2020 is the year of the next generation of consoles. Both Sony and Microsoft have released details about their next-gen systems. The power consoles have something in common, but differ in terms of appearance and technical details. Fans will have to look carefully this year to be able to decide which console is the better buy for them. We took a closer look at the differences between the Playstation 5 and the Xbox Series X. 


Microsoft and Sony are not stingy with superlatives when it comes to the announcement of their next-generation consoles. Both the Playstation 5 and the Xbox Series X have a lot of power under the hood. Both manufacturers promise significant leaps in performance. In fact, the technical details of both platforms are convincing and rely on similar basic specifications: PS5 and Xbox Series both use an AMD processor and have fast SSD storage.
In terms of technology, the two platforms are apparently not that far apart. However, there are differences - some are serious. The more information Sony and Microsoft publish, the more independent the consoles appear.

Everything as always? Exclusive games for Playstation 5 and Xbox Series X

Aside from hardware or visual differences, it is above all exclusive platform-oriented games that fans use as a decision-making basis for or against buying a console. The manufacturers also know this and rely on games that the competition does not offer. Basically, opinions differ on the subject of “exclusive titles”. Whether it is fair or even sensible to limit individual titles or series of games with regard to the target group “gamers” is often the subject of discussion. Exclusive games for Playstation 5 and Xbox Series X will still be the driving force in the next-gen year 2020.

The more information Microsoft and Sony publish about the launch titles, the more exclusive titles there are. Microsoft in particular has struck the market properly to buy development teams that will produce first-party titles from now on. Of course, there are also some exclusive games for Xbox Series X or for consoles of the Xbox One family. Among other things, exclusive titles such as “Senua's Saga: Hellblade 2”, the successor to Ninja Theory's successful “Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice”, are known so far. Thirty-party developers are also bringing exclusive games for the Xbox Series X onto the market, such as the Bloober Team, the makers of the Next-gen version to Observer, which is launching its new game “The Medium” exclusively for Xbox and PC. In addition, Halo: Infinite is one of the absolute draft horses - so that this game will accompany the launch of the Xbox Series X is hardly surprising.

Sony is also not stingy with big names when it comes to supporting the release of the Playstation 5 with software. With the PS5, the manufacturer is starting where it started with the Playstation 4. Sony had already presented 18 Playstation 5 games at a first reveal event, some of them first-party titles that appear as exclusive games. In particular, these games are known so far:

  • Spider-Man: Miles Morales
  • Gran Turismo
  • Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart
  • Sackboy: A Big Adventures
  • Horizon: Forbidden West
  • Demon's Souls
  • Deathloop
  • Ghostwire: Tokyo
  • Godfall (also for PC)

In any case, Microsoft and Sony deal differently with first-party productions. While Microsoft wants to bring out all such titles for Xbox One and Xbox Series X for at least a year, Sony relies on games that appear exclusively for the Playstation 5 and will not run on the previous console. The exclusive games are, however, only the tip of the iceberg: there are also multi-platform titles, including many triple A games such as Resident Evil: Village, Fortnite, Hitman 3, Dirt 5, offshoots of the sports game series by EA Sports, including Madden NFL 21, NBA 2K21 as well Assassin's Creed Valhalla.

Subscription services for Xbox Series X and Playstation 5

New technologies alone are no longer enough these days, fans expect extensive services from console manufacturers. Both Sony and Microsoft will also offer their subscription models with the release of the next generation of consoles - this also includes Game flat rates as part of Xbox Game Pass or Playstation Now. At Microsoft, Project xCloud is also available as a cloud gaming solution.

The future of gaming without such payment services is hardly conceivable - neither for console manufacturers nor for fans who like to reach into their pockets to use game libraries. Reach the sales that publishers generate with it steadily new records.

Microsoft sees the Game Pass as a key feature. Photo: André Volkmann

Microsoft sees the Game Pass as a key feature. Photo: André Volkmann

Gamers will therefore also be able to use online services for Playstation 5 and Xbox Series X. Mircrosoft continued the proven path and supported the Game Pass through the cloud project. All first-party games are automatically playable as part of the subscription. Microsoft even communicates Game Pass as a key feature for the future of the Xbox family.

Sony, on the other hand, has a similar, albeit somewhat weaker, service in its repertoire with Playstation Now - how PS Now will actually be implemented for the Playstation 5 is not yet known. However, the console manufacturer will not do without it. Overall, the Microsoft and Sony payment services differ, but the basic idea is similar. If Sony acts cleverly, companies could use the launch of the Playstation 5 as an anchor point for strengthening online services.

Backward Compatibility and “Smart Delivery”

Microsoft has achieved a coup with downward compatibility. The system should also be maintained for the Xbox Series X, then increasingly under the idea of ​​“Smart Delivery”: After that, all first-party titles and selected third-party productions - if purchased once - will be on the Xbox One and Xbox Series X will be playable. In the case of the next-gen console, then after an upgrade with a correspondingly adapted look. The hardware recognizes from the games stored in the account which installation is the one of choice.

Sony, on the other hand, traditionally relies on downward compatibility. To what extent is not yet known. There is only the statement that an “overwhelming part” of the PS4 games should run on the Playstation 5. If a game is compatible, it should probably benefit from the power of the PS5 and offer shorter loading times or higher resolutions.

Next-gen consoles: redesigned controllers

With regard to the controllers, Microsoft and Sony are using completely different strategies. Microsoft remains true to the line it has taken so far and sticks to the familiar design. The controller for Xbox Series X is ergonomically light - and hardly noticeable - adapted, contains a new share button and connectivity with USB-C. The control pad, on the other hand, has received a significant revision and is now based on eight-way operation. Otherwise there are no innovations, even the energy supply remains the same: two AA batteries are still required. After all: The controllers of the Xbox One are compatible with the Xbox Series X, so that custom controllers or elite versions can still be used.

Sony's DualSense wireless controller is an innovative control device. Image rights: Sony

Sony's DualSense wireless controller is an innovative control device. Image rights: Sony

Sony has its controller - well DualSense wireless controller - Vigorously revised and apparently aligned with the proclaimed motto “future of gaming”. In terms of color matching the Playstation 5, Sony is breaking new ground compared to the previous controller design. Everything is a bit rounder, the controller more powerful - there are also several new features, including the create button, adaptive triggers, haptic feedback and also USB-C connectivity. In addition, the DualSense wireless controller has an integrated rechargeable battery and a microphone, which can be used to communicate directly without connecting a headset.

The look of the consoles: “Fridge” vs. “Wifi router”

The next-gen consoles could hardly be more different. Those who are only interested in looks will have an easy time of it this year. Microsoft surprised at the unveiling event with the functional form of the Xbox Series X, which is erected on the vertical stand. You can still lie down the power console, but this time the size ratio between width and height is significantly different from that of its predecessors. The reason for the unusual design lies in the ventilation. In order to ensure an efficient air flow - with the Xbox Series X in a vertical position from above - Microsoft has opted for what fans call a "refrigerator" shape.

The Xbox Series X is simple and functional. Image rights: Microsoft

The Xbox Series X is simple and functional. Image rights: Microsoft

Sony, on the other hand, is creating a futuristic-looking design piece with the Playstation 5. The black look of its predecessors is a thing of the past. The PS5 relies on the color white, then with black accents and blue light. the Playstation 5 can be placed vertically or horizontally and relies on curves. In addition, there will be two versions right at the launch: One with a physical drive and a “Digital Edition” that does without it. There is also a range of accessories that range from a headset to a controller charging station and remote control.

Sony next-gen console looks futuristic and comes with plenty of optional accessories. Image rights: Sony

Sony next-gen console looks futuristic and comes with plenty of optional accessories. Image rights: Sony

The design of the Playstation 5 is a matter of taste. Some fans celebrate the bold step that Sony has taken. Others are disappointed and would have liked a simpler look. No matter how you twist and turn it: In the end, the futuristic look of the Playstation 5 is at least unique.

Playstation 5 vs. Xbox Series X: Technical Performance

Their technical specifications are extremely important for the next-gen consoles. Fast memories are often talked about: Both the Xbox Series X as well as the Playstation 5 rely on solid-state hard drives that take advantage of the NVM interface. This increases the transmission time in the data area significantly. Both consoles will therefore be characterized by an enormous boost in performance in terms of loading times. The capacity, on the other hand, differs significantly.

On paper, the Xbox Series X is slightly ahead in terms of performance. Image rights: Microsoft

On paper, the Xbox Series X is slightly ahead in terms of performance. Image rights: Microsoft

One terabyte is available on the Xbox Series X and 5 gigabytes on the Playstation 825. That sounds like a lot of storage capacity in both cases, but because modern games are data guzzlers, gamers will not be able to avoid connecting additional external storage devices to their next-gen consoles. Microsoft is working with Seagate to do this and is launching an external 1 TB SSD. In addition, the console giant has already confirmed that gamers should not experience any loss of performance when using it. This brings with it a limitation: Of course, gamers will also be able to connect other external hard drives to transfer data or games - however, each game must be pushed onto the internal hard drive or the Seagate SSD in order to play it on the Xbox Series X. An exception applies to Xbox One games; these can be controlled directly.

Sony is opening up more and allowing gamers to use various currently available m.2 NVME hard drives, the reason being that the PS5 has an expansion slot. Sony's technology head Mark Cerny has already made it clear that connected hard drives must have at least the speed of the installed ones in order to actually use the performance advantage of the PS5. USB storage devices can also be connected and backwards compatible PS4 games can be started directly from them.

Both next-gen consoles rely on AMD

Whether the Playstation 5 or the Xbox Series X is faster in the end remains an open question. The speed can only be assessed when both consoles are actually available for tests. On paper, the Xbox Series X has a slight advantage when it comes to graphics computing power: Microsoft's console is said to be capable of around 12.2 teraflops, while the Playstation 5 is 10.3. Whether that ultimately makes a visible difference remains to be seen.

Both next-gen consoles rely on processing units from AMD, more precisely on a Zen 2 architecture including Navi RDNA 2 graphics unit. Both consoles support resolutions in 4K (possibly even up to 8K) and 120 FPS, and ray tracing also ensures realistic lighting effects. The big difference between the Playstation 5 and the Xbox Series X lies in the sober numbers on paper: It's about clock frequencies or arithmetic units. In the end, it also depends on how well the developers align their games with the hardware. The fact is: In any case, the next-gen consoles will be lengths faster than their predecessors.

Even if the Xbox Series X in theory puts the better numerical values ​​on paper, a tech demo based on the Unreal 5 engine has already shown how impressive the graphics performance of the Playstation 5 is:

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Power consumption is a far less illuminated topic at the moment. Both console manufacturers leave the fans in the dark. Only Sony knows that the sleep mode should be more economical than with the Playstation 4. 

The price regions in which the consoles will move at the time of publication are also unclear. There will be at least two prices due to the variants of the Playstation 5, the version without a drive should be cheaper. Prices are currently between 499 and 599 euros, each for the Xbox Series X and Playstation 5. The price of the new generation could not only be reflected in the hardware: According to Sony CEO Jimy Ryan, PS5 games could also become more expensive because the production costs will be higher than in the area of ​​the PS4. The difference shouldn't be too extreme.

Playstation 5 and Xbox Series X will be in the running from the end of the year, when both power consoles will appear.

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