Arguably the brain of any console or PC is its CPU and with the spec announcements for the next generation console offerings from Sony and Microsoft, that has not changed. But with that in mind, in the grand battle of the PS5 CPU Vs Xbox Series X CPU, who comes up on top? Well *rolls up sleeves*, let’s see shall we?
PS5 CPU Vs Xbox Series X CPU – Which Is Better?
If you’ve been reading our other head to head tech articles, you’ll know that we start these things with a bunch of figures to get things going – so here we go!
|PlayStation 5||Xbox Series X|
|CPU Core Type & Quantity||8x AMD Zen 2 Cores||8x AMD Zen 2 Cores|
|CPU Clock Speed||3.5GHz with SMT (variable frequency)||3.8GHz or 3.6GHz with SMT|
As ever, the figures tell a tale. Straight away we can see that both the PS5 and Xbox Series X boast the same AMD Zen 2 microarchitectures along with an identical number of cores.
PS5 CPU Vs Xbox Series X CPU – What’s The Benefit To Having Two Consoles With Such Similar Features?
Having both next-gen consoles boast near identical AMD Zen 2 CPUs is a boon, simply because when it comes to games development for multi-platform titles, you want to achieve hardware parity as much as possible to ensure smooth throughput and (where the GPU, SSD and other features are comparable) no disparity in core features on the same game running on two different platforms.
A great example of this is how Nintendo Switch ports of previously PS4 and Xbox One titles currently work.
Because the spec difference between the Nintendo Switch and even the base PS4 and Xbox One consoles is so vast, the effort to get the likes of DOOM, Wolfenstein II and most recently, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt running on Nintendo’s console is massive indeed to the point that entire separate studios have to work on the Nintendo Switch versions of these games.
Yet, while those games can now be played on Nintendo’s console (and are great ports given what the porting studios have to work with), it’s clear that the core features which define the PS4 and Xbox One versions of those games have been massively scaled back in order to run on the Switch.
For example, a hallmark of the DOOM experience is the blisteringly fast 60 frames per second action, but on Nintendo Switch that has been cut in half to just 30 frames per second in addition to range of other cutbacks on texture quality, visual effects and display resolution too.
As a broader point then, with PS5 and Xbox Series X however, the disparity between the two, especially where multiplatform titles are concerned should on average be extremely minor and really, that’s what developers and consumers should really want.
PS5 CPU Vs Xbox Series X CPU – What Does SMT Mean And Does It Make A Difference?
While the PS5 CPU and Xbox Series X both boast an identical number of AMD Zen 2 cores, there is a speed differential between the two machines. More than that, the speed disparity is underscored by SMT, or Simultaneous Multi-Threading.
So here’s the thing, SMT can deliver up to roughly a 30 percent increase in performance but only if applications and games have been explicitly coded to make use of it.
Failing that and given the relatively aggressive schedule that both Microsoft and Sony are pursuing to make their Holiday 2020 releases a reality, it is expected that many developers will simply not have time to properly engineer SMT into their development pipelines – electing instead to stick with higher clock speeds that run in a non-multi threaded mode.
The kicker here, is that while the 3.6Ghz (SMT) and 3.8Ghz (Non-SMT) standard frequencies of the Xbox Series X are locked down and will not fluctuate according to thermal conditions or processing load, Sony has taken a much different and more flexible approach with the PS5 AMD Zen 2 CPU arrangement via its Boost mode technology.
Ultimately though in the end, while Microsoft does eek out something of a very minor ‘win’ here if you’re going solely by the on paper stats, the small differences that exist between the PS5 CPU and the Xbox Series X CPU simply won’t result in the sort of massive, verifiable differences in titles that the more, shall we say ‘energetic’ fandoms on the Microsoft side believe that they will.