We’ve been getting insights into the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X for months, but finally the new consoles feel real as the price, pre-order, and release dates are officially set, hardware is demonstrated, and the game is started drooling on trailers plastered on YouTube. But now that consumers finally have enough information to make an informed decision, both companies have announced cheaper, all-digital alternatives to their high-end machines that can make making a decision a lot harder.
The high-end: Xbox Series X against PS5 specifications
To compare the Discless PS5 Digital Edition and the Xbox Series S, we need to start with the high-end models: the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X for $ 499. We didn̵
Both machines have 8-core AMD Ryzen CPUs with 16 GB of RAM and custom built-in AMD Radeon graphics. However, the CPU of the PS5 runs at 3.5 GHz (with variable clock rates) and the GPU at 2.23 GHz with 10.28 teraflops of graphic performance. The Xbox Series X CPU is slightly faster at 3.8 GHz (3.6 GHz with multithreading is used) and the GPU is slower at 1.825 GHz – although the higher processing power increases the total processing power to around 12 teraflops, slightly higher than the PS5 .
Clock rates and teraflops aren’t the be-all and end-all of performance, but it’s the only clue we have right now about how the consoles compare. Both aim to output graphics in 4K and can handle up to 120 frames per second to ensure smooth movement. However, many games will likely require you to lower the resolution to achieve this frame rate. Most games will likely aim for 30 to 60 frames per second at 4K.
The consoles don’t run identical hardware, so it will likely have a slightly more powerful capability (if we speculate it is likely the Xbox Series X), but the two will be more similar than they differ and many of them will play the same games with comparable graphical graphics Fidelity. I would be surprised if the average gamer could tell the difference between graphics without pixel peeping.
That said, peepers will be watching, so we’ll be sure to see these differences soon enough. For example, the Xbox One X could run games at slightly higher resolutions than the PlayStation 4 Pro or with fewer frame rate drops – which ultimately meant slightly sharper graphics with smoother movement. If a console like the PS5 has to upscale a lower resolution to 4K, it can also introduce small “artifacts” or graphic disturbances into the picture. Check out this video from Digital Foundry for some examples of how checkerboard 4K on PS4 compares to native 4K on PC. We won’t know how big this void will be with the next generation of consoles and how the slower model’s drawbacks will manifest until we see more games in motion.
Xbox Series S versus PS5 Digital
Sony and Microsoft likely knew that $ 500 was a tough pill, so both offer lower-cost alternatives to their top of the line models: Sony offers the PlayStation 5 Digital Edition for $ 399, and Microsoft offers the Xbox series of S for $ 299. It might be tempting to compare these two directly – after all, you’ll likely see them sitting next to each other on some shelves – but they’re so different that comparing them like this doesn’t make much sense.
The PS5 Digital Edition has exactly the same specs as its disc-friendly big brother, which means that games should look and be played the same on everyone. The only difference is the 4K Blu-ray drive, which is not included in the Digital Edition. That’s pretty self-explanatory: if you want to buy and stream games digitally instead of watching Blu-rays, the Digital Edition is worth the $ 100 savings.
The Xbox Series S, on the other hand, uses different hardware than the Series X to achieve that budget-friendly price of $ 299. The graphics chip can only hit 4 teraflops, with 10GB of RAM and a 512GB storage drive that’s half the size of the X Series terabyte drive. Microsoft is aiming for a resolution of 1440p, which is somewhere between the original Xbox One’s 1080p and 1080p Xbox Series X 4K. It is upscaled to 4K and can play games at a super soft 120 frames per second, but again, it’s probably closer to 30 or 60 frames per second if you don’t drop the graphics on games that do that Support options.
Comparison photos for Xbox Series S and Series X.
Perhaps most revealing is the fact that while the lower-cost Series S is backward compatible with last-generation games, it doesn’t play the Xbox One X-enhanced version of those games, but instead the “Xbox One S version”. – the downward compatible standard version – but with some improvements such as smoother frame rates, faster loading times and HDR. In other words, it can be anywhere between One S and One X in terms of graphical fidelity. While the PS5 Digital Edition is a next-gen console through and through (with a small discount for the lack of a drive), the S Series seems more like a last-gen console in terms of its graphical output, capable of holding the latest games to play.
Microsoft hasn’t said exactly what this will look like beyond resolution and frame rate, but it could also mean certain graphics settings are being downgraded – the shadows may be a little more shaky or certain textures may have a little more blurring on the S Series, according to Microsoft the ray tracing function can also be reduced for a slightly less realistic lighting. Last generation comparisons may give us an indication of the possible differences – in Shadow of War, for example, distant objects like trees are noticeably less detailed on the Xbox One S than they are on the Xbox One X. And if you remember the predecessor, Shadow of Mordor was severely disabled on the Xbox 360 and PS3 compared to the PS4.
I’d be surprised if a difference between the Xbox Series S and Series X were as brutal as something like Shadow of Mordor’s cross-generational stumble, but it depends on how far developers push the limits of hardware. Most of what we’ll see are likely to be slightly scaled-down graphics with a lower resolution and / or frame rate. Even with those small sacrifices, the $ 299 Series S sounds like a screaming bargain.
So what are you buying
As you bite your nails into deciding which of the four new consoles to buy, here are some considerations:
Games: Choosing between Camp Xbox or Camp PlayStation is likely simple: the games will likely make all the difference. If you’re a fan of God of War, Horizon, and Spider-Man, these games will all be exclusive to the PS5 (and PS4). If you’re addicted to Halo, Fable, and Forza, they all get their own rates on the latest Xboxes.
Resolution: Between the Xbox Series X and Series S, the Series X offers the best experience in terms of detailed graphics and smooth movement – albeit at a higher price. If you don’t have a 4K TV, are just a casual gamer, or just want better value for money, the S series is a great budget option with a small sacrifice.
Performance: Pixel count aside, both versions of the PS5 and Xbox series S / X can achieve frame rates of up to 120 FPS – although there will likely be plenty of 30-60 FPS games to come. Given the low-tech gear for the Xbox Series S, chances are you’ll see some pared-down visual elements too – like running a game on the PC in “normal” or “high” settings.
Digial vs Physical: At the end of the PlayStation, the Digital Edition is hard to deny: For $ 100 less, you can get a system with exactly the same specifications as its bigger brother, only without a drive. If you already have plans to buy games digitally, this is a no-brainer. However, do not discount the value of discs. Buying physical PS5 games could bring enough savings to offset that $ 100 in the long run since you can buy and sell used discs. Plus, 4K Blu-rays are amazing – better than 4K streaming – and make both disc-based consoles alluring to movie fans.
Best 4K gaming TV for PS5 and Xbox Series X.
And don’t feel like you have to make that decision now. When you’re on the fence, holding back can help avoid a case of buyer’s remorse and see how these consoles behave in the flesh before you spend your hard-earned cash. That is, if you can bear the wait.
Whitson Gordon is a writer, gamer, and tech nerd who has been building personal computers for a decade. He eats potato chips with chopsticks so that he doesn’t get fat on his mechanical keyboard.