PS5 vs Xbox Series X costs

23 Mar 2020

So last week both Microsoft and Sony have revealed the basic technical specs of their next generation consoles. They’re similar in some ways, and different in others.

TLDR for this post: While Sony’s APU might be smaller, only the GPU is, and that’s just part of the total cost, so it’s probably going to be less than $20 cheaper to make.

The two main differences are the GPU and SSD. Microsoft have gone with a bigger GPU, 52 CUs, while Sony went with a smaller 36 CU one. This gives less graphical power, but a cheaper APU (AMDs name for the combined CPU+GPU). One the other hand Microsoft went for a 1TB 2.4GB/s SSD, and Sony a 825GB 5.5GB/s SSD.

Now people are already claiming that due to the smaller GPU the PS5 will be cheaper, but I’m not so sure and going to explain why.

All of these numbers are going to be generous to Sony when I can’t find good estimates, or there’s a spread. It’s possible that this means the difference in cost will be even less.

First I’m going to start assuming that Microsoft are aiming for a $500 retail price, assuming it’s similar to the Xbox One X, that suggests a production cost of $450.

Looking at teardowns from the existing consoles the APU and RAM make up around 50% of the total cost, so lets say 35% for the APU. So with a $450 starting price the APU would be around $158.

Now we have no idea of the die area the various bits of the APU take up, but let’s guess it’s similar to the most recent models, and say the GPU is 70%. The PS5’s GPU is 70% the size of the XSX, so that’s going to make that part of the die smaller, and the whole thing cheaper. If the XSX’s APU is $158, that makes the PS5’s around $124, saving Sony $34.

However, now we have to look at the SSD.

A 1TB NVMe SSD that can do 2.4GB/s costs $135, which is good enough for the XSX. The PS5 needs 5.5GB/s, but there isn’t any available at the moment, the closest we can get is 5GB/s, which costs $200. Now assuming that the components would only cost Microsoft and Sony 60% of the retail cost (this is probably too low), that makes the SSD in the PS5 $18 more expensive (scaling the cost to 82.5% as the PS5s is 825GB).

This would make the PS5 only $16 cheaper to produce.

Summing up

In the end, what’s going to make the biggest difference to the retail price is any extra cost Sony have on their new controller (Microsoft’s seems pretty much the same), and what loss both companies are willing to take.

In the current generation it’s believed that Sony were taking a $60 per unit, and Microsoft sold at cost. However as Microsoft have added game pass, which gives them an extra monthly income stream, they might take a loss this time, as they did on the 360 and original Xbox.

Extra example

As I mentioned, I been generous to Sony with the numbers above, so what happens if we’re a little more inline with average of the current generation, rather then at the end favourable to them. This reduces the APU percentage to 30% (from 35%), the GPU size to 65% (from 70%), and the raw SSD cost to 70% of retail (from 60%). With this we end up with the PS5 only being $6 cheaper.