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Xbox Series X vs PlayStation 5 – which should you buy?

This fall season is one for the books as both the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 have launched. The industry has been quite receptive to both pieces of hardware. Plus, the community has helped make these the most successful console launches for both Microsoft and Sony.

If you’re not a diehard loyalist for either company, you may be wondering which high-end next gen console to pick up this year. I’ve put an extensive amount of time into each console to identify what the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 respectively bring to the table. Both consoles promise to provide the definitive next gen experience while giving authentic quality of life improvements in the way we play.

After investing many hours into each, I’ve compiled a breakdown of every advantage each console has over the other. With all that said, the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 are both impressive pieces of hardware. You could flip a coin to choose one, and walk away happy. However, that’s not nearly as fun as discussing the consoles, is it?

Price

A big point of interest when speaking about the new consoles is the price. With all the bells and whistles attached, the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 do cost a pretty penny. Though, they are considerably cheaper than a high-end PC rig.

The Xbox Series X is available for $499 USD. The PlayStation 5 has also launched at $499 USD. If you’re looking for cheaper alternatives, the Xbox Series S is available for $299, but comes with minor hardware cuts. Additionally, Microsoft does have the Xbox All Access financing model available. Sony is offering the PlayStation 5 Digital Edition, which removes the disk drive but maintains the raw power, for $399.

The Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 come out even from a pricing perspective.

Size and form factor

Microsoft and Sony have taken a more unconventional approach to the designs of their new consoles. The Xbox Series X has a very monolithic design. It’s simplistic, blocky, but shows some restraint. Sony, on the other hand, went very bold. The PlayStation 5 is large and incorporates elements that are almost sci-fi in nature.

As for the actual size of the consoles, the Xbox Series X measures to be 12 x 6 x 6 inches. The PlayStation 5 is 15 x 10 x 4 inches. As you can see, the PlayStation 5 is considerably taller and will take up more space in a media center.

There’s something to be said for both companies stepping outside of the box and creating consoles that become statement pieces in your living room. However, from personal experience I should warn you that you’ll want to measure your media center and begin planning where your next console will fit.

Hardware

As we turn our attention to what matters most, let’s take a look at what’s under the hood of the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5. The Xbox Series X features:

Support for true 4K @ 60 FPS (up to 120 FPS on lower resolutions)
CPU: 8x Cores @ 3.8 GHz (3.66 GHz w/ SMT) Custom Zen 2
GPU: 12 TFLOPs, 52 CUs @ 1.825 GHz Custom RDNA 2
Memory: 16 GB GDDR6
Storage: Custom 1TB NVME SSD

The PlayStation 5, on the other hand, is spec’d out as:

Support for true 4K @ 120FPS (up to 8K @ 60FPS in the future)
CPU: 8 cores @ 3.5GHz AMD Zen 2
GPU: 10.28 TFLOPS, 36 CUs @ 2.23GHz Custom RDNA 2
Memory: 16GB GDDR6 / 256-bit.
Storage: Custom 825GB SSD.

The Series X does have a slightly better CPU and additional TFLOPs within the GPU. In the end, it all boils down to how developers choose to utilize this power. Out of the box, the Xbox Series X has the upper-hand. Though, we’re still in the advent of the new console generation. A lot of power can be tapped from these consoles. It will take some time to see each console showcase their power to their fullest.

Controller

Next, we’ll take a look at the new controllers. The Xbox Series X has a slightly redesigned Xbox wireless controller. Taking elements from the Elite series, the new controller has textured grips. Microsoft has also added the new Share button to the controller. The controller also features a new D-Pad, which is quite responsive and tactile.

PlayStation 5 features the brand new DualSense controller. While maintaining elements from the DualShock 4, the DualSense is an overhauled controller. It features adaptive triggers and haptic feedback, strengthening the immersion. Additionally, minor tweaks to the design have been made. It’s now heavier, and the lightbar is now relegated to being displayed around the touchpad.

Ecosystem

There’s no right or wrong way to approach the new console generation. That said, the ecosystem you spent the most time in during the previous generation may play a big part in your next console purchase. This is the first console generation where your entire gaming library can follow you forward.

Microsoft and Sony are fully supporting backwards compatibility. On the Xbox side, all Xbox, Xbox 360, and Xbox One games currently available to play on Xbox One can be brought over to Xbox Series X. The only caveat is that the Xbox Series X does not support Kinect. Therefore, Kinect games are not backwards compatible.

On the PlayStation side. 4000+ PlayStation 4 games are backwards compatible on the new hardware. The list of games PlayStation 5 will not support is exceptionally small. If you’ve amassed a lot of games throughout the PlayStation 4 generation, chances are you’ll want to hold on to those and invest in a PlayStation 5.

Another point to mention is how the ecosystem has changed in the new generation. Xbox Series X maintains the same UI as the Xbox One. This may seem rather lackluster when you boot the console up for the first time.

The PlayStation 5, however, has a new overhauled UI. The XMedia Bar has been replaced with the updated Control Center. The PlayStation Store is natively built into the console’s OS, meaning it runs much faster. The PlayStation 5 has also incorporated new Activity cards, which supply players real-time hints and walkthroughs when playing games.

Launch lineup

Finally, as with every new console, the launch lineup is put under a microscope. This generation is a bit interesting, as the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 launched with a full suite of backwards-compatible games. Plus, we have to factor in that Microsoft is leveraging Xbox Game Pass, giving subscribers access to 100+ games. On the PlayStation side, Sony created the PlayStation Plus Collection for PlayStation 5 owners. PS+ subscribers get access to 20 critically acclaimed games, including God of War and Bloodborne.

Here’s the Xbox Series X launch lineup:

  • Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla
  • Yakuza: Like A Dragon
  • Watch Dogs Legion
  • Gears Tactics
  • Tetris Effect: Connected
  • Fortnite
  • Borderlands 3
  • Maneater
  • Mortal Kombat 11
  • Dead by Daylight
  • The Falconeer
  • Dirt 5
  • Observer System Redux
  • Mortal Kombat 11 Ultimate
  • NBA 2K21
  • Call Of Duty: Black Ops Cold War
  • Overcooked: All You Can Eat
  • Devil May Cry 5: Special Edition
  • Warhammer: Chaosbane Slayer Edition
  • The Touryst

For PlayStation 5, the launch lineup is as follows:

  • Assassin’s Creed Valhalla
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War
  • Dead by Daylight
  • Planet Coaster: Console Edition
  • Sackboy: A Big Adventure
  • Astro’s Playroom
  • Borderlands 3
  • Bugsnax
  • Warhammer: Chaosbane Slayer Edition
  • Watch Dogs Legion
  • WRC 9
  • Demon’s Souls
  • Devil May Cry 5: Special Edition
  • DIRT 5
  • Fortnite
  • NBA 2K21
  • Observer: System Redux
  • Overcooked: All You Can Eat
  • Godfall
  • Maneater
  • Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales
  • Marvel’s Spider-Man: Remastered
  • Mortal Kombat 11 Ultimate
  • The Pathless

Both consoles have exceptional selections available to play right from the get go. Many third-party titles are available on Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5. Though, it’s once you look at the first-party offerings that you see the noticeable difference. The Xbox Series X lacks that new major system selling title. Halo Infinite’s delay left a hole in the launch catalogue.

The PlayStation 5 has Demon’s Souls, Marvel’s Spider-Man: Remastered, and Astro’s Playroom available as PlayStation 5 exclusives. Depending on if those games are your cup of tea, you may feel more inclined to invest in the PlayStation 5.

Overall, The Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 offer a quality experience in their different – and sometimes similar – ways. From price and hardware, both consoles are fairly neck and neck. What it may boil down to is what your preferred ecosystem and genre of choice is. You really can’t go wrong with either console.

We hope our breakdown has helped you decide. Trust us, we know the decision isn’t an easy one to make.

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Steve Vegvari

Steve is based in Toronto, Ontario. His adoration for everything gaming began very early on in the SNES-era. He’s gone on to write honest content around the web. While not writing about games, Steve is often looking for the next big narrative-driven title. Something with an impactful story, regardless of genre or platform. Bonus points if it has an appealing achievement/trophy list!
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