Estimated read time: 24 minutes
PlayStation 5: Sony has re-imagined the key parts of the experience – from a simpler setup and new well-thought-out user interface, to a revolutionary controller and added bonuses for PS Plus members – and the result is a console that we can’t help but be impressed with.
Sure, there are problems with how few first-party games there are at launch – and it would have been nice to see support for previous generations of PlayStation titles, not just PS4 games – but the PlayStation 5 feels like a solid investment nevertheless, and we’re confident that the PlayStation 5 experience will improve with age.
You may feel tempted to run out and buy a 4K/120Hz TV with HDMI 2.1 to take full advantage of the console’s peak capabilities, but even without one you’ll enjoy unbelievably fast load times and a gorgeous new UI.
The PS5 caters to both primed and ready next-gen gamers and tepid PS4 owners looking to dip their toes into the future of gaming – and for the latter it’s a console that so seamlessly bridges the gap between the last generation and the next that you probably won’t need to boot up your PS4 ever again.
From big upgrades like the super-fast NVMe SSD and powerful GPU that enable higher frame rates and ray tracing, to subtle touches like the built-in microphone on the controller that can serve as a quick stand-in for a headset, the PlayStation 5 feels like it was built for ease of use as well as pure power.
We’ve yet to get our hands on the PS5 Digital Edition, which we may feel differently about, and we’ve yet to try out some of the PS5’s streaming apps and entertainment functionality, but if you’re still on the fence about buying the PS5, we can wholeheartedly recommend the console as a welcome upgrade over the PS4, and an exciting portal to next-gen gameplay.
PlayStation 5 Price And Release Date
The PS5 release date in North America, Australia, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand is November 12, 2020, which is just two days after the release of its next-gen rivals, the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S. For the rest of the world, the console becomes available one week later on November 19.
In terms of the PS5 price, you’re looking at $499.99 / £449.99 / AU$749.95 for the standard version of the console with a 4K Blu-ray disc drive. However, if that’s more than you want to spend, there’s also the PS5 Digital Edition, which doesn’t have a disc drive, and which is available for $399.99 / £359.99 / AU$599.95.
That’s more than the launch price of the PS4 and PS4 Pro, which both came in at $399.99, but they arrived seven and four years ago respectively now, and you’re getting a generational leap in hardware here for only a few hundred more. It’s still expensive, don’t get us wrong, but the jump in price does feel warranted for what you’re getting here.
Priced at $499 and $299 respectively, they each have their own separate reviews so we won’t spend much time talking about them here, but be sure to check out our PS5 vs Xbox Series X breakdown for more details about how the consoles stack up.[wptb id="1011" not found ]
PlayStation 5 Design
If gaming consoles had weight classes, the PlayStation 5 would be in the heavyweight division. We measured it at around 38.8 x 8 x 26cm (H x W x D) – though the curved surfaces make getting an exact measurement difficult. And it weighs in at 4.5kg, giving it a noticeable heft when you pick it up.
With those measurements in mind, it’s easy to see how the PlayStation 5 is the largest console Sony has ever made, and it teeters on the brink of being simply too big for a device that’s supposed to sit under your TV.
Many will have to rethink their current setup or upgrade their entertainment centers entirely to accommodate Sony’s new machine, and that’s a problem that no one should have to worry about when picking up a new console.
As for the colors and shape of the console, well, they can be kind of polarizing, too. Some of us on the team absolutely love the PS5 design, while some of us hate it. There’s no denying, however, that its gargantuan size and two-tone color scheme demands attention in any home.
One element that’s a delightful touch, and universally liked by the TechRadar team, is the system’s subtle lighting effect, which creates a soothing hue when the console is in operation or rest mode.
It adds to the PS5’s space-age look and feel, and represents a nice touch of continuity from the PS4. Much like the PS4, when the console is in rest mode the light turns orange, and when the PS5 is turned on it changes from blue to white.
We’re a bit bemused by Sony’s choice to put glossy plastic down the center spine of the console, though, particularly as that’s where the front USB ports are located. We can’t say for sure, but there’s a possibility that the plastic will become scratched over time unless you take extra care when plugging in devices – and if that’s the case, it seems like a rather big oversight on Sony’s part. It’s also a big dust and fingerprint magnet.
Due to its curves and tall stature, it’s not just a case of placing the console down and playing once you pull it out the box either – you’ll need to wrap your head around the PS5’s stand first.
The console can’t be placed horizontally without it, and you risk impeding airflow if you don’t use it when the PS5 is standing vertically. It’s an extra step that, while necessary, will hopefully be omitted when the console’s inevitable ‘slim’ version arrives in a couple of years.
The stand, while functional, feels slightly cheap in the hand. It has a small compartment to hold one lone screw (don’t lose this, as you’ll need it when placing the console vertically) and at first glance, it doesn’t look like the setup will actually work when laying the console flat.
To its credit, though, it does the job in a no-thrills fashion – however, we found the stand slipped off the small lip that it clamps onto multiple times when we shifted our unit into position.
In terms of ports, the front of the PS5 has a USB-A and USB-C port, while the back sports two USB-A ports, an HDMI 2.1, an Ethernet port and a power port. There are no proprietary ports on the console, which is always a bonus if you need to replace the odd cable.Advertisement
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PlayStation 5 Performance
In terms of specs, the PS5 is a technically impressive piece of hardware. There’s the new custom RDNA 2 GPU that can push 4K resolution at 120 frames per second, and the octa-core AMD Zen 2-based CPU with a 3.5GHz clock speed.
Add on 16GB of GDDR6 memory and the NVMe SSD and this is a machine with some seriously good-looking specs. PS5 SPECS
In fact, the only real issue we have with the PlayStation 5’s spec sheet is that it’s only using an 825GB SSD instead of, say, a 1TB or 2TB SSD.
That decision was clearly made to cut down on the cost of the console, but it means that you can run out of storage quickly if you’re not being judicious about which games you keep installed.
The console comes with 667.2GB of usable storage, which we found held around 16 games: two PS5 titles, which were Astro’s Playroom and Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, and various PS4 games like God of War and Detroit: Beyond Human.
The available space actually went a bit further than we thought, although your mileage will obviously vary depending on the size of the games you have installed.
It is possible to upgrade the internal storage with a PlayStation-certified NVMe SSD, but the issue here is this option has been locked by Sony at launch. When, down the line, Sony finally unlocks this expansion port you’ll need to pop off the PS5’s plastic faceplates to reveal the empty SSD bay.
It isn’t the most intuitive of methods, and feels like a slight oversight on Sony’s part – but hopefully it’s only something you’ll need to do once.
The good news is that you’re also able to use external hard drives and SSDs by plugging them into the USB port – but you won’t experience the same lightning-fast load times that you get from the built-in SSD and optional (and currently locked) SSD bay.
We’ve not had a chance to test external drives with the PS5 yet, but we’ll update this review with our findings in the coming weeks.
While few of the launch games are really going to give the new hardware a run for its money, we can already see the potential in Sony’s upgraded hardware.
Load times in Marvel’s Spider-Man, for example, have gone from 15-20 seconds on the PS4 to less than a second on the PS5, while Astro’s Playroom locked into 60 frames per second at a 4K resolution and didn’t let go. It’s a sumptuous-looking game.
In the future, some titles will be able to run at 4K resolution at 120 frames per second, and there’s the potential that some less graphically intensive games could reach up to 8K/60fps. Advertisement
For now, though, we don’t expect many games to hit that ambitious target (most will drop the resolution from 4K to achieve a higher frame rate), but there’s a chance some titles will be able to achieve that coveted 4K/120fps output down the line.
A small slice of the PS5 launch library will support 120 frames per second, and include Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, Devil May Cry V: Special Edition, Dirt 5, Rainbow Six Siege and WRC 9, though you’ll need a HDMI 2.1-compliant TV to enable this option.
So what can you expect at launch? For now at least, most games will be capable of delivering 4K resolution at 30fps or 60fps when using a game’s Performance Mode (which we’ll explain below). Many will also utilize 4K image assets for crisper textures, while HDR support helps to provide better colors and contrast.
Combine that with ray tracing and improved particle effects that are now possible with the current suite of development tools, and games look leaps and bounds better now than they did a decade ago.
Though not every PS5 launch game will have it, most should feature the aforementioned Performance Mode, which prioritizes higher frame rates over resolution and extra graphical features.
With many games this sacrifices various graphically-intensive effects like ray tracing or higher shadow quality, and drops the base resolution, in order to achieve higher frame rates like 60fps instead of 30fps.
But why would you want the extra frames at the expense of resolution? Well, higher frame rates make games feel far more responsive – which is a must for first-person shooters that require twitch-based reflexes and split-second decisions.
For some gamers, higher frame rates are the holy grail for consoles – something that has been hard to achieve for decades due to weaker hardware. To have this finally be an obtainable goal feels like a monumental achievement, even if it comes at the cost of some graphical flourishes.
If you’d prefer not to use Performance Mode, you can always choose Resolution Mode, which prioritizes higher resolutions, better rendering techniques like ray tracing and more detailed graphics.
We got a taste of that with Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, and we loved what we saw. Lighting was improved substantially: windows glistened in the sunlight and contained realistic reflections, and the particle effects looked stunning.
What you can expect from this new generation of gaming, then, is faster load times, better frame rates in Performance Mode and higher target resolutions everywhere else. Simply choose which option you prefer.
How good is PlayStation 5’s 3D Tempest Audio?
The PS5’s 3D Tempest Audio is Sony’s take on Dolby Atmos, or spatial audio in general. It works on any headset, with support for TV speakers coming sometime after the PS5’s launch.
We’ve tested various spatial audio solutions in the past, ranging from Windows Sonic to Dolby Atmos, and we’ve found that PS5’s 3D Audio is a comparable experience overall, though we’d like to test it with more games in the future.
We enjoyed hearing ships fly past and over our head in Astro’s Playroom, and appreciated being able to pick out thugs that were closing in on us in Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales. It’s not as detailed or as realistic as we first hoped, though, at least not at this stage, and it will be up to developers to get the most out of the technology as it matures.
At launch, Sony says, you can expect to experience Tempest Audio in all four of its first-party titles (Astro’s Playroom, Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Demon’s Souls and Sackboy: A Big Adventure), with additional titles coming after launch.[wptb id="1011" not found ]
What about heat and noise?
The PS5’s monstrous footprint gives it one significant advantage over its predecessor in that the console is basically silent – and heat production is also minimal.
It’s a monumental improvement over the PS4 and PS4 Pro, which were renowned for their ability to kick up the system fans to obnoxious levels and output lots of heat, particularly on the earlier models.
We held our hand near the system during a long play session, and although the PlayStation 5 was clearly outputting hot air (as it’s designed to do) it was emitting far less than what the PS4 Pro would push out.
Very rarely in our testing did the fans reach an audibly loud level to the degree that the PS4 Pro did when running games like Horizon: Zero Dawn or God of War.
However, that could simply be due to the fact that we haven’t seen any resource-heavy next-gen-only games yet. Sony has also promised that it plans to optimize the PS5’s fans using over-the-air updates, so the machine could get louder, or indeed quieter, with certain games later down the line.
PlayStation 5 DualSense Controller
To navigate this brave new world of console gaming, you’ll need a new gamepad – namely, the new Sony DualSense controller. You’ll be pleased to hear that you get a DualSense controller in the box with your PS5. The DualSense feels similar in the hand to the DualShock 4 that shipped with the PS4, and we found it to be incredibly comfortable to hold for extended periods.
Picking it up for the first time, the DualSense is fairly light and balanced, with most of the weight resting in the grips of the controller. While the majority of the controller features a matte white plastic finish, the bottoms of the grips themselves have a slightly rougher texture that actually makes the controller easier to hold, and less likely to slip out of your hands.
In fact, if you look closely, the texture is made up of tiny PlayStation face buttons, which is a neat little touch.
The two-tone PS5 controller color scheme extends to the four face buttons, which still consist of the classic Triangle, Circle, Square and Cross (or X); however these are now devoid of color, and remind us of the PS Vita’s minimalist approach. Advertisement
There’s a pop of color around the side of the central touchpad, though, as the PS4 Lightbar has thankfully been moved from the top of the gamepad to a less problematic position – thanks to its new placement, you won’t now see an annoying glow reflecting off your TV.
Where early PlayStation controllers sported a convex analog design, the PS5 DualSense controller has concave control sticks, just like the DualShock 4, and they feel noticeably more durable this time around, with a pleasing textured finish on the outer ridge.
On early models of the PS4 the rubber analog sticks would sometimes wear away under vigorous gameplay sessions, and though we haven’t seen it reoccur with the DualSense so far, we’ll be keeping a close eye on the durability of the rubber coating.
You’ll notice a few new buttons you haven’t seen before on Sony’s new pad, too – like the mute button that turns off the microphone that’s built into the controller.
When this is held down, it can even mute your television speakers or headset, which we found to be a useful quality-of-life feature. When speaking into the mic, we found it worked best when we kept the controller in our usual playing position, instead of holding it towards our mouth.
The highlights of the new DualSense controller, however, are the adaptive trigger buttons that allow developers to add resistance to certain in-game actions. The adaptive triggers can use resistance to create various sensations that mimic real-life actions, like pushing down on the pedal of a car or pulling back a bow string.
It’s a huge step forward for haptics in Sony’s hardware, and we found that haptic feedback itself is a vastly superior replacement for the traditional rumble of old. When a character runs across a certain surface, like metal, it manages to somehow replicate that feeling in the palms of your hands – it’s a truly wonderful sensation.
So far we’ve seen a variation of haptic feedback support integrated into every PS5 game we’ve played so far, and hope to see it supported by more games in the future; we expect the feature to shine most in first-party titles though. Accessibility shouldn’t be a concern either, as the adaptive triggers and haptic feedback can be turned off at system level, or adjusted to suit your needs.
Battery life, so far, has been a monumental improvement over the DualShock 4. We played through a handful of PS5 and PS4 titles during our testing, including Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales and Astro’s Playroom, and the controller eventually ran out of charge after 12 hours and 30 minutes.
That’s an impressive feat when you consider the DualShock 4 lasted around five to eight hours at a stretch. While internal batteries can degrade over time, it’s a strong start for Sony’s new pad, particularly when you consider how much technology is packed into it. Of course, you can also use the controller wired if you prefer.
To charge the DualSense, you have two options: either connect it to the PlayStation 5 itself with the USB-C to USB-A cable that comes inside the box, or shell out for the optional DualSense Charging Station, which can charge two controllers at a time using the metal conduits on the bottom of the pad near the 3.5mm audio jack.
You can also charge the controller, or your USB headset, via the rear USB ports, or opt to use a USB-C to USB-C cable when using the front USB-C port to charge the DualSense controller. Advertisement
Either option works well, but the Charging Station does certainly look nicer sitting on the shelf, and more cost-effective third-party charging stations will likely become available in the coming months. We’ll also need to test whether charging the controller via a USB-C to USB-C cable is quicker than using the USB-C to USB-A cable that comes with the console.
PlayStation 5 Features
Design is one thing, but what can really elevate a console to the next level is its feature set – and thankfully the PS5 delivers here.
The PS5 innovates on what Sony’s consoles have done in the past and, as a result, it might take a minute or two to get used to some of the new controls – pressing and holding the PlayStation button on the controller no longer brings up the quick menu, for example, but instead brings up a new Control Center.
This operates in much the same way as the quick menu did, and lets you view various sub-menus such as your Friends list, downloads in progress, notifications and, if you have your account linked, Spotify.
One of the more prominent new features is the PS5’s Cards, with the most impactful being Activity Cards. Cards have various functions, allowing you to track trophy progress, jump into specific parts of a game like a challenge or multiplayer mode, see how far along you are on a game level, or simply see news from a developer. You can even watch a livestream of your friend’s gameplay using a picture-in-picture mode, which is pretty cool.
Cards are also present as you delve further into a game’s information, which is now displayed beautifully on the home screen.
By pressing down on the D-pad or flicking down on the analog stick, you can see the available Cards at a glance, circumventing the need to visit a game’s main menu or particular mode to find out what’s going on. They should prove useful for gamers of a lesser ability, too, as they can contain in-game hint videos in supported titles that help you overcome specific challenges or find that one last collectible. Advertisement
Overall, we found Cards to be a useful addition, though horizontally scrolling through each one did feel cumbersome at times.
There’s also a slight delay before they appear, which is at odds with the speed of the system as a whole. But, while not essential by any means, they help to add another layer of next-gen gloss to PlayStation 5 experience that you won’t find anywhere else.
Outside of the interface, you can expect the return of groups and other social-based features from the PS4, as well as easy video sharing. You’ll be able to jump straight into the game your friends are playing from the menu, or invite them to larger groups. Video sharing on the PS5 works similarly to how it did on the PS4, but it’s nice to be able to see a preview in Cards.
Speaking of social features, if you’re tired of typing out messages using a D-pad or analog stick, the PS5 also supports voice dictation for messaging thanks to the DualSense controller’s built-in mic.
While your mileage may vary when it comes to the accuracy of the dictation (as with all voice recognition software), it could prove handy when you need to fire off a quick message to a friend. We did find it to be inconsistent in our testing, though, and not as accurate as something like Google Assistant.
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PlayStation 5 Game Library
Most consoles don’t launch with a full library of games right off the bat, so the bar is pretty low here for the PlayStation 5. That being said, what you make of the PlayStation 5’s current game library largely depends on if you finished the masterpieces from the PS4’s era – games like God of War, The Last of Us Part II, Marvel’s Spider-Man and Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End.
If you haven’t finished them, or haven’t played them at all, you could have over a dozen excellent games to play from the second you turn on the PlayStation 5 via backwards compatibility.
If you have PS Plus, you might also have access to some older games that passed you by, as Sony’s new PlayStation Plus Collection includes 20 defining games from the last generation that you can download on day one. Every PS5 comes pre-installed with Astro’s Playroom, too, and it’s a thrilling showcase for what the system can do.
A fully fleshed-out sequel to Astro Bot: Rescue Mission, Astro’s Playroom is a platformer that features exotic locales in which are hidden artifacts from Sony’s PlayStation hardware catalog.
You’ll find a PlayStation VR Aim Controller hidden in a snowbank somewhere in one level, for example, while another level might contain a PlayStation Portable for you to discover.
It’s a nice homage to the PlayStation hardware that’s come and gone, but we expect some folks will play through it, then uninstall it to reclaim the 10GB of storage space it takes up on the console. You can always re-download it from your games library or the PlayStation Store should you wish to play it again.
But what else will you have to play at launch? Well, the PS5 will only have a dozen or so new games for you to check out that weren’t previously available on the PS4.
That list of games includes some heavy hitters like Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Sackboy: A Big Adventure and Demon’s Souls, all of which are from Sony’s first-party studios, while you can also pick up some big third-party games like Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, Godfall and Watchdogs: Legion.
Last but not least, there’s also the indie charmer Bugsnax (that one with the infuriatingly catchy theme tune), which will be available as the console’s first PlayStation Plus downloadable game (you’ll need to subscribe, if you haven’t already, to PS Plus to access it).
Beyond what’s mentioned above, there’s not much else you’ll be able to play in the first week the console’s out.
That’s somewhat disappointing, as we’re eager for more fresh experiences on the PS5; but with games like Cyberpunk 2077, Gran Turismo 7, Hogwarts Legacy, Ratchet & Clank: A Rift Apart on the horizon, we’re confident that things are only going to get better in the coming months.
We’ll continue to keep an eye out for the best PS5 games as the console matures.[wptb id="1011" not found ]
Those masterpieces that we mentioned earlier? Those are all part of Sony’s new PlayStation Plus Collection: a small library of hits from the PS4 that Sony’s making free to PlayStation Plus subscribers on the PS5.
Some real mainstream hits are included, but also some less-popular gems that are well worth checking out, like Persona 5 and The Last Guardian. The PlayStation Plus Collection might never swell to the size of Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass lineup, but even with the 18 games available right now it’s a great perk for PS Plus subscribers.
What about folks who want to play older games? Well, the PlayStation 5 can play almost any PS4 game (99% of them to be exact), and select PS3/PS2 titles via PlayStation Now… but that’s it.
There’s no way to pop in a PS3 disc and have it work, or transfer over your PlayStation Classics purchases you made on the PS Vita a few years ago.
We’re as disappointed as you are with that lack of backwards-compatibility support for Sony’s previous generation of games, particularly as Xbox 360 games (physical discs included) work on the Xbox Series X, but it’s not uncommon for a new console to only support the last generation of games as manufacturers look to the future.
Accessing your old PS4 games is thankfully a cinch on Sony’s new system. Simply select the Library icon and the PS5 will automatically pull in all your digital purchases and previously installed games, providing you’re signed into your PlayStation Network account.
You’ll need to redownload them to the console, of course, or insert the physical disc to activate a game’s licence. Some games have been upgraded to run better than ever on PS5, too, like Days Gone, which now runs at a silky-smooth 60fps, while God of War can now comfortably hit its 60 frames per second target using the game’s performance mode.
One thing to note is that you may notice your save file is missing when you boot up a PS4 game that you previously owned for the first time – that’s because you’ll need to redownload your save files from the cloud onto your PS5 console first.
PS Plus members have access to cloud saves, but if you haven’t been backing up your save files over the air, then you may notice your data won’t be there initially.
It’s not the most seamless system, admittedly, and is bound to confuse some users, but support for carrying over your save files appears to be there for most older titles we tested – however, this will vary on a case by case basis.
|CPU||x86-64-AMD Ryzen Zen 8 Cores / 16 Threads at 3.5GHz (variable frequency)|
|GPU||Ray Tracing Acceleration|
Up to 2.23 GHz (10.3 TFLOPS)
|GPU Architecture||AMD Radeon RDNA 2-based graphics engine|
|Internal Storage||Custom 825GB SSD|
|IO Throughput||5.5GB/s (Raw), Typical 8-9GB/s (Compressed)|
|Expandable Storage||NVMe SSD Slot|
|External Storage||USB HDD Support|
|Optical Drive (optional)||Ultra HD Blu-ray (66G/100G) ~10xCAV|
BD-ROM (25G/50G) ~8xCAV
BD-R/RE (25G/50G) ~8x CAV
|PS5 Game Disc||Ultra HD Blu-ray, up to 100GB/disc|
|Audio||“Tempest” 3D AudioTech|
|Video Out||HDMI Out port|
Support of 4K 120Hz TVs, VRR (specified by HDMI ver 2.1)
|Dimensions||PS5 – 390mm x 104mm x 260mm (width x height x depth)|
PS5 Digital Edition – 390mm x 92mm x 260mm (width x height x depth)
|Weight||PS5 – 4.5kg|
PS5 Digital Edition – 3.9kg
|Power||PS5 – 350W|
PS5 Digital Edition – 340W
|Input / Output||USB Type-A port (Hi-Speed USB)|
USB Type-A port (Super Speed USB 10Gbps) x2
USB Type-C port (Super Speed USB 10Gbps)
|Networking||Ethernet (10BASE-T, 100BASE-TX, 1000BASE-T)|
IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax
SHOULD YOU BUY THE PlayStation 5 ?
Buy it if you:
- Plan on buying a next-generation game console in the next six months.
- want a taste of next-gen without losing your PS4 games.
- You’re tired of loading screens and ready for higher frame rates.
- Aren’t looking for a great Dolby Atmos and Vision Blu-ray player
- Are not concerned about getting a full launch library on release day.
The Final Verdict
The PS5 is a superb console that offers a compelling next-gen gaming experience – and one that will likely only get better as more titles are added to the lineup. The PS5 proves itself to be both powerful and well-designed. A few small issues hold it back from being a five-star product at launch, but otherwise it’s a welcome upgrade on the PS4 and an exciting portal to next-gen gameplay.