The PlayStation 5 is the fifth installment in Sony’s line of consoles and the first PlayStation to boast a speedy solid-state drive (SSD). The custom SSD makes loading screens a thing of the past, but there’s plenty else to like about the PS5 too — including the fully reimagined gamepad with the new DualSense controller. To top it all off, both the regular PS5 and the PS5 Digital Edition have all of the same specs.
However, one of Sony’s biggest selling features of their PlayStation consoles has always been the games. The PS5 is no different, with several big hitters released since launch and a delightful freebie included with every console.
With a custom SSD, the immersive features of the DualSense, and notable exclusive games, is buying the PS5 right now worth it? In this Sony PS5 review, we’ll look at all of the features of the PS5 and help you decide whether the PlayStation 5 is the perfect fit for you.
Design: Large, but clean
The PS5 is massive. In fact, it’s the biggest home console ever made. For all the power Sony wanted to pack into this next-gen console, its size makes sense. Unfortunately, this also means that it won’t easily fit into a lot of entertainment centers.
If you have a setup with cube-like storage, you’ll likely have to put your console on the ground or next to/behind your TV. If it has more open horizontal storage, it can fit the PS5 horizontally with ease as long as it’s wide enough. The console comes with a detachable stand you can use to change the PlayStation’s orientation from vertical to horizontal.
The PS5’s look is new and stylish. I like the bold choice of white compared to other recent consoles. However, if you have a dark color scheme going on in your entertainment center, this console might stick out like a sore thumb.
It’s worth mentioning, however, that the white plastic fins that sandwich the console can be removed. There is a high possibility that Sony will end up selling replaceable fins in different colors. Hopefully, the color black will be at the top of their list for the players who miss having an all-black console.
The PS5's look is new and stylish.
On the front of the PlayStation 5, you’ll see a USB-C port for connecting and charging your controllers. There’s also a Type-A USB port, the power button, and an eject button (only on disc versions of the console). On the back of the PS5, there are two Type-A USB ports, an HDMI port, an ethernet port, and a spot for the power cord. The console runs off a purely internal power supply, so there’s no clunky power brick to deal with.
Additionally, there is an internal slot for a second SSD of the M.2 variety, but storage expansion isn’t supported as yet. It’s really easy to get to the internal slot. You have to pop off the two white fins, and then there’s just one screw in between you and the internal slot. You can also use an external storage device for PS4 and PS5 games though you’ll only be able to play PS4 titles, not PS5 games. Those stored PS4 games also won’t benefit from the faster loading of the PS5.
The first-time setup was super easy. You only need the power cable and an HDMI cord, both of which come with the console. Then, if you have an ethernet cable to plug in, you can do that at set up as well. Alternatively, you can connect it to Wi-Fi. There was a large 868MB update download when starting the console up for the first time, as well as an update for the controller. Even with these downloads, my total setup time was less than 30 minutes before I was ready to download and hop into a game.
If you’re purchasing the console months past launch, your update may be a little larger so it might take a bit more time to download and install everything.
Throughout the setup process and while in-game, I heard virtually nothing from the console. It was insanely quiet while playing. I could only hear it kick up very minimally to cool the system and then it was back to near silence. Sony made upgrades to their power delivery and cooling systems, adding a custom heatsink and a liquid metal-based thermal interface material to help fix overheating.
When you start up the console with a disc inside, it runs loudly for a bit before quieting down. Or, when you swap out discs, the console kicks up again and then quickly calms down. The noise from loading and cooling has been so short-lived and sparse that I haven’t seemed to notice a whole lot throughout my time with the console.
Only time will tell whether the changes they made will stand up long-term. For now, I’m loving the quietness of the console.
Controller: The DualSense did not disappoint
The DualSense for the PS5 is certainly an upgrade from the DualShock 4 for the PS4. The look, the feel, everything about this controller screams upgrade and I love it. The DualSense is the PS5’s shining star. And, while the controller alone isn’t a good enough reason alone to splurge on a PS5, it’s a major plus.
Looking at the design first, the DualSense is a lot more comfortable to hold. I have fairly small hands and the controller still fits comfortably. In my first few gaming sessions, my hands cramped up a little bit, but I think that had more to do with me than the controller itself. In my past few gaming sessions with the PS5, I haven’t noticed my hands cramping up at all.
The DualSense is a shining star for the PS5.
Even if your hands get sweaty during a long gaming session, the texture on the back helps counteract any slippage. Speaking of the back, if you look closely at the texture, you’ll see that it’s made up of tiny PlayStation face buttons.
The controller layout feels natural and is easy to use. There is now a dedicated Create button on the left side that takes the place of the Share button on the PS4. This makes it easy for you to snap pictures and videos while gaming. You can even broadcast your gameplay. There’s also an upgraded built-in speaker and a microphone that you can toggle on and off.
All the same buttons as before can be found on the front face of the controller. The PlayStation button in the middle, four symbol buttons on the right side, an Options button on the right side, and a D-pad on the left side.
As if the design alone wasn’t already an improvement from the DualShock 4, the DualSense controller also features haptic feedback and adaptive triggers. I was very excited to try these two features out firsthand, and the DualSense did not disappoint.
I played Astro’s Playroom first to get a feel for the controller and all its features. I would highly recommend you do the same if you buy a PS5. This game is essentially a tech demo made to show off just how cool the features of the DualSense are, and it really delivers.
While playing you have to hold down the right trigger while aiming an arrow and you can actually feel the tension behind it. There is a noticeable difference when walking through mud or water too. Even walking over coins in a game like Godfall feels different than traversing regular paths.
However, the haptics are really something that you have to experience for yourself in order to grasp just how cool they are. They add an extra immersive element to all the PS5 games I’ve played so far. It’s something haven’t experienced in a game before.
That being said, it’ll be up to publishers and developers to decide whether they support these extra features of the DualSense. You’d think that everyone would want to utilize them in some way, but that won’t always be the case. For example, one of the console’s biggest launch games, Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla, didn’t really do much with the haptics. It’ll be interesting to see what publishers and developers do going forward.
Sony says that the DualSense battery life will be similar to that of the DualShock 4. While this may be the case for some games, I don’t think it will apply to all games. More demanding titles will likely cause the DualSense battery to drain faster. Astro’s Playroom, for example, uses the new features of the DualSense a lot, and the battery drains quicker because of it.
Battery life in general ranges anywhere from three to eight hours depending on the game you’re playing. You can recharge the controllers with a USB-C cable and the USB port on the front of the PS5 or with the DualSense Charging Station (sold separately).
Performance: Quiet, speedy, beautiful
Because of the custom SSD, loading times on the PS5 are pretty much nonexistent. All of the PlayStation 5 game loading screens loaded in 10 seconds or less, more often falling around the three- or four-second mark.
Prior to getting the console, I heard a few people complain about not being able to read the useful game tips on loading screens because games loaded so fast. This is absolutely true. I tried to read a tip and the screen was gone when I was only halfway through the sentence. However, that will be a worthy tradeoff for many.
Quite a few games like Borderlands 3 and Astro’s Playroom run in native 4K at 60 frames per second (fps). Assassin’s Creed Valhalla runs in dynamic 4K. Many other games give you options to balance frame rate and resolution. For example, Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales and Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered both give you the option to play the game with ray-tracing effects in native 4K at 30 frames per second or at a lower resolution with a locked 60fps.
I love that you get this option in certain titles. You get to choose between smoother gameplay with higher frame rates or a more visually clear game with a higher resolution and neat features like ray-tracing. The latter adds a cool immersive element to the game with enhanced reflections, lighting, and shadows. However, once you play at 60fps without those extra elements and feel how smooth the gameplay is, it’s hard to go back to 30fps. Other games that give you similar options between 30fps and 60fps include Demon’s Souls and Marvel’s Avengers.
Loading times on the PS5 are pretty much nonexistent.
Then, there are some games that give you similar options, but with 60fps versus 120fps instead. Right now this includes games like Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, Nioh Collection, and Devil May Cry V: Special Edition. It’s important to know, however, that running your games at 120fps almost always requires a sacrifice in resolution. Usually, that will be either 1080p or a low dynamic resolution.
Additionally, there aren’t very many new TVs that support 120fps, so it’s fair to say that most of us wouldn’t have the equipment to enjoy that many frames per second. And as of right now, the PS5 doesn’t support 1440p output either. So, if you’re hoping to use a PC monitor with 1440p resolution and 120fps, you’re out of luck for now.
Many of the PS4 games have also been enhanced to add a game mode that can run at up to 60fps. A few of the classics include God of War (2018), Days Gone, Ghost of Tsushima, and PUBG. More titles may be able to run at a higher frame rate in the future, but for now, a lot of PS4 titles are simply playable on the PS5 at their original frame rate and resolution.
Also, although no game or movie will likely play in 8K resolution right now, the PS5 does support it. That may not matter currently, but it’ll be nice to have in the future if more media begins releasing in 8K. The PS5 does not, however, support VRR.
While the PS5 boasts an 825GB custom SSD, you can’t actually use all 825GB to store games. You only start out with 667.2GB of free storage. Depending on the types of games you play, it could fill up very quickly.
A lot of the PlayStation titles hover at around a 50GB minimum download. Those include Spider-Man: Miles Morales (52.56GB), Assassin’s Creed Valhalla (41.79GB), Demon’s Souls (52.09GB), and Horizon Zero Dawn (48.17GB). There are massive games like Red Dead Redemption II as well, coming in at a minimum download of 89.20GB. Of course, there also are smaller titles that are not nearly as demanding, like Fall Guys (3.95GB), Hollow Knight (5.05GB), and Bugsnax (8.19GB).
Again, you can purchase an external SSD or HDD to use for storage of PS4 games if you run out of room on your internal SSD on the PS5. If you need more storage for your PS5 games, you’ll have to wait to hear from Sony to learn which internal SSD has their approval.
Features and software: PS Plus is the star of the show here
The PS5 hardware got an upgrade, but what about software and subscription services? The new user interface (UI) on the PlayStation 5 looks a lot cleaner. It is easy to navigate for old and new PlayStation users alike. Then, between their two subscription services — PlayStation Plus and PlayStation Now — you’ve got tons of games to play.
The PlayStation 5 UI is really easy to learn. It’s fairly similar to the PS4 UI, just cleaner and a bit more organized. If you’re unfamiliar with any PlayStation user interface, however, it might take some getting used to as you figure out where everything is. Just like when you get a new phone though, there’s always a learning curve. After only a few days with the console, everything was like second nature to me.
There were a few improvements from the PS4 UI to the PS5 UI, but there’s still room for more customization and organization features. With the PlayStation 5 UI, the home screen and control center look and feel a lot cleaner. The icons for the games are smaller. Now, when you open the PlayStation Store, it’s integrated and doesn’t open up in a completely new app. You can also press the PlayStation button to bring up the control center at the bottom and easily see activities, news, and more.
When you’re in a game and you press the PlayStation button, you’ll see activity cards that outline your in-game objectives and trophies you don’t have yet. This will be extremely helpful to anyone who’s trying to 100% a game. Additionally, if you’re a PS Plus subscriber, you’ll also have access to game help videos. You can pin tutorial videos to your screen and watch them while you’re playing if you need help. You can get help with completing a level, finding a collectible, and more.
PlayStation Plus and PlayStation Now
PlayStation has two services that you can subscribe to: PlayStation Plus and PlayStation Now. Both subscription services follow a similar pricing model. You can pay $9.99 monthly, $24.99 every three months, or $59.99 annually. If you purchased an annual subscription for both, it would be $119.98. It might seem expensive on the surface, but it’s really a great value for everything that you’d be getting.
PS Plus is required to play online multiplayer games. Subscribers also get free games every month to download and keep as long as they remain subscribed. A few notable free games Sony has given to PS Plus members since launch include Hollow Knight, Bugsnax, Greedfall, Control: Ultimate Edition, and Destruction AllStars.
Being a PS Plus member will also give you access to Game Help, exclusive discounts, and 100GB of cloud storage for game save data. Having a PS Plus subscription also allows you access to the PS Plus Classics Collection. It includes PS4 hits like God of War, Days Gone, Detroit: Become Human, The Last of Us Remastered, and more without any extra charge.
PS Now is not a necessary subscription, but it’s a pretty good service to have, especially if you missed out on a lot of PS4 classics. PS Now is essentially like a Netflix service for games. You can download select titles to your PlayStation 5 or you can stream them from a PC. Some of the games in PS Now have ongoing access while others have an expiration date.
A few honorable mentions from PS Now include Kingdom Come Deliverance, Hello Neighbor, Friday the 13th, and Final Fantasy XV. Additionally, Horizon Zero Dawn is available to play on PS Now as of December.
Between PS Plus and PS Now, PS Plus is hands down the better subscription service.
Whether PS Plus or PS Now compares to Xbox Game Pass, is a whole different story, however. Although PlayStation’s subscription services are good, they don’t offer as much as Xbox Game Pass. Microsoft was inventive with its subscription service, giving Xbox something new and exciting. Sony’s subscription services, on the other hand, haven’t changed nearly as much since the PS4.
Between PS Plus and PS Now, PS Plus is hands down the better subscription service to have. You get cloud storage, a ton of enhanced PS4 classics, store discounts, free games, and more. PS Now is a decent service to stack on top of PS Plus, but I’d only get it if you notice a game you really want to play.
Media and apps
When you first set up your console, you’ll be given the option to download certain media apps, including Netflix, Hulu, Disney Plus, YouTube, and more. Then, you can also download the PlayStation App on your phone and connect it with your PS5. With it, you can buy, download, and install games to your console directly through the app. Plus, message and voice chat is integrated across the PlayStation App, the PS4, and the PS5.
The PS5 is fully compatible with Sony’s PlayStation VR headset. To use it, you’ll need the PSVR itself, the PS4 Camera, and a PlayStation Camera adaptor which is available for free to existing PSVR owners. The new PS5 camera is not compatible, but existing PSVR accessories like the PlayStation Move remotes and the Aim Controller will work just fine.
Sony has also confirmed that a follow-up virtual reality headset is in the works. This is great news for VR fans, because the original PSVR is quite outdated in terms of hardware and several of the accessories required are now based on tech that’s over 10 years old.
Games: A historically great launch line-up
The PS5 had a great launch line-up, especially compared to the PS4. One of the greatest things about it was that a few of the games were available on both the PS5 and the PS4 — something PlayStation didn’t do last-gen. At the PlayStation 4 launch, you could only play Killzone: Shadow Fall, Knack, and Resogun on the PS4 as far as exclusives went.
Meanwhile, the PS5 had four new exclusives at launch: Astro’s Playroom, Demon’s Souls, Sackboy: A Big Adventure, and Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales. Of these, Sackboy: A Big Adventure and Spider-Man: Miles Morales are both available for the PS4 as well.
The PS5 enjoyed a great launch line-up, especially compared to the PS4.
There’s also a remaster of Marvel’s Spider-Man released solely on the PS5. It comes bundled with the Spider-Man: Miles Morales Ultimate Edition. A few third-party games worth mentioning that were also available at launch include Bugsnax, Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla, Watch Dogs: Legion, and Godfall.
These PS5 launch games are beefy and full of great content. The released games should entertain gamers for a good bit while waiting for the next round of titles to hit the market.
Between the launch games and the games offered through their subscription services, PlayStation and Xbox are pretty evenly matched. Xbox has a leg up with the games offered through Xbox Game Pass, while Sony has much better exclusives so far.
Most of the highly anticipated exclusive games from PlayStation are coming in 2021. If all release windows are kept, there should be plenty of titles to keep us all busy from now through the end of 2021.
Kena: Bridge of Spirits is slated to release on August 24, 2021. Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart is scheduled to release even sooner on June 11, 2021. Returnal just released on April 30, 2021, to rave reviews. Gran Turismo 7 has been pushed to 2022, but there are still plenty of PlayStation exclusives releasing throughout the rest of 2021. The next really big hitter — Guerrilla Games’ Horizon Forbidden West — is still expected to release in the second half of 2021.
The games listed above don’t include all the third-party titles that you can play on the PS5 as well. As of right now, a few of the biggest third-party games you can explore include Hitman 3 and Resident Evil Village. Then, Far Cry 6 is still slated to release in 2021.
Lastly, let’s talk about backward compatibility. In the PS4 generation, Sony produced a lot of fantastic games that were huge crowd-pleasers. To be able to play all of the PS4 top games on the PlayStation 5 is amazing. Those in the Classics Collection in PS Plus are also enhanced to run and look better on the PS5. A PlayStation console hasn’t been backward compatible with the previous generation since the original launch of the PS3.
Plus, with PlayStation Now, you can play a lot of PS2 and PS3 games as well. Most gamers will likely be drawn to the PS4 game library, but still, it’s great to have options. It’s worth noting that this is a great generation for getting into console games for the first time. You not only get next-gen games but past favorites too.
Accessories: Nothing too unexpected
The accessories available for the PS5 right now are all pretty standard options. There’s nothing too earth-shattering about them. However, the new Pulse headset is a standout. It has been designed to take advantage of the 3D audio on the PS5.
You can purchase an extra DualSense controller for $69.99. While you can charge your controllers using a USB to Type-C charging cable, you can also purchase a charging station. The DualSense Charging Station is only $29.99. If you have two controllers, it’s worth getting this accessory because it gives you a clean way to stash your controllers and charge them at the same time.
Pulse 3D Wireless Headset
You can also purchase the Pulse 3D Wireless Headset to accompany the PlayStation 5 for $99.99. These headphones have been designed specifically for the 3D audio on PS5 consoles. Like the DualSense, the Pulse headset also uses a USB-C charging cable. Additionally, it has two built-in microphones and noise-cancelling technology to ensure you come across clear to your friends in voice chat.
PS5 media remote
The media remote for the PS5 is $29.99. This will be very useful if you intend to use streaming apps on your PS5 or watch movies on BluRay. In addition to the usual media buttons like play, pause, rewind, etc., there are quick-access app buttons for Netflix, Disney Plus, Spotify, and YouTube.
PS5 HD Camera
The last official accessory to the PS5 is the HD Camera for $59.99. The camera has dual lenses, a built-in stand, and captures footage in 1080p. It even has removal tools to help you crop your background or remove it entirely with the use of a green screen. If you intend to stream your PS5 gameplay, this accessory would be incredibly useful.
This isn’t a new accessory, but it is compatible with the PS5 and it’s super fun to have: the PlayStation VR. You can pick up a bundle of the VR headset and the Iron Man VR game for $349.99. It comes with the VR headset, a camera, two Move motion controllers, the Iron Man Blu-ray disc, and a demo disc. Sony has also confirmed that a PSVR 2 is in the works, so you may want to hold out.
|PS5 Standard||PS5 Digital||PS4 Pro|
PS5 Standard:3.5GHz eight-core AMD Zen 2
PS5 Digital:3.5GHz eight-core AMD Zen 2
PS4 Pro:2.13 GHz eight-core AMD Jaguar
PS5 Standard:10.3 Teraflops custom AMD RDNA 2 based GPU
PS5 Digital:10.3 Teraflops custom AMD RDNA 2 based GPU
PS4 Pro:4.20 Teraflops AMD Radeon™ based GPU
PS5 Standard:15.4 in × 10.2 in × 4.1 in and 9.9 lb
PS5 Digital:15.4 in × 10.2 in × 3.6 in and 8.6 lb
PS4 Pro:12.9 x 11.6 x 2.17 in and 7.3lbs
PS5 Standard:16GB GDDR6 SDRAM
PS5 Digital:16GB GDDR6 SDRAM
PS4 Pro:8GB GDDR5 DRAM
PS5 Standard:825 GB SSD (667 GB usable)
PS5 Digital:825 GB SSD (667 GB usable)
PS4 Pro:1TB HDD
PS5 Standard:4K Ultra HD Blu-ray optical drive
PS4 Pro:Blu-ray optical drive
Value and the competition
The PS5 (non-digital) retails for $499 in the US, £449 in the UK, and €499 across Europe. It matches the price of its big rival, the Xbox Series X, in all regions. Between those two consoles, the Xbox Series X is slightly more powerful on paper, but the PS5 already has some stellar exclusive games.
Both the Xbox Series X and the PS5 come with great subscription-based services. Xbox Game Pass is hands down a better value than PS Now, however. With Game Pass, you get a rotating selection of great games and a ton of other perks. Between PlayStation’s two subscription services, PS Plus is the clear winner. This is especially true for new players or those who just never got to experience certain legendary PS4 games.
The Xbox Series X has a less powerful younger sibling, the Xbox Series S, which is priced at $299 (£249/€299). It’s much more affordable than the Series X because it’s less powerful and it’s solely a digital console. Sony’s digital-only offering — the PS5 Digital Edition — is priced a little bit higher at $399 (£359/€399).
There’s only a $100 price difference between the regular PS5 and the PS5 Digital, which is owed to the disk drive or lack thereof. All of the other specs are the same on the PlayStation 5 Digital. It’ll have the same speedy SSD, the same amount of available storage, the same CPU, and so on. The only thing it won’t have is an optical disc drive, so you’d need to purchase all of your games digitally.
However, it’s worth noting that consoles are only just now catching up to where PC gaming has been for years. Gaming machines typically include fast SSDs and offer a minimum of 60fps in most games. With PC gaming, you also get to customize your parts for your needs and they’re easily upgradeable. With a console, you’re stuck with the parts Sony or Microsoft chooses for you until a new console comes out.
That’s not to say that there aren’t positives to console gaming, especially with Sony and Microsoft finally releasing a console with an SSD instead of an HDD. Consoles are often more affordable than building or ordering a decent gaming PC. Mass production of a single product often allows the final price to be lower, and of course Sony and Microsoft sell their devices at a loss.
With PC gaming, you might not have some of the immersive features of console gaming either, like the DualSense controller. Steam has announced that the DualSense controller is now supported but it will access the LED, trackpad, rumble, and gyro features. They have not, however, said anything yet about support for the adaptive triggers.
The Nintendo Switch is another great console even if it doesn’t really compare to the next-gen consoles from Sony or Microsoft. The Switch retails for $299 (£249/€299), while the Switch Lite costs $199 (£149/€199). The graphics, storage, and pretty much all other specs will be subpar compared to Xbox Series X/S and PS5. However, you would most likely buy a Switch for Nintendo’s first-party games and the portability, not for the graphics or the overall power.
Unlike Microsoft, Sony does not have an official payment plan to help with the steep price of the PS5. Microsoft offers a plan called Xbox All Access. It allows customers to pay off a Series X/S combined with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate over two years. Sony unfortunately doesn’t have anything similar at the moment.
So, should you buy a PS5 now or wait for a sale? I don’t know that I see a discount happening anytime soon. Sony has never had a console or console release like this before. This is their first machine with an SSD, and it’s releasing during a global pandemic when people are turning to video games in their ample free time. If Sony continues to sell out every time stores restock, it’s not going to lower the price. It could possibly be a year or more from launch until we see a drop in price for the PlayStation 5.
Check out: How and where to trade in your PS4 for a PS5
PS5 review: The verdict
There is definitely value to getting a PS5 today — if you can get your hands on one due to continued stock shortages. With PS Now and PS Plus subscriptions, you will have such a huge backlog of games to play. If you already have a PS4 or a gaming PC, on the other hand, it might be worth waiting for a drop in price. This is especially true if you’re not longing after any of the PS5 exclusives to date, like Astro’s Playroom, Demon’s Souls, or Returnal.
One of the biggest reasons to buy a PS5 is for exclusive games. Right now, Demon’s Souls, Astro’s Playroom, Destruction AllStars, and Returnal are the only games that are exclusive to the PS5. All four games are good, but probably not worth buying the console for unless there are other upcoming titles that have caught your eye. As mentioned before, there are a few other exclusives coming in 2021, but depending on the game, it could also be releasing on PS4.
The PS5 is an incredible console and a worthy successor to the PS4.
Another great reason to upgrade to the PS5 is to experience enhanced graphics and faster loading times with the SSD. Then, of course, there’s the DualSense controller. The adaptive triggers add such an immersive element to the gameplay experience. In combination with the haptic feedback and comfortability of the controller, it’s so easy to get lost in a game for hours.
There are some notable downsides of the console, however. Depending on which games you plan to download, the limited storage on the SSD could fill up quickly. With no expandable internal storage solution available from Sony yet, that could be a huge annoyance. The size of the console is also not optimal, but it’s understandable. Think about how large PC towers are and how comparable the PS5 is to a PC. The size makes sense providing Sony has used the increased size to fix the airflow issues the PS4 had.
Even with all that in mind, if you’ve never owned a PlayStation console, now is a fantastic time to press start.
That’s our PS5 review. What do you think of Sony’s new console? Let us know in the comments!