It’s official. The Xbox Series X is more powerful than the PlayStation 5 (PS5). Today, Sony hosted a “Road to PS5” event in which designer Mark Cerny revealed the capabilities of the console. However, it seems like Eurogamer was able to get the specifications ahead and time and revealed them just as the event started.
The biggest takeaway from the event was the fact that the Xbox Series X is considerably more powerful than the PS5. The Xbox Series X features a faster processor, clocked in at 3.8 GHz, and a better graphic processing unit (GPU) that’s a minimum 1.875 teraflops (TFLOPs) more powerful than the chip found inside the PS5, when it’s running at its maximum speed. For reference, that’s the power of a standalone PlayStation 4, but since this is AMD’s next-generation architecture, the difference is even greater, maybe even double the real-world performance due to better efficiency. It also seems like the PS5 doesn’t feature variable-rate shading, so real-world graphics may take a noticeable hit on the console.
On the PS5 side, the console has eight AMD-based Zen 2 cores clocked at 3.5GHz each, compared to eight AMD-based Zen 2 cores clocked at 3.8GHz each on the Xbox Series X. With simultaneous multithreading (SMT) enabled on the Xbox Series X, Microsoft’s CPU cores drop to 3.6GHz each, so the difference here seems relatively minor on paper.
It’s the GPU and SSD sides where the PS5 and Xbox Series X really differ. Sony has opted for a custom AMD RDNA 2-based GPU inside the PS5, which provides 10.28 teraflops of power with 36 compute units running at 2.23GHz each. Microsoft has picked a custom AMD RDNA 2-based GPU for the Xbox Series X, but it can hit 12 teraflops of power with 52 compute units at 1.825GHz each.
PS5 vs. Xbox Series X
|Categories||PlayStation 5||Xbox Series X||Xbox One X||Xbox One S||PlayStation 4 Pro||PlayStation 4 Slim||Nintendo Switch|
|Processor||AMD Zen 2 (3.5GHz, eight-core)||AMD Zen 2 (3.8GHz, eight-core)||AMD Jaguar (2.3GHz, eight-core)||AMD Jaguar (1.75GHz, eight-core)||AMD Jaguar (2.1GHz, eight-core)||AMD Jaguar (1.6GHz, eight-core)||ARM Cortex A57 (1.02GHz, quad-core)|
|GPU||AMD RDNA 2 (10.28 teraflops, 36CU)||AMD RDNA 2 (12 teraflops, 52CU)||Integrated AMD (6 teraflops, 40CU)||Integrated AMD Radeon (1.4 teraflops, 12CU)||Integrated AMD Radeon Polaris (4.2 teraflops, 36CU)||Integrated AMD Radeon (1.84 teraflops, 18CU)||Nvidia Maxwell (0.5 teraflops, unofficially)|
|Memory||16GB GDDR6||16GB GDDR6||12GB GDDR5||8GB DDR3||8GB GDDR5, 1GB DDR3||8GB GDDR5||4GB LPDDR4|
|Storage||825GB (NVMe SSD)||1TB (NVMe SSD)||1TB||500GB, 1TB, 2TB||1TB||500GB, 1TB||32GB|
|Optical drive||4K Ultra HD Blu-ray||4K Ultra HD Blu-ray||4K Ultra HD Blu-ray||4K Ultra HD Blu-ray||Blu-ray||Blu-ray||N/A|
|4K support||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes (video only)||Yes||No||No|
|Ports||TBA||Three USB-A 3.0 ports, HDMI (out), optical audio, proprietary memory slot||Three USB 3.0, HDMI (in), HDMI (out), IR, optical audio||Three USB 3.0, HDMI (in), HDMI (out), IR, optical audio||Three USB 3.1, one Aux, HDMI (out), optical audio||Two USB 3.1, one Aux, HDMI (out)||USB-C, microSD, 3.5mm headphone|
|Weight||TBA||TBA||8.4 pounds||6.4 pounds||7.2 pounds||4.6 pounds||0.88 pounds|
|Dimensions (in.)||TBA||5.94 x 5.94 x 11.85||11.8 x 9.4 x 2.4||11.6 x 9.1 x 2.5||12.8 x 11.6 x 2.1||11.3 x 10.4 x 1.54||9.4 x 4 x 0.55|
Sony is using variable frequencies on both the CPU and GPU, which we’d normally refer as to boost clocks on PCs. It’s slightly different, though. In an interview with Eurogamer, Sony PS5 system architect Mark Cerny reveals the console has a set power budget that’s tied to the thermal limits of the system. That means the PS5 performance will vary depending on how much it’s being pushed by games.
Sony is hoping that by offering developers less compute units running at a variable (and higher) clock rate, the company will be able to extract better performance out of the PS5. The reality is that it will require developers to do more work to optimize games for the console until we can find out how it compares to the (more powerful on paper) Xbox Series X.
Games tend to matter more than the hardware itself in each console generation. When people see what a Horizon sequel looks like on PS5, they won’t be thinking about how the specs line up next to the Xbox Series X. They’ll just be wishlisting the console to themselves.
That’s why it’s so important that Xbox gets the right balance of games during this generation. And while you can tell Microsoft has an immense amount of pride in its new hardware, its spate of developer acquisitions like Obsidian and Ninja Theory underline that it knows great exclusives are fundamental to the success of each system.
This feels like a generation where both manufacturers should avoid their past mistakes, and really provide each other with some effective competition. Still, we don’t know how much these consoles will cost yet, and so much depends on that.