PS5 vs Xbox Series X is the console war of 2023 (remember those?). While PS5 has been the undisputed next-gen console to own, this year will see old scores settled and reignited as the PlayStation vs Xbox debate is closer than ever.
Recently Sony revealed PS5 shortages will reduce in 2023 and the best upcoming PS5 games reveal titles dedicated to PS5, such as Forspoken. In response Microsoft has one of the biggest games in a decade launching, called Starfield this is one of the best upcoming Xbox Series X games, and will be released in the first half of 2023.
PS5 vs Xbox Series X sales show a close fight. Microsoft's console is around one million units behind PS5 overall but up 36.4% in 2022 compared to 2021 figures, according to VGCgartz. So, it's easy to see both consoles are well-matched in 2023, you can read detailed coverage in my PS5 review and my Xbox Series X review; but below I go into comparable details for each console, including cost, design, games and specs, so you can decide which to buy this year, PS5 or Xbox Series X.
PS5 has been plagued by lack of supply but 2023 is the year it should be freely available. Sony's newest console features a bespoke SSD, unique UI, fast performance and some of the best exclusive games. It also has the innovative DualSense Controller featuring haptic controls and more.
- 4K and 120fps gaming
- Super-fast SSD loading
- Novel UI and features
- Exceptional controller
- Backwards compatibility disappoints
Microsoft's Xbox Series X is, technically, the most powerful games console available. It's super-fast and features cutting edge performance. This has two great features, free games every month with Xbox Game Pass and excellent backwards compatibility.
- A fast and powerful console
- Game Pass is incredible value
- Compact and neat design
- Fantastic backwards compatibility
- UI feels dated
PS5 vs Xbox Series X: design
In terms of design, PS5 and Xbox Series X couldn't be more different. Sony's next-gen console is a curvy, elegant and kind of abstract design that hides its power and heat behind a winged casing.
By contrast Xbox Series X is a small black block of power; a cuboid brick with sharp edges and one singular detail – a honeycomb vent at one end with a teasing green interior. It's surprisingly elegant and is smaller than the PS5.
Sony aims to make a statement with PS5 while Xbox Series X will fit snugly into any living room and is deigned to be a subtle feature. Both stay silent and cool in use and come with enough ports to make life easy. Interestingly, the Xbox Series X wireless controller's connectivity is hidden inside its console, PS5 relies on a dongle that hangs out the front – a rare design misstep for Sony.
Where they really differentiate is in the controllers. PS5 comes with the ingenious DualSense Wireless Controller that is loaded with cutting-edge tech, including haptic feedback to enable you to feel the games you're playing and adaptive triggers and a touchpad. Xbox Series X uses a modernised version of the Xbox controller; its Xbox Wireless Controller feels great to use but lacks the eye-catching tech of DualSense.
Both consoles can play old games from previous generations, but PS5 is limited to PS4 games on disc, while Xbox Series X can play discs from as far back as the original Xbox, as well as Xbox 360 and Xbox One titles (all can be boosted for higher frame rates). Sony has begun adding emulated PS1, PS2 and PS3 games to its PS Plus service but it's not a patch on Microsoft's support for older games.
PS5 vs Xbox Series X: price and models
Both consoles feature two models and both take a similar disc vs digital only approach. Sony has the PS5 and PS5 Digital Edition, while Microsoft has the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S models.
While the PS5 Digital Edition is the same as a standard PS5 console minus the blu-ray disc drive, the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S differ slightly more. The Series X CPU runs at 3.8GHz per core and the Series S at a slightly slower 3.6GHz; the Series X supports 12 TFLOPS and the Series S 4 TFLOPS. All this means Xbox Series X is more powerful, and will output at 4K resolution while Series S is limited to 1440p.
The differences are reflected in pricing. The PS5 standard disc edition costs $499.99 / £449.99 while the PS5 Digital Edition sells for $399.99 / £359.99. As for Xbox Series X, that retails for $499 / £449 and Xbox Series S at $299 / £249. You won't find a PS5 for its RRP while Microsoft has managed to keep Xbox Series X and Series S costs at their preferred prices. Currently you'll likely not notice any difference in performance between Series X and S, and all games play on both, but in the coming years it's likely Series S will be phased out.
PS5 vs Xbox Series X: specs
Both PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X both have a similar approach to gaming, with SSDs supporting fast-loading and data access for larger and more detailed worlds, as well as custom AMD CPUs and GPUs for advanced graphics.
PS5's custom AMD Ryzen CPU runs at 3.5GHz and its GPU hits 2.23GHz and offers 10.28TFLOPs. By contrast Xbox Series X's customised AMD Zen 2 CPU can run at 3.8GHz and its GPU boasts 12 teraflops, and runs at a locked 1,825GHz. Xbox Series X has a little more raw power, but PS5 has some clever custom processes to eke out power when and where needed.
Xbox Series X boasts support for 8K resolution and 120Hz refresh rates at 4K, as does PS5. In fact, both main consoles have similar output, with 4K / 60fps and 4K at 30fps with graphical techniques, such as ray tracing, turned on. (You're going to need a 120Hz TV or monitor, and one with a HDMI 2.0 or HDMI 2.1 port.)
Real differences appear with the controllers, as mentioned PS5's DualSense Wireless Controller is loaded with new tech; haptics enable you to feel a game's action, such as the difference between road surfaces under a car's tyres in Gran Turismo 7. It also features adaptive triggers for developer’s to program with unique features, a touchpad and built-in microphone and speaker for immersion.
By contrast Xbox Series X makes use of a revised version of the classic Xbox Wireless Controller, which features standard tech. The advantage over DualSense is that the Xbox Series X's controller can be used across all Xbox consoles, older games and on PC, Android and ChromeOS devices. This builds on the sense Xbox Series X is the preferred console for retro gamers and those with a large Xbox games collection. It also means you can stream your Xbox Series X games to other devices.
PS5 vs Xbox Series X: games
It always comes down to games. I've been writing and reporting on video games since PS1 launched and have seen less powerful consoles overtake high-spec machines, and it's always about the games.
Right now PS5 has a larger and more impressive library of exclusive games to call on, some dedicated to PS5 and its features and others iterations on PS4 games. The best include Gran Turismo 7, Returnal and Deathloop. You can read more about the best PS5 games in my list, and read our God of War: Ragnarok review and Horizon Forbidden West review, for more on these games.
In 2023 we should begin to see the release of dedicated PS5 games, such as Forspoken, Final Fantasy XVI and Marvel's Spider-Man 2. Long Term games for PS5 will include Marvel's Wolverine and The Defenders.
Xbox Series X currently relies more on third-party games for its best titles, but it does have some standout first-party games, including Forza Horizon 5, Halo Infinite and Gears 5 (but these are also available for Xbox One). Xbox Game Pass is the real difference maker for Xbox Series X; this monthly subscription service delivers free games every month, many of which are new and timed exclusives, and it's fairly cheap.
The tides are also turning in 2023 as Microsoft's investment in new studios and the purchase of established publishers will bear fruit. The first game launching soon is Bethesda's Starfield, an ambitious sci-fi role-playing game that's been in development for almost a decade. Future exclusives include Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II, Fable and Everwild from Rare.
PS5 vs Xbox Series X: which is best in 2023?
There is little to call between the two consoles, and in 2023 the gap between them will really come down to the games you enjoy, your personal games back catalogue and if you're looking for value for money.
Full disclosure, I own both consoles and flit between the two regularly. From a hardware viewpoint the DualSense Wireless Controller just edges the experience of playing games on PS5 – for example, the feeling of playing Deathloop on PS5 is more visceral than on Xbox Series X, it's akin to a sensory Full HD. Sony has some excellent platform exclusives that showcase what the console can do, too. Its subscription services, PS Plus, has improved in 2022 as well, adding better free games and classics, but it's expensive.
Yet, if DualSense and its haptics aren't important to you then Xbox Series X represents fantastic value for money. The big third-party games in 2023 will be on Series X too, and many will come free day one with Xbox Game Pass, and others will arrive shortly after release, for example EA games are available as part of Game Pass via EA Play. The big release, however, is epic RPG Starfield that will be the game to play in 2023, and it will be only on Xbox Series X and S, and free to Game Pass subscribers.
If you're looking for the best value for money console in 2023 that also delivers power and performance, it's got to be Xbox Series X with an Xbox Game Pass subscription (new subs can be as little as £1 a month compared to Sony's PS Plus Premium equivalent is $17.99 / £13.49). You'll get hundreds of classic games and indies as well as new releases. If you have older Xbox games, even better as they all (mostly) work on Xbox Series X.
If you're completely fresh to games and money is no issue, PS5 is the best console in 2023. If you have an Xbox games catalogue and / or you're looking for value for money as well as cutting edge tech, then Xbox Series X is the best option.