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  • Cheryl Tan

PS5 vs Xbox Series X – Which Should You Choose?

Updated: Aug 20, 2021

It’s an age-old debate, but it’s always here and will probably last as long as there are consoles around. Sony Playstation 5 or Xbox Series X. Which should you choose?

Both consoles have already been launched and some of you might already own one or the other, or perhaps both. Perhaps. But I dare say that most of us are still waiting and we only have enough to spring for one.

So the question remains, which? First up, let’s just get all the technical details out of the way.

Both the new consoles are powered by AMD at its core, featuring a custom AMD Zen 2 eight-core CPU, and an RDNA 2 GPU on the same chip. Both are also equipped with 16 gigabytes of GDDR6 RAM and a custom NVMe SSD. Both consoles will also support gaming up to 4K 120 frames per second, along with support for Ray-Tracing.

At a glance, the two next-gen consoles are really similar, but there are a few key differences. For one, the Series X actually sports the higher performing chip over the PS5 on paper. The CPU is clocked slightly higher at 3.8GHz, and also has a beefier GPU which can output roughly 12 teraflops of performance, against the 10.28 teraflops on the PS5. 

The next key difference would be the capability of the SSD, but this time, the tables are flipped. The custom SSD in the PS5 has almost double the throughput in both raw and compressed over the Series X, coming in at 5.5 gigabytes per second raw and can get up to 9 gigabytes per second compressed. 

But it does come at a cost, and that’s storage space. The custom SSD in the PS5 only has 667.2GB of available space, while the Series X has over 800GB. Additional storage is also supported by both consoles, with the PS5 sporting a standard M.2 slot for expansion, while the Series X requires you to purchase a proprietary expansion card, both having their individual pros and cons.

The last key difference would be the Wi-Fi chip. Series X comes equipped with Wi-Fi 5, whereas PS5 comes with Wi-Fi 6.

Now there are a few other differences, but we won’t dive too deep. In general, those are what you need to know.

By now you might be thinking that the Series X is outright the better console. Although it loses out on SSD and Wi-Fi speed, it is still really fast and more importantly, the GPU provides almost 20% more performance on paper. 

In reality, though, the gaming experience is arguably the same.

In cross-platform titles like Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, performance and visuals are downright similar. The game renders using a dynamic 4K resolution with ray-tracing turned on, and provides a locked 60 frames per second experience on the two consoles. The same goes for the 120-hertz mode, where both consoles target roughly the same dynamic resolution between 1080p and 1440p, while outputting 120 frames per second majority of the time.

The same can also be said for Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, with both consoles offering a full 4K experience at 30 frames per second using the Quality mode, or swap it to a dynamic 4K experience with smooth 60 frames per second gameplay on the Performance mode. Neither really dropped frames, and simply performed as they should.

Now I can go on and on and talk and compare more games, but to be fair, I don’t have the capacity to do all the technical testing. If you’re interested in the nitty-gritty, I would suggest you hop over to the guys at Digital Foundry. They really do amazing work and really intricate breakdowns. 

But I can say with assurance, that most of the games on either console are going to provide you with arguably the same experience. The same goes for backwards compatibility, where both consoles will support it and pretty much play any PS4 or Xbox One game on the new consoles respectively. 

What really makes a difference, and I feel makes far more of an impact, is the game library, the controller, and how the next-gen console would fit within your current environment.

Talking about the game library or the selection of games offered by either console is honestly quite simple. At the moment, the PS5 is the only next-gen console to offer exclusive games that’s only available to play on the PS5, with the first being Demon Souls.

If that’s the selling point for you, well, you’ve basically already made your decision.

On the other hand, Series X doesn’t have any exclusive games as of yet. But Xbox has something else that’s pretty awesome, and that’s Game Pass. Game Pass is a subscription service which will instantly allow you access to hundreds of games which Xbox offers, such as Gears 5, Forza, the Halo Series and much more. If you want instant access to plenty of games, there you go.

Next is the controller. 

Personally, I quite like both. Although the Series X controller is just a refinement of the Xbox One controller, it’s a design that works and it honestly feels really great in your hands. 

The DualSense, on the other hand, is a major and radical change from the previous DualShock 4. But by all accounts, it is a huge improvement. Although it is slightly larger, it is so much more comfortable compared to DualShock 4 especially if you’re holding it for hours on end. 

However, what sets it apart is definitely the adaptive triggers. Like I’ve explained in our review of the PS5, in games like Black Ops Cold War, the tension of the triggers and actuation point of the triggers changes depending on the weapon your character is using. The trigger feels really light when aiming down sights using a handgun, but would feel quite heavy if it’s an assault rifle. The trigger for firing would also change to a two-stage trigger, and you can actually feel the actuation point.

The DualSense actually does provide another layer of immersion for your gaming experience, and it’s a physical one, unlike anything else in the past.

But with that being said, there are other options available for the Xbox, like the Razer Wolverine V2 that I have right here. Depending on your preference, this might be a more comfortable option. But more so than that, it offers a slightly different experience compared to the standard Series X controller, such as the addition of two multi-function buttons right by the triggers, and an option to reduce the travel distance of the main triggers via a sliding lock. 

Of course, the only drawback is that it’s not wireless. But hey, to each their own.

The last point, however, is probably the most important factor: your home/gaming environment, and this also harks back to the first point, the games.

Both consoles are amazing, as we’ve said, and are going to give you that next-gen experience. The difference lies in how the two companies, Sony and Microsoft, are approaching their console.

Sony is still going down the so-called traditional route, where they are pushing developers to create exclusive titles for the consoles, with the first being a game like Demon Souls, with more to come such as Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart, Gran Turismo 7, Horizon Forbidden West and more.

These titles will only be playable on the PS5 throughout the entirety of its life cycle, or at the very least, for the first couple of years.

Microsoft, on the other hand, has long since been pushing for multi-platform releases and going all digital for the past couple of years. There really aren’t any games that’s exclusive to the Series X, and most games that are developed for Series X will also be released for PC. It is Microsoft after all.

So if Series X doesn’t offer anything special over PS5 in terms of games, and to that extent, the PC, what makes it stand out?

This is where price comes in.

For US$499, the Series X is really affordable in comparison to a gaming PC. And yes, people used to say that you can build a comparable gaming PC for the same price that will give you similar or better performance. Not quite so now.

For just US$499, you’re getting a really compact system, comparatively speaking, that can power games up to 4K 120 frames per second, with support for ray-tracing and even additional features like Quick Resume.

So if you’re someone who only owns a laptop, or perhaps you have a PC, but it’s not really giving you a great gaming experience? Get the Series X, throw in Game Pass and suddenly, the Series X makes a lot of sense.

Now, you can say the same for the PS5, but the difference here, again, lies in how the companies approach their systems. Any games bought on the Playstation Store isn’t going to give access to the PC version of it, unlike Game Pass Ultimate. You’re also going to spend much more on every game that you buy, and yes, it will add up over time. 

But on the flip side, there are exclusives.

Personally, for me, I would buy the PS5 over the Series X, even though I’m still kinda fifty-fifty about the design. The reason is simple. I already have a gaming PC and most of my games are on the PC. There isn’t really a point for me to own the Series X because I can play most, if not all, of those games on PC. 

I literally bought my PS4 Pro only because I wanted to play exclusive games like Uncharted 4 or Persona 5, so the same line of thought applies to the PS5. I buy it because of exclusives, and the extra pointer would be that all my friends are on the Playstation side of things, not Xbox. So that’s also one thing to consider.

In short, if you don’t have a gaming PC, go for the Series X and possibly get Game Pass. It is relatively affordable, and you’re going to get a great gaming experience. 

If you already have a great gaming PC, or if there is an exclusive game that you really want to play on the PS5, go for the PS5. You can also save a little in upfront cost compared to the Series X by going for the Digital Edition instead.

If you’re coming from the previous gen-consoles, then I would recommend waiting a year or two. Because to fully utilize the next-gen consoles, you really need an HDMI 2.1 display, and there aren’t really many options at the moment.


Content by Soon Kai Hong

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