Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S Or PlayStation 5 – Which Should You Buy?

Published 7th January 2021
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There’s no getting around it – gaming is big business, and choosing which new console you’re going to shell out for is a massive choice. After all, these next-gen consoles are going to be the go-to place for adventures and multiplayer fun for years to come, so you want to make the right choice!

Going into the 2020s, as both the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One bow out to the new kids on the block (and the Nintendo Switch continues to prove popular and appealing in and of itself), is the PlayStation 5 or the Xbox Series X best for you?

Let’s dive into the facts and find out!

PS5 vs Xbox Series X – what you need to know


At first glance, you’d be correct in suggesting that there are a lot of similarities between both frontrunners in the race to dominate next-gen gaming.

Both Sony and Microsoft have put their all into designing visually striking new hardware and specs, which packs a huge amount of technology and entertainment value within.


Both the Playstation 5 and the Xbox Series X (and its smaller cousin, the Xbox Series S) have tech inside that make gaming immersive as never before, including:

Solid state drives

Solid state drives, or SSDs, are far faster to read and write digital information, and both the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X offer one terabyte of SSD storage within.

Using their SSDs, next-gen consoles can load enormous game-worlds faster than has ever been possible, and in many cases can even load your older PS4 games or Xbox One games faster than they booted up on your existing console, too.

Hardware ray-tracing

There’s a lot of technical wizardry that goes into ray-tracing, but put simply, it’s the way that a computer can cleverly work out how rays of light naturally affect various surfaces in a three-dimensional environment.

While it was once only possible in the supercomputers behind things like Disney Pixar films, ray-tracing is now a big part of PC gaming and, of course, the new Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5. Both new machines boast powerful ray-tracing tech that’ll see gaming graphics gleam like never before.

Backwards compatibility

It’s not like the old days, when getting a new console meant putting all your old games away. We’ve all got big game libraries now, both in terms of physical discs and the digital downloads we’ve purchased while playing our PS4 and Xbox One machines.

Nowadays, keeping those collections and our precious playthroughs going is crucial, so both Sony and Microsoft have promised that games from the previous generation of consoles will almost all work on the Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S and PlayStation 5 hardware.

Xbox Series S and PS5 Digital Edition - budget-friendly versions

Both console manufacturers have done their bit to try and make buying a new gaming console budget-friendly. As a result, there are cheap PS5 and cheap Xbox Series X options to consider, if you know where to look.

Sony’s answer is the PlayStation 5 Digital Edition, which is more affordable than the regular version of the PS5 because it doesn’t have a disc drive. Instead, you’ll be downloading games directly to the console’s SSD.

Similarly, yet perhaps more distinctively, Microsoft has created the super-affordable Xbox Series S, which features the SSD and ray-tracing of its bigger cousin, but is smaller and lacks a disc drive to help it stay budget-friendly.

Is the Xbox Series X or PS5 better?


The age-old question! Knowing whether the Xbox Series X is better than the PS5, or whether you believe instead that the PS5 is better than the Xbox Series X, comes down to a big range of factors.

If you’ve already got a sizable game collection on either the PlayStation 4 or the Xbox One, you might well feel as though it’s best to remain with the same brand for your next-gen console. After all, that lets you carry over your games library, game saves, Achievements and Trophies.

But there’s so much more to consider when it comes to PS5 versus Xbox Series X! With all the similarities now discussed, let’s turn our attention to what makes each machine stand apart, so you know which console is right for you.

Does Xbox Series X or PS5 have better games?

No console is complete without games to play it on! Throughout the 2010s, Microsoft and Sony showed very different approaches to helping players decide which console has the best games, and that’s reached all new heights for PS5 and Xbox Series X.

In recent years, with the PS4 especially, Sony has proven that they can deliver enormous, groundbreaking, cinematic and immersive games that are exclusive to PlayStation consoles.

This strategy seems to be one they’re sticking with for PlayStation 5, with current and forthcoming releases like Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales, a new God of War and Horizon: Zero Dawn games, not to mention Demon’s Souls.

Meanwhile, Xbox Series X has seen Microsoft prepare for the new console wars by investing in numerous game studios, such as Double Fine and Dontnod Entertainment. Most famously, Microsoft purchased Zenimax, unlocking command over Bethesda, who make Fallout and Elder Scrolls games, among others.

Xbox Series X also heavily promotes its Game Pass subscription service, which promotes a rotating number of Xbox console and PC games for a monthly fee that you’re free to install, play and enjoy as you choose.

Xbox Series X exclusive games are expected to often launch on Game Pass ready for you to play as soon as they’re out, making this good value in the long run if you like games like Fable, Forza and Halo.

Is backwards compatibility better on Xbox Series X or PS5?

While a lot of attention has been given to backwards compatibility, and gamers are thrilled that their existing game collections can move forward into a new console generation with them, there’s a strong difference in how each console offers you the chance to play the PS4 or Xbox games you already own.


Fantastically, given it’s one of the best-selling consoles of all time, almost every single PS4 game you’ve ever bought can be played on PS5. Many of these games will use a Game Boost feature to look and feel their best, most PSVR games will be compatible, and your save-games can move from your old console to the PS5.

However, keep in mind that if you buy the PS5 Digital Edition, you won’t have a disc drive to put your PlayStation 4 game discs into. You’ll only be able to carry forward those games you digitally downloaded.

For the likes of PS3 games and even earlier PlayStation systems, things get more complicated. PS5 will not support PS1 or PS2 games, but those PS3 games in the PS Now streaming subscription service will be playable on PS5.


While Sony is reaching back from PS5 to PS4 for immediate backwards compatibility, Microsoft has taken a different approach that builds on the existing backwards compatibility that is already featured on the Xbox One.

Xbox Series X will not only be fully compatible with almost every Xbox One game ever released, but it will also play everything on the comprehensive Xbox backwards compatibility list, which includes Xbox 360 and classic Xbox games aplenty. Save games seamlessly follow you thanks to the cloud, too.

Again, if you opt for the Xbox Series S, keep in mind that a lack of disc drive will mean only digital downloads of those older games will work. On Xbox Series X, meanwhile, you can use physical discs of those older games to get them going on your new machine, with faster graphics and bolder colours too.

Sounds like a good excuse to see which forgotten Xbox classics or 360 must-haves from the last two decades you might have missed!

Which has the better controller – PS5 or Xbox Series X?

What’s the best controller of all time? Nothing gets a conversation and debate between gamers started like this question – and with such distinctive differences between the PS5 controller and Xbox Series X controller, there’s lots to discuss this time around too!

Interestingly, the Xbox Series X is not only compatible with your existing Xbox One controllers, but it also builds off them for its latest design. If you’ve already got an Xbox One controller indoors, you’ll be ready for local multiplayer on your Xbox Series X as soon as you unbox it.

Like its older cousins, the Xbox Series X controller uses AA batteries, although it can also work via USB-C cable. Another new feature is a dedicated Share button, helping you upload epic screenshots and must-see footage of your top gaming moments to social media.


Meanwhile, you can’t use a PS4 DualShock controller with your PS5, but that’s because the new PS5 controller – the DualSense – is a complete leap into the new!

Sleek and refined, the DualSense offers haptic feedback in addition to the touch panel, motion controls and LED lights of its direct ancestor. This helps games feel more immersive by simulating footsteps, rainfall and the like – but also features a stronger built-in controller speaker and a mic to help you chat to friends while gaming easily.

The DualSense controller also uses an included USB-C cable to recharge its built-in battery, and is considered one of the defining features of the PS5 overall.

Which is better – the Xbox Series X or PS5 UI?

Before diving into the user interface of the PS5 and of the Xbox Series X, it’s important to highlight how each console designer has approached their overall upgrade philosophy and approach to gamers.

For example, Microsoft is emphasising its Game Pass service more and more, and has been determined to make the journey of Xbox ownership a smooth one to upgrade through. That’s shown not only through its Smart Delivery system of making games play great, whatever the machine, but also through the Xbox Series X UI.

Put simply, the Xbox Series X user interface is purposefully almost identical to that of the Xbox One, to make playing Xbox feel seamless. However, alongside dynamic theme backgrounds, one new feature that’s being talked about a lot is Xbox Quick Resume.

Instead of saving, quitting and loading new games every time you fancy something different, Quick Resume is more like changing channels on the TV. Your Xbox Series X remembers exactly where you are and what you’re doing in the game when you leave it to do something else, so you can jump right back in later on.

Bad news, kids – the days of saying ‘I’ll come off this game when I’ve found somewhere to save’ are now over!

While PS5 doesn’t use Quick Resume, games are fast to load nonetheless thanks to the SSD inside – plus a feature of the sleek UI experience is the Activity Cards feature.

Not only do these cards show you how far you are through certain areas of a game, but they can also be used to jump directly into the action, bypassing booting up a game traditionally and tapping buttons past the title screen.

For example, if there’s some secret treasure you missed for Sackboy in a level of his game, or an objective Spider-Man needs to take on right from your console’s home menu, you can use the PS5’s Activity Cards to jump directly into that point of the game to get stuck in right away.

Let the games begin


The start of a new console generation is always exciting, and this one promises to be one of the most competitive and hi-tech yet!

From Sony’s sleek, designer console and exclusive roster of games, to Microsoft’s superb Game Pass service and smooth flow of upgrades for users, these machines are going to be entertainment epicenters we’re all eager to get our hands on.

Remember, OnBuy works in partnership with its sellers, enhanced by PayPal Buyer Protection to ensure you never get caught short by pre-orders gone awry or last-minute supply chain issues that you might have fought against elsewhere when trying to buy your ultimate console.

If you see it on our marketplace, it’s right here for the taking – so get stuck in!

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