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Pros:

  • Future potential looks very promising
  • New controller is very progressive
  • Streamlined user interface
  • Exclusive content on the cards

Cons:

  • It will hog a fair amount of space in a room
  • Bit of a headache to sync cloud saves and older games
  • Plastic outer edges don’t feel premium

Unlike some recent console upgrades, Sony has changed the aesthetics bigtime with this one. The physical structure has been completely reimagined with an appearance more akin to a computer tower than the previous console. Towering over its predecessor at 16 inches vertically, the new PS5 is a bit of a beast and not just in stature. 

Its AMD-powered GPU affords it faster processing capabilities and the graphics upgrade makes the future look very high-def indeed. Armed with the power to process 10.28 teraflops, a huge leap from the original PS4 which processed 1.84 teraflops, it is a dramatic improvement. Each teraflop is equal to a trillion operations every second, so Sony’s upgrade is pretty dramatic.

According to promotional art, it is supposed to stand vertically but if you haven’t got the headroom you can use the dual-use stand to position it horizontally. This is honestly far more likely as it is more compatible with most home console set-up spaces such as a TV unit.

PS5 demands a lot of space

The overall dimensions are not far off the new Xbox Series X. The  PS5 occupies 447 cubic inches and the Xbox series X 432. But, in terms of looks, they differ enormously. The white-over-black box of the PS5 is pretty aesthetically pleasing, despite the clunky stand. It is glaringly white and the contrast makes a visual statement. It has stunning curves that give it a futuristic vibe and will turn heads. Whereas the Xbox Series X‘s design by Syd Mead is a minimalistic chunky block that is unlikely to provoke conversation.

PlayStation 5
PlayStation 5 size in comparison with Xbox Series X and Series S. Image credit: theverge.com

Under the hood, the 2 consoles are once again pretty similar in terms of their platform powering. The PS5 harbors an eight-core AMD Zen 2 CPU. The GPU shares its architecture with AMD’s RDNA 2. They are also both equipped with solid-state drives so loading times are dramatically improved. Although the specs dictate that the Xbox Series X can calculate more operations per second the PS5 has a better throughput speed from its SSD. 

Which is truly more powerful could be argued until the cows come home. For the time being each model is at the top of its game as far as the technology of the times is concerned. The hardware in use is unlikely to drastically change any time soon either. Which is better for you is actually down to preference and temperament. The PS5 is very games-centric but the Xbox has more of a community-driven vibe and has its fingers in many pies when it comes to multimedia pursuits.

8K gaming whilst the talk of the town is not currently in wide use. So it’s realistically just a future potential and arguably unimportant. You should be more worried about higher frame rates and refresh rates for a decent gaming experience at present. 

Tough to fully review pre-release

Currently, there are only a handful of native PS5 games available to play and the multimedia apps aren’t quite ready. Because your gaming experience rests largely on the software rather than hardware a prerelease test-run is a little flawed. For those reasons, this is a somewhat incomplete review but we have used plenty of resources for our info and Dan Ackerman has a pretty comprehensive review over at cnet.

Revolutionary controller 

The controller design has seen a complete revamp and is one of the PS5’s best new features. The modification decisions bring it up to date and compete with the Xbox gamepad. The DualSense controller looks like a killer-robot remote and is as bold in appearance as the console itself. 

DualSense
DualSense. Image credit: theverge.com

The adaptive triggers have been improved to offer variable resistance, making it far more realistic. The central touchpad is much larger than the previous PS4 DualShock controller. The controller also now benefits from better haptic effects.

Adaptive Triggers
Adaptive trigger mechanism. Image credit: TronicsFix (YouTube).

The remote has a USB-C power connection and features an integrated mic that can be used to perform in-game tasks. You can also hook-up a set of headphones via the 3.5mm jack input. The mic, while great, could be an issue as the button for switching it on and off is tiny and situated below the Home Button. This could lead to mishaps. The option and share buttons could do with being bigger if we are being picky.

If you are a long-time fan, then some behaviors may take getting-used-to. If you, like many play by feel, the circle button now sports a PS logo which feels pretty alien at first. It also is used to activate a menu bar which again feels out of character when compared to PS4 functionality but these are pretty insignificant gripes.

Almost identical interface

As far as the interface goes not much has been toyed with. Much like the non-evolution of the Xbox Series X UI the PS5 hasn’t changed internal operations. Settings are near-identical you have a few more choices in the video output department but in general, it is the all too familiar horizontal line-up of icons.

Some users who have given the PS5 an early whirl have reported a possible software bug that will hopefully be rectified pre-public launch. The “rest” state doesn’t appear to function well every time and may give a full reboot rather than waking. So, save, save, save!

Playing native PS5 games

Astro’s Playroom is a controller demo reel and that appears to be the main reason for its auto-inclusion. If you are unfamiliar, it’s a run of the mill platformer that doesn’t give much in the graphics department but the force feedback is on point. It proved to be a great demo kit for the controller’s effects with unique motion effects, it rumbles and shakes, and has its own sound effects.

Astro's Playroom
Astro’s Playroom. Image credit: playstation.com

The new Miles Morales game is essentially a new spin on the 2018 PS4 Spider-Man. The fast-paced action forces the hardware to show off. The storyline has no real surprises up its sleeves but the graphics are a huge improvement. The cutscenes are impressive, textures feel way more realistically dynamic, and the lighting has been worked on tirelessly. Towers in the cityscapes glisten. The system’s faster processor shines handling the workload with ease.

Spider-Man: Miles Morales
Spider-Man: Miles Morales. Image credit: esquireme.com

There are 2 visual quality settings to choose from in your settings menu. You can choose to either lower the frame rates and have more detailed features running or opt for higher frame rates and cut back on the flash.  Fidelity mode sets the FPS to 30 engaging the extra visuals and ray-tracing. Performance mode bumps the FPS up to 60. Both can be adjusted to output a native resolution of  4K. 

In layman’s terms, you can have a prettier landscape or smoother animation. Fidelity the  Hi-Res, low FPS mode is the default and will probably end up preferred for many games.

PS4 game compatibility

For the time being support for older game saves is coming on a rollout basis. So if you want to access older cloud content you might just have to grin and bear it. Backward compatibility is a big factor for many gamers. We don’t want to lose a game we obsessed with the year before or one that occupied our teenage years. The good news is most PS4 games already have support sorted so if you are just upgrading your consoles your collection should be ready to go.

When loading your PS4 games you are bound to notice the new processor makes a big-time difference. Some operations between the 2 consoles are halved on the PS5. This is a definite plus for anyone upgrading.

If you are new to PS and have been spoilt by the far more logical cloud-systems of  PC platforms such as Steam you might find the PS5 cloud saves a little bewildering. They are a little overly-complex.

Is the PS5 worth the $500 investment?

Modern consoles are by no means cheap. No matter how ‘top-of-the-range’ the new PS5 and XBX are they are rivaled by current high-end PC gaming set-ups. However, a premium  PC gaming hardware will set you back a hell of a lot more. Something in excess of $2,000 will run like a dream with graphics to make you drool. In comparison, a console will cost you far less. 

So while $500 is a big investment, one capable of pushing landscapes found in games like Ghost of Tsushima are worth every penny. It is also fair to mention that new consoles don’t drop on a yearly basis, unlike your smartphone which again will cost you a whole lot more. On that basis $500 is a fair price.

Many of the newer capabilities of the PlayStation 5 are committed to a future with better graphics and software content. Arguably you don’t need to get one right now. So if the price-tag is a little high leave it. Or maybe consider the digital PS5 option retailing at a hundred bucks less. It does away with the mechanics of a disk drive, sure you won’t be able to buy used games but it’s still a sound investment and a cheaper workaround. Mechanics are prone to busting on you. So it could buy longevity and be a sensible solution all-round anyway.

The new console will bring with it a tonne of visual flair but the current launch game lineup isn’t huge. Most of the biggest anticipated games are available for the PS4 such as Assassin’s Creed Valhalla and Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War– so you could wait without any fear of missing out.

That said the PS5 package is pretty impressive and if you are a fan of the exclusive games you are probably going to want to preorder. Likewise, if you are a streamer the integrated controller mic will be a game-changer alongside a HD webcam. So it is not without merits.

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