Get ready for an all-new next-generation console war - PlayStation and Xbox are both set to go head-to-head once again. They each have new machines hitting stores at the end of 2020.
Indeed, the battle lines are already being drawn, with Sony and Microsoft both revealing extensive technical details recently, giving us far more info on their respective consoles.
- Sony PS5 specs revealed, 825GB SSD and expandable storage option
- Xbox Series X specifications and details revealed, 1TB SSD and more
So, here is what we know about each gaming powerhouse based on official details and rumours, and how they might compare.
Considering the images of the Xbox Series X that have been released so far, and the leaked PS5 devkit pictured below, we could be facing two very different-looking machines come Christmas.
Illustrations of the PS5 devkit were included in an official Sony patent application, leading several concept artists to create excellent renditions of the design. Dutch website LetsGoDigital created the best yet, based on the patent and a leaked photo of the actual device. And, considering PlayStation development units in the past have been similar to their final consumer equivalents, this could be a great indication of what to expect.
Not everyone is keen on the spaceship look of the hardware, but we suspect that its shape could be out of necessity as the fins and ventilation holes are there to ensure the beefy CPU and GPU get enough cooling. After all, we don't want another console that sounds like a helicopter taking off (yes, we're looking at you PS4 Pro).
Microsoft has gone for something very different for its next-gen machine. The Xbox Series X looks more like a mini-tower PC than a games console. Again, we suspect heat dissipation is playing a major role in the design this time around.
Luckily, it's been confirmed that the console 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 was the first to put out some firm details. It 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.
Sony's system architect Mark Cerny also revealed that the PlayStation 5 will run on an eight-core Zen 2 processor too, at 3.5GHz per core.
RAM on 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, with 12 TFLOPS across 52CUs in comparison to 10.28 TFLOPS across 36 CUs on the PS5.
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 - although that's unlikely to be reached in the early days. They will also be able to support 120fps frame rates.
More commonly though, they are aiming at smooth 4K 60fps gaming.
They will also each include support for ray-tracing, which will put them on a par with the latest 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 this time 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.
Sony's official video comparing performance of PS4 Pro vs next-gen PlayStation pic.twitter.com/2eUROxKFLq— Takashi Mochizuki (@mochi_wsj) May 21, 2019
Now, more details have been supplied, confirming that the PS5 will have a 825GB custom SSD, engineered ingeniously to be able to process fully 5.5GB/s of data as you game, making for insanely quick load times.
By comparison, Xbox's engineers behind the Series X are also claiming that its 1TB SSD is a game changer, literally. During its E3 2019 reveal, they also 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 PS5 will sport 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray drives.
Here's a major differentiator between the two consoles. At least, it looks that way based on what we know so far.
While not yet confirmed, the Xbox Series X is likely to be able to hook up to Microsoft's forthcoming cloud gaming platform, Project xCloud. It could therefore potentially offer thousands of Xbox One, PC and even retro Xbox games to stream over the internet.
The PS5, on the other hand, will likely support PS Now, Sony's own cloud gaming service that is already available for PlayStation 4. It's not as fully featured as Microsoft's xCloud on paper, although Sony has stated that it is investing time and money to build PlayStation Now into a better platform going forward.
Xbox's game subscription service, Xbox Game Pass, will be available on Series X.
Both PlayStation and Xbox are promising backward compatibility with their new systems, but in different levels.
Xbox claims that all Xbox One games and accessories will work on Xbox Series X from day one.
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. And, we're not really in a position yet to answer them.
Price is impossible to tell at present, but we expect both machines to be near or above the £450 launch price of the Xbox One X when it arrived in 2017.
As for release date, both are coming "holiday 2020". That doesn't really help you make a decision on which one to splurge your cash on, but at least it makes things interesting.