In this article, I give you my quick comparison between XBOX Series X and PlayStation 5. These products are yet to be available on the market at the time of writing this post. So, this is a review of the announced specs of these devices.
First off, even before releases, we got a whole load of information about the Xbox series X. And then, after much waiting and speculation, Mark Cerny (from Sony) finally broke the silence and gave us some more details about the PlayStation 5.
Not surprisingly, those specs are pretty similar to those of the Xbox series X but there are some key differences. So, let’s look at them.
First off, there was the CPU. The PlayStation 5 is going to have two cores at 3.5 gigahertz and that’s a little slower than the Xbox series X which can run the two cores at 3.8 gigahertz or 3.6 gigahertz with multi-threading.
This difference here though seems to be an approach Cerny stressed. That the CPU and GPU on the PlayStation 5 will have variable frequencies. Whereas, Microsoft was equally at pains to stress that their machines will run fixed frequencies.
It will be interesting to see which approach, if any, turns out to be better moving forward. Or, whether the different approaches will deliver any difference at all. One thing’s for a certain though, those of us who are predicting that the Xbox’s raw power would be higher were pretty much right because the PlayStation 5s GPU is just a bit behind that of the series X.
The XBOX Series X has 53 compute units running at 1,85 gigahertz which adds up to 12 teraflops. While the PS 5 has 36 compute units running at 2,23 gigahertz, which works out at 10,28 teraflops.
Again, it seems that the Xbox and Playstation are taking different approaches to the same problem. Xbox has gone for more compute units use and PlayStation has gone for higher clocks. It’ll be interesting to see which approach yields better results. Again, on paper though, the Xbox seems to be edging it in terms of power.
It’s not really important what’s on paper though. what is important is what happens when we actually get to see the consoles in action. And we’ll find that out later in the year.
Memory is a bit more difficult to work out as well. Both machines have 16 gigabytes of gddr5 at 560 gigabytes a second and 6 gigabytes at 336 gigabytes a second. While the PlayStation 5 runs all 16 gigabytes at 448 gigabytes a second. And the PlayStation 5’s memory is 256 bit. Well, I couldn’t actually find out what that was for the Xbox.
The one area where the PlayStation 5 seems to have a significant advantage though is with the i/o throughput. The Xbox runs at 2.4 gigabytes per second drawer and 4.8 gigabytes a second rest. The PlayStation 5, on the other hand, runs a 5.5 gigabytes a second raw and between 8 and 9 gigabytes a second compressed. That’s seriously quick and as long as the slower GPU and CPU don’t hold it back it’ll be like a whip it out of the gates.
In fact, it does look like the impressive loading times on the Xbox might not look quite so impressive when compared to the PlayStation 5. But, we’ll have to wait and see with that one as well.
One last area of difference surprised me though. I was expecting the storage of the two machines to be one terabyte. And that’s actually what we got for the Xbox series X as it turned out, though the PlayStation 5 has less than that and it’s got 825 gigabytes. And this actually left me a little bit nonplussed.
One terabyte isn’t exactly huge when it comes to housing modern games and 825 gigabytes is going to be tiny.
Sony explains some of this and some of it made sense if you look at this in terms of the overall choices Sony made as regards the architecture of the machine. But his explanation of why a bigger drive wasn’t really necessary because of the way gamers play, well, that just didn’t add up to me.
He seemed to be saying that improved I/O negates the need to have all our games stored on a hard drive because we can easily download them.
But, frankly, that makes no sense. We all know how annoying it is to go and play a game only to discover that we’ve removed it to make room for something else. An improved I/O will only go some way towards improving that. Especially if you factor in the issue of internet download speeds and data caps Sony’s no more control over that than Google and if you’ve got a data cap on your system and you want to download one of these new games well good luck with that.
I was pleased to see their approach to external storage though. The fact that they haven’t gone for proprietary storage like Microsoft has done with the Xbox series X was a welcome surprise.
It’ll be interesting to see how long it will be after launch before we start seeing patter ball PCIe four drives though. It will also be interesting to see which of the two approaches to external storage turns out to be the most cost-effective for us the gamers.
Proprietary storage has a tendency to be expensive, as Sony knows all too well from the old days, and maybe that’s why they haven’t gone that route this time. But, non-proprietary NVME drives aren’t cheap either.
With a bit of luck, the two companies will try to outdo each other on price when it comes to these drives and everyone’s a winner or at least the gamers will be a winner.
I do think we’ll need to start saving for these drives though. Especially if we want to put more than one terabyte in these machines. And, actually, if we want more than one terabyte, we might have to wait a while as well. Because from what I can gather, we’re not getting bigger than one terabyte for the Xbox series X. Well, certainly not anytime soon after launch. And from what Cerny said, it could be a while before we get these NVME drives for the PlayStation 5 as well.
That was about it though, apart from a long piece about ray-traced audio which looked interesting. Besides the suggestion that we all send in pictures or videos of our ears. I’m a bit of a reformed audiophile so I love anything that can help sound in games but there are limits.
Furthermore, I was more hoping to get more info about proprietary hardware specs. We didn’t get even a glimpse of the PlayStation 5 hardware or even the DualShock 5 hardware and, to be fair, it wasn’t that much of a surprise to me. and I didn’t know that this was in lieu of a GDC keynote that had to be canceled but I would have liked them to have mixed things up a bit. After all, we know so much about the Xbox series X now and we can begin to imagine owning.
With the PlayStation 5, well that still resides mostly in our imaginations. It’s clearly some office thing that still out there waiting to coalesce into something solid. Maybe that’s what’s only one, maybe they want us to continue to speculate. But, honestly, I’d rather have something tangible that I could look forward to getting my hands on.
So yeah, we know a lot more about the PlayStation 5 now even if it isn’t quite as much as I would have liked. We can all stop speculating about teraflops now though because that’s all over. We know what the teraflops are going to be and the fanboys can stop jockeying for position as to who gets the bragging rights.
What XBOX Series X and PlayStation 5 hold on to
There’s obviously enough difference here and enough threads to hold on to and pull to keep the fanboys going for months if not years. Because one thing’s for certain, it doesn’t matter which console turns out to be the better console with a feeder of them do fanboys will always find some way to justify their adherence to a piece of plastic.
The Xbox will be crowing about teraflops, or the ponies who were trying to claim that the PlayStation 5 had more teraflops only date ago will be saying teraflops are irrelevant and only i/o matters. Basically, the same business as usual.
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