likely be the more powerful system? The Xbox Series X might be a good fit.


You'll undoubtedly hear more about both consoles as Holiday 2020 inches closer. Stay tuned.