The next-generation console war is spinning up into full action – while we don’t know exactly when the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X and Series S will release, we’re finding out more and more about them as time goes on.
The consoles are all expected to launch in November this year, and Microsoft has become the first to blink by releasing an actual, honest-to-goodness price for the Xbox Series S. A striking change this generation is that both Xbox and PlayStation are launching two versions of their consoles, one with a disc drive and one without.
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If you’re thinking of getting rid of discs and going all-digital, you might be wondering which new console would suit you best. We’ve got you covered, with this detailed comparison of the Xbox Series S and PlayStation 5 Digital Edition.
Theses are two mightily divisive consoles, and no mistake.
The PS5 Digital Edition might not be quite as massive as the standard PlayStation 5, but it’s mighty close, and has a totally new, winged white design that some people love and others hate.
It’s a tall console, with those flaring edges tapering, leaving the bottom of the console looking thinner than the top. Frankly, we like it – it might not be subtle, but it certainly stands out from the crowd of recent consoles that are a bit like boring black boxes.
Let’s make it official!
Xbox Series S | Next-gen performance in the smallest Xbox ever. £249.99 (ERP).
Looking forward to sharing more! Soon. Promise. pic.twitter.com/fGp13TkFjU
— Xbox UK (@xboxuk) September 8, 2020
Xbox might have gone pretty conventional with the bigger Series X, but the Series S also has a very distinctive look. Debuting in white, that black fan grille is what draws the eye first, and it’s also dividing opinion.
However, the key difference to know about on the design front is size. There’s no getting around it, the Series S is way, way smaller than the PS5 Digital Edition.
That size difference will be key for some people, but it is largely explained in our next section, looking at performance.
Processing and graphics
The primary reason that the PS5 Digital Edition is so much bigger than the Xbox Series S is that it’s not fulfilling quite the same aim – this is quite literally the PS5, just without a disc drive. It has all the same performance possibilities and hardware.
That means it sports an eight-core Zen 2 processor, but at 3.5GHz per core, along with a new solid state hard drive that’s apparently wowing developers with its performance. Its RDNA graphics will manage 10.28 TFLOPS across 36 CUs, making for a significant leap over the PS4 Pro, and the ability to manage both ray tracing and 4K native output.
Effectively, Sony’s two console versions offer the same performance, but with a presumably lower price for the disc-less Digital Edition.
That’s far from the same as Microsoft – the Xbox Series S is an entirely different bit of hardware to the Xbox Series X, although it will share those two factors of a lower price and no disc drive.
We don’t have confirmation of its actual hardware yet, but the fact that it’s nearly a third of the Series X’s size means there are presumably some significant reduction in specs for the Xbox Series S.
At this point, the rumours are that the Series S will be able to manage ray tracing, but that its ability to output in 4K isn’t looking very likely, and we’d be fairly surprised if it could manage that resolution. It’ll most likely be able to upscale to 4K in some form.
As we mentioned, Sony’s new SSD for the PlayStation 5 is making waves, and will be a star feature in the PS5 Digital Edition. We now know that the console will come with a 825GB drive, a slightly odd number that’s a result of Sony’s propietary processes.
The Xbox Series S hasn’t had its storage officially confirmed yet, but since its reveal further leaks have claimed that it’ll manage a 512GB SSD of its own. That’s a slightly limited amount of storage, to be honest, but isn’t surprising since the Series S is hitting a really impressive price point.
Optical disc drives
We’ve mentioned it a few times already, but to be doubly clear – neither the Xbox Series S nor the PlayStation 5 Digital Edition has a disc drive at all. They’re both ditching it.
Therefore, if you want a home console that can be a great 4K Blu-ray player as well, you’d better think about picking up a full PS5 or an Xbox Series X instead.
Release date and price
Here’s where things get really interesting, right at the death – while we don’t know the PlayStation 5 Digital Edition’s price yet, it’s looking a lot like there could be a pretty big gap when it’s confirmed.
The Xbox Series X has been confirmed at $299 or £249, which is a seriously aggressive and impressive price point, which again is explained by its lower specs and reduced power.
Given the PS5 Digital Edition is just the PS5 without a disc drive, it’s seriousy unlikely to be able to come near that low price-point. So, if you’re looking for the most affordable next-gen performance possible, Xbox Series S is the obvious choice. However, you’ll obviously not be getting the best next-gen performane performance possible.
Meanwhile, on the release date front, Microsoft has confirmed that the Series S will release in November. Sony’s still sticking to its more vague “Holiday 2020” window, but we’d expect that to end up meaning November as well, barring any surprises. That means that both will release in roughly the same few weeks.