PlayStation 5 vs. Xbox Series S

The next generation of gaming is nearly upon us, and following Microsoft’s recent unveiling of its disc-less Xbox Series S, we know more about the new Xbox systems than ever before.

We’re still patiently waiting to learn more about Sony’s PlayStation 5, but now that the floodgates are opened on Microsoft’s end, the wait for more PS5 information shouldn’t be long. Sony recently announced it will be holding a PS5 digital event, at which we’ll likely learn much more about the system, including its price and release date.

The marketing plan for both companies has been different than what we’re used to, but nonetheless, we’ll be getting new, upgraded systems in just a couple of months. This holiday, you’ll have a tough choice to make between Xbox and PlayStation, but we aim to make that choice a little easier for you with this handy comparison guide.

Here, we’ll compare everything we know about the PS5 and the newly announced Xbox Series S.

Further reading:

PlayStation 5 vs. Xbox Series S Specs

Right off the bat, we need to point out that the PS5 and Xbox Series S are aimed toward slightly different audiences, and their specs do differ a considerable amount. The PS5 is aimed toward a “premium” audience, looking for high-end visuals and performance, while the Series S is presented as more of an affordable option to get as many players on board as possible. You’ll notice the PS5 is a more powerful system in many ways than the Series S, but that doesn’t necessarily mean deciding between the two will come easily. When it comes to specs, both offer custom SSDs (solid-state drives), meaning games and apps will load incredibly fast. This is a huge upgrade from the current generation’s HDDs (hard disk drives), which are starting to show their age as games become much larger in scope.

The main difference between the two on the surface is that the Series S lacks a disc drive, while the standard PS5 will accept 4K UHD Blu-Ray discs. This could be a major factor for some, especially those with less reliable internet connections. And while we still don’t know how much the standard PS5 will cost, it will certainly be more expensive than the Series S. This will likely play a part in choosing one over the other, as well.

Another main difference in specs is attributed to the PS5’s 10.3 TFLOPS, 36 CUs, and 16GB GDDR6 memory — compared to the Xbox Series S’s 4 TFLOPS, 20 CUs, and 10GB GDDR6 memory. We’ll get into the specifics of what that means later on, but the point is that you’re getting a less powerful but more affordable machine if you buy a Series S. Microsoft has also noted that the Series S is the “smallest Xbox ever,” and while we don’t know the exact dimensions of it, you can guarantee it will be more compact than the PS5. This, again, might make a difference depending on the space you have at your disposal.

Here’s what to expect from each system, in terms of specs.

PlayStation 5 Xbox Series S
Dimensions  –
Weight 10.54 pounds  –
Color Black and White White
CPU 8-core, 3.5GHz Custom Zen 2 8-core, 3.6 GHz, AMD Zen 2
GPU 36 CUs, 10.3 TFLOPS, 2.23GHz 20 CUs, 4 TFLOPS, 1.565GHz
Memory 16GB GDDR6 10GB GDDR6
Memory bandwidth 448GB/s 224GB/s
Storage 825GB Custom SSD 512GB NVME SSD
Optical drive 4K UHD Blu-ray drive No, digital only
4K Yes 1440p, scalable 4K
HDR  –
Ports Includes USB and NVME slot USB
Online subscription PS Plus Xbox Live Gold
Price Likely $500-$600 $299
Availability Holiday 2020 November 10, 2020
Digital Trends review Coming soon Coming soon

PlayStation 5 vs. Xbox Series S graphics

But what about visuals? This is yet another possible major factor for some when choosing between the two. Despite the noticeable difference in specs, either one will offer beautiful visuals — it just comes down to what you’re looking for in a console. But let’s compare each system’s teraflops (TFLOPS), as it’s a great place to start when evaluating the visual fidelity of the machines. You’ve probably seen or heard this term pop up recently as a buzzword throughout the marketing of each system. A TFLOP is a measurement of a computer or console’s performance, and it refers to the ability of a machine to calculate one trillion floating-point operations per second.

When comparing the two, the PS5 features 10.3 TFLOPS, over double that of the Series S’s 4 TFLOPS. This means the PS5 can calculate 10.3 trillion floating-point operations per second, compared to the Series S’s 4 trillion. This is partially why the PS5 will be able to output at a higher resolution than the Series S. In fact, the Series S has fewer TFLOPS than that of the PS4 Pro, which sits at around 4.2. Still, the Series S is way more powerful than its predecessor, the Xbox One — and intends for it to offer 1440p resolution at up to 120 frames per second, without the need for a 4K display.

The PS5 will feature 36 CUs and a GPU frequency capped at 2.23GHz — compared to Xbox Series S’s 20 CUs and 1.565GHz. In essence, these figures determine a machine’s clock speed, or the rate at which the system can perform internal operations. The PS5 will allow for a variable clock speed, based on what is required of the GPU. As for the Series S, it will deliver four times the processing power of the Xbox One, making it a worthy choice for a next-generation machine, especially at that price.

All in all, despite one being more powerful than the other, you might not “need” a system with 10.3 TFLOPS. Even with the less powerful Xbox Series S, it’s still a beast compared to what we have now, and it’s able to deliver faster load times and higher (and more steady) frame rates, all thanks to the Xbox Velocity Architecture.

PlayStation 5 vs. Xbox Series S resolution

In terms of resolution, you’ll notice a difference between the two machines — particularly in that the PS5 will support 4K output at 120Hz, and is said to be future-proofed with 8K support as well. Since 8K won’t be the standard for several more years, that might not be a huge factor for you right now, but it is forward-thinking that Sony is opting to future-proof its machine with 8K support. The Xbox Series S, on the other hand, will deliver great visuals at 1440p resolution and up to 120 frames per second, and can also scale your games up to 4K if you have a display that supports it. This means you can still get beautiful-looking games without the need for a 4K screen, though if you have one, games will look even better.

Both machines seem to offer support of “up to 120 frames per second,” though you’ll need a display that can render these fast frame rates. With both machines, you’ll have a much better visual experience with less screen tearing if you’ve got a monitor that features 120Hz refresh rates — which the Xbox Series S and PS5 will support.

In yet another attempt to future-proof, both will feature an HDMI 2.1 port, and despite this not being the standard quite yet, the systems will be ready to go once HDMI 2.1 becomes more ubiquitous. HDMI 2.1 will allow for much lower latency, improved frame rates, and eventually, 8K support — just don’t expect to enjoy resolutions that high with the Series S.

Again, if high resolution is important to you, the PS5 should be your first choice in this regard, as the Series S is capped at 1440p (with scalable 4K).

PlayStation 5 vs. Xbox Series S storage

Yet another important factor with each system is the amount of onboard memory they’ll come with, and the two differ in this regard. The Xbox Series S will come with a 512GB NVME SSD, while the PS5 will launch with an 825GB SSD. This might seem like a tremendously low amount on both fronts, and while it technically is, the power of the SSD will likely make up for it. With the PS5, its custom SSD features a raw read bandwidth of around 5.5GB per second, meaning it will be able to run more efficiently than a standard SSD off the shelf. In other words, it will run more efficiently and it will allow for the decompression of file sizes, due to the Oodle Kraken algorithm from RAD Game Tools.

This decompression of file sizes is key and will free up space and lower the amount of texture pop-in — allowing files to be read in milliseconds. This means that despite the seemingly low hard-drive size of the PS5, the files for games themselves should, in theory, be smaller, and you’ll get more mileage out of the SSD overall. This will, of course, be up to the developer, but we’ve got our fingers crossed that the days of 150GB+ install sizes will be over.

The PS5 will play PS4 games (at least a large portion of them), and we got to see footage of just how fast the SSD will work, last year. Takashi Mochizuki of Bloomberg uploaded a video of the PS5 running the PS4 version of Marvel’s Spider-Man, compared to the same game running on a PS4 Pro. The result was staggering, as the game was able to load on PS5 in less than a second, compared to eight seconds on a PS4 Pro. Now, bear in mind, this is a less technically demanding game than something you might see on PS5 natively, but it’s still a great way to measure the SSD’s speed. Check out the footage below:

As for the Xbox Series S, it, too, will feature an SSD, though it is different than the one included with PS5. We do know the Series S’s hard drive will feature a read speed of 2.4GB per second, which is less than half of that of the PS5. Even at 2.4GB per second, this is still a massive leap compared to what we have with the current generation in which the Xbox One X only reads at 120MB per second.

And if you’re worried about storage space on your machines, both the PS5 and the Xbox Series S will allow for external storage upgrades. However, as Mark Cerny mentioned in his rundown of the PS5 earlier this year, the M2 SSDs required for an upgrade won’t be available on the market until as early as 2021 — possibly later. You’ll also be able to purchase separate custom 1TB storage cards to use on your Xbox Series S, and you’ll need them if you plan on storing next-generation games, as they must be installed onto either the system or these storage cards, as opposed to a USB drive or external drive.

While we know how fast both SSDs will be based on sheer numbers, it’s not exactly clear how they will perform in practice, as it will ultimately depend on what you’re trying to run. As the technology improves, the size and scope of games likely will, too, so everything seems to be scaling upward. At the end of the day, the PS5 will come with a larger hard drive than the Xbox Series S, so keep that in mind when making your decision to purchase.

PlayStation 5 vs. Xbox Series S price

Price is likely the most important factor for consumers looking to purchase a next-generation machine. In fact, many potential buyers will not compare specs at all, and will purchase whichever system is less expensive. For this reason, Microsoft has prioritized low cost with the Xbox Series S, making it easy for consumers to jump into the next generation of games. The Series S is less powerful than the PS5, yes, but it will only cost $299.99. This is a massive win for Microsoft, and while we don’t know how much the standard PS5 (or the all-digital version) will cost, many are predicting it will be more expensive than the Series S.

Microsoft has also announced that you can pre-order the Xbox Series S starting on September 22 through various retailers. What’s more is that Microsoft is offering the Series S as part of its All Access program, allowing you to pay a monthly amount to gain immediate access to the system and Game Pass Ultimate with no upfront cost — just like buying a new smartphone. With the Xbox Series S, specifically, it will cost you $24.99 (34.99 for the Xbox Series X) each month, and you’ll receive your console right away, along with two years of Game Pass Ultimate. This, again, is just a testament to Microsoft’s consumer-friendly approach. So far, we don’t know of any program like this from Sony with the PS5.

We’ve seen how a console’s price can impact its perception and overall sales. Just look at the way PS3 performed in 2006, when it was released at a staggering $599.99. Even though Sony was able to catch up to the Xbox 360, it took nearly the entire generation to win back consumers, all mostly due to getting started on the wrong foot. And the same can be said about the Xbox One in 2013, though it also had a myriad of marketing issues leading up to its release. The Xbox One was $499.99 when it released and was $100 more expensive than the PS4 at the time. This alone steered people toward Sony’s new machine and, again, set the tone for the entire generation. That’s why it’s so important for a system to launch at a competitive price.

Unfortunately, we still aren’t sure how much the PS5 will cost or when we’ll be able to pre-order, though some are predicting the standard version will be anywhere from $400 to $600. In February 2020, a Bloomberg report noted the cost to produce a PS5 was around $450, leading many to latch on to the $500 estimate. But at the time, we were unaware of the PS5 Digital Edition. Now that we know there are two versions of the PS5, it’s unclear which edition the Bloomberg report was referring to in its report. We can assume that the standard PS5 will be significantly more expensive than the Digital Edition, but by how much is still unknown. We know the beefier, more powerful Xbox Series X will debut at $499.99 and is $200 more than the Xbox Series S. This might point to the price difference between the two PS5 SKUs, though many seem to think both of Sony’s machines will be more expensive than their competitors.

What we can probably infer is that the standard PS5 will almost assuredly be more expensive than the Xbox Series S — simply given the specs between the two. It’s worth noting that it isn’t unusual for a console manufacturer to take a loss on a new system, at least initially. In 2006, Sony took a massive loss on the PS3, with the $599.99 launch model costing around $840 to produce at the time. It’s unlikely the company will take that much of a loss with the PS5, but given the history, it’s possible Sony could at least match the prices introduced by Microsoft.

As for when you can get each system, we only know about Xbox Series S (and its bigger brother, the Series X), which launches on November 10, 2020. This means the system will be out in time for Black Friday and will be ready to launch around the time as a few important cross-generational games like Assassin’s Creed Valhalla and Cyberpunk 2077. The PS5 will likely release around the same time, possibly a week later on November 17. It’s very unlikely it will release a week prior on November 3, as that is Election Day in the United States — which is one of the biggest markets for Sony. And, as history has shown, every PlayStation console since the PS3 (including PS Vita) has released in November, so the company will likely continue that trend going forward.

It’s currently unclear what production numbers look like for Microsoft, but we’re hoping the Xbox Series S will be readily available come November 10. Microsoft isn’t known for product shortages, so we’re hoping that will continue to be the case when both of its systems launch this year. As for the Sony, Nikkei and Bloomberg reported that Sony will produce around 9 million PS5 units by March 31, 2021, in attempts to squash any supply issues.

PlayStation 5 vs. Xbox Series S games

Demon’s Souls remake for PS5.

Aside from price, the other major factor that will sway consumers is the games available on each machine. Both will feature many of the same third-party titles like Cyberpunk 2077, The Lord of the Rings: Gollum, Fortnite, and Resident Evil: Village. We already know of a lot of games that will appear on both systems, and will likely find out more as we approach their launches.

When it comes to a first-party lineup of games, Sony will have a wider selection, at least at first. Microsoft has spent recent years acquiring more studios and focusing more on exclusive games, but it will likely be a while before we’ll see those games come to fruition. We know the PS5 will have heavy-hitter exclusives like Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Horizon 2: Forbidden West, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, and the remake of Demon’s Souls, along with other games from developers like Santa Monica Studios and Naughty Dog.

As for Microsoft, we know we’ll be getting a new Fable, Forza Motorsport, Obsidian’s new RPG, Avowed, Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II, and of course, Halo Infinite. It takes time to acquire studios and develop games, so expect to see more from Microsoft as the generation progresses. When comparing the lineups of both platforms, there are a lot of similarities, especially with the third-party games.

Microsoft seems like it’s focusing more on shooters and online experiences like Gears, Halo, Sea of Thieves, and State of Decay — while the games you’ll get on the PS5 will lean more into single-player, narrative-driven adventures. That isn’t to say the PS5 won’t feature shooters and Xbox Series S won’t include story-focused games, though. A game like Hellblade II will absolutely prioritize its story, and it’s an Xbox exclusive.

Here are the games confirmed to come to PS5:

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla Dustborn Horizon: Forbidden West Overcooked: All You Can Eat Solar Ash
Astro’s Playroom Dying Light 2 Hyper Scape Outriders Spider-Man: Miles Morales
Atomic Heart The Elder Scrolls Online Immortals: Fenyx Rising Paradise Lost Stray
Battlefield 6 Far Cry 6 JETT: The Far Shore The Pathless Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League
Bugsnax FIFA 21 Just Dance 2021 Planet Coaster: Console Edition TemTem
Call of Duty Black Ops: Cold War Final Fantasy VII Remake Kena: Bridge of Spirits Pragmata Tribes of Midgard
Chivalry 2 Fortnite Little Devil Inside Project Athia Unknown 9: Awakening
Chorus Ghostwire: Tokyo LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga Quantum Error Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2
Control Godfall The Lord of the Rings: Gollum Rainbow Six: Quarantine Vampire the Masquerade – Swansong
Cris Tales Goodbye Volcano High Madden 21 Rainbow Six Siege Warframe
Cyberpunk 2077 Gotham Knights Marvel’s Avengers Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart Watch Dogs: Legion
Death Loop Gothic Maquette Recompile The Witcher III: Wild Hunt
Demon’s Souls Remake Gran Turismo 7 Metal: Hellsinger Resident Evil: Village Worms Rumble
Destiny 2 Grand Theft Auto V NBA 2K21 Returnal WRC 9
Destruction: All Stars Haven NBA Live 21 Riders Republic Yakuza: Like a Dragon
Dirt 5 Heavenly Bodies Observer: System Redux Sackboy: A Big Adventure
DOOM Eternal Hitman III Oddworld: Soulstorm Scarlet Nexus
Dragon Age 4 Hood: Outlaws and Legends Outriders Sherlock Holmes: Chapter One

Xbox Series X (and Series S) games:

12 Minutes Dragon Age 4 Gothic Remake Moonray The Sims 5
Aragami 2 Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age Grand Theft Auto 5 NBA 2K21 Song of Iron
As Dusk Falls Dying Light 2 Graven Nth^0 Infinity Reborn Soulborn
The Artful Escape Earthlock 2 Grounded Observer (System Redux) S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2
The Ascent Echo Generation The Gunk Ori and the Will of the Wisps State of Decay 3
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla The Elder Scrolls Online Halo Infinite The Outer Worlds Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League
Avowed Everwild Haven Outriders Tetris Effect: Connected
Balan Wonderworld Exo One Hitman 3 Overcooked: All You Can Eat Tell Me Why
Battlefield 6 Exomecha Hello Neighbor 2 Paradise Lost Tunic
The Big Con Fable Hood: Outlaws and Legends Party Crasher Simulator Ultimate Fishing Simulator 2
Blood Bowl 3 The Falconeer Hyper Scape Phantasy Star Online 2 Unexplored 2 – The Wayfarer’s Legacy
Bright Memory: Infinite Far Cry 6 Immortals: Fenyx Rising Planet Coaster Unknown 9: Awakening
Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War FIFA 21 In Sound Mind Pragmata Vampire the Masquerade – Bloodlines 2
Call of the Sea Fortnite In Sound Mind Psychonauts 2 Vampire the Masquerade – Swansong
Chivalry 2 Forza Horizon 4 Lake Psyhotel Warframe
Chorus Forza Motorsport Last Stop Rainbow Six Quarantine Warhammer 40,000: Darktide
Control Gears 5 LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga Rainbow Six: Siege Watch Dogs Legion
Cris Tales Gears Tactics Little Nightmares 2 Resident Evil: Village Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood
Crossfire X Gotham Knights The Lord of the Rings: Gollum Sable White Shadows
Cyberpunk 2077 Gothic Remake Mad Streets Scarlet Nexus The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Cygni: All Guns Blazing Grand Theft Auto 5 Madden NFL 21 Scorn WRC 9
Demon Turf Graven Marvel’s Avengers Sea of Thieves Yakuza: Like A Dragon
Destiny 2 Grounded The Medium The Second Extinction
Dirt 5 The Gunk Metal: Hellsinger Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2
Doom Eternal Halo Infinite MicroMan Shredders

It’s also worth touching upon the notion of backward compatibility — which both systems will indeed include, though each platform will be handling this feature differently. The Xbox Series S and Series X will handle backward compatibility the same way as Xbox One. It all works through software, instead of “true” backward compatibility in the traditional sense. The solution Microsoft has come up with is consumer friendly, cost efficient, and works with a huge library of games from the original Xbox to current titles.

With the PS5, it’s a little more ambiguous, especially since Sony hasn’t focused on backward compatibility this generation. We do know the company has confirmed that “the overwhelming majority of the 4,000+ PS4 titles will be playable on PS5,” but this statement isn’t clear. Which games will work? How does the company decide which games will be compatible? What about PS3 and older titles from the PlayStation catalog? We’ve heard rumors that the PS5 will only be backward compatible with PS4 games, so it might be best to temper expectations when thinking about playing older titles from previous generations.

But we do know a large selection of current-generation games will feature upgrades to the next-generation versions within the same family — some free, and others will cost a small fee. For example, games like The Witcher III, Cyberpunk 2077, Grand Theft Auto V, Rainbow Six Siege, and Control will all be upgradable, and the list continues to grow as we get closer to this holiday season. Do keep in mind that the Series S versions of these games will be presented at a lower resolution than the Series X counterparts — as well as the PS5 versions.

PlayStation 5 vs. Xbox Series S controllers

Both the PS5 and Xbox Series S systems will come packaged with a controller, so let’s get into the differences of each. The Series S will feature the same controller that comes with the Series X, but it will be Robot White instead of black. This controller mirrors the Xbox One controller but comes with some new enhancements for the upcoming generation. Microsoft boasts “improved ergonomics,” a new hybrid D-pad, better grip on the triggers, and the new Share button. It won’t be much of a departure from the already fantastic Xbox One controller, but will come packed with some new bells and whistles that make it better.

The PS5’s new controller, DualSense, is an even bigger departure from its predecessor for many reasons. Obviously, dropping the DualShock moniker is a major difference, but the controller itself is a fresh take, as well. It will feature adaptive triggers that offer varying degrees of resistance based on how hard you pull them. The DualSense will also feature haptic feedback, and replaces its Share button with a new Create button, instead. This new button will likely be coupled with enhanced software that focuses not just on sharing, but editing and creating videos and images.

The biggest change comes with the DualSense’s appearance — dropping the solid color found with most PS4 DualShocks. What you get is a mix of black, white, and blue, mirroring the PS5 system itself. Sony hasn’t confirmed the existence of other colors, but we’ll likely see more pop up as time goes on. The same can be said about the Xbox Series S and X controllers.

Both seem comparable, but the true test will be how each will feel in your hands. At this point, we have a better idea of what the Xbox controller will feel like, since it’s modeled after the same one from this generation. However, the DualSense seems to be a lot different than what we might be used to.

It’s also unknown how much each controller will cost. Again, with the Xbox Series S controller, we have a better understanding of its value since it’s so similar to that of the Xbox One, which you can purchase new for between $50 and $65. A new DualShock 4 is around $65 as well, so we can assume the DualSense will likely be around the same price, if not more.

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