The rivalry between the PS5 and the Xbox Series X is heated. Both the PS5 and the Xbox Series X have been reviewed, and we have to say that both systems have impressed us. Both consoles are capable of 8K resolutions, high frame rates, strong processors, and fast SSDs. But which of the two systems is the better gaming machine, and which has the larger library?
While specifications are useful, they only tell half of the picture when it comes to performance. As a result, there are no grades for this section. The Xbox Series X, on the other hand, offers more powerful hardware in terms of both GPU and SSD. See how this gear performs in action in the performance section.
The PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X are both $500. At first glance, this category appears to be a tie because the two systems are so similar. The basic PS5 and Xbox Series X are not, however, the only options. The PS5 Digital Edition costs $400, and the Xbox Series S costs $300.
The PS5 and PS5 Digital Edition are identical, except the former’s 4K Blu-ray physical disc drive. The latter, as the name implies, lacks a disc drive. The Xbox Series S, on the other hand, features drastically different hardware than the Xbox Series X, such as a less powerful GPU, a smaller SSD, and less RAM.
As a result, both the PS5 Digital Edition and the Xbox Series S have viable applications: the former for digital diehards, the latter for casual players or auxiliary setups. Even yet, it’s difficult to identify a clear winner because the Xbox Series S is a unique system rather than a console variant. The most essential thing right now is that both full-fledged systems cost the same amount of money.
Game libraries on the PS5 and Xbox Series X are fundamentally different. The Xbox Series X is built on the assumption that you’ll continue playing the same games you did on the Xbox One, and that you’ll want optimal performance across the board for all of your favourites. The PS5, on the other hand, boasts a slew of unique games that debuted alongside the new platform – though, to be fair, most of them are also accessible on the PS4.
At the moment, it’s difficult to deny that the PS5 offers a more diverse game library. The PS5 launched with Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Demon’s Souls, Sackboy: A Big Adventure, and the surprisingly charming Astro’s Playroom as first-party titles.
When compared to the Xbox Series X, which didn’t have any exclusive games at launch. Instead, Microsoft announced a list of 30 titles that are “tuned for Xbox Series X/S,” including fan favourites like Gears 5, Ori and the Will of the Wisps, and Forza Horizon 4. While the Xbox Series X optimizations are amazing, these titles aren’t all entirely new, and they’re all available on Xbox One, PC, or both platforms.
One staffer chose the PS5 over the Xbox Series X due to its stronger game choices (and because Xbox Series X titles can be played on a PC). However, Microsoft’s game lineup should improve over time.
Aside from that, third-party games such as Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, Borderlands 3, Fortnite, Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, and others are available on both systems. Late last year, they both got Cyberpunk 2077, Madden 21, and Destiny 2, and third-party parity is expected to continue this year and beyond. Both systems have good backwards compatibility features, albeit that is covered in more detail later.
It’s also worth mentioning Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, for which Sony has yet to come up with a satisfactory solution. This $15-per-month membership service allows you to download and play over 100 games from a range of genres on your Xbox One, Xbox 360, Xbox One S, PC, and even Android.
The “PS Plus Collection,” which allows PlayStation Plus subscribers to download a few dozen PS4 classics, was just announced by Sony. However, because it isn’t as broad as Xbox Game Pass, Sony might yet increase these offers significantly. Sony is working on a new project called Spartacus, which might combine PlayStation Plus and PS Now and serve as a direct competitor to Xbox Game Pass, although it won’t be released until 2022.
It’s difficult to compare PS5 and Xbox Series X performance right now. While the Tom’s Guide team can work from home indefinitely, we don’t have the instruments to accurately test resolution and frame rate, nor can we compare games side by side or even get second opinions.
With that in mind, I compared two games, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla and Devil May Cry 5: Special Edition, on both systems. The former is a massive open-world game where you can easily track load times as you move from one faraway location on the map to another. The latter is a fast-paced action game in which a frame rate reduction is quickly visible.
First, as far as I can tell, Sony’s lofty statements about the PS5’s load times aren’t overblown. It took less than a minute to get into Assassin’s Creed Valhalla from the main menu, and quick travel took less than 10 seconds from point to point. While the Xbox Series X took longer to launch the game at first (almost a minute), the rapid travel time was identical.
I honestly wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between the PS5 and Xbox Series X versions of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla if you threw me an ambiguous controller and a screen in front of me. Both systems ran the game in 4K at 60 frames per second (though I realise that the 4K is likely upscaled in both situations), and there was no discernible difference in animation fluidity, lighting, or other aspects of the game. On the Xbox Series X, texture pop-in seemed to be a little more obvious, though that could just be the location I was in.
The majority of the time, whether you enjoy a console’s design is a matter of personal taste. My own choice, however, is that I cannot tolerate the way the PS5 looks. The system is not only ridiculously huge; it’s also a headache to switch from vertical to horizontal mode, and the regular version has an unattractive, asymmetrical design.
The “power” and “disc eject” buttons are indistinguishable on the front panel, which is prone to fingerprints. It’s not often that I propose delaying a console purchase to wait for a more attractive makeover, but you should consider doing so with the PS5.
The Xbox Series X, on the other hand, is still somewhat large, but it makes greater use of its space. Rather than looking like an enlarged router, the Xbox Series X is a sleek black box that resembles a compact tower PC in a vertical shape (or a tiny refrigerator). It contains a well-defined power button as well as a pairing button for quick wireless connections.
Backwards compatibility is fantastic on both the PS5 and the Xbox Series X, but there’s no disputing that the Xbox has a deeper dive into Microsoft’s catalogue. The Xbox Series X is not just compatible with almost every Xbox One game, but also with many Xbox 360 and original Xbox games. While it doesn’t cover every attempt Microsoft has made at backwards compatibility (the Xbox 360 can still play many original Xbox games that the Series X can’t), it’s a commendable effort with no friction.
Unless you count the PS5’s PlayStation Now streaming service for PS3 games, the PS5 can play almost every PS4 game on the market. Still, it’s not the same as playing games on a console that you already own.
Cloud gaming isn’t a big deal on either the PS5 or the Xbox Series X because you can download games and play them on either platform natively. However, as cloud gaming becomes more popular in the coming years, it’s important to understand where each company sits at the start of this console generation.
PlayStation Now is a feature on the PS5 that allows you to stream a range of PS3 and PS4 games to your PS5 or PC. Certain PS4 games are also available for download. It costs at least $8 per month and is not available on mobile devices.
As previously mentioned, the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate costs $15 per month and allows you to stream games to Android. On a console or PC, though, you must still download full titles.
Neither Sony nor Microsoft’s cloud gaming services are complete at this time. The Xbox Series X’s version is slightly better in that it has a mobile option, but the PS5’s version is slightly better in that it includes a streaming option for non-gaming PCs. This one appears to be a tie.