PS5 vs. Xbox Series X: Specs
PS5 Xbox Series X
Price $500 (PS5); $400 (PS5 Digital Edition) $500
Key Exclusives Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Horizon II: Forbidden West, Gran Turismo 7 Halo Infinite, Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2, Forza Motorsport 8, State of Decay 3
Backwards Compatibility Almost all PS4 games, including optimized PS4 Pro titles All Xbox One games / Select Xbox 360 and original Xbox games
CPU 8-core 3.5 GHz AMD Zen 2 8-core, 3.8 GHz AMD Zen 2
GPU 10.3 teraflop AMD RDNA 2 12.0 teraflop AMD RDNA 2
RAM 16 GB GDDR6 16 GB GDDR6
Storage 825 GB custom SSD 1 TB custom NVMe SSD
Resolution Up to 8K Up to 8K
Frame Rate Up to 120 fps Up to 120 fps
Optical Disc Drive 4K UHD Blu-ray (Standard PS5 only) 4K UHD Blu-ray. While the specs are handy to know, they only tell part of the story when it comes to performance. As such, this section isn’t scored. However, we can say that the Xbox Series X has more powerful hardware, in terms of both GPU and SSD. Check out the performance section to see how this hardware performs in action.
PS5 vs. Xbox Series X: Price
Both the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X cost $500 apiece. Since the two systems are very similar, this category would seem to be a tie at first glance. However, the standard PS5 and Xbox Series X are not the only variants available. There’s also the $400 PS5 Digital Edition and the $300 Xbox Series S.
The PS5 and the PS5 Digital Edition are identical, save for a 4K Blu-ray physical disc drive in the former. The latter has no disc drive, as the name suggests. On the other hand, the Xbox Series S has significantly different hardware from the Xbox Series X: a less-powerful GPU, a smaller SSD, less RAM and so forth.
As such, both consoles have cheaper variants, and both the PS5 Digital Edition and the Xbox Series S have legitimate applications: the former for digital diehards, the latter for casual players or secondary setups. Still, since the Xbox Series S is a somewhat different system, and not just a console variation, it's hard to pick a definitive winner. Both full-fledged systems cost the same amount of money; that's the most important thing at the moment.
PS5 vs. Xbox Series X: Games
The PS5 and Xbox Series X have fundamentally different approaches to game libraries. The Xbox Series X assumes you’ll pick up the same games you left off on the Xbox One, and will want optimized performance across the board for all favorites. The PS5, on the other hand, has a bevy of exclusive titles that launched alongside its new console — although most of them are also available on the PS4, to be fair.
At present, it’s hard to deny that the PS5 has the more exciting game selection. Just in terms of first-party titles, the PS5 launched with Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Demon’s Souls, Sackboy: A Big Adventure and the surprisingly delightful Astro’s Playroom.
Compare and contrast with the Xbox Series X, which didn’t have any exclusive titles at launch. Instead, Microsoft released a list of 30 “optimized for Xbox Series X/S” titles, including fan favorites like Gears 5, Ori and the Will of the Wisps and Forza Horizon 4. While the Xbox Series X optimizations are indeed impressive, not all of these games are brand new, and they’re all available on Xbox One, PC or both.
Because of its superior game selection (and because you can play Xbox Series X games on PC), one staffer chose the PS5 over Xbox Series X. But Microsoft's stable of titles should improve as time goes on.
Beyond that, both consoles are well-stocked with third-party titles, like Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, Borderlands 3, Fortnite, Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War and so forth. They both got Cyberpunk 2077, Madden 21 and Destiny 2 late last year, and third-party parity is likely to continue well into this year and beyond. Both systems also have excellent backwards compatibility features, although that gets its own section further down.
It’s also worth mentioning Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, to which Sony doesn’t currently have a perfect answer. This $15-per-month subscription service lets you download more than 100 games across a variety of genres, and play them on Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Xbox One, PC and even Android.
PS5 vs. Xbox Series X: Performance
Comparing PS5 and Xbox Series X performance is difficult at present. While the Tom’s Guide crew works from home indefinitely, we don’t have the tools to measure resolution and frame rate in great depth, nor can we watch games side-by-side or even solicit second opinions.
Bearing that in mind, I compared two games qualitatively across both systems: Assassin’s Creed Valhalla and Devil May Cry 5: Special Edition. The former is a huge open-world title, where it’s easy to measure load times as you fast travel from one distant point of the map to another. The latter is a fast, frenetic action game, where any drop in framerate is immediately noticeable.
First: Sony’s ambitious claims about the PS5’s load times aren’t exaggerated, as far as I can tell. Assassin’s Creed Valhalla went from the main menu into the game in less than a minute; fast travel took less than 10 seconds from point to point. However, while the Xbox Series X took longer to load the game initially (almost a minute), fast travel time was exactly the same.