Thursday, 28 Sep 2023

PlayStation 5 vs. Xbox Series X: Comparing the specs

Earlier this week, Microsoft revealed the details for the upcoming Xbox Series X. Now, Sony has done the same for the PlayStation 5. This means we can start looking at their specs side-by-side. And while this is far from the whole story when it comes to how much you’ll enjoy either box, it’s an important first step in figuring out which one is right for you.

The quick version is that in terms of raw graphics power, Xbox Series X has an edge over the PS5. If you only care about the teraFLOPS number, which measures how many floating point operations per second a video card can perform, Microsoft is on top. Xbox Series X has 12 TFLOPS while PS5 is pumping out 10.28 TFLOPs. But the new Xbox doesn’t over match PS5 across the board.

Let’s dig into the specs and expand on what everything means.

Xbox Series X vs. PlayStation 5 specs comparison

Here’s how the PlayStation 5 matches up against the Xbox Series X.

Xbox Series X PlayStation 5
CPU 8x Zen 2 Cores at 3.8GHz (3.6GHz with SMT) 8x Zen 2 Cores at 3.5GHz (variable frequency)
GPU 12 TFLOPs, 52 CUs at 1.825GHz, Custom RDNA 2 10.28 TFLOPs, 36 CUs at 2.23GHz (variable frequency)
Die Size 360.45mm2 N/A
Process TSMC 7nm Enhanced N/A
Memory 16GB GDDR6 16GB GDDR6/256-bit
Memory Bandwidth 10GB at 560GB/s, 6GB at 336GB/s 448GB/s
Internal Storage 1TB Custom NVMe SSD Custom 825GB SSD
IO Throughput 2.4GB/s (Raw), 4.8GB/s (Compressed) 5.5GB/s (Raw), Typical 8-9GB/s (Compressed)
Expandable Storage 1TB Expansion Card NVMe SSD Slot
External Storage USB 3.2 HDD Support USB HDD Support
Optical Drive 4K UHD Blu-ray Drive 4K UHD Blu-ray Drive

So what matters here? Let’s break it down.

Once again, the Xbox and PlayStation are very similar. They’re using similar components for CPU and GPU, they have the same amount of memory, and they are both using NVME SSD storage. That doesn’t mean gamers won’t notice a difference between each system. It just may once again require those side-by-side comparison videos that are so popular on YouTube.


Put bluntly, the Xbox Series X should run games at a higher resolution and a higher framerate. But this doesn’t mean the PS5 is a weak system. While its GPU has fewer compute units than the Xbox, it runs at a significantly higher frequency of 2.23GHz. That is really high for a GPU. So it has fewer CUs, but each of those units is going to push out more processing than each of the compute units in the Xbox.


The CPU, meanwhile, runs at a slightly slower clockspeed than the Xbox. But that’s not really the important comparison. These Zen 2 CPUs both represent massive leaps over the last generation, and that’s what’s going to matter for the next several years.

Data throughput

But PS5 does have a major advantage over Xbox Series X when it comes to I/O throughput. PS5 uses the next-gen PCI Express 4.0 data interface to push through a massive 5.5GB of information per second. The Xbox only does 2.4GB per second. What this means is that PS5 can stream in significantly more data from a world every second than the competition. And that could lead to bigger and more detailed games with almost no loading.

What does all of this mean for games?

As much fun as it is to talk about and compare specs, it rarely matters to most people when they sit down to actually play a game. Whether the Xbox or PlayStation has more power, it’s the content that is going to matter.

And these specs mean that both consoles are more than capable enough to deliver next-gen experiences. That probably doesn’t mean games that look like a leap forward. We’ve reached a point of diminishing returns for raw graphics performance. But the Zen 2 CPU and fast data throughput speeds mean more complicated worlds, more lifelike in-game characters, and an overall improved user experience.

The people who might notice the biggest difference are the developers. These new consoles might free them to try game concepts that were previously impossible. And that’s going to take time, but it also gives everyone something to get excited about.

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