For some time, PC gamers had the last laugh when it came to game loading time. With fast SSDs (Solid State Drives), becoming cheaper, PC gamers had an advantage in loading time. But when Sony announced its plans to use a custom SSD for PlayStation 5 that would be faster than even the current generation of PC, it raised a few eyebrows.
Then, came the announcement from Microsoft. It also planned to use a custom SSD to provide fast loading times. Now, it appears that Microsoft has won the initial battle. As per reviews, Microsoft's Xbox Series X has eclipsed PlayStation 5 in game loading times in almost all the games tested.
With PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series (X and S), console entered a new era that could not only match PC hardware but could also shatter the price-to-performance ratio. Ranging between $299 and $499, four next-gen consoles offer great value for gamers with fast AMD CPU and competitive AMD Navi GPU. In addition to that, both Sony and Microsoft stopped using slow mechanical hard drives that heavily impacted the loading time.
Both consoles use fast NVMe (Non-Volatile Memory Express) SSDs that offer read and writing speed up to 5.5 gigabits per second. Like a PC, Sony uses an internal PCIe Gen 4 M.2 NVMe storage drive for PS5. Microsoft, on the other hand, has a custom SSD with an expandable option from Seagate, also based on PCIe Gen 4.
The fast SSDs aside, since the consoles from Microsoft and Sony come with AMD CPU and GPU, it can utilize AMD's StoreMI technology. The technology that is available on AMD based desktops, offer faster storage integration helping in even faster load and boot times.
PS5 vs Series X
However, despite using similar technologies, Series X appears to have won the first round. As per testing, Series X has faster game load times than PlayStation 5. According to Gamespot's review, Xbox Series X beat PS5 in all five games tested. It should also be noted that Series X has a slightly better CPU and GPU.
In Arkham Night, Series X was able to load the game in just 58 seconds while PS5 took 1 minute and 7 seconds. In Monster Hunter: World, Series X's load time was 35 seconds compared to 51 seconds on PS5. In Final Fantasy 15, it was 48 seconds for Series X while 1 minute 10 seconds for PS5. Finally, in Red Dead Redemption 2, it was close. Series X loaded the game in 1 minute 4 seconds while PS5 fell just a second behind. However, both consoles are faster than the previous generation.
Mark Cerny, PS5's Chief Architect, had claimed that the PS5 would offer almost "instantaneous" load times that would be faster than the Xbox Series X. To his defense, all the games tested were backward compatible. Xbox is known for offering a vast library of backward compatible games, unlike PlayStation. Considering that, it may have better optimized the backward compatible games.
When PS5 launches with its optimized games exclusive games, the result might be different. PS5 has been customized to run next-gen console games and should be better optimized. Spider-Man: Miles Morales, which will be a PS5 exclusive, has a load time of just under 8 seconds while it took 56 seconds on the PS4.
However, Series X should also have optimized next-gen launch exclusives. Once both launch exclusives are there for comparison, it will be clear who wins the console race.