Which is better: Xbox X/S or PS5?

Find out which console will better suit your needs.

Images via Microsoft and Sony

November has been an exciting month for gamers with the release of multiple new next-generation consoles.

In the span of a single week, the public gained access to the Xbox Series X/S and the PlayStation 5. Both companies’ next-gen devices sold out worldwide after pre-orders went on sale in October. Many gamers have been able to get their hands on these new devices, though. 

With the upcoming holidays, many people want to have the opportunity to sit down and enjoy the next-gen gaming experience. But with the range of consoles available, it can be difficult to pick the one that’s right for them.

Here’s how we think each next-gen system stacks up against its competition in terms of design, specs, performance, and more.

Which next-gen console is better?

Design

Image via Microsoft

Each company released two different consoles in this generation at different price points. Both the Xbox Series S and PS5 Digital are digital-only consoles, meaning they’re incapable of playing games from a disc.

Given the lack of an optical drive, Xbox chose to completely redesign this model with a small sleek, streamlined white box. After finally getting my hands on the unit, I was shocked to see how small it was. This console is by far the smallest first-release Xbox console in any new generation, standing at 10.8 inches tall, 5.9 inches deep, and 2.5 inches wide in the vertical position. On top of its size, the console is almost silent while running. Even if high-intensity games are played, you often won’t hear a noise from the unit itself.

Image via Sony

The PS5 Digital, on the other hand, retains the same appearance as its more expensive model minus the disk drive. This thing is a goliath at 15.4 inches tall, 10.24 inches deep, and 4.09 inches wide. Until I got to see it in person, I didn’t realize just how big this console is. Fortunately, you can lay it on its side as well as stand it up, or else it may not fit in some users’ setups. Much like the Series S, when the PS5 Digital is running, you barely hear it. Heating is no issue on this console either since the fan system seems to keep the console at a cool temperature even while playing demanding games.

Xbox’s flagship model, the Series X, is about twice the width of the S and slightly taller. This machine is still a much more reasonable size than the PS5, but when it’s on its side, it just looks out of place. The console is meant to be stood up, although this won’t suit every setup since it does take up some room. The cooling on this system is highly effective and it hasn’t seemed to noticeably heat up at any stage for us. As far as noise goes, when a disc is used, you’ll hear it. But once you load into areas or the game installs fully, this is something that will only happen every now and then.

The standard PS5 is much the same as the Series X, making the only noticeable noise when the console is reading from a disc. Outside of this, the design is the same as its digital counterpart. 

Specs

Image via Microsoft

The PS5 and PS5 Digital boast the exact same specifications with the only difference being the lack of a disc drive inside the Digital version. Since this is the case, you can pick up a PS5 Digital for $399 and the flagship model for $499.

Both of these devices come with an 825 GB SSD, 3.5GHz, eight-core AMD Zen 2 CPU, 10.3 teraflop RDNA 2 GPU, and 16 GB of RAM. These specs are more than sufficient to produce stunning 4K visuals at fast frame rates. Right now, PlayStation doesn’t offer its own storage expansion options. But it has included a slot on the device for this purpose and plans to offer storage expansion in the future.

Xbox took a different approach to its multiple devices. The less powerful Series S will sell for an affordable $299, while the flagship Series X will set you back $499.

The Series S boasts a custom eight-core Zen 2 CPU with 10 GB of GDDR6 RAM, four Teraflop, 20-compute unit GPU. But where the S falls short is with the minimal 512 GB of internal storage. With just two last generation games installed as well as the Xbox operating system, my console was already up to 20 percent of its available capacity. As games get bigger, this is going to be a major issue. Fortunately for users, Xbox does offer storage expansion drives, but these are going to set you back further since they don’t come cheap.

Xbox Series X Specifications
CPU8x core 3.8GHz custom AMD Zen 2 CPU
GPU12-teraflop, 52CU’s at 1.825GHz custom AMD RDNA 2
RAM16GB GDDR6
SSD1 TB custom NVME

The Series X is full of top-of-the-range components, boasting a 3.8-GHz AMD Zen 2-based processor, 12-teraflop AMD RDNA 2 GPU with 52 Compute Units, 16 GB of RAM, and a massive one terabyte SSD storage drive. This console is as capable as any of running anything that’s thrown at it with the ability to play games in stunning 8K.

While the Xbox Series X may seem like the obvious choice between the four consoles in terms of specifications on paper, you need to first think about the situation you’ll be playing it in. If you don’t plan on hooking it up to a 4K TV, the Series X isn’t going to noticeably look superior to the Series S outside of frame rate. As far as visuals between the PS5 and Series X, they both look impressive. And while the PS5 is slightly less powerful, you don’t notice a massive difference in quality between the pair.

Storage is the greatest concern. The Series S doesn’t have adequate storage to be anyone’s main gaming console going into this generation of gaming. With file sizes only increasing, such as the new Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War boasting a massive 190 GB file size, you’re inevitably going to have to purchase an external storage drive. With the 825 GB on the PS5, you’ll have quite a bit of room before you’re required to expand. For the Series X, one TB is going to last you a while.

User interface

Screengrab via PlayStation

Sony has remodeled its user interface (UI) on the PS5. While the home screen does appear similar, the way it’s navigated has completely changed, as well as offering two different home screens with one being exclusively for games. The new card system seems like a clever thought and a way to assist players who are stuck during a game, but it wasn’t something I used once and often forgot about in favor of solving the problem myself. The way the PlayStation looks and navigates is great with a completely new feeling as a step up from the previous generation.

The sharing integration is something PlayStation seems to have put some thought into this time around, making it as easy as possible for players to show off their gameplay and experiences by both capturing screengrabs, video, or broadcasting live through Twitch or YouTube. Giving users such a simple way to do these things is going to encourage more people to use these features that often went unused on the PS4.

Image via Microsoft

Xbox has stuck with what it knows this time around. The new generation shares the same UI as the previous Xbox One X. This isn’t necessarily a negative since players upgrading to a new Xbox should know exactly where everything is. Given it’s a completely new generation, however, it does potentially take away the awe with the lack of a new experience for returning users—and an overhaul could have added something extra to the experience.

Similar to the PS5, Microsoft focused heavily on the social aspects of the new Series X/S, boasting gameplay recording, screengrabs, and broadcasting. The biggest miss Xbox has made in this aspect is that to stream your gameplay, you must use applications such as the Twitch app. While this works great, the lack of integration feels like an unnecessary step that just isn’t there on the PS5.

Performance

Image via Ubisoft

Both companies have knocked it out of the park with their new consoles in terms of performance. The Series X and PS5 are capable of stunning 8K as well as 4K in a capped 60 FPS. You can’t get this visual quality on any other console today and it’s something PC players have been bragging about for years. Seeing it finally come to consoles and be played on a large TV needs to be witnessed to understand the jump in quality from previous generations.

Even in the Series S that’s not capable of true 4K resolutions, the solid frame rate and high-quality 1440p display make it impressive to behold. If you’re someone who doesn’t have a 4K TV or isn’t interested in upgrading to one, then the Series S is probably the best console for your money performance-wise.

Load times have been cut down by large amounts on all consoles, including the Series S. You won’t often be stuck waiting for your game to load, and when it does load for a noticeable amount of time, it’s usually never over 30 seconds.

Controller

Image via Microsoft

Xbox, again, stuck to what it knows and released a new controller remarkably similar in appearance to that of the Xbox One. The only minor difference is the inclusion of a share button in the center. While visually there isn’t a lot that’s new to talk about the controller, it feels sturdy and well-built and is one of the heaviest controllers I’ve held while not being too heavy at only 287 grams.

The controller fits comfortably in your hands and easily gives you control over all the buttons and triggers you may need to use.

PS5 DualSense Controller – Image via Sony

Sony, on the other hand, introduced a new DualSense controller in this generation. This technically is by far the most advanced controller gamers have seen. Boasting haptic sensors, the vibration on this device is something you must experience to fully comprehend. It feels different and more precise than ever before. On top of this, the controller boasts adaptive triggers that can be made to require less or more force to press depending on a game’s intended task. In the game bundled with the console, Astro’s Playroom, you use both these features a lot and get a sense of where this technology shines. But unless developers are willing to embrace these features, they aren’t going to make a major difference in gameplay.

At first, the controller felt bulky in hand and it’s understandable why many people say it’s too large for them. After a short amount of use, however, the controller became comfortable and I had no issues navigating around it.

Games

Image via PlayStation Blog

Right now, there’s without a doubt no real competition for PlayStation in terms of games.

The Xbox Series X/S were supposed to launch with the new Halo Infinite game as an exclusive title. But that game has since been delayed, and as of now, the Microsoft consoles have no exclusive titles. The answer to this has been for Microsoft to push the Xbox Game Pass subscription service. While this is a fantastic way to play older titles upscaled for the new hardware, it just isn’t the same as playing new games that have been released exclusively for the console.

PlayStation launched with a handful of exclusive titles, including Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Sackboy: A Big Adventure, Demon Souls, and more. This line of games includes something for everyone, and since they’re all created with this specific console in mind, they effectively use many of its features.

While this could change in the future, the variety of exclusive games available on the PS5 makes it the clear winner in this category.

Final verdict

The next generation of gaming has treated gamers with a variety of choices. There’s something for every kind of gamer to have in this new rollout, but the PS5 seems to shine above its competitor.

Sony took risks in this generation by changing up aspects that players were familiar with in terms of system navigation, as well as completely redesigning the PlayStation controller to usher in the future of gaming.

In terms of performance, comparing the flagship model of each company, you’re not going to find a whole lot to complain about from either side. They both look spectacular and run smoothly.

Arguably the most important part of any console is its games. There was no competition to be had here for Sony, though, making the PS5 our clear choice for the best next-gen console right now.