As I sit here typing, the dawn of a new era in gaming reveals itself upon the world. But, as with all next-gen consoles, the age-old question remains. What is better? The PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X?
It’s been a common debate for gamers over the years and shows no signs of slowing down. If you step away from the disputes and debates, you’ll find another increasingly popular sector in PC gaming. Gaming with a keyboard and mouse certainly has its benefits, chief among which is operating power and customisation. And whether you decide to go hands-on building your own or enlisting the help of custom builders to create a well-rounded high-performing package, gaming on PC will inevitably come at a higher cost to the consumer. However, that hasn’t stopped the spike in curiosity, and now it’s time for console manufacturers to step up, to avoid the impending pressure from its desktop competition.
4K gaming, 120FPS, HDR technology and Ray Tracing are just some of the features that are closing the gap between platforms. Both consoles retail for £300-£500, making them a more desirable choice for the masses, leaving high-end gaming PC’s to creep into the thousands. Ouch!
They might be pretty on the outside, but it’s what’s on the inside that counts.
The PlayStation 5 is powered by a custom-built version of the third generation AMD Ryzen chipset, packing in eight cores with the company’s new Zen 2 architecture and Navi graphics. The CPU runs at 3.5GHz, whilst the GPU offers 36 compute units running at 2.23GHz. Add this to 16GB of GDDR6 with a bandwidth of 448GB/s, and it means the PS5 can support features like ray tracing – a performance-intensive lighting technique that has, up till now, been reserved to expensive high-end PC’s only. This technology is a fantastic feature and a real step in the right direction for the “built-in GPU hardware” on the PS5.
The new console from Sony will also support screen resolutions of up to 8K – far higher than the standard 1080p HD of most people’s TV sets, even higher than the increasingly popular 4K. It’ll also run with 120Hz refresh rates, as long as you have the right TV for the job, allowing for super-smooth movement in games if you do have the required HDMI 2.1 connectivity. The PS5 also supports immersive, 3D audio when using a headset, delivered through its new Tempest Engine, which can handle hundreds of sound sources, for a more realistic audio environment. It’s a comparable experience to Dolby Atmos if you’ve ever used the spatial audio format.
One of the most exciting elements of the Sony build is its SSD Hard Drive. The solid-state drive in the PlayStation 5 is a custom-built piece of hardware, offering up 825GB of storage with a raw 5.5GB/s throughput (and up to 9GB/s worth of compressed data). This advanced storage form allows for super-fast loading speeds—something we see very often in the PC gaming scene.
And then there’s the new controller – oh Lord! Sony has made full use of haptic feedback with The DualSense, replacing the DualShock’s rumble technology. The haptic feedback – often seen on premium smartphones, allows developers to fine-tune the sensations players experience, such as the feeling of rainfall or running across a sandy beach. It works incredibly well, improving both feedback and player immersion
On paper, the Xbox Series X looks absolutely mustard.
It too uses custom AMD internals with the same Zen 2 and RDNA 2 architecture of the PS5, making it 2x more powerful compared to the Xbox One X. The Series X GPU boasts 12 teraflops of computing performance, with 3328 shaders allocated to 52 compute units. It runs at a locked 1,825GHz, and unlike most GPUs, doesn’t fluctuate between speeds. Instead, it delivers the same clock speed regardless of the temperature of the unit or the game you’re playing, something that will resonate positively with PC gamers.
The processor inside, is a customised AMD Zen 2 CPU, with eight cores and 16 threads. Interestingly, developers can choose to disable simultaneous multithreading (SMT) to reach a peak speed of 3.8GHz, instead of the base speed 3.6Ghz when enabled – a nice touch from Microsoft! It seems the enterprise owners are looking to aid game developers, giving more options for games development in the coming months!
The Series X supports 8K resolution, and 120Hz refresh rates at 4K, assuming you have an HDMI 2.1 compliant television. The Xbox Series X also matches the PS5 by offering DirectX ray-tracing capabilities, and it’s equipped with a super-fast internal 1TB NVMe SSD that can be utilised as virtual RAM to lift load times by up to 40x.
RAM comes in the form of 16GB GDDR6. A wanted upgrade over the Xbox One X’s 12GB GDDR5. With this rap sheet, the Xbox Series X edges just ahead of the PS5 in terms of raw performance; however, the gap in real-world implementation has been all-but indistinguishable.
Microsoft has also tackled latency by introducing an Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM), helping to make lag a thing of the past. They’ve also made changes to the controller’s communication hardware and Variable Refresh Rate (VRR). There’s excellent news if you plan to game using a dedicated monitor as you can now set the resolution to 1440p, giving users super smooth gameplay as well as the potential drop on their opponents!
Looking at the bigger picture (pun intended!), both consoles look pretty amazing. With uprated 2020 specs, they’re certainly capable of competing with PC in terms of performance. But, with limited customisation options for hardware, how long will it take for these two powerhouses to be left in the dust by the coveted PC? Only time will tell!
Which would we choose, Playstation 5 or Xbox Series X? Well, that depends what mood we’re in and where the rest of our team is lobbied…