I was lucky enough to be able to pick up both a PlayStation 5 and an Xbox Series X and have been playing them both extensively (for research purposes of course!) over the past few months. They are both great consoles in their own right, but how do they hold up compared against each other? You can read my individual reviews of the PlayStation 5 here and the Xbox Series X here, but for a comparison on the two, continue reading below.
Visually neither of the consoles look better in my opinion. They are both large and a little awkward in shape. I had a few difficulties with setting up both consoles simply due to their sheer size and not being able to fit them into my TV cabinet! I eventually managed to get the PS5 in because it is slightly smaller than the Series X, but neither console I was able to swap out like for like with its predecessor. The Series X now sits upstairs and I have both consoles lay down horizontally, rather than stood vertically. Whilst the Series X is rather plain and chunky, the PS5 is ambitious yet ends up being asymmetrical due to the awkward placement of the disc drive.
In terms of performance and specification, on paper the Xbox Series X is marginally more powerful than the PlayStation 5 with regards to GPU and SSD. At this early stage of these consoles however, it’s very difficult to see any major differences between the two consoles. I’ve played both in 4K at 60fps and honestly you would struggle to tell the difference in gameplay from either console.
The main difference between the two consoles is undoubtedly the controllers. The PlayStation 5’s DualSense controller is a sheer delight to behold and makes games more immersive than ever. It’s adaptive triggers with haptic feedback creates brand new gaming experiences and no doubt these could become the norm in the future.
Compare this to the Series X controller which is effectively just an Xbox One controller with a few additions like the share button and circle pad. Don’t get me wrong, I do love the classic feel to the Xbox controller and the Xbox controller is no doubt one of the best controllers ever made, but having experienced the DualSense controller, this has really set the bar.
Winner: PlayStation 5
The System Software
The Series X UI is practically unchanged from its predecessor’s which I found a little disappointing. Whilst I would have liked a revamp, credit must go to Microsoft because it does feel as though they are trying to create a universal Xbox community, eliminating any real need for previous gen or next gen consoles. This is reinforced with their recipe for a timeless controller across consoles and the sheer amount of backwards compatible games available to play.
The PS5 UI has had an overhaul from the PS4 UI and it does look much slicker in comparison. I particularly like the game related cards within the PS5 UI which can tell you how much progress you’ve made on a specific game level, not just the whole game itself. Both the Series X and PS5 interfaces are pretty faultless, however I think the novelty of a fresh faced main menu on PlayStation just about edges this for me.
Load times are extremely quick on both consoles and whilst it’s hard for me to compare directly, for the most part they do seem pretty like for like. Loading up Fifa 21 on PS5 takes less than 30 seconds and likewise on the Series X, this load in time is the same. The only noticeable difference with the load times is the Series X’s quick resume ability for games, allowing players to suspend a game and then reload back into it in no time at all. It even has the ability to quick resume games after a console reboot which does make the Series X feel quicker in that respect.
In terms of launch titles, the PS5 is undoubtedly the winner with quality games like Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Sackboy: A Big Adventure and of course the brilliant Astro’s Playroom (which comes pre-installed and essentially serves as a tech demo but is a fantastic game in its own right). There were no titles launched alongside the Series X, Halo Infinite was supposed to be released as a launch title but was delayed due to COVID-19. Whilst there are plenty of games readily available to play which are indeed fully optimized for the Series X, the omission of any exclusive launch titles was a little disappointing.
What does save the Xbox however is the fantastic Xbox Game Pass. With over a hundred titles available all for just £10.99 a month, there is no denying that the Game Pass is one of the best subscription services out there. There are many titles within the Game Pass which can be played to their true potential on the Series X including Forza Horizon 4, Sea of Thieves and Gears 5, with a number of games also enhanced via Smart Delivery technology. Currently Sony’s PS Plus Collection just doesn’t compete, but it will be interesting to see where they take things, given the popularity of the Game Pass.
Backwards compatibility on the Series X is fantastic too, with the console being able to play nearly every Xbox One game, as well as over 500 Xbox 360 titles. Oh and not to mention the Series X can play some of the original Xbox games with no resistance. The PS5 similarly can play nearly every PlayStation 4 game, but that’s it limit. There are a few PS3 games you can play via PlayStation Now, but you are unable to physically put a PS3 disk into your PS5 and play it which is a bit of a bummer.
Winner: PlayStation 5 (only due to the quality of its launch games)
Overall, I think the PlayStation 5 just about edges it thanks to the DualSense controller and its quality launch titles. For me, the whole PS5 experience did feel like starting with a brand new console, whereas the Series X felt more like an upgrade from my original Xbox One.
We are still in very early stages for both consoles and we have no doubt only seen the very beginning of what they can offer. Ultimately I’m having great fun with both consoles and can’t wait to see where they go next!