PS5 and Xbox Series X will go head to head this year. Here's what we can expect

We learned just a little bit more about Sony's next flagship gaming console at CES 2020. Here's how that stacks up against the next Xbox.

Ry Crist Senior Editor / Reviews - Labs
Originally hailing from Troy, Ohio, Ry Crist is a writer, a text-based adventure connoisseur, a lover of terrible movies and an enthusiastic yet mediocre cook. A CNET editor since 2013, Ry's beats include smart home tech, lighting, appliances, broadband and home networking.
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Ry Crist
3 min read

We didn't see the new PlayStation 5 at Sony's CES 2020 press conference, but we did learn a couple of things about it. For starters, Sony confirmed the new system will have an optical drive capable of playing 4K Blu-rays with support for HDR (about time, says me, a grumpy PS4 Pro owner). And while Sony didn't get into the weeds as far as detailed specs are concerned, we at least know a couple of basic benchmarks that give us a sense of what the new system will offer when it arrives just in time for the holidays at the end of 2020.

Oh, and we got our first look at the logo. Shockingly, it features a "P," an "S," and a "5."

At any rate, this is one of the more hotly anticipated products of the year, and the upcoming face-off with Microsoft and the Xbox Series X should make for a fascinating rematch. So, let's take a look at how the two stack up -- what we know, what we don't and what we're still waiting for.


The Xbox Series X includes an optical drive for playing discs. So too will the PS5, Sony says.


Discs aren't going anywhere (yet)

Both the PS5 and the Xbox Series X will include optical drives capable of playing physical copies of games and 4K Blu-rays. Digital sales continue to surge (and on Sony's end, digital downloads of PS4 games overtook physical sales in 2019) so we may be nearing a point where discs are obsolete, but we aren't there yet.

Speaking of the physical design, the Xbox Series X sports a vertical build that's reminiscent of PC towers , perhaps intentionally so. We don't know exactly what the PS5 will look like yet, but we know that it'll feature new controllers with haptic vibration effects replacing the traditional rumbles you're probably used to. As for the new Xbox, it'll feature a new controller, too. But aside from a slightly smaller design and the addition of a share button, it doesn't seem too much different than before.


This was the extent of what Sony said at CES 2020 as far as specs are concerned.

Sony/Screenshot by Katie Conner/CNET

Both will support ray tracing

Microsoft has already stated the Xbox Series X will support "ray tracing," a graphical rendering technique that models the real behavior of light when creating 3D images. It should make for better-looking visuals and a noticeable jump in realism, but it requires a lot of computing power. Now, Sony says that the PlayStation 5 will support ray tracing, too.

That hints that perhaps neither console will have a strong graphical edge over the other. That's usually the case, but maybe the most important takeaway is that we should expect a sizeable leap in visual quality on the new consoles , at least once developers start taking full advantage of what they're capable.

SSD, check

As for system storage, both the Xbox Series X and the PlayStation 5 will utilize a solid-state drive, which should make for performance that's faster and more efficient than previous-gen, hard disk-based consoles. No word yet from either manufacturer as to just how much storage space the consoles will ship with, but both the PS4 Pro and the Xbox One X started at 1TB.

An SSD under the hood also means faster load times, and the ability to render more expansive horizons in open-world games.

CPU? GPU? Stay tuned, says Sony

Both systems will rely on chipmaker AMD for their GPUs. We know a little bit about what to expect from the Xbox Series X based off comments from Microsoft at E3 last year and in an exclusive interview with CNET sister site GameSpot last month ahead of the big system reveal at the Game Awards 2019:

  • CPU: AMD Ryzen Zen 2 CPU
  • GPU: AMD Navi-based GPU (~12 TFLOPs)
  • RAM: GDDR6 SDRAM (capacity not confirmed)
  • Storage: NVMe SSD (capacity not confirmed)
  • Max Output Resolution: 8K
  • Max Refresh Rate: 120Hz

Specifically, the thing sounds like a gaming behemoth, with claims of 8K capabilities and a max refresh rate of 120Hz. We don't have specifics like that from Sony regarding the PS5 yet, but it'll be fascinating to see how the two ultimately stack up in 2020.


We don't have exact release dates for either console yet, but both Microsoft and Sony have loosely pegged their respective releases for the 2020 holiday shopping season. We'll update this space as we learn more.

In the meantime, expect to hear a lot more about both consoles later this summer at E3 2020, and be sure to follow along with the run-up on GameSpot.

Watch this: Sony reveals the PS5 logo

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Originally published Jan. 6.