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Issue 1748
The student newspaper of Imperial College London

Keep the Cat Free

PS5 and Xbox Series X: What We Know So Far

The Hype Train has set off from the station



in Issue 1748

Sony has been the most secretive of the two companies. As far as the branding goes, all we have seen is the PS5 logo, which follows the exact same design philosophy as the PS4 logo: simple and easy to recognise. We’ve not even had a good look at the outside of the system, with the only thing to go off of being the very strange development kit – which looks like a V. It’s worth noting, however, that typical development kits for consoles rarely look much like the final product (anyone remember the ps4 dev kit, that looked like a fat PS2?)

We have however had a good look at the new controller, the ‘DualSense’, as well as a live stream hosted by the PS5 system architect Mark Cerny, which ran us through all of the major specs of the PS5 including an SSD and PS4 backwards compatibility. The DualSense seems to be a departure from the traditional DualShock controllers. This new naming convention comes about from the brand-new features available, such as the ability to measure heart-rate from your palm and the ability to increase resistance on the trigger buttons to further immersion, such as increasing tension while pulling a bow.

Microsoft have been far more transparent with their reveals, starting during the Game Awards in December where they revealed the look of the console: a massive tower that looked more like a PC than anything else. They also have been a lot more forthcoming with Series X releases, such as a new Hellblade game. A number of features have also been revealed for the Series X, from Smart Delivery – a feature that allows you to play the best possible version of a game (e.g. if you bought a game on Xbox One, you can play it on the series X and it will upgrade the graphics and frame rate to the current hardware), and also backwards compatibility with every previous Xbox console!

If you’re just looking for a general overview, the PS5 and Xbox Series X look to have fairly comparable processing powers, with Microsoft taking the slight advantage. If you don’t care about having the absolute best machine on the market, I would go for whichever company publishes games you prefer.

If you want a more in depth look at the specs, you’ve come to the right place! Here is ALMOST everything we know about the internals of the newest generation of consoles:

The PS5 will run off a custom-built version of the third generation AMD Ryzen chipset, packing in 8 cores with the company's new Zen 2 .

The CPU will run at 3.5GHz. The GPU offers 36 compute units running at 2.23GHz and offering 10.28TFLOPs (effectively meaning the ability to compute 10.28 trillion floating point calculations per second). This is a massive upgrade compared to the base PS4 at 1.8TFLOPS.

Those parts are paired with 16GB of GDDR6 with a bandwidth of 448GB/s - this is a high bandwidth RAM. The PS5 can also support ray tracing – a very intensive lighting technique which creates realistic shadows within 3D worlds. Until now it was only available for high end PC GPUs, but now will be built into the PS5 hardware.

Something which we haven’t seen for a long time is a large stride in increased audio quality. With the PS5, Sony will be introducing 3D audio, particularly for those using a headset whilst playing. Sony is delivering this audio through the Tempest Engine, that can utilise over a hundred sound sources to create a more immersive experience, and also for intensive multiplayer games can give some players an edge - as you will be able to hear the direction footsteps are coming from, or where exactly a gun fight is occurring. What I am most looking forward to is the SSD storage that is coming with the PS5 – as opposed to mechanical drives that are far slower and far less robust. The SSD will have 825 GB of internal storage with 5.5GBps throughput. It is a common worry that 825 GB won’t be enough for some people who download their games, with games like Final Fantasy 7 requiring over 100GB of memory just to download. I also worry, I don’t want a repeat of the PS3 days where my 40 GB base PS3 quickly ran out of memory after a few games… hopefully Sony will release a version with more memory at some point!

As far as resolution goes, the PS5 is able to support 8K. Most people still have 1080p televisions, with 4K soon becoming the standard. I suppose that this is Sony’s way of future proofing, as well as showing that they are still about console performance as well as game quality. It is also able to run games at an insanely smooth 120 FPS. It is worth noting that the console won’t always reach these levels, even if you have a TV that can run 8K 120, because the game developers need to create a game that can smoothly run at such a level. We can probably expect many Sony exclusives to reach that level, but don’t expect it to be the norm.

On one side of the camp, Sony made a controller that looked like it could be on a spaceship. On the other side, Microsoft made a box

The Xbox Series X is insanely impressive. It will also be using the same custom AMD internals with the same chip set as the PS5. It will be 4x more powerful than the Xbox One X. The GPU boasts 12TFLOPS of computing power, exceeding that of the PS5. It can also run games at 8K resolution, with 120Hz refresh rates. I for one am very glad that this is the new standard, as graphical power can really increase immersion in games – a very important aspect of gaming for me. The RAM will also be 16GB GDDR6. The inbuilt SSD can be utilised as virtual RAM to increase load times by up to 40x! Latency has been a pertinent issue for some Xbox players, and Microsoft hopes to make that a thing of the past. With variable refresh rate (VRR) and Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM), the Xbox Series X should be as smooth as butter on a warm day.

The Series X is not only compatible with every previous Xbox console, but also compatible with Xbox One hardware accessories – so there is no need to buy a new controller or headset at launch. Microsoft has also been teasing that existing Xbox One games could be enhanced for the Series X. The biggest sigh of relief for me is that the Series X will be coming with a Blu-ray drive, meaning boxed games will still be a thing. I started to become worried that they were going to be phased out when the Xbox SAD (all digital) console was released, but luckily that seems to not be a trend that Microsoft want to continue for now. A very exciting feature that is being added is Quick Resume. This allows players to have multiple games paused at once, meaning you can pick up where you left off almost immediately – meaning: no loading screens!

One more thing that I will mention is the rumours of an Xbox ‘Lockhart’. It is rumoured that Microsoft are also developing a less powerful version of the Series X that will be significantly more affordable. With this in mind I feel as though Microsoft are going to do much better this generation than the previous one, with a home console more powerful than Sony, and a weaker version for people with smaller budgets. However, knowing Sony, they will definitely come through with some unbelievable exclusives that will pull in the mass market. It is a very exciting time for the gaming industry, and I cannot wait to learn more about these consoles as the coming releases grow ever closer!

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