How Next-Gen Hardware Will Change the Gaming Landscape

Seems like yesterday when we had the PS4 and Xbox One. Now the PS5 versus Xbox Series X debacle is almost here, and it’s interesting to see what the new consoles will bring to the table. We already know that the hardware will focus on targeting 4K resolutions with up to 120 frames per second. 

That means there’s quite a bit of processing power under the hood, a clear testament to the fact that Microsoft and Sony are going above and beyond to establish the rules for the next generation of gaming. We are already hearing about how the more powerful hardware found within each box will allow developers to create bigger open worlds, more enemy variety, improved artificial intelligence, and the ability to easily switch between games with fewer load times.

These improvements wouldn’t be possible with the right technology. Both Sony and Microsoft have again partnered with AMD to create both the CPU and GPU based on the current 3rd generation Ryzen technology and the newest RNA 2 features that will soon be available on their Navi GPU revision. There is still a lot we don’t know, like the capacity of the SSD, the speed of the CPU and GPU, and how much system RAM will be available. 

What we do know is that Series X will have 12 teraflops of graphics performance. The PS5 is still an unknown. There have been suggestions that Sony’s system will be a fraction less powerful. But teraflops don’t tell the whole story. Software features that empower the hardware to work more efficiently could, in theory, erase that gap. This includes ray-tracing support, which is a new feature as part of AMD’s upcoming Navi GPUs; these features will be enabled through software and hardware, but both companies are using customized versions of these GPUs, so it is impossible to know how they will perform respectively.

Both devices are also promising full backward compatibility. Microsoft has been building a large backward compatibility library for years, so Sony will have to play catchup, but Sony is promising to support games as far back as PS1.

Finally, one big unknown is a feature that will allow you to save your current game state, then switch to a new game and start back up right where you left off. In the past, you would have to fully quit a game, put in a new disc, then go through several load screens to resume your gameplay. Thanks to the new SSD, according to Microsoft, you can’t switch games in seconds and keep playing from where you left off. We don’t yet know how this feature works, but presumably, its functionality is dependent on the 

But what about the price?

That is a huge unknown. According to a Forbes report, Sony is having issues controlling the cost of the hardware. For just the hardware, it may cost Sony up to $470 per unit without factoring in packaging, transportation, or the cut of the sale that retailers take. 

$500 may be the upper-bounds that are accepted by gamers, especially when considering that gamers must also buy games, and in many cases, subscribed to online services to access multiplayer and voice chat features. 

Sony is said to be waiting on Microsoft to lead on price. With the Series X said to be more powerful, its cost would likely exceed that of the PS5; however, Microsoft may be more willing to sell the system at a loss to make up any ground they lost during this generation. Meaning that Sony will either have to match that price with a less powerful system, or also take a bigger hit on price to undercut Microsoft. 

Regardless of which system is “better,” it is clear that competition is set to reward patient gamers. The current-gen has suffered a bit due to slow mechanical hard drives and a lackluster CPU architecture. With both the Series X and PS5, we’re seeing both Microsoft and Sony investing heavily in creating hardware that will provide a massive leap in features and performance that will benefit developers and gamers.