I was introduced to video games over 40 years ago. Over that time I've owned dozens of consoles, including all the major consoles.
The console wars continue.
Every four or five years we see a fascinating showdown between two of the giants in the gaming industry. Sony and Microsoft. This year sees the release of two new consoles, but for once each company has a unique strategy that may make this a totally different fight for customers.
Microsoft are releasing the XBOX Series X in early November. Their console will cost $499. Intriguingly, they are also launching a cheaper version (Series S) for $299.
Sony are releasing the PS5 just after the XBOX arrives in stores, and is also priced at $499. They are also releasing a second version that removes the disc drive at $399.
Many people will purchase purely based on the technical specifications, but for me the choice comes down to more than simply 'Who has the best console?'.
So let's take a quick look at the tech specs. Note, I am not going to delve deeply into the tech specifications, there are hundreds of websites who already do a better job at that than I could
For once Microsoft have a slightly more powerful console than Sony, but it really comes down to nit-picking and bragging rights. For most users, the differences are unlikely to have a major impact. If you are really concerned about the best tech specs, then why are you even buying a console, you should invest in a cutting edge PC gaming machine.
For those who really want to drool over the specs – here's a quick chart:
|XBOX Series X||PS5||Comments|
AMD “Zen 2” 3.8 Ghz
AMD “Zen 2” 3.5 Ghz
Slight advantage to the XBOX here – but the difference is small so may not be that noticeable.
GPU (Graphics Processor)
12 teraflops AMD Custom GPU, 1.825 GHz
10.3 teraflops AMD Radeon, 2.23 GHz
XBOX look like they have an advantage here, however the PS5 have some differences in architecture that might translate to better graphics performance. Time will tell.
Seems a little low to me considering I would not buy a PC with less than 32GB
While internal memory has been important in the past, with the advent of cloud storage, this is not as important. The XBOX has a slight advantage, and with caching technology this may bridge the gap between 'push through data'.
One item not obvious in the above specs is that the PS5 pushes through data much faster (5.5GB v 2.4GB per second); this basically means games on the PS5 would load quicker as would other load screens during the game.
Both support 4K and 8K giving both consoles longevity. I, for one, do not plan on buying an 8K TV for many years to come, but it is great that both consoles support 8K.
Both also support ray-tracing; this improves light and shadows and also adds 3D audio. Users of PC gaming machines will be perplexed by this as this has been available on the PC for years.
So on the face of it, the consoles have similar specs, and to a layman like me, it really isn't going to have a huge impact on my decision on which console to purchase, or even if I will buy one.
What are some of the factors impacting my decision?
My current gaming consoles
One of the first considerations have is comparing the new consoles to what I currently own:
- XBOX One X
- PS3 (I know – way behind the times)
- PC Gaming computer – fairly old but upgraded and still able to play all current games, albeit it on low settings for some games (like the new Flight Simulator from Microsoft).
Main considerations on which next generation console to purchase
Here are the main factors impacting my decision:
- Microsoft GamePass – I have the full GamePass solution which gives me access to hundreds of fairly new titles on the XBOX and PC, provides online play and also gives me free access to new games published by Microsoft (such as Microsoft Flight Simulator). With the addition of EA games coming shortly, it means I barely purchase new games anymore.
- Playstation Exclusives – I must admit that I am jealous of a lot of PS players. Some of the exclusives are simply stunning, and I have to take a trip to my daughter's apartment to see them!
- Do I really need the latest and greatest console? I have a pretty decent XBOX console that supports HDR and 4k already; there are already a lot of great games available, and even the next gen games will be playable on my existing console. So in terms of the XBOX I probably can wait a few years. As for the Playstation – I do have an old PS3, and definitely can see the benefit of getting the PS5 – however, once the PS5 is released, the price of the PC4 will plummet so it may be worth purchasing the PS4 and wait a few years before investing.
- First year glitches – I've found from past experience that new consoles tend to have first year glitches and you are often better off waiting for the second phase of the console that fixes known issues. In my experience, the consoles are normally solid after about a year.
So will I be buying a next generation console this year?
There's no doubt that the new consoles are fantastic; not only will they improve your gaming experience, but they'll probably also improve your multi-media experience. Microsoft especially seem to be focusing more on the full service capabilities of a living room console whereas PlayStation are more focused on hardcore gaming.
- While I always like to be the first to get the latest electronics, and may even end up buying one of the new consoles on a whim, for me the best choice is to wait and perhaps purchase a PS4 first.
- If I had to make a choice at the moment, it probably would be the PS5 – the main reason is that I already have a pretty decent XBOX.
- If I had to make a choice between the two, I'd probably lean more towards the XBOX simply because of the GamePass experience that seems to be constantly expanding over time.
When deciding on whether to purchase a next gen console, make the right decision for you, and not just get one of the consoles because it is the latest or greatest one. Really think about whether you need a new console – if you are very happy with you current console, then it is likely to be supported for several years yet – so you can delay the decision until your console truly becomes obsolete.
© 2020 Simon Cook
Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on September 19, 2020:
We have never purchased one of these games. But I appreciate your advice about waiting a year or so for the glitches to be worked out should we ever be tempted to buy one.