Xbox Series X killer performance revealed — can PS5 keep up?

Xbox Series X
(Image credit: Activision)

If you've managed to snag an Xbox Series X, expect a big performance boost for your current games. Most of the older Xbox One games will run at 4K and 60 frames per second on the Xbox Series X, according to a handful of hands-on tests. 

Microsoft has shipped pre-production units of its Xbox Series X to some tech testers, but so far they only have older games to try out on the next-generation console. But backwards compatibility that’s been trumped loudly by Microsoft for the Xbox Series X, so we now have an idea of how it’ll perform. 

Currently, the Xbox One X is Microsoft’s most powerful games console, able to run a selection of games at native 4K resolutions. But a lot of these titles, like Red Dead Redemption 2, are limited to 30fps, which is hardly the smoothest way to play games. 

However, the significant boost in graphics and processor power on the AMD-based chipset found in the Xbox Series X allows for 4K gaming at pretty much a solid 60fps. Games that struggled on the Xbox One X, such as Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice and Final Fantasy 15, all run very smoothly on the Xbox Series X, with it basically doubling the performance of its still powerful predecessor. The folks over at Digital Foundry have a very detailed breakdown of the Xbox Series X’s performance with current-gen games.  

4K at 60fps might not seem like a big deal when PCs can run some games at that already, and that it’s the target for next-generation games on the upcoming Microsoft console. But it’s worth noting that a lot of the Xbox Series X’s power will be held back by framerate caps in games. And a lot of these older titles are simply running on Xbox Series X hardware, rather than being optimized for it. 

As such, if Microsoft were to encourage developers to go back to their Xbox One games and rework them for the Xbox Series X, then we could see even bigger performance jumps. Gears 5 is expected to run at 120fps on the Xbox Series X after all. 

There’s a lot of very impressive games available for the Xbox One and they still look rather good as well. So the idea of playing them at 4K and smooth frame rates is a very attractive prospect. Older Xbox games, dating back to the original Xbox, are also expected to run on the Xbox Series X, and likely at 120fps. 

All this sets the standard for backwards compatibility for the PS5 to compete with. Sony has said the PS5 will run 99 percent of PS4 games at launch, but older PlayStation games don’t seem to be supported. And there’s not a lot of detail on how well they’ll run on the PS5. Sony will offer the PS Plus Collection, a series of exclusive PS4 games that will come to the PS5 as part of the PS Plus subscription, but we don’t yet know if these will be enhanced in any particular way.

Combined with Xbox Game Pass, which offers access to a huge range of games for an affordable subscription fee, backward compatibility in the Xbox Series X is helping make the console look very attractive. It will need new exclusive games, and with Halo Infinite delayed it looks to be a bit short of these at launch. However, Bethesda is set to become part of Microsoft in 2021, which could bring in a huge bounty of games to Xbox and possibly a suite of exclusive titles too. 

Roland Moore-Colyer

Roland Moore-Colyer a Managing Editor at Tom’s Guide with a focus on news, features and opinion articles. He often writes about gaming, phones, laptops and other bits of hardware; he’s also got an interest in cars. When not at his desk Roland can be found wandering around London, often with a look of curiosity on his face.