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Well, it’s official, both next-gen consoles are out, the Xbox Series X (and companion, Series S) and the PlayStation 5. Potential players are scrambling to track their preorders or attempting to find lingering stock online, but both consoles have been flying off physical and digital shelves to the point where it’s been almost impossible to find them, outside of a 30 second window when new stock is randomly made available.
If you are still trying to decide which console to pursue, I figured there was no better time than now to make a comparison list of the two consoles. I am leaving the Series S out and focusing on the higher end Series X for now, as that’s probably a separate article.
Probably best to just get price out of the way first. Xbox Series X is $500, which includes a disc drive, while the PS5 has two models, one disc drive model, also for $500, and a digital-only console for $400, so it depends on how much the disc economy is worth to you. And I know I just said I wouldn’t mention the Series S, but it’s probably only fair to remind everyone that the lower power console is $300, meant to be Microsoft’s alternative to the pricier Series X and both PS5s.
I am not going to post a giant spec comparison sheet because if you’ve found this article I don’t know how much you care about exact figures for that kind of thing. In short, the two are very, very similar in terms of power output, though this time around, Xbox does seem to have a slight edge overall and may run some games better in some instances, but it’s hard to break down a full list of what exactly runs better on Series X because there have not been any new-gen comparisons ahead of launch, and those will only start appearing today. But my guess is the average consumer will not notice any significant power disparity between the two. If you do want the full spec list, you can check that out here.
Another tricky one here. Both consoles have new custom SSDs for much faster loading than previous consoles. So far, in early testing of backward compatible last-gen games, the Xbox Series X has actually been edging out the PS5 and its much-vaunted SSD by anywhere from 1-15 seconds or so per loading screen per game. But again, we need side by side comparisons of new gen games, which should be going live shortly. We also need to see how fast Sony games specifically designed for PS5’s new architecture load, and early indications for games like Miles Morales are that its very, very fast for Sony’s own IPs.
While I do appreciate the new Xbox Series X controller and its new share button, Sony has put a lot of work into new haptic feedback on the DualSense for PS5, and it’s supposed to be one of the premiere features of the system, as it can be tuned extremely precisely for different actions or weapons in game. Sony’s own first party games are all likely to use this, but we have already seen some third party games jump on this as well. Call of Duty just said that each gun was tuned specifically for DualSense haptic feedback, for instance. This may be one secret advantage Sony ends up having this generation if the feature takes off.
Hard Drive Space
Both consoles launch with large hard drives, but Xbox Series X has more usable space, 802 GB versus PS5’s 667.2 GB, which is the difference of a few downloaded games.
With both consoles are…sturdy, the PS5 is quite literally the largest major home console ever made, even bigger than the original Xbox, so prepare some room on your TV stand for it. I don’t think “girth” will usually affect the purchase of a console, but just be prepared for how massive PS5 is going to be. And Series X is not exactly small either.
There’s really no getting around the fact that Microsoft is at a disadvantage at launch here. They had to delay their major console exclusive, Halo Infinite, into 2021, so they are launching with almost no dedicated exclusives. Their biggest games are ones like Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, Destiny 2: Beyond Light or Call of Duty: Cold War, which they also share with PS5. Sony, meanwhile, is launching with at least three dedicated console exclusives, Spider-Man: Miles Morales, debuting to excellent reviews, Godfall, debuting to middling reviews and the Demon’s Souls remake, where impressions are just coming out now, but they are largely positive. So Sony really does have the edge here at the start, and as of right now, is also promising Jak and Daxter, Gran Turismo, Horizon Forbidden West and God of War Ragnarok in 2021 (expect GoW to be delayed, however).
Microsoft is the clear winner here with the value provided by Game Pass, and now they also have xCloud which allows you to stream your games on a huge array of devices. Sony has PS Now but it’s not on the same level of Game Pass, and probably will never be. Sony is about to start charging $70 for its first party games, while Microsoft will offer them for free on Game Pass (plus a copy on PC), so that’s definitely something to think about long term, no matter if you’ve saved $100 on the initial console purchase.
There’s no winner. Both consoles are good. Microsoft may have a slight power edge and has the value of Game Pass. Sony has an awesome haptic controller and will likely have better and more exclusive games for the indefinite future. Make your choice, you have the info. There really are no wrong decisions here.