Should you be looking to buy a PS5 or Xbox Series X? It's a tough one. Both Sony and Microsoft's next-generation consoles promise blazing-fast performance, stunning 8K visuals and a slew of must-have launch titles.
The good news is, there's plenty of time to make up your mind as both the PS5 and the Xbox Series X won't hit the shops until Christmas 2020. As the next console war starts to heat up, which machine will be the best option for you?
We already know a surprising amount of detail about both the PS5 and the Xbox Series X, including what's under the hood, how the controllers will change and which games you'll want to get your mitts on first.
Read on as the PS5 and the Xbox Series X go head-to-head in this extensive comparison...
PS5 vs Xbox Series X: release date
The first big question is which next-gen console will launch first? Will it be the Xbox Series X or PS5?
Microsoft originally announced the Xbox Series X would launch 'Holiday 2020' before some Xbox product pages in a handful of regions suggested the official launch would be 'Thanksgiving 2020' (Thursday 26th November), just in time for Black Friday and the Christmas shopping season. Microsoft has since retracted this information and reverted back to its original stance of 'Holiday 2020'.
Thankfully, so far, Sony has said that the coronavirus pandemic has not effected the expected late 2020 PS5 release date but the outbreak may cause problems for game production.
It's rumoured that the console might be unveiled at an event called 'Playstation Meeting 2020' and we definitely wouldn't be surprised to see it go on sale around the same time as the Xbox Series X. This means there's a very good chance we will see both consoles battling it out for festive supremacy.
PS5 vs Xbox Series X: price
As yet, there are no confirmed prices for either the PS5 or the Xbox Series X, only speculation.
In January 2020, an anonymous leaker claimed the PS5 would cost £449 in the UK and $499 in the US. The leaker also stated that Sony would unveil the console on 5th February 2020. For context, the first PlayStation and PS2 launched at £299/$299, the PS3 was priced at £425/$499 and the PS4 debuted at £350/$399.
Given that the Xbox Series X shouldn't be a million miles away in terms of spec, we'd expect it to be competitively priced around the £499/$499 mark.
Too pricey? Microsoft is also rumoured to be launching an all-digital version of the Series X codenamed Lockhart. Games industry analysts predict that we could see a disc-less Series X console launch at £399/$399. Whether this will be the cheapest console and whether Sony might launch a similar model remains to be seen.
PS5 vs Xbox Series X: design
Christmas 2020 could see the launch of two strikingly different-looking consoles – albeit both in black.
The design of the Xbox Series X was confirmed by Microsoft back in 2019. It looks not too dissimilar to a matte black tower PC – a clear departure from the current Xbox One – that can be stood vertically or laid horizontally. It measures 30.1 x 15.1 x 15.1cm (hwd), weighs 4.45kg and works with a 130mm fan which draws cool air up through vents in the bottom and sends hot air out through outlets at the top. Unlike previous generations of Xbox, there are no HDMI inputs and no optical-output.
Sony unveiled the PS5 logo at CES 2020, but has yet to unveil the console itself. Former God of War developer David Scott Jaffe tweeted that the official PS5 reveal is expected in February in what he calls 'the worst kept secret in gaming.' That launch never happened, but it can't be too far away now.
In 2019 Dutch website Let's Go Digital created a mock-up based on PS5 developer kits that appeared in a Sony patent application. More recently, Falcon Design 3D created some stunning renders based on a leaked image said to be of the PS5.
PS5 vs Xbox Series X: specs
Microsoft has revealed a lot more about its new console than Sony but we do know a few juicy specs about the PS5.
The PS5 and the Xbox Series X will have the same 'brain': chips based on the AMD Zen 2 capable of powering 8K visuals. As for which console is the more powerful, Xbox says that the Series X will be 'four times more powerful than the Xbox One', and have twice the graphics processing power of the Xbox One X – Microsoft's most powerful console to date.
Both machines will feature ray-tracing, the tech found in expensive gaming PCs. It calculates the exact path of each ray of light as it passes through transparent objects or bounces of reflective surfaces to give super-realistic lighting.
And both machines will use solid-state hard drives and GDDR6 RAM memory. This killer combo will drastically reduce, or even eliminate, loading times. According to Sony, loading up a game on the PS5 will be 'ten times faster' than on the PS4. Your games will start instantly and you won't have to endure lengthy pauses between scenes or when dipping in and out of maps.
So, whether you choose the PS5 or Xbox Series X, you should see a huge leap forward in performance and graphics. Keep a close eye on our PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X news pages for the latest leaks, updates and official specs.
PS5 vs Xbox Series X: storage
Microsoft has confirmed that the Xbox Series X will come with a 1TB internal SSD and that it will be expandable through 1TB expansion packs which have been designed in conjunction with storage specialist Seagate. These dense little units are very much like classic-look memory cards. There was no comment on whether there would be versions of the console with different amounts of internal storage.
There's no word on how much storage you'll get with the PS5 but there are plenty of rumours floating around.
Prolific PlayStation leaker @PSErebus tweeted in late November that the PS5 would come with 2TB of SSD (solid-state) storage. If true, that would be a huge upgrade on current PS4 models, which feature 1TB of HDD (hard drive) storage.
The same leaker also claims that the 2TB PS5 will be priced at £499/$499. If accurate, Sony would certainly be taking the fight to Microsoft. A comparable 2TB gaming PC would cost twice that amount, making the PS5 a bargain.
There's also talk of the PS5 offering modular storage; a memory slot that would take expandable SSD storage cartridges. The PlayStation is no stranger to slot-in, slot-out external hardware and it would free up valuable extra space for games libraries (in addition to physical PS5 games which will come on 100GB discs).
Unfortunately, that rumour seems to have been debunked. It turns out it stemmed from a leaked patent sketch that related to a completely different Sony product.
With rumours of a £399/$399 'all-digital' Xbox Series X, an entry-level, disc-less PS5 that could be upgraded as and when gamers need extra storage, could help tempt gamers on a budget.
If the rumour about a 2TB PS5 proves true, and it's priced at £499/$499, the PS5 could turn out to be the best pound-for-pound performer. We'll keep you updated as and when news leaks.
PS5 vs Xbox Series X: backwards compatibility
Both Sony and Microsoft have said they will support backwards compatibility, meaning the PS5 and Xbox Series X will be able to play older games from previous console generations.
The Series X will deliver "four generations of content, better than you've ever seen them before". In other words, Xbox Series X will accommodate Xbox One, Xbox 360 and even original Xbox titles.
In fact, Microsoft has already added backwards compatibility to over 600 Xbox and Xbox 360 games for its current consoles, which are expected to become available to Series X owners at launch. Many titles have had their graphics polished up, too.
The Xbox Series X will employ a feature called Smart Delivery, which will allow you to buy a game once and be sure that it will be optimised for whatever Xbox you want to play it on. Microsoft has said that all Xbox Game Studio titles will offer Smart Delivery, but it will be up to other game developers to use it for titles that launch on Xbox One first and come to Xbox Series X at a later date.
Finally, Microsoft has confirmed that older controllers and accessories will be compatible with the Xbox Series X (and, in most cases, vice-versa).
Sony has been a little more tight-lipped but we do know that you'll be able to play PS4 games on the PS5, meaning those with a PS4 won't have to start their library from scratch.
One online report suggests that the PlayStation 5 will be able to act as an emulator for PS4, PS3, PS2, and even original PlayStation games but we’ll have to wait to see how much truth there is in that. Fingers crossed.
PS5 vs Xbox Series X: controller
We now know both consoles will be getting new controllers. Sony revealed its new pad will be called the PS5 DualSense.
It's a sleek and modern-looking design with a two-tone finish. Haptics have replaced the rumble technology to create deliver more realistic feedback and more nuanced sensations. The L2 and R2 triggers are now adaptive so players can feel more tension carrying out certain actions.
There's a built-in microphone array, which means players can chat to their friends without the need for a gaming headset, and the 'Share' button has been replaced by a new 'Create' button. It's to "create epic gameplay content to share with the world" according to Sony.
To fit these new components, the style and shape of the new controller has been tweaked. The angle of the hand triggers has been changed and the grip updated too The aim is to make the DualSense still feel light and small. The light bar has also shifted to the sides of the touchpad from its position on top of the DualShock 4, which is a rather pleasing aesthetic if nothing else.
The Xbox Series X controller also has some new tricks up its sleeve. It features a slightly evolved physical design with more rounded bumpers and triggers with more textured and ergonomic grips. The idea is to create a device that works better with a larger variety of hands.
It also features a hybrid D-pad with a deeper dish for your thumb and more finely-tuned angles. There's a USB-C charger, indicating a built-in, rechargeable battery and we know that the controller will be compatible with Xbox One consoles.
Haptic feedback, lower latency and a 'share' button for sending screenshots to friends are also all expected.
PS5 vs Xbox Series X: video quality
Both consoles will produce 8K visuals and support 8K gaming at a frame rate of 120fps. But what about video quality and 4K Blu-ray playback?
The good news is that both the PS5 and Xbox Series X will boast optical disc drives. Sony has already confirmed that the PS5 will play 4K Blu-rays and, while Microsoft hasn't said the same of the Xbox Series X, we expect it to be a formality.
As for video quality, both machines are capable of screening 4K at 60fps and feature similar chipsets, so both camps should deliver impressive performance. However, we'll be testing the picture quality of both at the earliest opportunity. It should be an interesting comparison.
Xbox has confirmed that it will include an Ultra High-Speed HDMI cable in the box to connect to your display. It should come in particularly handy if your display has HDMI 2.1 inputs and can take advantage of the Xbox's features such as high frame rates up to 120fps and Variable Refresh Rate (VRR).
Other new Xbox Series X features include the ability for the Xbox Series X to use machine-learning to add HDR to legacy titles that didn’t support it as standard at launch.
PS5 vs Xbox Series X: sound quality
As it stands today Microsoft has a significant edge over Sony when it comes to gaming audio. The current Xbox One consoles features Dolby Atmos and DTS:X for gaming, while Sony's PS4 consoles are limited to standard surround sound.
Will the launch of the PS5 level the playing field? There's no official word on which audio formats will be supported by either the PS5 or Xbox Series X, but both are rumoured to support Dolby Atmos for gaming and movies.
Indeed, PlayStation system architect Mark Cerny has promised that the PS5 will become the 'gold standard' in gaming audio, and that a new 3D audio engine will deliver more immersive sound without extra hardware. Does that mean the PS5 will be compatible with Sony's 360 Reality Audio format? Quite possibly. We've already seen how keen Sony is to get 360 into a host of different products, including even the Sony Vision-S car at CES 2020.
Microsoft's Xbox One consoles already feature Dolby Atmos and DTS:X audio for gaming, so it's likely the Xbox Series X will follow suit. Currently, Xbox console owners must download the Dolby app if they want to hear Atmos through their home cinema systems. You need to pay an additional fee if you want to experience it through headphones. With any luck, the Xbox Series X will support Dolby straight out of the box.
PS5 vs Xbox Series X: games
With the PS5 and the Xbox Series X offering a slew of mouth-watering launch titles, choosing which console deserves a place under your TV could be tricky.
Microsoft recently showed 'gameplay' footage from a number of new third-party titles including Assassin's Creed: Valhalla. Viewers of the gameplay live stream were also told to expect a reveal of first-party titles from Xbox Game Studios (home of the Halo, Gears of War and Forza franchises) in July 2020.
Microsoft has also shown off an exclusive title called Senua's Saga: Hellblade 2, the sequel to Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice. If the photo-realistic graphics are anything to go by, it should be a visual treat.
Sony has been pretty tight-lipped when it comes to launch titles but a number of developers have announced games for the PS5. Action RPG Godfall, created by the studio behind Borderlands, looks like a promising hack 'n' slash mixed with a touch of Destiny.
Ubisoft's hotly-anticipated Watch Dogs: Legion was originally due to launch on the PS4 in Spring 2020 but is now being held back for the launch of the PS5. The same goes for Gods and Monsters. Ubisoft's Rainbow Six Quarantine has also been delayed and is expected to be confirmed for the PS5 soon.
Feudal Japanese adventure Ghost of Tsushima is also being tipped as a headline PS5 exclusive, while Bluepoint Studios – best known for remastering classics games such as Metal Gear Solid – is developing an untitled PS5 game.
A slew of two-console PS4 and PS5 games are in the pipeline, too. Hideo Kojima's Death Stranding, for example, has already launched on the PS4 but is expected to grace the PS5.
Talking of PS4, those hoping to see a futuristic Keanu Reeves in Cyberpunk 2077 will have to wait until September. "Night City is massive - full of stories, content and places to visit, but due to the sheer scale and complexity of it all, we need more time to finish playtesting, fixing and polishing," said developer CD Projekt Red. The hotly-anticipated role-player, first announced in 2012, has been designed with the PS4 and Xbox One in mind but is expected to make the leap to PS5 and Series X.
There should be plenty more blockbusting announcements in the coming months, including major PS5 titles such as Grand Theft Auto 6, a new Gran Turismo, Gods of War, Horizon Zero Dawn and Final Fantasy.
So, plenty of choice in both camps. Still torn? The new Call of Duty and FIFA titles are expected to hit both consoles.
PS5 vs Xbox Series X: verdict
The console war between Sony and Microsoft is set to reach new heights in 2020 with the launch of new high-powered hardware. Both consoles will launch with a epic line-up of games and, if you're lucky enough to own an 8K TV, we're hoping they both serve up a truly epic 8K gaming experience.
Which machine is better? That really depends on whether you've built up a PlayStation or Xbox library, as well as the final feature counts. Until Sony and Microsoft reveal all, we'll stay firmly on the fence.
Either way, Q4 2020 is going to be interesting as all the hype starts ramping up.