PS5 vs. Xbox Series X: The consoles we're buying and in which order

We asked CNET staff: Which console are you buying?

Mark Serrels Editorial Director
Mark Serrels is an award-winning Senior Editorial Director focused on all things culture. He covers TV, movies, anime, video games and whatever weird things are happening on the internet. He especially likes to write about the hardships of being a parent in the age of memes, Minecraft and Fortnite. Definitely don't follow him on Twitter.
Mark Serrels
11 min read

The PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X and Series S are no longer next-gen consoles! They are current-gen consoles and available... sorta. Actually, it's pretty tricky to buy either a PS5 or a new Xbox since supplies are limited, but they are in the wild

(Head to the following links to read our reviews of the Xbox Series XXbox Series S and PS5.)

But which one should you buy? And which one can you buy? 

That's a tricky question with a lot of layers to dissect. The answer is: It depends. Do you own a 4K TV? Do you subscribe to Game Pass? Are you a Halo fan or a God of War fan? Do you like Bethesda games or Naughty Dog games?

We thought we'd ask the dedicated gamers on CNET's staff which consoles they're planning to buy and in what order.

Watch this: PS5 vs. Xbox Series X: the ultimate comparison

Mark Serrels


If you have a 4K TV you most likely want to go with the Series X over the Series S.


I've thought long and hard about this and I'm pretty sure I'm going to end up with both an Xbox Series X and a PlayStation 5.

As an owner of a 4K LG OLED, I have zero interest in the Xbox Series S, despite the fact I love the design. The fact the console doesn't support 4K gaming guarantees I'll be picking up a Series X instead. 

I suspect the Series X will be the best choice for cross platform games this generation and Game Pass is an incredible service so, for me, an Xbox Series X is a must. I love how seamlessly it runs last-gen games with super high frame-rates at 4K. It'll be a while before must-play next-gen titles trickle in so that's another important selling point for me.

I'll also pick up a PS5 though -- probably the digital edition. I haven't bought a box copy of a video game in years, despite the fact they're slightly cheaper here in Australia. I like the convenience of having all my games stored on a hard drive and I like the lower cost of the digital edition itself.

Which console will I buy first? Depends which one I can get to be honest. Most likely I'll pick up the PS5 if I can -- purely because I want to play the Demon's Souls remake. But I'll be grabbing an Xbox Series X either at the same time or immediately afterwards.

Steph Panecasio

I think at this point I've settled on getting the digital edition of the Playstation 5, but not at launch. The hype is pretty extensive and I'm enjoying being a spectator for the console war drama, but I'd rather wait until it's actually necessary to get them — my PS4 and Xbox One X can still do the job well enough and I've got no reason to upgrade just yet. 

So yes, when I do, I'll opt for the Playstation first. Historically I'd get both, but I need to stop being a hoarder when it comes to consoles and games (you're looking at the person who inexplicably has seven physical copies of The Witcher 3). 

By opting for only one console (at least to start) I'm saving a huge chunk of space on my TV cabinet — have you seen the size of these things? And by opting for the digital model, I'm freeing up space in my bookshelves for, well, actual books. 

As for Xbox, I'm still incredibly tempted by the Game Pass service, I won't lie. Will I get one eventually? Maybe. I'm half hoping my partner will get one himself, thus removing the need for me to worry about forking over more cash. Excuse me while I send this article to him for future reference.

Dan Ackerman

CD Project Red

Who am I kidding, I'm getting them both. I've already pre-ordered a Xbox Series X and plan on getting a PS5 asap. I can legitimately say it's for "professional development," plus, as terrible as this sounds, I just like going through all the menus and setup and output options and everything. That's what happens after you work at CNET for a certain number of years. 

Funnily enough, I was never into console games as a kid. After the Atari 2600, I was right onto my Tandy TRS-80 Color Computer (aka, the Trash 80), and mostly PC gaming through my teen and college years, but not even much of that. My return to consoledom started when I caught a live-action TV ad for Resident Evil 2 back in the late 1990s and said," Wow, that looks like a George Romero movie, I've got to get one of those…" Less than a year later, I was working at an early video game website (UGO.com) and covering the launch of the Sega Dreamcast, so I've had every console since then, from the RROD Xbox 360 to the dusty Wii U

I am skipping the Series S, no need with my 4K LG OLED TV (probably the most-common TV among CNET editors) and, frankly, I'm not thrilled about the launch game lineup on either console. No must-haves for me, and there's not even a next-gen version of Cyberpunk 2077 . I'd love my Spider-Man save to transfer to the PS5, but that's about as much as I care about backwards compatibility. I generally have zero interest in revisiting old games. They're never as good as you remember. If you're worried about playing Perfect Dark or Halo 1 or anything like that on a new-for-2020 console, you might as well just make the full leap and start playing Gloomhaven. 

Nicole Archer


Horizon Forbidden West will be a must play on PS5.


I'm going to make this short and sweet: I am not a fan of brutalism and I find the design of the Xbox Series X personally offensive. If my niece comes to visit, I would have to baby proof the box lest she falls and blinds herself on the corner. Plus, I just really really like Horizon Zero Dawn and want to play the sequel. 

That said I'll probably eventually get the Xbox Series S because I feel like it would look good next to my PS5. Plus, my first gaming console was the original Xbox and I will always have a soft spot for the old boy -- I would be betraying my roots if I didn't pick up an Xbox again.

Daniel Van Boom

Eventually, I'll buy both a PlayStation 5 and an Xbox Series X. By the end of 2020? I'll have bought neither.

I enjoy system wars as much as the next guy, but right now the excitement around both next-gen consoles is a little too theoretical. Microsoft 's Game Pass-centred model, in which the Series S/X are essentially hardware to power the Xbox streaming service, could change the industry. Sony 's renewed fanaticism about exclusive titles could result in more must-play first-party games.

But both possibilities lie in 2021 and beyond. Come November, there won't be many games on either console you can't play on a PS4 or Xbox One. For me, that means there's no rush to buy a PS5 or Xbox Series S/X.

For the future, I suspect I'll buy a PS5 first. Both consoles will be bought with a disc drive -- it makes it easier to wiggle out of a $69.95 RRP. 

Lori Grunin

Let's split "Lori Grunin" in two: The reviewer and the real person. Both ended up agreeing that the Xbox Series S is the best option because money and Game Pass Ultimate. 

Dan Ackerman/CNET

Personally, a console is competing with the need for a pricey new phone, a new iPad Pro and a new full-frame camera and lenses, along with a cranky old biddy of a cat who needs dental work and who has expensive taste in food. I've still got a 1080p TV, which I haven't watched since cutting the cord a while back. I don't particularly want to chip in for a new one because I'm a cranky old biddy of a person with expensive taste in gear.

While Lori the reviewer toyed with the idea of a PS5, Game Pass Ultimate and day one availability for new exclusives sold the Xbox to both sides of my brain. 

But I would never have preordered anything, because as a rule I consider it insane to spend money on almost anything over $50 before it's been out for at least a few months and has had a chance to be debugged and dissected ad nauseum. I've also had years of exposure to the latest and greatest of everything to learn to get over the FOMO for most of it. 

Lori the reviewer spent hours hitting refresh on three different sites for them all when preorders went live.

Jackson Ryan

Would love to see a new console generation defined by the unique experiences it can bring to video games , rather than improvements in POWER and SPEED. These new consoles feel like souped up current-gens.

I have a perfectly good Nintendo Switch . That will see me through until there's an absolute must play on either of these bilious boxes.

Sean Keane

After much thought, I preordered a PS5 so I can play the shiniest version of Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales and the Demon's Souls remake. But the deciding factor was Resident Evil Village. I know the console won't get a price drop before that comes out next year (Capcom hadn't hinted at a PS4 version before I preordered).


Miles Morales goes to work.

Insomniac/Screenshot by CNET

I'm still using a launch PS4 and don't intend to get whatever mid-generational PS5 upgrade Sony puts out, so I'll wring plenty of value out of the PS5 over its seven-year lifespan -- to play the remaining PS4 games in 4K and move fully onto the next-gen when it really gets started in late 2021.

To maximize the likelihood of getting games as cheaply as possible, I've opted for the model with disc drive. Even though most of my purchases are digital, I don't want to give Sony too much power. Also my friends sometimes give me physical games as presents.

As for Xbox Series X, I'm still undecided. I was all about the Xbox 360, but the Xbox One never had an exclusive game that made the console irresistible. Microsoft's purchase of Bethesda certainly makes a killer Series X exclusive (Series Xclusive?) more likely, but I'll wait and see.

Game Pass is a pretty great service, but my already massive backlog makes it a less tempting prospect.

Eli Blumenthal

While I have been looking for both the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 All-Digital, I so far have only preordered the Xbox. After growing up playing all three generations of Xbox, I have been swayed towards PlayStation in recent years through games like Spider-Man PS4 and MLB The Show. 

I'm a big sports gamer and while most recent titles have lacked noticeable or game changing improvements on current-gen, the new trailer for NBA 2K21 on next-gen has me hyped for what both of these new systems can offer. 

The insane battle to find somewhere to preorder a PS5 has kept me in the Xbox camp, at least for right now. As someone who doesn't have a large catalog of PlayStation discs, I can't bring myself to justify shelling out the extra $100 for the regular PS5 (based on early reports, I could be in for a longer wait as it seems like Digital consoles are in shorter supply than disc ones). Throw in the rising costs for next-gen PlayStation controllers and major games and I feel like there are even better uses for that money than a disc drive I almost certainly won't use. I can't even remember the last time I used a disc in general -- PlayStation, Xbox, Blu-ray, DVD or CD. 

As for the Xbox, a few factors swayed me including the fact that I have a Game Pass subscription, am really intrigued by xCloud and that I have friends and family planning to get one. While I thought about the Series S, with my TCL 6 Series has 4K and Dolby Vision and like Serrels the appeal of 4K gaming was enough to get me to choose the bigger system. 

Plus, I was lucky enough to see it available on Amazon to place the order (even if it now may no longer arrive on the 10th). 

Eric Franklin

Since the release of the Xbox One X I've become a primarily Xbox player. Microsoft's services like Play Anywhere, xCloud and of course Xbox Game Pass address my gaming needs as a dad with two young kids and not a lot of time to himself. 

So I've opted to preorder both the Xbox Series X for my living room and an Xbox Series S for my home office. 

The Series X will replace my One X and the Series S will double up with my newly built PC on my brand new 27-inch 1440p HDR 144hz monitor. In reality, I'll likely end up playing on the Series S the most since my wife gets first dibs on our 4K TV. 

As for games, while I'm looking forward to trying a few launch games like The Medium, The Ascent and The Falconeer, I'm equally as interested in playing my current huge backlog of game like The Outer Worlds, Doom Eternal and the Yakuza series -- I'm still early in Yakuza 0, my first foray into the world of Japanese gangsters and goofiness -- with faster load times and the ability to quickly switch between them -- I get bored easily -- with the Quick Resume feature.

Since Microsoft revealed these features in March, the new Xbox has occupied way too much of my brainspace, but soon it will have a chance to live up to my way too high expectations for it.

As for the PS5, I'll likely get one eventually, but may wait until they slim that puppy down -- have you heard? It's big. 

Oscar Gonzalez

I'm usually a two-console kind of gamer, but my original plan for this generation was to start off with the PS5 and then eventually get my hands on an Xbox Series X. The lack of a strong, exclusive launch game -- for me, it would have been Halo: Infinite -- makes Microsoft's next-gen console a little less attractive. 

That changed with EA Play's inclusion into Games Pass and seeing Quick Resume in action. While yes, I will be able to play Games Pass titles on my Xbox One, the idea of having all the games I'm playing through available to play within seconds of each other is something I didn't know I wanted. As a guy who wants to jump into different multiplayer games such as Call of Duty: Warzone, Tom Clancy's The Division 2 and even Fortnite as well as work on various single-player games like the Assassin's Creed and Far Cry games, the Quick Resume is going to be the feature designed just for me. 

Epic Games

Because of that, I have a pre-order for the PS5 and Xbox Series X. As tempted as I am to go entirely digital this generation, the fact is that new physical games at launch, or weeks after release, tend to go on sale. Digital version don't. Retailers are also quicker to drop the price of games if they fail to sell at launch while digital titles take much longer before a significant sale. 

So for me, the Xbox Series X will be the Games Pass machine while the PS5 is for Sony published titles and other exclusives. It's the best of both worlds and at the best price.