In the world of videogame consoles, pure power is not the most important aspect of any machine on the market, but that doesn’t stop rival companies from focusing on this aspect in their promotional efforts. This year, both Sony and Microsoft have new consoles to launch and early evidence suggests that the next Xbox – Xbox Series X, could outstrip the PlayStation 5 in terms of the sheer graphical horsepower said to be under the bonnet. But what will that really mean for gamers?
At the moment, the official details of the hardware specs for both the Xbox Series X and PS5 have yet to be published. Even so, small hints provided by representatives of both firms, as well as leaks from industry sources, paint an interesting picture as to what the finished products might sport under the skin.
For the Xbox Series X, details acquired by Digital Foundry suggest that it will be able to pump out about 12 teraflops of processing power, while the PS5 will be closer to 9 teraflops.
This seems to suggest that those looking for the highest levels of graphical fidelity as well as smoother frame rates will need to opt for the Microsoft product.
Indeed at the moment, the Xbox One X is the world’s most powerful console, eclipsing the PS4 Pro on paper, even if this console generation has very much allowed Sony to step back into the lead after losing out with the PS3 in the light of the popularity of the Xbox 360.
Conflicting rumours suggest that the PS5 will be less of the underdog than the aforementioned early indicators might suggest, and in the long run the power differential may not be that relevant. This is because developers usually make their biggest games in such a way as to ensure that the largest audience will have access to them, meaning that they will cater to the lowest common denominator in terms of hardware. Only first-party games, made exclusively for Xbox Series X, will, therefore, be able to leverage the full power of the system, or at least this is one theory.
One thing that seems certain is that by opting to make the PlayStation 5 less of a beast on a technical level, Sony will be able to offer it at a lower asking price than the high-end hardware from Microsoft.
It still seems likely that the PS5 will cost around £399 at launch, following in the footsteps of its predecessors. This will still mean that getting gadget insurance to avoid out-of-warranty issues spoiling your enjoyment of your new console is likely to be sensible.
Of course, the fact that Microsoft’s new console is known as the Xbox Series X is interesting in itself. It implies that it will not be a single device, but rather part of a family of consoles which may include a high end, high priced core system alongside an entry-level, low-cost counterpart. This would solve the pricing differential issue, even if it might also confuse consumers and even anger some fans who want access to the very best experiences without compromise. Only time will tell whether these rumours of a significant power gap are true.