Xbox Series X more powerful than PS5 according to leak

A combination of new and old leaks have potentially revealed the hardware that will be found in the next generation PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, revealing a potentially huge power lead for Microsoft’s towering new console.

As Microsoft and Sony both build up to the release of the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X at the end of 2020, they’ve been pretty coy when talking about what exactly is within their respective gaming boxes. We’ve heard about the SSDs, heard about the ray tracing, heard about the next-gen Zen 2 and Navi architectures, even seen the outer design of the Xbox Series X, but both have kept a lid on the internal specs.

With fresh information, Digital Foundry have put all of the pieces together, going back to re-confirmed hardware leaks from all the way back in April for the PlayStation 5 and drawing on new, but somewhat less reliable details about the Xbox Series X. The source of the new leak is a GitHub repository created by someone at AMD’s ASIC validation department, including not just data on the games consoles, but also future AMD desktop and mobile APUs. While somewhat dated, there’s not much room to manoeuvre with chipset design outside of tweaking clock speeds. So, combined with a healthy bit of speculation on Digital Foundry’s part, it points to Microsoft’s absolute unit being almost 1.3x the power of Sony’s console.

The PlayStation 5, as we already know, combines a Zen 2 CPU with a Navi GPU core. The leak confirms that we should expect the CPU to be an 8 core design running at 3.2Ghz, while the Navi GPU is now expected to feature 36 compute units (clusters of tiny processors) running at 2Ghz, a step up from the previously rumoured 1.8Ghz. That points to a 9.2 teraflop GPU for the PS5, more than twice the 4.2 teraflops of the PS4 Pro before accounting for the efficiency improvements of the new GPU architecture.

One interesting facet is that there’s hardware backward compatibility to the Playstation 4. When playing games originally designed for PlayStation 4 Pro or PlayStation 4, the chipset steps down to lower clock speeds and reduces the number of compute units to match the older hardware designs.

The Xbox Series X leak, meanwhile, shows a dramatically more powerful hardware design extending their processing power lead from the Xbox One X. Again with an 8 core Zen 2 CPU, the leak suggests a GPU with a huge 56 compute units, which DF expect to be clocked around 1.7Ghz to meet the 12 teraflops of processing power that Microsoft have been hinting at. However, this is much sketchier information, and there’s oddities surrounding the potential amount of RAM to be included, with the Project Scarlett reveal video seeming to show both 1GB and 2GB chips of GDDR6 RAM in use.

Here’s the two stacked up against each other:

  Xbox Series X Playstation 5
CPU 8-core AMD Zen 2 8-core AMD Zen 2 at 3.2Ghz
GPU AMD RDNA with 56 CUs at 1.7Ghz AMD RDNA with 36 CUs at 2Ghz
RAM GDDR6 at 560GB/s GDDR6 at 448GB/s

The real takeaway here is just how much more powerful the Xbox Series X appears to be, leaning heavily on high-end cutting edge GPU designs and justifying the large size of the console design to keep it cool. By contrast, the PlayStation 5 feels like a more straight forward evolution of the PlayStation 4, logically updating each component and dipping into AMD’s future toolkit for its ray-tracing.

The benefit for Sony might come at the tills, as the PlayStation 5 could be significantly cheaper than the Xbox Series X, and closer to the magic $399 launch price point that the PS4 and PS4 Pro had while still targeting the same native 4K at a loss of some visual fidelity. Then again, Microsoft reportedly have a second hardware design planned, codenamed Lockhart, that is intended to be less powerful and more competitive on price.

Take all of this with a pinch of salt, but the next generation could be much feistier than we all expected.

Source: Digital Foundry, ResetEra

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  1. So the Series X is about 30% faster in GPU power. And the PS5 might have an advantage in CPU power. (Or at least it’ll be the same speed).

    It’s definitely looking like both will be a big improvement, but the PS5 will be cheaper and the Series X more powerful. I can’t see that going well for MS. If Sony can get the PS5 at £399 and MS are closer to £499 or more, Sony will win. Again.

    It gets complicated with the other rumoured XBox. I’m still guessing at the XBox Series S for that one. Possibly digital only? Maybe £299? But it’d be stupid to launch that at the same time, surely? Leave it too late, and the PS5 price can drop and they’re in trouble again.

    It’s looking almost like the PS3 situation again. More powerful console launches at silly price, does badly, eventually catches up a few years later. Except the PS3 overtook the 360 in the end. Can’t quite see that happening this time.

    • There’s nothing to suggest a CPU mismatch. Both are 8 core Zen 2 with SMT, it’s just that the leaks give us a clock speed for the PS5 and not for XSX.

      Plenty of still to be revealed thanks to Lockheart, though. The biggest jumps for next gen are going to be CPU speed, SSD and ray tracing. If Lockheart has a lower powered GPU but keeps the CPU and some form of SSD, it can still offer a lot of the game design advantages of the XSX/PS5 at a lower price and losing some graphical bells and whistles. But that’s just rampant speculation.

      • It’s also all speculation based on a leak from April. Which may have been a few months old at the time. How accurate is that going to be for the final PS5 late next year? The gap might be narrower than it seems right now.

        It might all work out for MS. There’s some advantage to being able to claim they’ve got the most powerful console and the cheapest. But then Sony could also claim they’ve got a cheaper one and a more powerful one as well. A reasonable price between the two XBoxes could just work.

        It’s certainly going to be interesting though. And both (or all 3) are going to be a big improvement over the current generation. And personally, all Sony have to say to convince me is “It’ll play all your PS4 games, and have full VR support for PS4 and PS5 games”.

      • No, that was the first leak in April, with a following leak from AMD that’s traced to a few months later. The only difference is the clock speed, which has been bumped up to 2Ghz on the GPU.

  2. You keep forgetting to mention that special sauce the PS5 has, which had leaked earlier this year. ;-)

    So, the XBox (very likely) looks much better and is more powerful, but I still won’t seriously consider it. It’s a shame, but Sony’s lock-in strategy works, my full game library, especially my backlog and almost all future games I’m remotely interested in are all on PlayStation. In addition, my hardware works with the PS5, e.g. the PSVR, so I’m not sure how much more powerful the next XBox would need to be that it had any chance to win me over.

  3. As great as specs may be, in the end well end up with a mid gen refresh like we did this gen to fix the deficit. For me it’s about games, I could get my hands on an Xbox one x digital edition for 125€ but couldn’t think of more than one game that would be worth an Xbox. Sony exclusives have won a couple of console wars already and I think will work wonders on this one too.

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