PlayStation 5 v Xbox Series X: Tech specs revealed

Mark Cerny, lead system architect for the PlayStation 5, revealing its tech specs.
Mark Cerny, lead system architect for the PlayStation 5, revealing its tech specs. Photo credit: Sony

Sony has finally revealed the hardware specifications of its upcoming PlayStation 5 console and they can now be compared to those of Microsoft's Xbox Series X.

The next-gen console's CPU will feature eight Zen 2 cores with a variable frequency up to 3.5 GHz, and the GPU will be "a custom AMD GPU based on their RDNA 2 technology".

PlayStation 4 owners will likely be pleased to know that the new console will allow backwards compatibility, to some degree.

In terms of raw power, the Series X appears to showcase more than the PlayStation 5 (PS5) with 12 teraflops versus 10.28, but the numbers alone don't necessarily tell the whole story.

"A teraflop from one graphics chip isn't always comparable to a teraflop from another - AMD's RDNA GPUs, for example, produces better performance per teraflop than its previous GCN-based GPUs," writes Whitson Gordon for IGN.

"The same goes for comparing NVIDIA to AMD. So you can't really compare the performance of two chips based on that single number alone."

Sony revealed the latest PS5 details in a livestream early on Thursday morning (NZ time).

PS5 main tech specs (left) v the Series X (right):

PS5 v Series X tech specs.
Photo credit: Newshub.

One of the most important details unveiled is that the PS5's internal storage will be its solid-state drive (SSD), which will drastically reduce all wait times users face with current-gen consoles.

"PS5's ultra-high-speed SSD and integrated custom I/O system were developed with the goal of removing barriers to play - specifically loading screens," says Hideaki Nishino on the PlayStation blog.

"Developers are able to stream assets into PS5 games at an incredibly fast rate, so PS5 play experiences can be seamless and dynamic, with near-instantaneous fast travel through large game worlds."

A little more about the PS5's ray tracing capabilities were also revealed. 

"Ray tracing simulates the way light moves in real life, and how it bounces off various surfaces," says Nishino.

"Games that take advantage of this feature will render objects much more accurately, and with heightened realism. Water, glass, light refraction, a character’s hair and so on, will look even more realistic."

The official list of PS5 specs as posted by Sony: 

  • CPU: Eight x86-64-AMD Ryzen Zen 2 cores (16 threads), variable frequency at up to 3.5 GHz
  • GPU architecture: AMD Radeon RDNA 2-based graphics engine with hardware acceleration for ray tracing
  • GPU: 36 compute units at a variable frequency up to 2.23 GHz (10.28 teraflops)
  • Memory / interface: 16 GB GDDR6 / 256-bit
  • Memory bandwidth: 448 GB/s
  • Internal storage: Custom 825 GB SSD, PCIe 4.0
  • I/O throughput: 5.5 GB/s (read), typical 8-9 GB/s (compressed)
  • Expandable storage: NVMe SSD expansion bay
  • External storage: USB hard drive support
  • Optical drive: 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray
  • Video: HDMI 2.1 (support for 4K 120 Hz TVs, 8K TVs, VRR)
  • Audio: Tempest 3D AudioTech

While Sony isn't saying which PS4 games will be playable on the PS5, it does suggest there will be dozens at launch and more further down the line. 

"We're excited to confirm that the backwards compatibility features are working well. We recently took a look at the top 100 PS4 titles as ranked by play time, and we're expecting almost all of them to be playable at launch on PS5," says Nishino.

"With more than 4000 games published on PS4, we will continue the testing process and expand backwards compatibility coverage over time."

Both the PS5 and Series X are scheduled for release later this year, probably in November.