Next-Gen Consoles – do the details matter right now?

Written by Alex Maidment (nSanity Beach)

2020 is the long-awaited year of the next generation consoles from Microsoft and Sony – the Xbox Series X and the PS5. Since their announcements in 2019, we’ve seen a lot of details come through the media and press in regards to everything from the name of the consoles, the look of them, the games and of course the specs.

Both consoles are being geared up to be absolute beasts in the console gaming world and we’re all pretty thrilled about that. But one key question remains – do the details of the console actually matter right now? By details, I’m referring to the full spec list, the ports on the back, the connectivity we can expect and exactly what resolutions and frame rates the consoles will run.

This question comes off the back of a series of recent events and news surrounding the console, one of which being the Xbox hardware director questioning why people want to know the specs this early on. For many, it’s probably just to get a feel for what we can really expect from the new consoles compared to what we have now and indeed compared to what a high-end gaming PC can offer.

Having said all of this though, do the details actually make any difference? The longer all this information is kept secret (as it arguably should be at this point), the more the hype builds and the more the marketing can continue to impress with small glimpses of what we can expect.

Further still, although we might not know the exact specs, we already have an idea of the capabilities based on details that have been released, for example, the fact that the max resolution output on both consoles is 8K and the frame rates will be as high as 120fps (although we don’t know what resolution this is for).

I’ve seen countless posts on Reddit and Twitter and even in the media with PC fans berating the potential power of the new consoles and the same argument as always “PC can already deliver everything the new consoles promise” – NVIDIA have even jumped on the bandwagon saying their current RTX range is faster and more powerful than the new console GPUs can be.

But here’s my issue with all of this – PCs aren’t cheap. My own PC gaming build from 4-5 years ago was around £1000 and that wasn’t even top spec in terms of GPU and still only runs a GTX 970, which alone set me back £250. Comparing the cost of that GPU to the Xbox One, that’s more than half the cost of the whole console at launch.

Even if we look at the cheapest options in the RTX range, you might still be looking £250-300 and likely more for something that can run 4K in ultra settings at a decent frame rate, so yes, NVIDIA might have something more powerful but consoles are built to be affordable, easy to set-up and use and don’t require nearly as much maintenance as PCs often do.

I haven’t crunched the numbers but from a quick search online, I think a high-end PC build capable of 4K at 120fps could set you back as much as £1500-£3000! That’s a lot of money! Although we don’t know the cost of the new consoles, it’s likely they’ll come in sub-£1000 just to keep them affordable for the mass and could even be nearer the £600 mark.

Anyway, slight tangent but I honestly think both console developers have done the right thing by keeping the specs at least somewhat secretive at this point. The details will keep trickling out and we’ll all have plenty of time to decide which we’ll buy and why!

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