We describe the physical climate formulation and simulation characteristics of two new global coupled carbon-climate Earth System Models, ESM2M and ESM2G. These models demonstrate similar climate fidelity as the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory's previous CM2.1 climate model while incorporating explicit and consistent carbon dynamics. The two models differ exclusively in the physical ocean component; ESM2M uses Modular Ocean Model version 4.1 with vertical pressure layers while ESM2G uses Generalized Ocean Layer Dynamics with a bulk mixed layer and interior isopycnal layers. Differences in the ocean mean state include the thermocline depth being relatively deep in ESM2M and relatively shallow in ESM2G compared to observations. The crucial role of ocean dynamics on climate variability is highlighted in the El Niño-Southern Oscillation being overly strong in ESM2M and overly weak ESM2G relative to observations. Thus, while ESM2G might better represent climate changes relating to: total heat content variability given its lack of long term drift, gyre circulation and ventilation in the North Pacific, tropical Atlantic and Indian Oceans, and depth structure in the overturning and abyssal flows, ESM2M might better represent climate changes relating to: surface circulation given its superior surface temperature, salinity and height patterns, tropical Pacific circulation and variability, and Southern Ocean dynamics. Our overall assessment is that neither model is fundamentally superior to the other, and that both models achieve sufficient fidelity to allow meaningful climate and earth system modeling applications. This affords us the ability to assess the role of ocean configuration on earth system interactions in the context of two state-of-the-art coupled carbon-climate models.