The PlayStation 5 (PS5) is Sony’s latest and most powerful video game console to date. Released in November 2020, the PS5 offers cutting-edge graphics, incredibly fast load times, and impressive new features that elevate gaming to new heights.
In this comprehensive PS5 review, we’ll cover everything you need to know about Sony’s next-gen console, including:
Table of Contents
- Striking Futuristic Design
- Beefy Specs and Hardware
- Ultra Fast SSD and Load Times
- DualSense Controller and Haptics
- 3D Audio and Tempest Engine
- New UX and Features
- Backwards Compatibility
- PlayStation Plus Collection
- Exciting Launch Games
- PlayStation VR Support
- Pros and Cons
- The Verdict: A Giant Leap Forward for Console Gaming
Striking Futuristic Design
The PS5 sports a bold new look that sets it apart from previous PlayStation consoles. The predominantly white casing has a black middle section that gives it an almost spaceship-like appearance.
With its curved edges and tall stature at 15.4 inches high and 10.2 inches deep, the PS5 has a much larger footprint than the PS4. It weighs in at a hefty 9.9 pounds, making it one of the biggest consoles ever released.
The overall design is industrial yet futuristic, aimed at blending into modern living room setups versus standing out like a sore thumb. This is a machine designed to showcase power rather than just be a plaything.
Some key design features include:
- Angled body with black middle section
- White and black two-tone color scheme
- Blue glow lighting around the edges
- Ventilation all around for cooling
- 825GB removable SSD slot for expandable storage
While the PS5’s massive size may be inconvenient for some setups, the design ultimately reflects just how much advanced technology Sony managed to pack into this console.
Beefy Specs and Hardware
The PS5 achieves a huge generational leap in performance through its powerful custom components, including:
- CPU: 8x Zen 2 Cores at 3.5GHz with SMT for 8K gaming support
- GPU: Custom RDNA 2 graphics at 10.3 teraflops, 36 compute units at 2.23GHz
- RAM: 16GB GDDR6 with 448GB/s memory bandwidth
- Storage: Custom 825GB SSD storage with 5.5GB/s raw bandwidth
Let’s break down what these specs mean and why they matter:
- The Zen 2 CPU is a cutting-edge chip architecture from AMD that improves processing speeds and efficiency. Combined with SMT for higher threaded performance, it can handle advanced gaming physics, complex NPC AI, detailed worlds, stable high FPS and future proofing for 8K gaming.
- The custom RDNA 2 GPU is a masterpiece by AMD offering ray tracing acceleration, variable rate shading, and other advanced graphical features. 10.3 teraflops is an enormous leap over the PS4’s 1.8 teraflops.
- 16GB of GDDR6 RAM gives the PS5 ample memory to smoothly run massive open worlds with 100+ NPCs on screen at once. More RAM also helps with multitasking and background processing.
- The custom 825GB SSD is perhaps the biggest game changer. It enables lightning fast load times, near instantaneous fast travel and streaming of detailed assets without pop-in.
This combination of cutting edge CPUs, GPUs, RAM and storage gives the PS5 unmatched processing power. Games can reach up to 4K resolution and 120 frames per second, a monumental upgrade over the PS4.
Sony has future proofed the PS5 as an 8K ready console with the potential for even more detailed graphics this hardware cycle.
Ultra Fast SSD and Load Times
The PS5’s custom designed solid state drive (SSD) is one of the most important components responsible for the next generation leap in performance.
While both the PS5 and new Xbox Series X consoles contain SSDs, Sony went with a specialized solution designed specifically to maximize throughput and reduce bottlenecks.
Here are the key stats on the PS5’s SSD:
- 825GB of storage
- 5.5GB/s raw bandwidth (over twice as fast as Series X’s 2.4GB/s)
- Target of up to 9GB/s compressed bandwidth with custom flash controllers
- No wasted space thanks to a 12 channel interface
This translates into blazing fast load times in PS5 games. As a real world example:
- PS4 Spiderman: 15 seconds from launch screen to gameplay
- PS5 Spiderman Remastered: Under 1 second from launch screen to gameplay
The PS5 is capable of loading 2GB of data in just 0.27 seconds. For comparison, it would take 20 seconds on a PS4 and 2.4 seconds on an Xbox Series X.
Fast travel and traversing huge open world maps is now nearly instantaneous. You can jump between locations and fast travel points in 1-2 seconds versus 15-30 seconds on PS4.
The PS5’s SSD allows for data streaming without any loading screens. Games can render assets and worlds at an incredible pace to create seamless gameplay and exploration.
Ultimately, the PS5’s SSD enables new gameplay experiences simply not possible on PS4. Loading screens become a thing of the past.
DualSense Controller and Haptics
The PS5 introduces an innovative new controller called the DualSense that completely reimagines the way games feel.
Sony designed the DualSense from the ground up to provide immersive haptic feedback and dynamic sensory experiences unlike any other controller.
Some groundbreaking features include:
- Haptic feedback system – Feel subtle vibrations and textures rather than just rumbles. From rain pattering on a roof to the crunch of footsteps on snow, haptics allow you to experience the environment directly.
- Adaptive triggers – Dynamic resistance levels allow you to feel the tension of actions like pulling an arrow back on a bowstring or driving a car through rocky terrain. Adds physicality and weight.
- Built-in microphone – Enables players to chat with friends without needing a headset.
- Create button – Replaces the Share button with a Create button used to craft gameplay content. Integrates with new creative features.
- USB-C charging – Includes USB-C connectivity for easier charging and peripherals. Also supports fast charging to keep you powered up.
- Larger build – Has a comfortable, substantial feel with textured grips and a more ergonomic analog stick layout.
Testimonials from PS5 gameplay creators have been glowing. Haptics truly add a sense of touch to previously sterile gameplay experiences.
Instead of abstract vibrations, games can now convey a sense of tactile feel, movement and forces. It heightens immersion and pulls you deeper into the game world.
3D Audio and Tempest Engine
The PS5’s 3D audio system powered by the custom Tempest Engine completes the sense immersion with stunningly realistic spatial sounds.
Sony built this technology from the ground up to trace in-game sounds in realtime to deliver more lifelike audio:
- Tempest 3D AudioTech – Patented audio algorithms powering hundreds of sound sources and effects at once.
- Headphone support – Works with any headphones by mapping sound positioning based on HRTF algorithms.
- TV speaker support – TVs can also output 3D sounds without external speakers, though headphones are optimal.
- Pinpoint source accuracy – Sounds are positioned with life-like accuracy, distance and movement relative to players.
- Environment effects – Sound reflects and reacts to materials, geometry and environmental conditions. Rain hits metal differently than brick.
The end result is an audio experience with true 360 degree positional accuracy. You can hear raindrops, dialogue, or arrows whizzing by with pinpoint precision relative to your position and orientation.
3D audio brings worlds to life in a whole new way. It’s especially useful in horror games or to detect enemy locations by realistic sounds. The effect on immersion cannot be understated – it’s transformative.
New UX and Features
The PS5 user experience has been redesigned from the ground up to be streamlined, intuitive and social:
- New home screen – The expanded Control Center provides quick access to key features without clutter. Easily hop between games, media apps, downloads, friends and settings.
- Activities feature – This optional way of accessing games lets you jump right into specific missions, multiplayer modes, and gameplay activities with one click. Great for multiplayer.
- Game Help feature – Stuck in a game? The PS5 will offer realtime help like videos and hints integrated right into the game screen, so you don’t have to browse the web. Very handy.
- New social features – See what your PlayStation friends are playing, share gameplay clips and screenshots more easily, and have integrated messaging.
- Picture-in-picture – Keep game visuals visible while browsing other apps or menus.
- Simplified settings – Settings have been streamlined into a few simple choices. Tweak visuals, saves and more without digging into dense menus.
- New system notifications – Stay informed on downloads, party invites, unlocks and other system events through subtle on-screen notifications.
These improvements overhaul and modernize the classic PlayStation user experience for the PS5 generation. Everything is smoother, simpler and more social.
The PS5 is backwards compatible with a huge swath of the PS4 catalog – over 4000+ titles. This is thanks to the inclusion of legacy PS4 mode.
Popular PS4 games released on disc and digitally can be played directly on your PS5. Save files also transfer between generations.
Some PS4 games will enjoy visual and performance benefits on PS5, such as higher and more stable framerates. However, for true next-gen experiences, look for titles built specifically for PS5.
There is currently no native support for PS3, PS2 or PS1 games. This is one area where Xbox Series X has an advantage with its broader four generation backwards compatibility.
However, Sony plans to add legacy console support through cloud streaming in the future. But for now, your only backward compatibility is with PS4 games.
PlayStation Plus Collection
To celebrate the PS5 launch, Sony bundled 20 defining PS4 games into PlayStation Plus at no extra cost, called the PlayStation Plus Collection:
- God of War
- The Last of Us Remastered
- Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
- Battlefield 1
- Monster Hunter World
- Fallout 4
- Final Fantasy XV
- The Last Guardian
- Ratchet and Clank
- Infamous: Second Son
- Days Gone
- Detroit: Become Human
- Mortal Kombat X
- Persona 5
- Until Dawn
- Resident Evil: Biohazard
- Batman: Arkham Knight
- Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy
- Fallout 76
This gives new PS5 owners an instant collection of greatest PS4 hits ready to download and play. It’s an incredible value proposition.
Having this library available from day one is a great way to kickstart your PS5 experience and see what last-gen gems you may have missed.
Exciting Launch Games
While the PS5 launch lineup is not as robust as past console launches, it still has some heavy hitting exclusive games:
Spiderman: Miles Morales
This action adventure sequel lets you play as Miles Morales with new powers and spectacular combat moves. Swinging through a wintry NYC draped in Christmas lights is a visual spectacle. Fast loading allows near instant fast travel.
A complete remake of the 2009 classic, Demon’s Souls on PS5 ushers the birthplace of the “Souls-like” genre into the modern age with jaw dropping visuals and quality of life improvements. This hardcore dark fantasy RPG is not for the faint of heart, but its challenge is deeply rewarding.
Sackboy: A Big Adventure
A delightful 3D platformer designed around four player co-op, it lets you team up with friends to guide the iconic Sackboy through a charming world full of puzzles and obstacles to overcome together. Vibrant, colorful fun.
Pre-installed on every PS5, this is a brilliant showpiece for demonstrating the capabilities of the DualSense controller. Teleport through colorful worlds based on PS5 components while mastering haptic feedback platforming. Also packed with PlayStation nostalgia.
While a bit sparse, these exclusives make a compelling case for jumping into the new generation right away. More heavy hitters like Horizon Forbidden West and God of War Ragnarok are slated for 2021 and beyond.
Multiplatform games like Assassin’s Creed Valhalla also see massive improvements on PS5. Whether you game on PC or Xbox One now, the PS5’s cutting edge hardware and distinctive exclusives are compelling reasons to upgrade.
PlayStation VR Support
The PSVR headset and controllers are fully compatible with PS5, making next-gen virtual reality gaming a reality.
Simply connect your PlayStation VR headset and PS camera adaptor to sync with your PS5. Some tips:
- Use the original PSVR processor unit, power cord and USB.
- Go into settings to enable HDMI Device Link.
- Set PS5 HDMI to automatic so it recognizes PSVR.
PSVR on PS5 unlocks higher frame rates for smoother gameplay. Resolution remains the same, but PS5’s GPU power enhances visuals.
Load times are practically instant thanks to the SSD, and 3D audio makes environments more lifelike. The PS5 enhances PSVR experiences across the board.
A next generation PSVR 2 headset is also in development, though no release date is confirmed yet. When available, PSVR 2 will unlock even more transformative VR experiences with cutting edge tech.
Pros and Cons
Let’s summarize the biggest pros and cons of owning a PS5:
- Lightning fast load times
- More stable, often higher frame rates
- Support for up to 8K resolution
- Ray tracing support for realistic lighting
- Disruptive haptics and adaptive triggers
- Powerful 3D audio vastly improves immersion
- DualSense innovations enhance gameplay
- Cleaner UI with more social focus
- Backwards compatible with thousands of PS4 games
- Some PS4 games get free performance boosts
- PlayStation Plus Collection incentive for PS5 early adopters
- Exciting launch exclusives like Spiderman and Demon’s Souls
- PSVR support with better fidelity and frame rates
- Extensive backwards compatibility only with PS4
- Far fewer exclusives at launch than previous PlayStations
- Much bigger and heavier than previous models
- SSD isn’t as fast as Xbox Series X
- New controller takes time to get used to
- Most games aren’t built exclusively for PS5 yet
- Some launch units suffer from hardware issues
- Scarse supply and low availability due to demand
As is expected with any new console launch, the PS5 isn’t without drawbacks. But Sony has clearly focused its efforts on delivering jaw dropping leaps with storage, 3D audio, haptics and graphics – key areas that were stagnant during the long PS4 cycle.
There’s also plenty of promise in forthcoming PS5 exclusives over the next few years. Once developers learn to fully harness the hardware, games are likely to get more visually impressive and immersive than anything seen before.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the PS5 release date and price?
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- The PS5 released on November 12, 2020 in core markets like the US. The release date was November 19, 2020 in other regions.
- There are two models – a standard PS5 with 4K Blu-Ray drive for $499, and a Digital Edition without a disc drive for $399.
Where can I buy a PS5?
- The PS5 is sold at most major retailers, but demand has far outpaced supply. Stock sells out nearly instantly.
- Follow restock accounts on Twitter, set in-stock alerts at major retailers or check frequently for availability. Persistence and timing helps.
Should I buy a PS5 at launch?
- If you want to experience next-gen gaming right away and can find one at retail price, the PS5 is a worthwhile investment and huge leap over PS4.
- However, those who can wait may want to hold off for more stock, exclusive games and potential hardware improvements.
How good are the PS5 launch games?
- Spiderman: Miles Morales and Demon’s Souls are very strong but most are expanded PS4 titles. The best exclusives are still to come in 2021 and beyond. But there’s plenty to enjoy out of the gate.
Does the PS5 support 8K gaming?
- Yes, the PS5 hardware specs enable 8K output, but it will be years before we see console games consistently hit 8K 60 FPS. The GPU is future proofed for more 8K support down the road.
Should I keep my PS4 if I buy a PS5?
- Keeping your PS4 allows you to play non-compatible PS4 games if you have the original discs. You also get more controller options for local multiplayer. But if you only buy digital, the PS5 may fully replace the PS4.
The Verdict: A Giant Leap Forward for Console Gaming
The PS5 successfully delivers a landmark generational leap that sets a new high water mark for console gaming. With its ultra fast SSD, haptic-filled controller, 3D audio immersion and visual dazzle, the PS5 offers an unrivaled sensory experience that feels comprehensively next-gen.
Powered by cutting edge AMD silicon, the PS5’s hardware future proofs it for advanced graphical techniques like ray tracing while keeping framerates silky smooth. Backwards compatibility with thousands of PS4 games helps ease the transition to next-gen.
Of course, realize that the PS5’s full potential is yet to be tapped. As developers
learn to harness its power, we’ll see games that truly push boundaries like never before across resolution, physics, AI and more. This is only the beginning of what’s possible on PS5.
Some limitations like a sparse launch library, low availability, no native PS1-3 support hold the system back at launch. But the core technological leaps in the areas that matter make the PS5 a sound long-term investment in your gaming future.
Once must-have exclusives like God of War Ragnarok and Horizon Forbidden West arrive in force with games tailored specifically for PS5, the system will hit its stride and be an easy recommendation.
In the end, for those eager to be on the cutting edge of console gaming power and experience the thrilling improvements enabled by lightning fast SSDs and rich immersion, the PS5 delivers. While casual gamers can still hold off for now, core gamers owe it to themselves to make the generational leap.
The PlayStation 5 is an impressive achievement by Sony to push the limits of consoles into new territory. This is a system built for the future.