Sony knows it has the upper hand. PS4 outsold every previous generation console by a wide margin. Though it has had great success, the company isn’t resting on its laurels with the PlayStation 5. It’s fast enough to keep up with the Xbox Series X, and the controller is one of the most innovative we’ve seen. Even though the PS5’s design may be a matter of personal preference, at least Sony was able to deliver must-have games that actually utilize its hardware.
So much about the PlayStation 5 screams “next generation,” which is great for gamers eager to find a reason to move up to a new console generation. To be honest, the previous round of systems were a complete mess. Consumers’ adoption of 4K televisions necessitated a mid-cycle refresh for the PS4 and Xbox One: the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X. However, despite their impressive power, these systems were hampered by slow mechanical hard drives and hardware that was easily outmatched by simple gaming PCs. They were merely a short-term solution.
The $500 PlayStation 5 we’re reviewing is the first step into a new era of console gaming. The PS5 Digital Edition costs $400 if you don’t need a CD drive.
Hardware is very big
Every other console under my television is dwarfed by the PlayStation 5. In terms of sheer size, it dwarfs the Xbox One Series X. In terms of height and depth, the PS5 stands at 15.4 inches tall and 10.2 inches deep, and it weighs 10.2 pounds with its stand. However, the PS5’s extreme size is largely due to its unique design: The console’s center contains all of its internals, but it is flanked by two large sets of fins. All of the components of the system look like they came from a PlayStation 3. Back to the Future 2’s cheesy retro-futuristic styling is reminiscent of this design.
Isn’t it up to each individual to make their own decisions? I don’t mind the look at all, since I’ve spent most of my life admiring Sony’s industrial design. As a result, I found the PS5’s first impression to be surprisingly flimsy. What I want from a $500 console is the opposite of that. Those side panels are my biggest gripe with Sony’s new console, which is sandwiched between two thin pieces of plastic. If it fell, I’m afraid it wouldn’t be able to withstand even a short drop. If you’re looking for something that’s less flashy than the Xbox One, look no further than the Xbox One S.
To keep the PS5’s CPU and GPU cool, Sony wanted to maximize airflow as much as possible, so the plastic fins are useful. As a result, Microsoft decided to design its system as a mini-PC tower. But Sony could have come up with a design that was less cumbersome.
The PS5 may look and feel a little dated, but it’s capable of delivering a solid 4K gaming experience. Powered by a custom eight-core Zen 2 processor and a 10.2-teraflop RDNA 2 GPU, it’s an all-in-one computer. The 12-teraflop Xbox Series X’s GPU appears to be lagging behind on paper, but remember that teraflops can be a notoriously sloppy way of determining how fast a system can actually perform.
The PS5 and Xbox Series X both have 16GB of GDDR6 RAM, but the two systems handle memory bandwidth differently. NVMe SSDs are used for storage on the next-generation consoles, which will allow your games to load significantly faster than on older mechanical hard drives. Sony has a big advantage over Seagate’s $220 1TB SSD expansion card because it allows you to plug in a third-party SSD by removing a side panel. Do not, however, start filling up your drives right away, as you will not be able to add a new SSD at launch and the drives that meet Sony’s spec will be expensive.
Unlike the original PlayStation’s controller, Sony’s DualSense controller isn’t exactly like the PS5’s controller. For decades, Sony relied on the same design, but this time it tried something new. The DualSense has thicker grips that make it more comfortable to hold than the DualShock 4. There’s a button for muting the built-in microphone, as well as transparent buttons that look like jewels. After a week of testing, it appears to be cleaner than the PS4’s controllers, despite their mostly white design.
Most impressive about DualSense is its haptic controls; they are some of the most advanced I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing in my life. You can adjust the analog triggers on the fly to re-create the feeling of reloading your gun or pulling an arrow back in a bow, for example. The DualSense almost feels like it’s alive in your hands, and you can forget about the basic vibration from the DualShock 4. The first time I opened Astro’s Playroom, I nearly fell out of my chair. It is possible to tell the difference between sand, wood, and metal surfaces thanks to the DualSense’s precise vibration. In a way that the Xbox Series X controller does not, it truly feels like next generation.
Setup requires a stand, really?
First, you’ll need to learn how to assemble the PS5’s plastic stand. Sony recommends using the console in both vertical and horizontal orientations, despite the fact that the console can stand on its own. It’s easy to see why once you get your hands on the console. If you leave the PS5 out in the open without a stand, a simple brush from a child or pet could send your $500 console tumbling over the edge. This also makes me nervous about it rolling off the table if I put it horizontally, because it wobbles like an enormous egg. It makes sense, but I don’t have to be a fan of the position taken.
If you’re standing the console up, it screws into the bottom, and if you’re laying it down, it slides into the back. Even though Sony provides a reasonably comprehensive user guide, I’ll be honest and say that’s the last thing I want to look at when I’m just trying to have fun with the system. If I needed to move the console or plug in some cables, I could easily remove the stand in horizontal mode. Isn’t attached to the system at all; instead, it just pierces its way into the back of the console.
This isn’t something I’m going to dwell on, but I’m sure Sony could have come up with a better design. The PS4 and the PS4 Pro were nothing more than angular plastic slabs. However, they were sturdy and easy to assemble in my entertainment center without the aid of an IKEA instruction manual. With no visual indication of top and bottom, I had some difficulty figuring out how to lay the PS5 on its side. I was amazed that Sony’s engineers were able to overlook such a minor usability issue.
When the PS5’s stand is solved, all that’s left to do is turn it on, complete the setup process, and begin downloading any necessary updates. And unlike the Xbox Series X, you don’t have to wait for a game to download and install before you can play it. To get a feel for what the DualSense is capable of, Astro’s Playroom comes pre-installed on every system. When I tried downloading games from Sony’s store, the process was significantly faster than on the PS4. It took around 50 minutes to download a 40GB game over my wireless connection.
Impressive next-gen gaming
Although Spider-Man: Miles Morales is not a PS5 exclusive, it does a fantastic job of demonstrating the PS5’s potential. For the most part, it runs at 30 frames per second in 4K at 30 frames per second with ray-tracing and other graphical flourishes by default. The realistic reflections in water and glass make everything look stunning. Even though this is a Spider-Man game, I preferred the smoothness of the gameplay at 60 frames per second because of the overall smoother visuals. Although I missed the realism of ray tracing in cutscenes, it made zipping through the city more exciting.
Miles Morales loads quickly thanks to the PS5’s SSD. There is a 15-second delay between the title screen and the start of gameplay. When jumping out of complex buildings into the game’s lovingly re-created New York City, I didn’t experience any loading times. It’s a nice touch that the DualSense controller lets you hear Miles’ web-shooting.
Even though it doesn’t run at 4K, the performance mode still has a good level of sharpness. However, ray tracing in 1080p/60 fps would have been welcome. The ray traced realism and fast frame rate would make up for the loss of a few pixels. For the most part, that’s how I approach every game.
A ray-tracing infused 4K mode is also included in Devil May Cry 5: Special Edition. However, even though it looked great, I found the 720p/30 fps mode to be too sluggish for the game’s fast-paced hack-and-slash action. A 120Hz TV can also be used to run the game at that refresh rate for even smoother performance without the need to use ray-tracing or other visual upgrades.
When you press the PlayStation button, a new control center appears on the PS5’s interface. It’s easy to keep track of the games you’re playing and the recent achievements you’ve made. But the most important addition is the “Activities” card, which provides advice based on your current level. Refresh yourself on your objectives and get an idea of how long the current mission will take to complete. I’m not sure I’ll use the hints, but knowing roughly how long a level will take is helpful, especially given how little time I have to play these days.
Played Ghosts of Tsushima and other PS4 games while waiting for the new Demon’s Souls remake. In order to take full advantage of the PS5’s capabilities, this game has been upgraded to run at 60 frames per second. To be expected, it opens much more quickly than on the PS4 Pro. Other unpatched games, such as The Last of Us 2 and Horizon Zero Dawn, are loading much faster as well. For older games, I’d like to see some effort put into improving the framerate, as it can make a big difference.
The PS5’s lack of truly next-generation titles is a bummer, but at least it’s better than the Xbox Series X, which has only new third-party games to offer (that Sony is also getting). In the meantime, Halo Infinite fans will have to rely on their Game Pass and backwards-compatible library of games. If you’re planning on using your old PS3 or PS2 consoles, you’ll want to keep them around because the PS5 will not support them.
A successful PlayStation VR headset was at least saved by Sony. It is possible to play PS4 VR games on the PS5 using a free adapter provided by Sony, but you must request one first. The PSVR doesn’t work with the new HD PS5 camera, which is odd. A follow-up VR headset from Sony hasn’t been announced, but I expect it will not use a camera or sensor.
As a member of the Blu-ray Consortium, Sony has long supported 4K Blu-ray, which is why the PS5 can also be used as a 4K Blu-ray player. At the time of this review, we’re unable to comment on the system’s entertainment capabilities because it’s still under development. However, running Netflix or Hulu on such a powerful system isn’t particularly difficult.
Both PS5 consoles share the same hardware, which is a departure from Microsoft’s approach. As far as I know, there is no disc drive in the $400 “Digital Edition.” Even though I download most of my games these days, I still like to keep a disc drive handy for playing used games or the few PS4 discs I own. The Digital Edition, on the other hand, makes more financial sense if you don’t have a hard time letting go of physical media.
The PS5’s launch lineup and controller are superior to those of the Xbox Series X. Sony, on the other hand, has a long history of snatching exclusives. In addition, it owns the rights to well-known characters like Spider-Man. Obviously. Microsoft’s GamePass subscription service, on the other hand, may be a better option if you’re looking for a diverse selection of games rather than just big-budget exclusives. For a single monthly fee, you can play a constantly changing selection of titles, including all of Microsoft’s first-party games as well as titles from EA Play and, eventually, Bethesda. You can now play some of the most popular PlayStation titles for free thanks to Sony’s PS Plus Collection free games. But, despite the fact that these games are fantastic, many PlayStation fans already own titles like God of War and Uncharted 4.
This is a truly next-generation console, even if Sony went over the top with the design of the PS5. Its controller is truly innovative, and there are a lot of new games that you’ll want to play. Even so, I won’t declare Sony victorious in the next-generation war just yet. In addition to Game Pass, xCloud streaming, and Bethesda under its wing, Microsoft remains a formidable competitor in the gaming industry. It doesn’t matter if there is a clear winner in the end; just be grateful that you have two consoles that can compete with gaming PCs.