PlayStation 5 is here and we can finally bring you a review worth its size. In the beginning, we can already say that its size is really big compared to older consoles or the new Xbox Series X. It is quite difficult to review such as extravagant console which the new PlayStation 5 is, as surely many consumers have made their mind already on the first sight.
As we know, there are fans (who have owned a console before) who will stick with their prefered option no matter the other competitor introduces. Let’s see then if there is anything about this console which might change the people’s mind.
The PS5 is going in the steps of its precedecors as it represents a substantial improvement on a technical level in every way, from powerful hardware to the user interface.
The PlayStation5 features AMD-made octa-core Zen 2 processor clocked at 3.5Ghz with an AMD RDNA 2-based Graphics, 825GB NVMe SSD paired with 16GB of GDDR6 RAM. With this setup, SONY promises a total of 10.28 teraFLOPS of power which is compared to PS4 Pro’s 4.2 teraFLOPS a massive jump. In the field of hardware, however, there is not a huge difference between PS5 and Xbox Series X and these two consoles will have to compete on a little different battlefront.
PlayStation 5 price compared to Xbox
As the sales started, the PS5 currently costs £450 in the UK, with the PS5 digital edition (without an optical drive) costing £350. It puts the console exactly on the same level as the new Xbox, which costs about the same which makes this year’s decision a bit easier/or harder?
The only difference may be shall you go for the digital edition as its more expensive than the smaller Xbox Series S which is available for £250 (it won’t run games natively at 4K, but will still do a great job with the high frame rates and fast loading times).
PlayStation 5 design and key features
The first thing which comes to my mind reviewing this one of the most expecting tech this year is its enormous size and its strange design which unexpectedly sticks out in my living room (maybe on purpose?).
The PS5 is most likely the largest (39cm from top to bottom) and heaviest console ever made. The weight won’t surely be an issue as most of us won’t be carrying the console in our backpacks on a daily basis but the height is something that worries me, as my TV table got limited space and swapping it with my bonsai next to my TV seems inevitable. Seems like Sony really wants you to show off their new product to all your guests this year.
The PS5 works well in both positions either horizontal or vertical with just a little adjustment to its base (it’s screwed on to the device itself).
The front panel of the console features the power and disc eject button with a single USB 2 port and a USB Type-C port and an optical disc drive hidden beneath one of the two white side panels. At the back of the console, you will then find an HDMI 2.1 port, power-lead port, two USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports and a Gigabit Ethernet port.
PlayStation 5 review: DualSense controller got much better
Where Microsoft stays with its feet firmly on the ground, Sony desired to explore the different dimensions.
DuelSense controller is a bit larger and heavier than its predecessor and is covered with a textured surface for a better grip. It is very comfortable to hold even with sweaty palms after hours of intense gaming. Thanks to the textured surface you don’t need to grip on to it too much, which certainly helps not getting cramps in hands after a few hours of gaming.
It’s not only the design which has been changed. The new controller bursts of some exciting technology as well. You will find a built-in microphone there for those without a headset together with a LED-lit mute button to give you a better feel of privacy and a 3.5mm jack under the mic. The controller also features a speaker of which sound performance got definitely improved and finally new rumble motors which are designed well enough to emulate the feeling of walking on different terrains (and surely more situations where this can be of advantage will come with the new games).
One more benefit over the basic Xbox controller (which still, unfortunately, use standard AA batteries) is that the PS5’s DualSense can be charged from empty via USB-C in around one hour.
The triggers and rear bumpers have been made larger and can now adjust their own resistance levels, which means those game developers may now vary trigger strength by the weapon or implement some kind of resistance when using the throttle in racing games.
PlayStation 5 review: Interface
Getting into the new menu seems like a brand new experience, even though, some things haven’t really changed. You will still find installed games presented on a row of tiles, which however has been resized and positioned more to one side of the screen, giving it a more elegant style.
Sony has also combined all remaining PS4 menu elements into a single tool called Control Bar which contains all the crucial information such as online friends status, current download or power options and is fully customizable.
There is also a new feature here called Game Switches allowing us to hop between recently played games or close your current game from a single menu. It’s not as impressive as the Quick Resume function introduced in the new Xboxes but certainly a great demonstration of the new SSD’s capabilities.
PlayStation 5 review: Gaming Perfomance
The performance on the new PlayStation is astonishing and surely refreshes the gaming experience of recent years. While playing some older titles from PS4 which were already upgraded for the PS5, you will immediately notice the huge difference of visual quality and animation smoothness on the high resolution the PS5 went through.
The PlayStation 5 also supports ray tracing, which gives us more true-to-life lighting experience such as realistic shadows or reflections.
Improvements have also been made to PS5’s cooling system resulting in the console being really quiet, except only those times when the blue-ray disc is spinning on full speed (for example during game installation)
Read more: How to choose the right 4K TV
Even though PS5 features all these great functions, it can’t match the Xbox Series X for pure performance. The Xbox Series X targets native 4K resolution with 60fps for pretty every game it runs, PS5 seems to take a different approach, at least in the (early) games currently available.
With some games, such as the new Spider-Man, for example, you will be able to choose from various settings such as “Fidelity mode” – having the game run at native 4K with ray tracing enabled, but with frame rate capped at 30fps or “Performance mode” to produce artificial 4K resolution running games on 60fps but without ray tracing. This is still a massive improvement to graphics if you change your old PS4 for the new 5. Surely with more upcoming titles, this settings will be pushed to the maximum and I can’t see this to be a major, mind-changing issue to most.
There is, however, one, let’s say issue which can’t be overlooked. The PS5 has been fitted with an 825GB SSD storage which leaves you only around 660GB available storage for the games when you exclude system files which will surely get filled pretty quickly considering the majority of PS5 games takes around 50GB of space.
You can expand this memory using a PCIe Gen 4 M.2 NVMe SSD (supporting bandwidths of 5.5 GB/s or greater) by popping off one of the panels (see the official teardown video) but options are quite limited at the moment. In this round, I would have to give a point to Xbox which allows us to add more storage easily by one of officially sold expansion storage cards which fit into one of its easily accessible slots.
PlayStation 5 review: Games
It is now known that the overwhelming majority of games from PS4 will run on the PS5 platform. You can also import saves from PS4 either via cable or PS Plus cloud storage or use your old PS4 controller on PS5 which is surely a pleasant surprise.
As we wait on new titles, we have currently available few launch titles to start with including Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Demon’s Souls and Sackboy: A Big Adventure, and with games like FIFA 21, Watch Dogs: Legion and Assassin’s Creed Valhalla also available on both next-gen systems.
This great lineup comes bolstered by the PlayStation Plus collection bundle containing 20 exclusive and non-exclusive PS4 games for free. We are not sure yet, whether Sony wants to add more games to the list under monthly subscription like Game Pass from Xbox do or if it is just a ‘one-time’ thing.
PlayStation 5 Verdict
With both next-gen consoles introduced at the same time of the year, having almost no brand new titles ready for either them I find it difficult to give a decision-making verdict.
Sony’s PlayStation stands well in performance tests even though Xbox Series X might turn out to be even a bit more powerful in future, PlayStation, on the other hand, features an upgraded DualSense controller which provides outstanding playing experience and offers many possibilities for future gaming and we may also expect more exclusive gaming titles to be introduced for PS5 first.
This comes in exchange for higher prices of games, especially when Microsoft’s Xbox gives us with its monthly subscription program GamePass unlimited access to an impressive catalogue of games.
As for the result, I believe that many current console players will most likely stick to the same brand they used before. To the new consumers, I would recommend perhaps to wait with your buy for a bit, at least till the first few exclusive gaming titles are released, to compare the true pros and cons of the next-gen consoles.