If you care about PS5 vs Xbox Series X performance, you should just build a PC

PS5 Xbox Series X
I'm already tired of this console war and it's barely even started (Image credit: N/A)

Both the PS5 and Xbox Series X are looming on the horizon, and both are poised to arrive on the gaming market at the end of 2020 - so of course there are a lot of leaks and rumors. 

One of the most tiresome flavors of console rumors is "which one will be faster", and there are already way too many of these for our comfort. Look, I'm going to say it once: it doesn't matter. There are going to be a wealth of multiplatform games out there and they're going to be roughly equivalent on both consoles.

There will be slight differences, of course, though you're probably not going to notice unless you watch a Digital Foundry video. But all of these rumors got me thinking: you know what scene is completely rabid about slight performance differences? PC gaming. Do you know where slight performance differences actually matter? Also PC gaming. 

So, if the difference between the two consoles is this huge point of contention for you, maybe you should just suck it up and build a gaming PC. Hear me out.  

PS5 Xbox Series X

This processor is six months old (Image credit: Future)

The PS5 and Xbox Series X will be using dated tech

Both the PS5 and the Xbox Series X are going to be using an SoC equipped with AMD Zen 2 CPU and Navi graphics architectures. That's definitely some exciting news, but it also means that the differences in performance aren't going to be super pronounced. 

We did see a leak appear earlier this week that suggested that the PS5 would be faster than the Xbox Series X based on some very questionable logic. The Spark Notes summary here was that there were four specs: CPU, GPU, RAM and SSD. So because the RAM and SSD were faster, this leak posited that the PS5 would itself be faster - even though the processors were equal and the GPU is faster on the Xbox Series X. 

Even if that's true, and I seriously doubt it is, the differences would not be enough to make the PS5 the de facto console to buy. No matter which console you go with, you're probably going to get a similar level of performance. 

We don't even know what the consoles will be capable of at this point, even if Phil Spencer revealed the processor with an "8K" engraved on it. With what we've seen of RDNA (the current AMD Navi graphics microarchitecture), it's barely able to perform at 4K, which basically eliminates 8K gaming altogether. 

If that leak I mentioned earlier is correct, that the graphics processor in the Xbox Series X is faster than the one in the PS5, it probably won't be because it's using a different GPU, it's probably just clocked higher with more voltage going into it. Between the two consoles, the hardware will be so similar that this internet shouting match is just a waste of energy. You should just go for the console that has the games you want to play. 

Plus, PCs look cool, so there's that.

Plus, PCs look cool, so there's that. (Image credit: Future)

But if you really care about performance...

There are definitely people out there that want to get the best graphics and the highest framerates no matter what, and I totally get that. But if that's what matters to you, what are you even doing playing on a console? You're going to get better performance if you build a PC, even if you use parts that are available today.

Look at it this way. The PS5 is going to be using an 8 core, 16 thread processor from AMD, based on the Zen 2 architecture. The AMD Ryzen 7 3700X has that exact core count, is based on the same architecture and has been out since July 2019. And, because it's a desktop PC part, it's going to be clocked a lot higher than whatever ends up in the PS5 or Xbox Series X. Hell, you can get a processor with literally twice that many cores right now

As far as graphics go, you can just pick up an RTX 2080 Ti and play games at 4K with ray tracing literally today. 

And I get it, consoles are way way way cheaper than the configuration I just haphazardly mentioned. But that's because they're mass-produced with similar hardware. For all you speed demons out there that just want to play everything at 4K with the settings cranked up at 60 fps, the option is already out there for you.

The PC building scene is kind of similar to the car enthusiast scene in that way - you can go as fast and as hard as you want. Also similar to cars is that you can even start off basic with budget parts, building up your rig to an unstoppable gaming behemoth over time. So, what are you doing waiting for the Xbox Series X or PS5? Hell, you'll be able to play most Xbox games on PC, and we're starting to see a bunch of PlayStation exclusives make their way over, too. 

At the end of the day, sheer power doesn't even matter when it comes to gaming. Just look at the Nintendo Switch, it's objectively weaker than anything else on the market but it still has the best games on the market. So, you can either just go with the platform that will give you the games that make you smile, or you can fall down the rabbit hole of becoming a PC enthusiast. If you want to do the latter, first of all welcome, and second of all here's how to build a PC

  • Have we convinced you? Take a look at our best gaming PC list for our recommendations
Bill Thomas

Bill Thomas (Twitter) is TechRadar's computing editor. They are fat, queer and extremely online. Computers are the devil, but they just happen to be a satanist. If you need to know anything about computing components, PC gaming or the best laptop on the market, don't be afraid to drop them a line on Twitter or through email.