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Why is the PS5 beating the Xbox Series X in power comparisons? Microsoft responds.

Xbox Series X vs PlayStation 5
Xbox Series X vs PlayStation 5 (Image credit: Windows Central)

In comments to The Verge, Microsoft has responded to Digital Foundry analyses that shows the PlayStation 5 repeatedly beating the Xbox Series X in side-by-side video game performance tests.

Microsoft has worked extensively with Digital Foundry to prove the power of its recent consoles, exuding confidence in the power and architecture of their systems. Microsoft has also not shied away from describing the Xbox Series X as the "world's most powerful console," and the spec sheet certainly seems to indicate that to be the case. Like with most gaming and computing hardware, though, there's far more going on under the hood before we get real-world performance, and thus far, the PlayStation 5 has generally proven itself to run multiplatform games better than their Xbox Series X counterparts, so what gives?

Everything from Assassin's Creed: Valhalla to Watch Dogs: Legion performs better on the PlayStation 5.

Digital Foundry has tested a range of titles, from DiRT 5 to Call of Duty, and games with special marketing deals with the Xbox platform like Assassin's Creed: Valhalla. For the vast majority of these tests, the PlayStation 5 seems to provide a better experience, with the 2TF performance gap enjoyed by the Xbox Series X nowhere to be seen.

In a statement to The Verge, Microsoft fell short of claiming it would be able to beat out the PlayStation 5 in the future but seemed to indicate that there are "minor bugs" that could be impacting performance. Microsoft also inferred that developers still need to learn how to "take full advantage" of their new platform.

"We are aware of performance issues in a handful of optimized titles on Xbox Series X|S and are actively working with our partners to identify and resolve the issues to ensure an optimal experience. [...] As we begin a new console generation, our partners are just now scratching the surface of what next-gen consoles can do and minor bug fixes are expected as they learn how to take full advantage of our new platform. We are eager to continue working with developers to further explore the capability of Xbox Series X|S in the future."

Through our own sourcing, we've heard from developers at two separate publishers that Microsoft is working to issue a GDK (game development kit) platform update before the end of the year to address specific bugs that cause performance degradation in certain situations. Whether this is the same bug across the board that seems to be draining performance in games like Observer and DiRT 5 remains to be seen, but it's certainly not without precedent for a new video game console to launch with these kinds of issues.

Update November 27, 2020: Assassin's Creed Valhalla has been updated recently, with fixes to screen-tearing. It also seems to now run at a locked 60 frames per second on the Xbox Series X, potentially leveraging the platform fix outlined above.

Xbox Series X Reveal

Source: Microsoft (Image credit: Source: Microsoft)

The Verge also reported that next-gen Xbox consoles only entered manufacturing in the summer, with Xbox lead Phil Spencer revealing that Microsoft waited for specific AMD tech before beginning mass production. It certainly seems as though some developers may have had far more time with PlayStation 5 dev kits to build out and optimize their titles, with leaks of PS5 dev kits appearing around this time last year.

Regardless of optimizations, this whole saga is a reminder that on-paper specs don't necessarily translate to real-world performance. Mathematically speaking, the Xbox Series X should be the more performant device, but there's no way to know how long it could take before the spec sheet translates into real-world results.

Xbox Series X/S

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Jez Corden is a Senior Editor for Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!

24 Comments
  • We've seen this before. A console gets a jump on game development and then because of time constraints ports it over to the other console without much more work that benefits the other console. We see it with graphics cards for PC all the time. I wouldn't say so much lazy development but constrained for time by their publishers to get it out on all systems at the same time. This is why we are in the age of updates every time we turn on our consoles and try to play a game. It's not the best way to do business, everyone is in a rush to make a quick buck instead of getting us the best product on day one. Long live updates.
  • Exactly.
    Lead platform on crossplatform games always does better.
    And these games aren't designed just for PS5 and SX but also PS4 and XB1.
    Odds are those games were developed for the old boxes and then tweaked for the new ones.
  • Unfortunately that's basically every single platform or software. Working for a software company I see it now and more. Your software company takes a handful of ideas to implement in the next release, devs build it out, QA makes sure it works well enough and if not sends it back. Once it passes "good enough" they build the next. They do this on 2 week increments until time to release. Product owners talk to customers (or at least look at feedback) for next features. Scrum sorry if facilitates it all keeping pace rolling. This is a heavily watered down/basic summary. It's a cluster for sure, but it's to get newer better features out quicker, then fine tune after the fact and improve... Yes, long live updates.
  • The video info on Series S is a bit worrying, will be interesting to see how other developers approach the lower end console.
  • I'll believe it when I see it, currently with the exception of DMC5, every game performs slightly better on the PS5. Maybe Tflops isn't everything, some parts of the GPU on the PS5 are factually better so it doesn't really surprising. Either way the difference in performance is minimal, if you buying either console for performance then you are doing it wrong.
  • Which parts are those that are factually better?
  • I believe he may be referring to the leak earlier this year on neogaf which seems be very accurate as to what we got. Source: https://www.neogaf.com/threads/next-gen-ps5-xsx-ot-speculation-analysis-... CPU
    PS5 - 8 core 16 threads 3.5GHz
    XSX - 8 core 16 threads 3.6GHz 2.6% difference GPU
    PS5 = 10.28TF
    XSX = 12TF 15% difference RAM/Bandwidth
    PS5 = 16GB @ 448GB/s 22% difference against the 6GB
    XSX = 10GB @ 560GB/s and 6GB @ 336GB/s 22% difference for 10GB Triangle rasterization
    PS5 - 4 x 2.23 = 8.92 BT/s 20% difference for PS5
    XSX - 4 x 1.825 = 7.3 BT/s Culling rate
    PS5 - 8 x 2.23 GHz = 17.84 BT/s 20% difference for PS5
    XSX - 8 x 1.825 GHz = 14.6 BT/s Pixel fill rate
    PS5 - 64 x 2.23 - 142.72 GPixel/s 20% difference for PS5
    XSX - 64 x 1.825 - 116.8 GPixel/s Texture fill rate
    PS5 - 4 x 36 x 2.23 = 321.12 GTexel/s
    XSX - 4 x 52 x 1.825 = 379.6 GTexel/s 16% difference for XSX Ray triangle intersection rate
    PS5 - 4 x 36 x 2.23 = 321.12 Billion RTI/s
    XSX - 4 x 52 x 1.825 = 379.6 Billion RTI/s 16% difference for XSX not 40%
  • I actually didn't knew about those leaks, I just got those numbers because we can calculate them knowing stuff like the number of ROPs and Primitive Units.
  • It has better Pixel Fill Rate for example due to having the same amount of ROPs as the Series X but it runs them at 2.23Ghz instead of 1.825Ghz (+22% for PS5), Rasterization is also better on PS5 because they both have the same amount of Primitive Units (+22% PS5) and culling is also better for similar reasons (+22% PS5).
  • Can we all just agree that if this doesn't end up being an anomaly and the PS5 does handle multiplatform games better across the life of the generation that, mysteriously, Xbox gamers will do an about face regarding console power and it's importance?
  • Of course, the same happened fo the PS4 and X1 gen, first for "Ponies" the power was very important and for "Xbots" it wasn't, but then the Pro and One X came and they shifted lol
  • THIS. It was the same each gen, going back to the first Xbox vs PS2. Goalposts are always in flux ...
  • I forget which generation of consoles it was, but I definitely remember PS fans using "power" as a big reason why they're better. It's no surprise that Microsoft would want to reverse those claims/use it as marketing. Edit: I didn't see the comment above me but maybe that's what I was thinking about
  • The 360 era.
    On paper, Cell had more raw power but the split memory and lower bandwidth ate up a lot of it moving data between the two pools versus the 360's unified memory. It showed most obviisly in the open world games and particularly OBLIVION.
    It took developers years to figure out the architecture.
  • I mean the console is only a part of the factor for someone picking their preferred platform. You have the price, ecosystem, games, UI, UX, network, controller, and what platform your friends are on that all play a big part in picking the Xbox over PS or vise versa. Bottom line is people like what they like no use trying to sway people one way or another by spitting out console specs you'll pull them in with exclusives, network performance, price, UX, and social environment more so than anything.
  • Why Ps4 beat Xbox Séries X/S ?
    Probably you are a little ridicule.
  • Nonsense...? Maybe rephrase your post?
  • Digital Foundry: "We can confirm that the PS5 version runs 0.5 percent faster." Fanboys: "IT'S OVER XBONE. SUCK IT. TFLOPS MY BUTT. TOLD U THE PS5 WAS WAAAY MORE POWERFUL"
  • Maybe it's the ssd giving them extra performance lol *jokes*
  • Bugs Bounty
    Yes, we bugs
  • When will be exploited the quality of this consoles, 4K 120 Fps Ray tracing Ssd ?
    2 or 3 years ?
  • Three years, most likely.
  • There are not comparisons.
  • Mode Boost ? Mode Performance ?
    Terrain response
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