PS5 vs Xbox Series X: Who will win the console war?

The PS5 and Xbox Series X will both launch at the end of 2020 but one console is likely to fare better than the other.

Sony and Microsoft launched the PS4 and Xbox One respectively in late 2013, and while Sony sold 106 million consoles, Microsoft sold less than half as many with 46 million units.

Now, both companies are investing heavily in their next-gen gaming consoles, the Xbox Series X and the PS5, which are slated to arrive this holiday season. So let's examine both systems to determine which one will emerge as the winner in the upcoming battle of the consoles.

Sony's PlayStation5

While the complete hardware specs for the PS5 are not yet available, what we do know is that it will be powered by AMD's third-generation 7nm Zen 2 CPU with eight cores. As far as memory is concerned, the upcoming console will use GDDR6 Ram, which transfers data two times the speed of the GDDR5 memory used in the PS4 and Xbox One.

In the graphics arena, the PS5 will be powered by a custom Navi GPU from AMD, which will support 8K resolutions, refresh rates up to 120Hz, and ray-tracing technologies for real-time shadows. It will also feature 3D audio.

Sony PS5
The official Sony PlayStation 5 logo, unveiled by the company at CES 2020. Instagram / @playstation

Sony's upcoming console will also store data on an SSD (solid-state drive) instead of a traditional HDD (hard disk drive). SSDs, which store data on flash memory chips instead of platters, are not only faster, smaller and more power-efficient, but are also less prone to damage than HDDs. The only drawback of SSDs is their affordability as they're significantly more expensive than hard disk drives.

Even though more and more gamers are opting for digital downloads as opposed to physical copies, the PS5 will come with a disc drive that plays video games and Blu-Ray discs. The console also comes with PSVR support as well as backwards compatibility with PS4 titles, but it remains to be known if games from older PlayStation consoles will be supported.

We do not know the price of the upcoming console yet, but Sony's previous console launches indicate that it will either be equivalent to or cheaper than Microsoft's console. As for games, there are only two official titles that have been confirmed for release on PS5: the action RPG "Godfall" and an untitled Bluepoint Studios game. The console will also continue supporting its cloud gaming platform, PS Now.

Microsoft's Xbox Series X

Last month, Microsoft shared details about the Xbox Series X, including a few hardware specs. Like its rival, the console will combine AMD's Zen 2 CPU with a custom Navi GPU. The company boasts the new hardware will offer four times the CPU performance of the Xbox On. In addition, the upcoming Microsoft console will GDDR6 RAM and store its data on an SSD instead of an HDD. It will also support 8K resolutions and ray tracing.

To put things simply, the Xbox Series X will feature the same hardware as the PS5, which doesn't come as a surprise since many cross-platform games will be arriving for both consoles. However, Microsoft has no plans to launch a new VR headset to compete with Sony's PSVR, and Xbox chief Phil Spencer has already confirmed that the Series X wouldn't be designed with VR games in mind.

Xbox Series X
Xbox Series X Microsoft

Microsoft also noted that the "Series X" only refers to the first version of the console, which means that it will launch a series of variants with the "Series" moniker – similar to the Xbox One S and Xbox One X. It also suggests that we could be getting a disc-free version of the new Xbox that will serve as a successor to its disc-free Xbox One S. The upcoming console will also offer backward compatibility with Xbox One games, but it's unclear if it will be compatible with older consoles.

The company has kept pricing details under wraps and only two launch games have been confirmed: "Halo Infinite" and "Sehua's Saga: Hellblade II." The Series X will continue to support Microsoft's subscription service Xbox Game Pass, in addition to its new cloud gaming platform xCloud. The Series X will continue supporting Microsoft's unlimited download service Xbox Game Pass, and will likely support its new cloud gaming platform xCloud.

Sony has the upper hand

Sony has beaten Microsoft over the last three console generations. The PS2, PS3, and the PS4 have all outsold the Xbox, Xbox 360, and Xbox One, respectively. Therefore, it's possible that Sony will maintain its dominance in the market with the PS5 unless Microsoft significantly lowers its price or offers more compelling launch titles.

However, this does not necessarily mean that Microsoft's gaming business will take a hit. The company has seen robust growth in the gaming arena over the last six years even though it hasn't been able to catch up with Sony – and the gaming arm will continue to remain one of the company's core growth engines with the launch of the Xbox Series X.