Xbox Series X vs PlayStation 5 - which wins on specs alone?

Platforms: Microsoft Xbox Series X | Sony PlayStation 5
Xbox Series X vs PlayStation 5 - which wins on specs alone?

Following yesterday's PlayStation 5 deep-dive we now have a good idea of how both of the next generation consoles compare with each other in terms of raw hardware specifications. While we know that the console wars are fought and won on far more than just specs but this gives us a good idea of just how good games could be on each system if they're pushed to the maximum.

We are only including figures and specifications where we have them to compare for each console below.

PlayStation 5Xbox Series XWinner
CPUCustom AMD Zen 2, 8-core 3.5 GHzCustom AMD Zen 2, 8-core 3.8 GHzXbox
GPUCustom RDNA 2, 10.28 TFLOP, 36 CU at 2.23 GHzCustom RDNA 2, 12 TFLOP, 52 CU at 1.825 GHzXbox
RAM16 GB GDDR6 256-bit16 GB GDDR6 256-bitDraw
Memory Bandwidth448 GB/s10GB at 560GB/s, 6GB at 336GB/sDraw
Internal Storage825 GB SSD1 TB SSDXbox
I/O throughput5.5 GB/s (raw) / 8-9 GB/s (compressed)2.4 GB/s (raw) / 4.8 GB/s (compressed)PS5
External StorageUSB HDD Support / additional SSD support to be confirmed1 TB expansion card, USB HDD supportDraw
Physical Media4K UHD Blu-ray4K UHD Blu-rayDraw
Output Resolution4K4K 60fpsDraw

Right now on paper, the Xbox Series X is significantly more powerful than the PlayStation 5 in computational power but the I/O throughput speed may well be a significant issue for the Xbox to overcome - games will feel more snappy to load on the PlayStation 5 even if actual in-game performance is a little less impressive.

However - raw specs and teraflops aren't everything!

The Xbox Series X also promises full backwards compatibility with the Xbox One - even offering improvements where possible to Xbox One games in terms of frame rate and resolution. Xbox Series X also supports some existing Xbox 360 and original Xbox games through the same backwards compatibility options as the Xbox One.

The PlayStation 5 backwards compatibility is a little less clear. Mark Cerny stated that the top 100 PlayStation 4 games have been tested and will be playable upon the console's release - we're assuming that there will be much wider backwards compatibility at launch but it doesn't appear to be baked in to the level it is in the Xbox One. This muddied messaging is worrying and we would hope that both manufacturers had learned the lessons of being non-ambiguous through the disastrous Xbox One launch.

There are many other aspects that will play into the success of both platforms - the Xbox Game Pass, Smart Delivery and xCloud are all significant feathers in Microsoft's cap, and similarly PlayStation Now, PSN and the strong line of exclusives in the PlayStation catalogue could well be enough to tempt PlayStation diehards to continue with their dedication to the platform.

Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 are both on course for a Holiday 2020 release, Coronavirus allowing.

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