Developers Begin to Weigh in on the Power Gap Between the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5

It’s now been a little over a week since Sony unveiled some of the specs of the PlayStation 5. As we discussed on last week’s podcast, there is a power gap in favor of the Xbox Series X.

However, we’re also very careful in speaking about the gap due to the complexities in game development. Thus we always look to game developers who are actually working with these units.

Over the course of the last week, a few third-party (or unnamed) developers have begun to speak out on the hardware which we found notable. As time goes on, and more developers have substantial time invested on the development kits, we’ll hear more details. For now, we found these quotes to be notable.


Chris Grannell is a developer who spent 15 years working on PlayStation games for both the PS3 and PS4 including Killzone 2 and Wipeout. He stated the following:

I’ve chatted to a few devs and they have confirmed the power difference is quite staggering. However they have said it doesn’t mean you can’t make good games on the PS5.

When asked about the speed of the PS5’s SSD having an impact, he later followed with:

As blistering as the PS5 SSD is it’s not going to make up for the loss of CU’s and variance in clock speeds on the CPU and GPU. It’s also nowhere near GDDR6 levels so it can’t reliably be used as virtual memory.

In the latest episode of Xbox Unlocked, IGN’s weekly Xbox show, the following quote was given from an unnamed developer which echoed the CU count being a large factor:

The in-house tools which are Unix based for Sony versus Microsoft with DirectX12 will dictate how efficient their use of the hardware is. With that said, Mark Cerny pulled a quick one on the general public with the way he delivered the Sony PS5’s specs. First off, we have no clue what the sustained numbers of the GPU and CPU are. However judging by the leak that did nail the Series X numbers, they are significantly lower. That said, one of the things you and most general users skip over is how the CU count is a huge drawback on all modern executions such as ray tracing, variable rate shading, VFFR, etc…meaning the CU cores are tied to the ray tracing cores. So with that said, the PS5 has 40% or so fewer CUs.

He continued:

Now to Microsoft’s biggest advantage, their speed numbers are locked and are not boost numbers which with software updates they might be able to push as there’s always headroom.

Grant Kot is a developer who is currently working on his first console game. He says that the combination of DirectX12 Ultimate and console power drove his direction to the Xbox ecosystem:

As a single developer who has not put out any previous console games, I am choosing to focus on the DirectX ecosystem, which supports XBox, PC and cloud. XBox being more powerful in compute is also a factor.

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As we’ve also heard, some developers have commented on the PS5 having unique features that will be better understood in time. While we certainly believe that to be true, these quotes have come from Sony development studios and thus we’re focusing on independent developers experiences.

Our Take

From all accounts, the Series X is absolutely taking the power crown into next-generation as we had assumed for a long time now. Regardless, it goes without saying that we are extremely excited for both the Xbox and PlayStation 5 and we can’t wait to see more from developers on both consoles as they get closer to launch.

By Seasoned Gaming

Covering the videogame industry with daily content, unique opinions, and as always, no ads or filler.


  • The second guy, who has got dog-piled a bit, has not worked with EITHER console so far. He hasn’t even been in the same building as one. He admittedly barely knows how to work w/ DX and is attempting to make a game. He’s not a professional developer. He’s an aspiring amateur dev. He’s trying to make a physics based game, like Goat Simulator. Hardly the type of guy who should be brought into this conversation.

    The real issue is you’re quoting an ex-employee who believes he has cause to slam his ex-employer. There are no actual sources, let alone impartial ones, used in this article.

    It’s important to note both companies are using the same hardware, modified to their desired specs. It’s fundamentally the same machine. The difference is MS has applied a larger OC to the cpu and gpu. If you’ve ever OC’d either, you know you get diminishing returns. Especially since only the primary cores on both see much improvement, as those are the choke points. The problem w/ teraflops as a measure of power is it assumes all cores are functioning at peak levels. This NEVER happens. But a .6 OC on a cpu is going to generate a LOT of extra heat.

    Both manufacturers have a history of using the cheapest possible cooling solutions, but one has actually gone above and beyond in their cooling solutions. The terrifying bit is its NOT the one who has such a large OC on their processors. Whose case is also poorly designed for ejecting heat. Microsoft needs to start looking hard at how they’re going to cool this thing or we’re going to have a bigger disaster than the red ring of death.

    • Richard Loveridge -

      What you in about there is 3 developers in this article. Also MS has been commended by its design for cooling. It dispels 70% more heat from the console than previous gens design.

      The cooling design for Series X is being lauded as a design genius. That’s what happens when you have input from the Surface team.

    • the xsx cpu/gpu are not overclocked though as was detailed in Digital foundries breakdown. The speeds are locked and guaranteed. The PS5 is the only one with variable speeds (i.e. boost speeds) so on the XSX performance is consistant and on PS5 it is not. MS designed the whole box around the expectation that it always be able to run at those constant speeds. MS on both the one X and XSX have put a ton of engineering in their cooling solutions and have done the opposite of cheaping out. Anyone who owns an one X can tell you just how whisper quite it is even under load.

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