If you are a gamer or just a tech fan, you are most likely looking at marketing for the next generation console which will be released in the 2020 holiday season, which is probably this November. While the Xbox One and PS4 are showing their age to some, others struggle to see how the next generation will actually differ from the last.
A look at the actual specs on the upcoming PS5 and Xbox Series X may leave those in the know a little disappointed: it’s a technology PC gamers have been using for years. And then there are the games, some of which we’ve looked at that give a real next-generation feel.
However, if you take a closer look at the next generation of consoles, what you may not know is the advertising hype is completely justified: in the coming years, the PS5 and Xbox Series X will fundamentally change PC gaming and gaming in particular. Read on to find out why!
Next Generation CPU
For our purposes here, we will consider the CPU inside the PS5 and X Series to be equivalent. (We won’t be looking too closely at the CPU / APU differences either.) Not really, because Microsoft and Sony do different things in terms of cooling and frequency, but the underlying technology is the same.
To understand the next generation, we have to understand the previous generation. The CPU power on the console is always orders of magnitude less than on a desktop PC. For example, consider PS4 and Xbox One. The console was released in 2013 with eight cores running in the high 1GHZ range.
Not too fast, perhaps, but eight cores isn’t that bad, is it? Desktop computers have really only moved past the four cores in recent years. It makes sense that the PS4 has similar powers to mid-range desktops back in 2013, right?
Both the Xbox One and PS4 CPUs are built on AMD’s Jaguar microarchitecture. This is a 2013 era chip design made for low power devices, such as notebooks, mini PCs and tablets. Desktop computers are much faster than the last generation in terms of CPU power, and coming back to older consoles, the gap is usually only widening.
The upcoming console is built on the AMD Ryzen Zen 2 microarchitecture, which is a complete desktop class cutting-edge design. Both consoles have eight cores and run in the 3GHZ range, but what matters here isn’t the frequency and number of cores; on the contrary, it is the fundamental efficiency of the chip.
The Sony PS5 and Microsoft Xbox Series X were the first consoles in modern history to deliver roughly equivalent CPU power to desktop computers at the time. This means in-game simulation complexity can skyrocket, and decades of PC gamers have been dealing with poorly optimized console ports or worse than expected performance that will slowly end as games are designed to take advantage of powerful modern CPUs.
In short, that’s not it, of course, the PS5 is more powerful than the PS4: the PS5 (and the X Series) is so powerful that it brings genuine high-end PC-grade hardware to the table.
A lot has been said about SSDs in next generation systems, particularly the PS5. Like CPUs, SSDs in every console are different, and Sony has spent a lot of time building custom drives that are much faster than Xbox Series X drives. However, in terms of the underlying technology, the benefits of the two drives will be the same: they may be more visible in PS5.
Since PC gamers have been using SSDs for years, this isn’t a surprising upgrade for many, but it’s far from being the full story. Sony’s marketing claims for the PS5 SSD in particular are bold, calling its storage solution “way ahead of anything you can buy on a PC at any price today.” What’s important is that at a fundamental level, NVME brand solid-state storage, and solid-state storage, which is very fast, will be available to all developers for all games.
Even if you have, in the past, upgraded your PS3 or PS4 to an SSD, your advantage is negligible as these systems are not designed to take advantage of SSD bandwidth. For PC gamers themselves, the benefits of in-game solid-state drives are negligible as well. Yes, it loads faster, but usually that’s it. These were a by-product of the development of games and game engines of the day: at a basic level, they weren’t designed to stream the huge amounts an SSD could handle.
But now that developers can build their games in the hope that solid-state storage will be available on all platforms, games themselves are starting to change. PC gamers will finally be able to make proper use of their storage devices.
Are you excited about the next generation console? Do you think games will change for all players in the coming years, or is all the hype misplaced? Let us know in the comments below!