(Pocket-lint) - Get ready for an all-new next-generation console war - PlayStation and Xbox are both set to go head-to-head once again.

The Xbox Series X will duke it out with the PlayStation 5 after both launch in November. And there will be a cheaper Xbox, too, the Xbox Series S

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But it's at the flagship end where the battle lines are being drawn. So, here is what we know about each gaming powerhouse based on official details and spec, how they might compare, and which might suit you best.

Design

We are being treated to two very different-looking consoles. Quite unlike anything we've seen before. The final PlayStation 5 design looks sleek and modern.

 It retains some of the company's flair for curves (remember the original PS3?) but adopts white as a launch colour for the first time. It can be stood on end or laid horizontally, although we suspect it was more designed with the former in mind.

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There are actually two PS5 consoles coming, the standard model and a Digital Edition. The latter dispenses with the disc drive, so is slightly thinner, but retains the same curvy aesthetic.

Microsoft has gone for something quite different for its next-gen machine - there are few curves to be found here. Indeed, the Xbox Series X looks more like a mini-tower PC than a games console. We suspect heat dissipation is playing a major role in the design this time around.

Luckily, it's been confirmed that it too can also lie flat, not just stand on its end, so you'll have a bit of control over how you align it near your TV. 

Processing and graphics hardware

There's no doubting that each of the new consoles will be significantly more powerful than their predecessors, but by how much?

Xbox claims the Series X will be "four times more powerful than Xbox One X", and with a custom Zen 2 eight core processor running at 3.8GHz per core, that's hard to dispute. The PlayStation 5 will run on an eight-core Zen 2 processor too, but at 3.5GHz per core.

RAM inside both is similar: 16GB GDDR6.

They will both also run RDNA 2 graphics. However, the Xbox Series X seems to have the upper hand here too, with 12 TFLOPS across 52CUs in comparison to 10.28 TFLOPS across 36 CUs on the PS5.

Graphical capabilities

Hardware specs aside, both Sony and Microsoft are quoting similar graphical features.

They both say that their respective consoles will be capable of reaching 8K resolutions for gaming one day - although that's unlikely to be reached for some time. They will also be able to support 120fps frame rates. More commonly though, they are aiming at smooth 4K 60fps gaming. 

They will each include support for ray tracing, which will put them on a par with PC graphics cards from Nvidia, for example.

Storage and memory

SSD is where it is at with both next-gen consoles. Both will be adopting Solid State Drives for storage in order to speed up loading times.

As far back as May last year, PlayStation's Mark Cerny demonstrated that, because of the SSD inside a PS5 DevKit, a loading cut screen in Marvel's Spider-Man that usually takes 15 seconds on a PS4 only takes 0.8 seconds on the new machine. This was shown in a test recorded by the Wall Street Journal's Takashi Mochizuki and posted on Twitter.

Since then, further details have been supplied, confirming that the PS5 will have a 825GB custom SSD, engineered ingeniously to be able to process 5.5GB/s of data as you game, making for insanely quick load times. 

Xbox's engineers also claim that the 1TB SSD in the Series X is a game changer, literally. During an E3 2019 reveal, they said that the SSD storage solution can also be used as virtual RAM, thereby speeding up data access during games without you even knowing. That could put an end to slight stutters in open-world games, for example, as assets load seamlessly in the background.

Both machines will allow for expansion, through USB hard drives (as their Xbox One and PS4 equivalents) and SSD add-ons. In the case of the Xbox Series X, that will be through an optional, removable 1TB SSD, specifically designed for use with the console.

In comparison, PlayStation will allow for more generic NVMe SSD cards to be used in an expansion slot.

Optical disc drives

Neither manufacturer wants to ditch the physical disc drive yet. Both the Xbox Series X and standard PS5 will sport 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray drives. 

Neither the PS5 Digital Edition nor Xbox Series S will have disc drives. 

Cloud gaming

Here's a major differentiator between the two consoles.

Part of Xbox's overall gaming option is Cloud Gaming with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate (formerly known as Project xCloud). It comes as part of the montly Game Pass Ultimate subscription service and allows you to play over 100 Xbox One and, soon, Xbox Series X/S games on an Android mobile phone or tablet at no extra cost.

And while the PS5 will likely support PS Now - Sony's own cloud gaming service - it's not as fully featured as Microsoft's service on paper. Sony has stated that it is investing time and money to build PlayStation Now into a better platform going forward, however.

Backward compatibility

Both PlayStation and Xbox are promising backward compatibility with their new systems, but on different levels.

Xbox claims that all Xbox One games and accessories will work on Xbox Series X (and S) from day one. And, it has introduced a scheme called Smart Delivery, whereby supported Xbox One titles will be instantly updated to their Series X versions for free, when a user upgrades.

But PlayStation is handling PS4 backward compatibility differently and is only currently committed to "almost all the top 100 PS4 games" being playable on PS5.

Release date and price

These are probably the most important factors of all. All the consoles are now available for pre-order.

The Xbox Series X release date is 10 November. It will cost £449 in the UK, $499 in the US. 

The PS5, meanwhile, comes out on 12 November in select markets including the US and Canada, before hitting the rest of the world and the EU on 19 November. It too will cost $499 or £449 for the standard PS5.

With both costing the same, the main choice could come down to the games and, we have to say, PlayStation 5 slightly edges it in the exclusive title list.

However, owners Xbox Series X can pay for Xbox Games Pass membership and instantly have access to more than 100 games (albeit mainly Xbox One titles). It's an intriguing choice between the two for sure.

Writing by Rik Henderson. Editing by Dan Grabham.