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Analysis Hardware Is the PS5 GPU Really Underpowered - What Can We Really Expect

Tqaulity

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How many people here believe that Sony under delivered with the PS5's graphical capabilities based on the 10.3 TFLOP metric? Do you subscribe to the notion that the PS5's GPU is nothing more than a RX 5700/XT card or that it's only on par with midrange GPUs today?

This post is about providing real data and educated estimations to dispel the notion that the PS5 GPU is only a "midrange" GPU that is not on par with today's top tier commercial GPUs. Indeed, looking at the TFLOP number in isolation is indeed very misleading and the truth about the actual performance of the GPU points paints a very different picture. I know many of you don't know me but I can say that I am not just pulling this info from nowhere. I have over 15 years experience working in gaming and have spent nearly 5 years of my career doing critical analysis of GPU performance. Take it for what it is.

Before I begin, a full disclaimer: this post is not about a comparison to or commentary on the Xbox Series X. No console fanboyism here please. The fact is, the Xbox Series X has a bigger GPU with more theoretical horsepower. Period. Nobody is refuting that so please no Xbox defense force please.

Like many, I too was initially somewhat disappointed to when I first heard the PS5 specs mainly because there was so much information before hand that pointed to more performance being a possibility. We've all been hearing about the 12-14 TFLOP monster that Sony was building and honestly it's not about the raw numbers that matter. I was more happy about the idea that both consoles would come out being really close in power which benefits gamers by establishing a high baseline where neither machine will have subpar 3rd party releases. But after taking some time to process the specs and information Sony released as well as doing some in depth analysis, I am pretty happy with what Sony ended up with from a GPU standpoint.

Let me be clear: the goal of what I'm presenting here is not to define an absolute performance metric for PS5 with a given piece of content. In other words, I am not trying to predict that PS5 can run game X at Y Fps specifically. That is impossible since there are some many variables affecting overall performance that we do not know about: CPU, memory, driver, other console specific optimizations etc. Instead what I am doing is establishing a realistic expectation of a baseline of performance of the GPU specifically by looking at known real world performance data from comparable hardware.

How am I doing this? Let me break it down:
  1. Let's establish a comparison mapping to other known GPUs based on their GPU architectures and theoretical computation power based on what we know:
    • We know that AMD's RDNA architecture is a general 25% increase in performance per clock when compared to GCN -> 1TFLOP (RDNA) = 1.25 TFLOP (GCN)
    • We know that RDNA 2 will be even more efficient than RDNA (i.e. perf per clock and per watt will be better). Now we can guess how much more efficient based on some actual hints from Sony and AMD:
      • Mark Cerny himself during the PS5 tech dive revealed that the size of each CU in the PS5 GPU is roughly 62% larger than a PS4 CU. Thus, there is the equivalent of 58 PS4 CUs in the PS5. So 36 CU (PS5) = 58 CU (PS4). Now 58 CUs running at the PS5's 2.23 Ghz frequency => ~16.55 TFLOP (GCN). So what is the conversion factor to get from 10.28 TFLOP (RDNA 2) to 16.55 TFLOP (GCN)? Well it turns out that the additional perf per clock to reach that ratio is precisely 17%. So by this data: 1 TFLOP (RDNA 2) = 1.17 TFLOP (RDNA 1)
      • AMD has already said that they are pushing to deliver a similar improvement with RDNA 2 over RDNA 1 as saw from GCN to RDNA 1. They have also confirmed that RDNA 2 will see a 50% improvement in perf/watt over RDNA 1. GCN to RDNA 1 saw a 50% perf/watt and 25% perf/clock increase. A 25% further increase in perf/clock in RDNA 2 sounds pretty ambitious and i will be more conservative. But we can use this as an upper bound.
      • AMD has talked about mirroring their GPU progression to that of their CPU. They have specifically talked about increasing CPU IPC by roughly 15% every 12-18 months. The 10-15% range is typical of GPU generational transitions in the past
    • Using the 25% ratio of RDNA to GCN and a 15% ratio of RDNA 2 to RDNA 1, we can calculate the equivalent amount of theoretical performance (i.e TFLOPs) for the PS5 GPU in terms of both RDNA performance and GCN performance:
PS5 TFLOP = 10.28
PS5 TFLOP (RDNA 1) = 12.09 (used to compare against RX 5700 and RX 5700 XT)
PS5 TFLOP (GCN) = 16.13 (used to compare against Radeon VII, PS4)
2. We can also note that it is actually easier to guessestimate the PS5 GPU performance since there is a GPU on the market very similar to it in the RX 5700. The GPU config in terms of CU count, number of shader cores, memory bus size, memory bandwidth etc is exactly a match for the PS5. At a high level, the PS5 is simply an extremely overclocked RX 5700 in terms of hardware. Now typically on PC, overclocking a GPU gives limited returns due to power issues and system design limitation that will not exist in a console. So if we calculate that the PS5's typical GPU clock of 2.23 Ghz is indeed ~34% higher than the typical GPU clock of the RX 5700 at 1.670 Ghz, we can extrapolate PS5 as being roughly 35% higher than that of an RX 5700. However, doing that raw translation does not account for RDNA 2 additional efficiencies. So if we add the 15% uplift in efficiency, we can get a pretty good idea of the PS5 GPU performance. It turns out that this projected value is pretty much identical to the TFLOP conversion factors I computed above :messenger_winking:
3. Now that we have a quantitative comparison point, we can calculate a PS5 projected performance target based on theoretical performance from comparable GPUs. For example, RX 5700 XT = 9.7 TFLOPs (RDNA 1) and PS5 = 12.09 TFLOP (RDNA 1) That puts the PS5 projected performance at ~25% higher than a RX 5700 XT. Using these calculations for other GPUs as reference points we get the following:

PS5 vs Xbox Series X = -15% (PS5 is 15% slower)
PS5 vs RX 5700 = 153% (PS5 is 53% faster)
PS5 vs RX 5700 XT = 125% (PS5 is 25% faster)
PS5 vs Radeon VII = 120 % (PS5 is 20% faster)
PS5 vs PS4= 8.76x (PS5 is nearly 9x faster)
4. Finally, now that we have a performance factor for some common GPUs across various AMD architectures, we can see where a projected PS5 performance will rank compared to the fastest cards on the market including Nvidia cards. I've looked at several industry aggregate sites such as Eurogamer, TechpowerUP, and GPUCheck (numerous games tested) as well as a couple of high profile games such as DOOM Eternal, Call of Duty Modern Warfare, and Red Dead Redemption 2 to look at where the PS5 performance will fall. I've done this analysis across numerous performance metrics, resolutions, and difference GPU references defined above to see if the data was consistent. The goal here was to identify which GPU currently on the market had the closest performance to a projected PS5 performance. I've highlighted the 4K rows since 4K is the target resolution for the PS5. The summery table shows which GPUs came closest to the projected PS5 performance at different resolutions. The raw results are below:


**Note: Game performance was captured from TechpowerUp benchmark analysis using max settings at all resolutions

Key Takeaways:
  1. General takeaway is that in most cases at higher resolutions, the PS5 performance is actually slightly higher than that of the RTX 2080 Super.
  2. Note that the 1080p values are a bit misleading since some games are CPU bound at that resolution. Thus, most GPUs exhibit lower perf which is why the RTX 2080 Ti was the closet at 1080p.​
  3. These numbers do no take into account other factors that can improve PS5 GPU performance even further such as: GPU specific optimizations, console specific optimizations, lower level driver compared to PC, I/O throughput improvements in PS5, memory subsystem etc​
  4. This analysis is just a rough estimate and again is not to be taken literally in terms of actual performance in games. There are still a ton of variables and unknown factors. But it does account for known information to give a good relative performance baseline to set expectations on how much performance the PS5 GPU may possess. The answer is that it is definitely not "just an RX 5700 XT" and will likely have more performance than a 2070 Super​
  5. My analysis went well beyond these websites, game titles, and reference GPUs. I presented the highlights but the overall takeaways is the same from the additional data: performance is most in line with a RTX 2080 Super.​
So is the PS5 GPU underpowered? The data shows that the actual game performance is roughly around a RTX 2080 Super at a minimum in most cases which is currently the 2nd fastest commercially available GPU on the market! Anyone that can call that under-powered or "midrange" is...not very knowledgeable on this topic. Yes, by this same analysis the Xbox Series X would be matching or exceeding a RTX 2080 Ti which is amazing! The point here is that both consoles will have plenty of graphical horsepower and the PS5 in general is still a significant step up from anything AMD has released to date and is a generational leap over the PS4!

Every should be excited but please stop spreading FUD about PS5 performance :messenger_winking:
 
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(im joking, great post)

No, but as you said, if the PS5 truly matches a 2080 Super it’s gonna be fine. We’ve seen what God of War looks like with 1.8tf or whatever Pro is. Console optimizations with that kind of GPU will go a long way, especially with the insane storage bandwidth to boost asset streaming and whatnot.

These consoles definitely offer a lot of bang for the buck, well I’m assuming both are 499 or lower.

Like you, I was initially disappointed by the specs but I’ve slowly gotten over it. It’s gonna be a good gen.
 
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CatLady

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I don't think any rational person believes the PS5 is under-powered. While it's less powerful than the XsX it is more than 2 times more powerful than the PS4 Pro in raw flops - that's not even comparing RDNA2 flops to GNC flops.

The PS5 will be fine.
 

Thaedolus

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In no scenario can anyone reasonably say the PS5 is underpowered for a console, and it will likely be mostly slightly slower than the XBX. I don’t see how anyone can see the XBX as a beast and call the PS5 underpowered when it’s definitely in the same ballpark.
 

01011001

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the PS5 is in no way underpowered, compared to how the current gen launched it is miles better.

it's only that the Series X pushed above what people expected that's all.
I certainly didn't expect either to go above 10TF and I also didn't expect them to have their CPUs as high clocked as they have
 
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vvinter

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In no scenario can anyone reasonably say the PS5 is underpowered for a console, and it will likely be mostly slightly slower than the XBX. I don’t see how anyone can see the XBX as a beast and call the PS5 underpowered when it’s definitely in the same ballpark.
The difference is like PS4 Pro with Xbox X. Is there a big difference between both? I would say - HELL NOOOO!
 

Lone Wolf

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Putting the console wars aside, the PS5 is going to be a beast of a console. I am very excited for it, and will be buying it sooner rather than later. I’ve been an Xbox first guy, but Sony ALWAYS delivers on the software side. If Xbox comes through and announces all these big rumored games, I’ll be broke come launch time. I just hope Devs prioritize frame rate. 60 should be standard. you have the CPU power now!!
 

sircaw

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My pc is old, i have an i3 2100 and a sapphire 6790, i am over the moon the ps5 has all the power.
Truth is, even if it was alot less i would see be happy.
Amazed at what they could create in terms of games on the ps4, my mind boggles when i think about the ps5
 
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The difference is like PS4 Pro with Xbox X. Is there a big difference between both? I would say - HELL NOOOO!

It’s a difference that will probably show up in many DF breakdowns but for most people it won’t matter much at all. They should both be able to handle the same settings with maybe a slight reaolution or FPS difference. It’s all goos. We all win
 
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Hendrick's

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Both will be very similar performance-wise. It is interesting to see what each of these consoles put their money into. Which will pay off more is anyone's guess. I would not be surprised at all if PS5 has the higher BOM cost.
 
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vvinter

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Here's my detailed opinion.

What we really lack in the current generation? We can now play with awesome graphics. Isn't that right? What we miss? Loading times, pop in, more advanced AI. All those things aren't GPU-related. CPU, more RAM and finally SSD.

Every previous gen had some bottlenecks. This time we will get good CPU, good GPU, enough RAM and SSD. No more pop-ins due to slow CPU and reading speed of HDD. No more 1.5 min loading screens. And hopefully no more stupid AI implemented in most games.
 

Skyr

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Here's my detailed opinion.

What we really lack in the current generation? We can now play with awesome graphics. Isn't that right? What we miss? Loading times, pop in, more advanced AI. All those things aren't GPU-related. CPU, more RAM and finally SSD.

Every previous gen had some bottlenecks. This time we will get good CPU, good GPU, enough RAM and SSD. No more pop-ins due to slow CPU and reading speed of HDD. No more 1.5 min loading screens. And hopefully no more stupid AI implemented in most games.

Agreed. Current gen was crippled from the start with outdated cpus and slow HDD's.
Next gen is all about a fully balanced system that can be taken advantage of to the max in all areas.
Even if PC's will evolve beyond it fast. It doesn't change the fact that these consoles give you the very best bang for your buck with no compromises this time.
I am way WAY more excited for next gen than in was for current gen in 2013.
 
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Here's my detailed opinion.

What we really lack in the current generation? We can now play with awesome graphics. Isn't that right? What we miss? Loading times, pop in, more advanced AI. All those things aren't GPU-related. CPU, more RAM and finally SSD.

Every previous gen had some bottlenecks. This time we will get good CPU, good GPU, enough RAM and SSD. No more pop-ins due to slow CPU and reading speed of HDD. No more 1.5 min loading screens. And hopefully no more stupid AI implemented in most games.

I'm super excited about the SSDs because it's a massive upgrade over the slow HDDs that we had in the past. Not to mention ditching the slow Jaguars for more modern CPUs is a great upgrade as well.

I'm not that excited over the ray tracing stuff. I really haven't seen anything that really made my jaws drop yet. I've seen the Minecraft demo but it didn't really wow me the way I thought it would.
 

Elios83

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The difference is like PS4 Pro with Xbox X. Is there a big difference between both? I would say - HELL NOOOO!

Difference is much less than PS4 Pro and Xbox One X.
Xbox One X has a GPU 43% more powerful than PS4 Pro. There was a bigger than 40% gap between the original Xbox One and PS4 as well.
Here the relative gap is basically 18%.
It's really small. At the same time PS5 seems to have a really optimized I/O pipeline with a SSD at twice the speed of that in the Xbox.
RAM situation is pretty much the same, Microsoft has made things a bit more difficult for developers with the segmented pools at different bandwidths and has basically locked GPU memory to 10GB while Sony's approach is easier (hence why tons of developers have expressed positive comments for the system).
Also if we look at the GPU bandwidth relatively to the number of CUs, because CUs need to be fed with datas to work, we have 560GB/s on the Xbox (for the faster pool) that need to feed 52CUs, that means basically 10.77GB/s per CU. In the PS5 we have 448GB/s for 36CUs that is 12.44GB/s. per CU.
Bandwidth to overall TF ratio (which is influenced by the much higher clock on PS5) is 46GB/s per teraflop on the Xbox and 43.5GB/s on PS5 which is again really close.
The differences between the CPUs are pretty much irrelevant.

So these systems are really close and both really powerful. As OP stated they will have GPUs performing like current top nVidia cards and that in a closed and optimized environment. Think about what developers did with just a 1.8TF GPU on the PS4.
Xbox is going to enjoy a bit more performance in ray traced games so we might see some small resolution differences like 1800p vs 4K (that perceptually it's hard to notice) when ray tracing is a key feature of the engine. PS5 is going to enjoy better loading times and better assets loading (textures, high LOD models)
In the end I expect Sony studios to continue to define the bar for high end graphics in AAA games thanks in part to their talent and in part for the fact that they will be able to make games conceived around the PS5 hardware specifically, while Microsoft studios are forced to support a whole ecosystem of platforms.
 
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Windows-PC

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The PlayStation 5 GPU is not underpowered, the PlayStation 5 GPU is extremely overclocked. Sony should have sold the PlayStation 5 as a 8-9.2 TF's Console which the PlayStation 5 probably was meant to be in the first place which would be still great. But now they probably have heat issues and a variable GPU Clock instead which can't be optimal ;)
 

vvinter

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Agreed. Current gen was crippled from the start with outdated cpus and slow HDD's.
Next gen is all about a fully balanced system that can be taken advantage of to the max in all areas.
Even if PC's will evolve beyond it fast. It doesn't change the fact that these consoles give you the very best bang for your buck with no compromises this time.
I am way WAY more excited for next gen than for I was in 2013 for current gen.
You used better words than I did.
Fully balanced - that's what we need.

I'm also much more enthusiastic with the PS5 release than PS4. The upcoming gen will make a huge leap in terms of loading speed, responsivity and other stuff.
 
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vvinter

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The PlayStation 5 GPU is not underpowered, the PlayStation 5 GPU is extremely overclocked. Sony should have sold the PlayStation 5 as a 8-9.2 TF's Console which the PlayStation 5 probably was meant to be in the first place which would be still great. But now they probably have heat issues and a variable GPU Clock instead which can't be optimal ;)
AMD preparing 7nm+ architecture soon. Let's hope it finds it way to a new revision of the console.
 
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Dee Dah Dave

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It’s probably going to be lacking in ray tracing capability, but then the Xbox isn’t exactly going to be matching the top NVidia cards either.

CPU I would say is it’s worst problem if it has to downclock and stuff. Might lead to worse frame rates than the Series X.

General GPU power won’t be a huge deal because the difference will largely be hidden with various resolution techniques. Sony 1st party will probably stick with the 30fps linear scripted stuff so they have plenty of room to push graphics.
 

Radical_3d

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I was expecting 9.4 TF so I’m a happy camper, but I think the RAM situation is disgrace. As the OP numbers the PS5 is 9 times faster than the PS4, but the memory allocated for games is not even three times bigger (13GB vs 5.5GB). And yes, it is faster and there are optimisations but come on, they are always faster and there are always optimisations in every generational leap and that hasn’t stop the memory pool from being at least 8x bigger.

That’s why I think the SSD is a cheap replacement of a good memory setup.
 
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I was expecting 9.4 TF so I’m a happy camper, but I think the RAM situation is disgrace. As the OP numbers the PS5 is 9 times faster than the PS4, but the memory allocated for games is not even three times bigger (13GB vs 5.5GB). And yes, it is faster and there are optimisations but come on, they are always faster and there are always optimisations in every generational leap and that hasn’t stop the memory pool from being at least 8x bigger.

That’s why I think the SSD is a cheap replacement of a good memory setup.

How much RAM would you have been happy with? I was hoping for 24gigs, personally (for both consoles)
 

vvinter

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It’s probably going to be lacking in ray tracing capability, but then the Xbox isn’t exactly going to be matching the top NVidia cards either.

CPU I would say is it’s worst problem if it has to downclock and stuff. Might lead to worse frame rates than the Series X.

General GPU power won’t be a huge deal because the difference will largely be hidden with various resolution techniques. Sony 1st party will probably stick with the 30fps linear scripted stuff so they have plenty of room to push graphics.
Don't forget this time we're getting HDMI 2.1 capabilities. Even lower frame rate shouldn't be so "aggressive" as it is now.
 

vvinter

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How much RAM would you have been happy with? I was hoping for 24gigs, personally (for both consoles)
Sony will be most likely using 4th gen PCIe to make a use of SSD bandwidth if really necessary. It's still slower than RAM but it should come handy.

I only worry about the heat issues. PS4 had poor cooling system at the beginning, same goes for PS4 Pro. Hope they've learned their lesson.
 
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No, but as you said, if the PS5 truly matches a 2080 Super it’s gonna be fine. We’ve seen what God of War looks like with 1.8tf or whatever Pro is. Console optimizations with that kind of GPU will go a long way, especially with the insane storage bandwidth to boost asset streaming and whatnot.
I have been told that God of War PS4 looks like a blurry mess, so maybe the next one will be a bit sharp because of the extra TFs.
Don't forget this time we're getting HDMI 2.1 capabilities. Even lower frame rate shouldn't be so "aggressive" as it is now.
Time for true cinematic frame rate: 24FPs locked!

Seriously, I expect most games to run at 60fps on these machines, the graphical benefits of going 30 will not be as obvious this time around.
 
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chinoXL

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The PlayStation 5 GPU is not underpowered, the PlayStation 5 GPU is extremely overclocked. Sony should have sold the PlayStation 5 as a 8-9.2 TF's Console which the PlayStation 5 probably was meant to be in the first place which would be still great. But now they probably have heat issues and a variable GPU Clock instead which can't be optimal ;)
it's already been said that Sony has some sexy a$$ cooling for the PS5. u don't just go and overclock your GPU last minute without a great cooling plan in mind. lets see how good it is once they reveal it. this is gonna be a good gen, can't wait for it to pop off!!
 
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Xbox is going to enjoy a bit more performance in ray traced games so we might see some small resolution differences like 1800p vs 4K (that perceptually it's hard to notice) when ray tracing is a key feature of the engine. PS5 is going to enjoy better loading times and better assets loading (textures, high LOD models)
no, the PS5 will have no raytracing, and nothing to compete, it will barely hit 900p in most games, it's so weak that even the PS4 compatibility mode will have to downgrade the games. Truly, this is a shame.
 
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vvinter

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I have been told that God of War PS4 looks like a blurry mess, so maybe the next one will be a bit sharp because of the extra TFs.

Time for true cinematic frame rate: 24FPs locked!

Seriously, I expect most games to run at 60fps on these machines, the graphical benefits of going 30 will not be as obvious this time around.
Sounds funny but VRR will eliminate tearing.

Now for the sound department - eARC. Lossless audio.
 

Gamer79

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24 was a minimum to me to be happy and, given the market situation, the only realistic hope. 16GB is to cheap out in RAM, specially MS since has more power to feed.
I am no techinal expert by any means but 16gb of ram should be more than enough. I have read several articles that states the ssd in the ps5 (maybe xbox one x as well) is so fast that virtual memory is used like ram.
 

vvinter

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at 24fps it's not really the tearing I care about, I just will not bother playing the game, unless they meant to do a slideshow.
No worry there. I'm totally sure that this time we won't be getting any 24 fps cinematic Ubisoft experience. They might even re-release AC Unity with no pop-ins this time.

SSD caching. It's already available in PCs.
 
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GymWolf

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i was expecting at least parity with 12tf sex console so i was little disappointed.
i need to see if this super ssd can close the gap in some way, fps and resolution are pretty important to me as a mostly pc gamer.
 
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BrentonB

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24 was a minimum to me to be happy and, given the market situation, the only realistic hope. 16GB is to cheap out in RAM, specially MS since has more power to feed.
Keep in mind that developers no longer have to load assets into RAM more than once, and fewer assets all around because the SSD seek times will be so low. Essentially the GPU can have what it wants from the SSD almost instantly. Assets and textures will be bigger and more complex but they won't be duplicated or loaded 'just in case' like they are with current consoles. 16 GB will be just fine, I think.
 

vvinter

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i was expecting at least parity with 12tf sex console so i was little disappointed.
i need to see if this super ssd can close the gap in some way, fps and resolution are pretty important to me as a mostly pc gamer.
Check loading time for TW3 on PC and PS4/Pro.
It's night and day even with SATA SSD. PS5's getting 4th gen PCIe, it's rare even with the current PCs.
Multitasking will be piece of cake. Take a look at the DualSense controller. There's even proper button for it.
 

Radical_3d

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Keep in mind that developers no longer have to load assets into RAM more than once, and fewer assets all around because the SSD seek times will be so low. Essentially the GPU can have what it wants from the SSD almost instantly. Assets and textures will be bigger and more complex but they won't be duplicated or loaded 'just in case' like they are with current consoles. 16 GB will be just fine, I think.
First, no asset is loaded in the RAM more than once in the PS4. Second, streaming from the SSD is the ideal scenario. Most likely there will be some assets that must be on the memory. Every leap has needed 16 times more and now we are suddenly ok with 2.5x? We’ll see devs complaining sooner or later.
 

GymWolf

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Check loading time for TW3 on PC and PS4/Pro.
It's night and day even with SATA SSD. PS5's getting 4th gen PCIe, it's rare even with the current PCs.
Multitasking will be piece of cake. Take a look at the DualSense controller. There's even proper button for it.
as i stated in many previous post, i don't give an absolute fuck about loading times or these fancy features console have, give me 1 min loading times for everything at 4k60 ultra details and i'm happy with that.

i have my tablet on my side with some shit on yt or gaf topic ready for when i have to wait for loading times 😆
 
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Captain Hero

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Man .. first of all thank you you did great job and you know what you do because you are a pro and you have it .. end of the story
while listening to others who has shit knowledge and still they want us to believe it because they want that ! ..

Anyway.. human always want more in nature, when I say more I mean MORE .. and that is the real problem in every aspect of life not just gaming , so I’m so satisfied about next gen consoles specially my main one PS5 .. I can’t ask more, everything is way way better than the previous console .. games are being developed and we will be blown away by it and at the end of the day you will enjoy your time while playing your favorite games with 0 care to anyone’s thought about you or your favorite console .. just as life goes , give 0 care about people’s act or words and believe me you will enjoy life
 

vvinter

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as i stated in many previous post, i don't give an absolute fuck about loading times or these fancy features console have, give me 1 min loading times for everything at 4k60 ultra details and i'm happy with that.
Let loading the 4k texture take 10 minutes. Got killed? another 5 min of loading last checkpoint. But hey, who cares? :D