Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5
Microsoft / Sony

Xbox Series X vs Series S vs PlayStation 5: How the next-generation game consoles compare

Here is how the popular video game consoles stack up, ahead today.

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It will likely be an expensive fourth quarter of 2023 for technology fans. New smartphones were launched by Apple, Google, and Samsung – as happens every year – but this year, there will be no new game consoles launching, but the battle between Microsoft and Sony will continue as usual. Consumers must decide between the Xbox Series X (or Series S) or the PlayStation 5. All provide a great choice for anyone looking for the best possible gaming experience.

All arriving in November, the consoles replace their respective Xbox One and PlayStation 4 predecessors and do so with hugely more powerful systems, boasting enhanced graphics and ray tracing for the first time. More on that later.

The four consoles look very different on the outside but share similar specification sheets. However, as their components are largely custom-built, it's tricky to call a winner for outright performance and graphical prowess for now. They come with updated versions of their respective controllers, and backward compatibility to play old games is possible on both.

They will also both act as excellent home entertainment systems, with Ultra HD Blu-ray drives and the ability to stream 4K content from all the usual places. Prices range from $299 for the Xbox Series S up to $500 for the PlayStation 5.

Buy Sony PS5

Here is how the Xbox Series X, Series S, and PlayStation 5 compare:

Xbox Series X vs Series S vs PlayStation 5: Design

It shouldn't really matter what a game console looks like, and yet, somehow, it splits gamers like nothing else. When Microsoft revealed the cuboid Xbox Series X, people likened it to a refrigerator, while the much taller and more sci-fi-inspired PS5 looks more like a space movie prop.

Meanwhile, the Xbox Series S is far slimmer than both, with Microsoft claiming it is 60 percent smaller than the Series X. Of course, with a less powerful processor and graphics card, less space for cooling is required. There's also no disc drive on the Series S (and the PS 5 Digital Edition).

We're sure fans in both camps will get used to the look of each console, but in a purely practical sense, we suspect the Xbox Series X will fit more neatly beneath the televisions of gamers than the larger PS5. The latter can at least be laid down on its side, as it is unlikely to fit on a shelf designed to accommodate a DVD player and cable box.

More info on Xbox Series X

Xbox Series X vs PlayStation 5: Specifications

We don't know exactly how each console will perform just yet, but both parties have released basic specification sheets for each. They are as follows:

Xbox Series X:

  • Processor: 8X Cores @ 3.8 GHz (3.66 GHz w/SMT) Custom Zen 2 CPU
  • GPU: 12 TFLOPS, 52 CUs @1.825 GHz Custom RDNA 2 GPU
  • Memory: 16GB GDDR6 w/320 bit-wide bus
  • Memory Bandwidth: 10GB @ 560 GB/s, 6GB @ 336 GB/s.
  • Internal storage: 1TB Custom NVME SSD
  • Expandable storage: Support for 1TB Seagate Expansion Card for Xbox Series X|S matches internal storage exactly (sold separately)—support for USB 3.1 external HDD (sold separately).
  • External storage: USB 3.2 external HDD support
  • I/O throughput: 2.4 GB/s (Raw), 4.8 GB/s (Compressed, with custom hardware decompression block)
  • Disc drive: 4K UHD Blu-ray Player

Buy Xbox Series X

Xbox Series S:
  • Processor: 8X Cores @ 3.6 GHz (3.4 GHz w/SMT) Custom Zen 2 CPU
  • GPU: 4 TFLOPS, 20 CUs @1.565 GHz Custom RDNA 2 GPU
  • Memory: 10GB GDDR6 128 bit-wide bus
  • Memory bandwidth: 8GB @ 224 GB/s, 2GB @ 56 GB/s.
  • Internal storage: Xbox Series S Robot White: 512GB Custom NVME SSDXbox Series S Carbon Black: 1TB Custom NVME SSD
  • Expandable storage: Support for 1TB Seagate Expansion Card for Xbox Series X|S matches internal storage exactly (sold separately)—support for USB 3.1 external HDD (sold separately).
  • I/O throughput: 2.4 GB/s (Raw), 4.8 GB/s (Compressed, with custom hardware decompression block)
  • Disc drive: No

Buy Xbox Series S

PlayStation 5:

  • Processor: Eight cores at 3.5GHz (variable)
  • GPU: 10.28 teraflops, 36 CUs @2.223GHz
  • Memory: SSD
  • Memory Bandwidth: 448GB per second
  • Internal storage: 1TB SSD (custom)
  • Expandable storage: NVMe SSD slot
  • External storage: USB HDD support
  • I/O throughput: 5.5GB per second (Raw), 8-9GB/s compressed
  • Disc drive: 4K UHD Blu-ray Player

Buy Sony PS5

The PlayStation 5 Digital Edition has exactly the same specifications as the regular PS5 but lacks a disc drive.

PlayStation 5Sony will sell two versions of PlayStation 5, one without a disc driveSony

The PS5 and Xbox Series X are very similar spec sheets, with only small differences in processor and GPU speed, internal storage, and I/O throughput speeds. But, as both consoles use custom-built components rather than bought off-the-shelf from suppliers, it is tricky to say one is definitively quicker than the other.

What we can say at this point is how 1TB in the PS5 (and even the Xbox's 1TB of internal storage) seems on the small side, given how large next-generation games are expected to be. Today's AAA titles, like the Call of Duty franchise, weigh over 150GB when downloaded online. Therefore, we're grateful to see a 1TB expansion slot on both versions of Xbox (especially helpful for the 512GB Series S), and USB hard drive support for all four consoles.

It is also worth noting that, as we just mentioned, a slimmer (but likely no less powerful) version of the PS5 was sold without a disc drive but is currently unavailable, according to Sony's website. Sony originally launched this version after the digital-only Xbox One S. Microsoft has sold for a while now. Still, interestingly, there will be no digital-only Series X at launch. Instead, Microsoft is selling a separate next-generation console called the Xbox Series S, which has no disc drive, is smaller than the Series X, and costs $299.

This seriously undercuts the PS5, which starts at $399 for the digital edition (if you can find one), and is a great way for gamers on a tighter budget to grab a slice of next-generation gaming from day one. Meanwhile, the Xbox Series X and the PS5 with a disc drive are $500 each.

PlayStation 5 Console (PS5)

Xbox Series X vs Series S vs PlayStation 5: What is ray tracing?

Microsoft and Sony have both said their next-generation consoles will support ray tracing. This is a new light rendering technique that creates more realistic lighting in video games, which is produced in real-time as the player moves through an environment.

Ray tracing simulates and produces every ray of light coming from a light source and is what's used to create realistic lighting in computer-generated movie scenes. This requires a lot of power and has, until now, only been an option for very high-end gaming computers. But now the technology will come to consoles and a much larger audience, who will enjoy more realistic lighting and shadows in their games.

Buy Xbox Series X

Xbox Series X vs. Series S vs. PlayStation 5: Controller

Both consoles will come with an updated controller. For the Xbox Series X, the changes are very small indeed, only adding a share button to make it easier to capture gameplay and screenshots to export and share online. We like the current controller, so we have no complaints here, although we wonder if a new version of the pricey Elite controller might also be on the way.

Microsoft Xbox Series X controllerThe Xbox controller remains largely unchangedMicrosoft

As for the PlayStation 5 controller, called the DualSense, there are some big changes. The general layout remains unchanged (as it has for over 20 years), but the controller is larger, with redesigned shoulder buttons that include a new form of haptic feedback.

We have always liked the feedback delivered by the Xbox's triggers, so we are glad to see this feature arrive on the PS5, too.

PlayStation 5 DualSense controllerNew DualSense controller for the PlayStation 5Sony

Xbox Series X vs Series S vs PlayStation 5: Backwards compatibility

Backwards compatibility is always a hot topic when a new generation of game consoles are announced. This is the phrase used to describe a new console's ability to play games released on its predecessors.

Backward compatibility has varied over the years, but for his generation, things are looking good. Microsoft has already said that every Xbox One game will be compatible with the Series X, and every game you bought on the One will automatically be available to freely download onto your new Series X. Xbox 360 and original Xbox games will work on the Series X, so long as they already also work on the Xbox One.

Microsoft has also said some older games will be upscaled to 4K resolution (or to a 120fps frame rate), making them look better than when they were new.

Sony has given fewer details about backward compatibility for now but says confidently that 99 percent of PS4 games will work on the PS5. It has also said games tweaked for the more powerful PS4 Pro will work with their enhancements in place on the PS5, but for other titles, there could be variations in how well they perform on the new console. Sony has said the top 100 most-played PS4 games will run very well on the PS5 from launch.

Buy Sony PS5

Xbox Series X vs Series S vs PlayStation 5: Virtual reality

PlayStation VR headsetThe PS5 will work with the existing PlayStation VR headset Sony

Sony PS5 is fully compatible with its pre-existing PS VR headset as long as you get a PlayStation Camera adapter to get the headset to work. Sony is offering all PS VR owners one camera adapter free of charge. This should mean the continued development of virtual reality games (or at least games that have VR compatibility as an additional feature), and we expect to see an updated headset somewhere down the line when Sony launches PS VR 2.

Things are less rosey for VR over at Microsoft. The company has confirmed it has no plans for any virtual reality with the Xbox Series X. No Xbox console has offered VR, so this shouldn't come as too much of a surprise, especially as the technology has generally failed to become a mainstream hit.

Xbox Series X vs Series S vs PlayStation 5: Price and release date

The Xbox Series X is priced at $500, and the less powerful Series S is $300. The PlayStation 5 is $500, and the PS5 Digital Edition, which lacks a disc drive, is $399.

The PlayStation 5 is available on Amazon, Best Buy, and other online retailers. The Xbox Series S and X are available on Microsoft sites and online retailers like Best Buy and Amazon.

Xbox Series X vs Series S vs PlayStation 5: Size and weight

Both flagships are pretty large, owing to the need for expansive heat sinks, fans and cooling to keep their powerful CPUs and GPUs running at their most efficient. The PlayStation 5 is the largest video game console in the modern era, while the Xbox Series X isn't far behind, and the Series S is surprisingly compact (although Microsoft hasn't revealed the exact sizes for now).

The PS5 measures 390 x 104 x 260 mm (15.35 x 4.09 x 10.24 inches) and weighs 4.5 kg (9.92 pounds). The PS5 Digital Edition is the same height and depth but is slimmer (92 mm / 3.62 inches) due to the lack of a disc drive. It also weighs less, at 3.9 kg (8.6 pounds).

The Xbox Series X measures 151 x 151 x 301 mm (5.94 x 5.94 x 11.85 inches) and weighs 4.45 kg (9.8 pounds).

All four consoles can be stood upright or laid flat – which is good to know, given their height means they're unlikely to fit on the shelves of many TV and media units.

Xbox Series X and Xbox Series SXbox Series X (left) and the smaller Series SMicrosoft

See best price for Sony PS5 on Best Buy

Xbox Series X vs Series S vs PlayStation 5: Launch titles

When announcing the original release date, Microsoft said how the Xbox's flagship launch title, Halo Infinite, won't actually be a launch title anymore. Instead, the game was delayed until 2021. Today, you can play Halo on Xbox and other popular games like Fortnite, Madden NFL 24, and Call of Duty. You can see the full list of games across its consoles on the company site.

New games developed for the Series X and launching through Xbox Game Pass include The Medium, Scorn, and Tetris Effect: Connected. There are "more than 40" popular games newly optimized "to take full advantage" of the Xbox Series X. These include Destiny 2, Forza Horizon 5, Gears 5, Ori and the Will of the Wasps, Madden NFL 24, and more.

Buy Xbox Series X

As for the PlayStation 5, things are equally vague for now. As far as exclusive, first-party PS5 games are concerned, Marvel's Spider-Man 2 Collector's Edition arrived October 2023, and other exclusives, like God of War Ragnarök and EA SPORTS FC 24 are available today on Sony's site.

Astro's Playroom comes pre-loaded on the PS5, as a way of introducing gamers to the abilities of the new DualSense controller.

Read more on what games are available for each console here:

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