Right now, it's too soon to tell whether Xbox Series X or PS5 will win the first battle in the next-gen console war. With both units set to launch in holiday 2020, the consoles are both packing incredible technology such as support for up to 8K graphics, advanced ray tracing and immersive 3D audio.
The Xbox Series X looks set to be slightly more powerful, with 12 Teraflops of graphical power compared to 10.2 Teraflops from the PS5. On the other hand, the PS5 will come with exclusives, while Xbox Series X games will also be available on the previous gen.
However, the Xbox Series X is, in practice, decisively more powerful according to this former PS4 developer. Chris Grannell is a developer who spent years contributing to games such as the futuristic racing game series WipEout and the smash hit Horizon: Zero Dawn. On The RDX Podcast (opens in new tab), Grannell said the following regarding the match-up between the two consoles:
“PS5 is not a bad console, it’s an absolute beast of a piece of hardware. But it’s just a piece of hardware which is slower on numerous kinds of paths than what Microsoft has put together.”
“They’ve got this massive market share and lead, and they’ve done a kind of PS3 is what I’ve been hearing. It’s not that bad in terms of hardware and complications, and things like that, but just a little bit of they didn’t really kind of appreciate what Xbox were going to try and do in terms of this power narrative.”
In addition to the power difference in Teraflops between the two consoles, Grannell also highlights other issues with the PS5 in comparison with its Microsoft rival, citing rumours Sony's machine is consistently "running hot".
PS5 lead system architect Mark Cerny glossed over the cooling system during his big presentation, stating he would divulge more details later down the line. If Sony is having difficulty cooling the machine down, it makes sense they wouldn't want to reveal any details until a workable solution has been found.
However, the PS5 still has a few things going for it, namely the enormous solid state drive that allows games with enormous levels to load in a flash, eliminating those ponderous "fast-travel" delays and loading screens. Cerny says they'll actually have to slow certain parts of video games down (such as fast travel) in order to maintain immersion. However, the SSD will not improve graphical power.
The bottom line is Sony and Microsoft will each have their "stans" (as the kids say) who will stick with their chosen brand no matter what. For those of us still sitting on the fence, we'll have to wait and see how the messaging shapes up closer to that "holiday 2020" launch date to see which will win the first battle in the next-gen console war.