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Xbox boss explains why the PS5 has such a crazy design

Published Aug 14th, 2020 3:52PM EDT
PS5 design
Image: Sony
  • Xbox boss Phil Spencer went on an Animal Crossing talk show to talk about the Xbox Series X.
  • When asked about the design of the PS5, Spencer explained some of the challenges that faced both Sony and Microsoft going into a new console generation.
  • Spencer said that one of the toughest challenges was figuring out how to keep the console cool.

The biggest surprise of Sony’s Future of Gaming event back in June was the reveal of the PS5. Rumors from reliable sources ahead of the show suggested that Sony would wait to show off the design of its next-generation console, but instead, we got to see both the standard PS5 and the Digital Edition that will ship without a disc drive. Unsurprisingly, everyone wanted to talk about the design, which is unique — to say the least — but Sony never did explain why the PS5 looks the way it does. So Xbox head Phil Spencer did it for them this week.

Screenwriter and author Gary Whitta started a talk show that takes place entirely within the world of Animal Crossing: New Horizons called Animal Talking, and on Thursday, Head of Xbox Phil Spencer joined the show to discuss a bunch of topics, including the designs of the two next-gen consoles launching this holiday season. At one point, Whitta even asked Spencer what he thought when he first saw the design of the PS5.

“Well, it’s hard, because I know the physics that we’re both dealing with with the power of these consoles, and cooling these consoles — the power, the energy use, the cooling — those are real challenges this generation, because we’re talking about consoles that now, on the CPU and GPU side, are real, powerful computers, effectively,” Spencer said. Basically, both companies had to balance form and function more than ever this generation.

“We chose our design because we wanted a large fan that we could spin a little more slowly so we’re not making noise,” Spencer added in regards to the Xbox Series X. “We wanted to have a very quiet console. So we built a form-followed-function design with our console so that we could draw a lot of air with a big fan spinning a little bit slower so that we didn’t get those high-pitch whining sounds that sometimes consoles can make.”

“Knowing that the PlayStation 5 is running at higher clocks […] it creates unique design challenges in how you keep these things cool,” said Spencer. “That’s true of both of us, so that’s not a shot. They took an approach that’s different than the approach that we did [with Xbox Series X]. I haven’t been around a PlayStation 5 running, but I am sure that they had similar design goals for themselves around what it means to run, how it sounds, and how much power it’s drawing, because those are things that we focused on and it led to the design that we have.”

Spencer also noted that he will inevitably end up owning a PS5, and he’s excited to see how it performs.

Sony will inevitably have more to say about the design and performance of the PS5, especially with the release date just around the corner, but it’s interesting to hear the head of a competing platform explain some of the challenges that went into designing game consoles for 2020. You can watch the entire interview below:

Jacob Siegal
Jacob Siegal Associate Editor

Jacob Siegal is Associate Editor at BGR, having joined the news team in 2013. He has over a decade of professional writing and editing experience, and helps to lead our technology and entertainment product launch and movie release coverage.