Exciting times, folks. The next generation of games consoles is heading our way, with Sony’s PlayStation 5 and Microsoft’s Xbox Series X both set to make a splash when they arrive on shelves later this year.
As you’d expect, competition between the PS5 and Xbox Series X is already heating up. And one of the deciding factors that eager gamers will be scrutinising is the visual capability of the two consoles.
Both the PS5 and Xbox Series X will offer high-resolution, 4K graphics, and are reportedly capable of running games at up to 120 frames per second (the current standard being 30-60FPS). That means they’ll each offer a serious visual upgrade from the current generation.
But which one is more powerful when it comes to the quality of the graphics they’re able to display? Let’s take a closer looks at the specs of the PS5 and Xbox Series X to find out.
How many teraflops will the PS5 and Xbox Series X have?
The major indicator of how good the consoles’ graphical performance will be is the strength of the graphics processing units (GPUs) contained within. Thanks to Sony’s and Microsoft’s published specs, we know that the two consoles boast very similar GPUs, both built around an AMD RDNA 2 graphics chip (similar to the upcoming next generation of PC graphics cards). Where they differ slightly is in the amount of ‘flops’ they offer.
What is a flop, exactly? Well, we’re glad you asked. It’s an acronym for "floating point operations per second". In graphics terms, those operations involve drawing polygons and moving them around on screen. So, it’s basically a measure of graphical processing power – more flops, better graphics.
The PS5’s GPU will offer 10.3 teraflops, while the Xbox Series X will boast 12 teraflops. A teraflop, or TFLOP, is a trillion flops. That’s a lot of flops. For context, the current generation’s most powerful console, the Xbox One X, offers 6 teraflops.
On the basis of their GPU specs, both next-gen consoles will offer a real step up in terms of graphics. However, it seems the Xbox Series X will just pip the PS5 in terms of graphics potential. We say potential, of course, because how good a game actually looks will depend on how much of the console’s processing power that the game developers decide to harness.
PS5 vs Xbox Series X graphics: what’s the difference?
The teraflop capability is just one measure, though. The PS5 GPU has a variable clock speed, for example, meaning it can push itself harder when it needs to (the Series X’s GPU has a locked clock speed). And Sony has made a lot of noise around the PS5’s speedy custom SSD drive, too, which will contribute to the ‘smoothness’ of graphics.
Of course, the likelihood is that, in real terms, there’ll be little difference graphics-wise between playing the same game on the PlayStation 5 or the Xbox Series X. Both consoles are incredibly powerful machines that will be capable of running games with more complex and spectacular visuals than ever before.
One visual bonus that both consoles are embracing is ray tracing. The next-gen GPUs are optimised for this graphical technique, which will allow developers to create more realistic shadows, atmospheric lighting, reflections, and water and transparency effects. Basically, whichever console you choose, be prepared for some very good-looking games.
For more articles like this, take a look at our Next-Gen page.