The Xbox Series X could be even more powerful than PS5 – if Microsoft copied Sony’s approach

Xbox Series X power
(Image credit: Future)

The Xbox Series X has already got the PS5 beat when it comes to technical specifications, but apparently the gap could be even wider on paper, if Microsoft had copied Sony’s approach to clock speeds.

We already know that the Xbox Series X boasts 12.1 teraflops of computational power, which bests the PlayStation 5’s 10.3 teraflops, but the gap could have been even greater according to Jason Ronald, director of program management for Xbox Series X.

Speaking in an interview with Spanish site Xataka, Jason Ronald explains that the reason Sony has managed to close the distance on the Xbox Series X is simply because the PS5 uses variable clock speeds. The PS5’s GPU is able to reach clock speeds of up to 2.23GHz in the best case scenario, while the Xbox Series X is locked at 1.825GHz.

Power struggle

However, Ronald notes that Microsoft’s upcoming console was designed with developers in mind by providing fixed clock speeds. "We focus on optimizing the developer experience to deliver the best possible experience for players, rather than trying to 'hunt' down certain record numbers. We've always talked about consistent and sustained performance,” Ronald said.

Ronald also implied that the PS5’s variable clock speeds don’t tell the full story, and that developers won’t benefit from the fluctuating power of the PS5’s GPU. "We could have used forced clocks, we could have used variable clock rates: the reality is that it makes it harder for developers to optimize their games even though it would have allowed us to boast higher TFLOPS than we already had, for example. But you know, that's not the important thing. The important thing is the gaming experiences that developers can build."

But what about the one area where the PS5 does come out on top when placed head-to-head with the Xbox Series X, the speed of its SSD? Well, according to Ronald, Microsoft is confident its SSD will be able to compete.  

"Things go beyond the numbers that we may or may not share. Sampler Feedback Streaming (SMS) allows us to load textures and makes the SSD drive act as a multiplier of physical memory that adds to the memory that the machine itself has,” Ronald explained. “We also have a new API called Direct Storage that gives us low-level direct access to the NVMe controller so that we can be much more efficient in managing those I / O operations."

Check your specs

While no console has ever come out on top on merely numbers alone, it’s clear that both Sony and Microsoft are taking different approaches on how they interpret power, and how they’ll impact developers when it comes to making games. 

Will the Xbox Series X be able to take advantage of the extra graphical grunt it has over the PS5, then? Ultimately, the games will decide. 

Adam Vjestica

Adam was formerly TRG's Hardware Editor. A law graduate with an exceptional track record in content creation and online engagement, Adam has penned scintillating copy for various technology sites and also established his very own award-nominated video games website. He’s previously worked at Nintendo of Europe as a Content Marketing Editor and once played Halo 5: Guardians for over 51 hours for charity. He is now an editor at The Shortcut.