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PS5 hardware specs unveiled, but is it a match for the Xbox Series X?

PS5 specs revealed: How does it stack up against the Xbox Series X?
(Image credit: Sony)

Sony has finally spilled the beans on the hardware that will be going into its upcoming PlayStation 5, better known as the PS5. But how does it compare to Microsoft’s Xbox Series X in the battle of the best video game consoles?

Sony’s Road to PlayStation 5 talk was originally going to be given at the Game Developers Conference 2020 (GDC), but the event was cancelled due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. Rather than cancel the talk entirely, Sony decided to present the talk digitally, with PS5 Lead Designer Mark Cerny taking the reins to deliver an interesting, if bizarre rundown of the PS5’s capabilities. As the talk was meant for GDC, we expected it to be very hardware and developer focused - that wasn’t the weird part. It was the fake crowd combined with Cerny’s calming voice that gave us some real through the looking glass vibes. It was like a weird episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Despite the crowd of digital mannequins though, Cerny gave a fascinating talk walking through what the PS5 will be capable of, the hardware inside and why Sony made those choices. So enough chatter, what’s under the hood?

PS5 Specs

While we didn’t get to see the console itself, we did get a good look at the specs of the upcoming PS5.

  • CPU: AMD Zen 2 with 8 Cores at 3.5GHz (variable frequency)
  • GPU: 10.28 TFLOPs, 36 CUs at 2.23GHz (variable frequency), RDNA 2 architecture
  • RAM: 16GB GDDR6
  • Storage: Custom 825GB SSD
  • Expandable storage: NVMe SSD slot
  • Optical drive: 4K Blu-ray drive

In the words of Austin Powers, “whoopty doo Basil, what does it all mean”? In short, the PS5 is a bit of  beast and it's going to be significantly faster and more powerful than the current PS4 Slim and even the PS4 Pro. There’s a lot of custom or modified technology in this console too, with Sony pushing the importance of their SSD solution. To help us bust through the techno jargon, we spoke with Paul Lilly, a PC hardware specialist usually found over at PC Gamer or Maximum PC, to see what he thought of the reveal.

“I have mixed feelings about Sony's PlayStation 5 specs reveal. We knew all along it would be based on AMD's Zen 2 CPU and RDNA 2 GPU architectures, a combination that should deliver a high-end gaming experience, so that's exciting.”

PS5 vs Xbox Series X: Which is the most powerful next-gen games console? 

Now that we know the specs for the Sony’s PS5, we can finally compare them to Microsoft’s Xbox Series X, which had its latest information campaign just a few days ago. So who wins the first battle of this latest console war? Once again we turn to our hardware specialist Paul Lilly.

“From a technical standpoint, the Xbox Series X is the more impressive console. The GPU is the most important part of any gaming system, and looking at the specs, it has the PS5 beat in that department.” Looking at the specs side-by-side, the difference is obvious. Xbox Series X has a 12 teraflop GPU compared to the PS5’s 10.28 teraflops. Xbox Series X also has a faster CPU, which is another important factor. But the competition might not be as cut and dry as the numbers make it seem.

PS5 reveal

(Image credit: Sony)

“Sony is really hyping the storage scheme in the PS5. Both consoles are finally adopting SSD storage, which has been a staple of gaming PCs for a long time now. But the raw bandwidth Sony is claiming—5.5GB/s—and the custom controller hardware could be a boon for gaming,” explains Paul. During the talk, Mark Cerny talked at length about what their custom SSD could do - we’re talking nearly eliminating load times which means you’ll be able to get straight into your games. No more sitting in an elevator waiting for the level to load.

How much will the PS5 and Xbox Series X cost?

Neither Sony nor Microsoft has said anything about pricing yet, potentially because the current global climate is so unstable that neither company knows yet. The coronavirus pandemic has led to significant manufacturing delays around the world, but especially in China where the outbreak started. Given that both consoles will likely be produced primarily in China, this could have a serious knock on effect for availability and cost.

“It's hard to predict where things will land—it would easily cost over a grand to build a comparable gaming PC, in terms of specs.” said Paul when we asked about price. “The PS4 launched at $399. I expect the PS5 will be in the same general ballpark, though perhaps not quite as affordable. Best guess right now is $499.”

That might sound like a lot of money for a games console, but it’s peanuts compared to the best smartphones. The new Samsung Galaxy Z Flip costs an eye-watering $1400. Sure, you use your phone more often, but it still puts things into perspective.