The Sony PlayStation 5 is a generational leap into the future of gaming
It's also the best way to catch up on your PS4 backlog
Sony’s latest and greatest gaming console of all-time is finally here. Featuring a new CPU and GPU combination made by AMD along with a speedy internal SSD, the new Sony PlayStation 5 brings a revamped DualSense controller with improved haptics, along with a slew of exclusive gaming titles. Just like the new Xbox Series X, Sony claims that you can expect a smooth 4K gaming experience on the PS5 with faster load-times, enhanced textures alongside ray tracing, and of course, HDR support.
Having said that, the demand for gaming hardware, especially for new consoles, is at an all-time high with stocks vanishing in an instant. The PlayStation 5 currently retails at $499 for the standard variant or at $399 for the digital version that does not include an optical drive. The console has been selling in very limited numbers ever since its official launch in November last year. So, consider yourself lucky if you managed to grab one, and in case you haven’t, refer to our restock guide.
Notably, due to low stocks globally, the Indian launch of the PlayStation 5 was delayed by months until today. Customers in India can finally purchase the PlayStation 5 via the official Sony PlayStation India website as well as various other online and physical retail stores, although it is speculated that only a few thousand units will be available. Sony India is going to start selling the regular PlayStation 5 with the optical drive priced at ₹49,990 while the digital version —which costs ₹39,990 — will be available later this month alongside new accessories.
Luckily, Sony India sent us a unit for a few days to check out. A few (lucky) members of our U.S. team have also had the console for a few weeks now as personal purchases, and their thoughts are mentioned in a separate section below. Here’s a quick look at the hottest and most wanted gaming console.
Sony PlayStation 5: Specifications
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About this preview: Sony India loaned me the PlayStation 5 for a brief review. The majority of this article was written after about 5 days of regular use. The section written by Mishaal was based on his several week-long use of the console he purchased in mid-November. Regardless, Sony had no input into the contents of this article.
Sony PlayStation 5: Box contents
The retail version of the PlayStation 5 comes in a massive box with the console itself along with the instruction manuals and warranty information, the new DualSense controller, a round stand, an HDMI 2.1 cable, a USB Type-A to Type-C cable, and the power cord. The first lot of customers in India also get a certificate as a token of appreciation for being one of the first to get their hands on the new console.
Sony PlayStation 5: Design
The PlayStation 5 is definitely a large console, and I was surprised by its sheer size when I took it out of the box. As opposed to my experience with the tiny Xbox Series S, the PS5 takes up quite a bit of space on the desk. Even placing it in a vertical position doesn’t really help all that much as it is a tall and chunky device. The takeaway from this is that you need to make sure you have a good amount of space around or under your TV/monitor if you are planning to buy the PlayStation 5.
The stand for the PlayStation 5 has a round base at the bottom. This lets you place the console in either a vertical or horizontal orientation. It also helps in keeping the console slightly raised from the surface it is being kept on, thus ensuring that it doesn’t get scratched on the bottom. There is a small screw hidden inside the bottom of the stand that can be used to secure it when placing the console in a vertical position. You don’t get any tools to screw it in, though.
On the other hand, if you want to place the PlayStation 5 horizontally, you need to rotate the clamp in the correct position, place the console on the base, and secure it using the two hooks at the back by aligning them with the PlayStation button icons pattern. You do need to be careful when placing the PlayStation 5 in a horizontal position as the hooks are not as secure as you want them to be. On a couple of occasions, the console just slid off the stand when I was unplugging the cables at the back, which did raise some concerns.
Once you get over its massiveness, you start appreciating what Sony has done here. The PlayStation 5 looks very futuristic with subtle curves all around. Sony’s blend of black and white is a nice touch that extends to the new DualSense controller as well. The molded white plastic panels on the outside have a matte finish protecting the internal dark glossy body from dust and other potential damage.
These panels can actually come off rather easily by applying a bit of force on the corners. By doing so, you get access to the cooling exhaust fan and a tiny slot to install an additional M.2 based SSD protected with a metal shield and a screw. As of now, the PlayStation 5 does not support any additional internal SSDs, but Sony says they will enable support through a software update. There are also some LEDs placed around the fan intake vents on the top (when in vertical position), and these light up blue when you boot up the console, white when the console is on, and yellow when it is in standby mode. The exhaust vents at the back are pretty massive. All in all, it doesn’t really matter how you position the PS5, as Sony has ensured that both of these placements provide identical functionality.
As for ports and buttons on the PS5, the front includes the power and disc eject buttons, a standard USB Type-A port, and a USB Type-C port. On the back, there is a two-pin power port, two USB Type-A ports, an HDMI 2.1 port, and an ethernet port. Just like the new Xbox consoles, the PlayStation 5 itself doesn’t have any dedicated audio ports so you are left with either Bluetooth audio or audio output via the HDMI port. Fortunately, the DualSense controller has a 3.5mm audio jack on the bottom, so you can plug any wired headphone into the controller.
Sony PlayStation 5: Experience and Performance
Setting up the PlayStation 5 was fairly easy and snappy. The setup process takes about 4-5 minutes before you get to the main home screen. The user interface is clean and uncluttered and doesn’t really feel out of place, especially if you’re coming from the PS4. You get a row of horizontal tiles that include all of your recent games, an Explore tab for all your news and updates, a Games Library tab, and access to the PS Store and PS Plus services. Selecting any of the games immediately changes the background and sound corresponding to the game, which is a nice touch. The UI is very responsive and I did not experience any sort of lag or slowdown.
The PlayStation 5 comes preloaded with Astro’s Playroom, a fun arcade game that seems to be tailor-made to show off the potential of the console. You get absolutely amazing feedback with the new DualSense controllers, a very snappy gaming and visual experience, great audio, and a trip down memory lane with various Sony PlayStation collectible items.
Of course, when it comes to more serious gaming, I grabbed the 14-day free trial of the PlayStation Plus gaming service which starts at $9.99 for a month going up to $59.99 annually in the US. In India, the service costs ₹499 for one month, ₹1,199 for 6 months, and ₹2,999 for a year. I believe that is a good price to pay since Sony has some really good exclusive titles along with solid backward compatibility with PS4, PS3, and PS2 titles. Using the PS Plus membership, I got my hands on God of War, Ratchet and Clank, and Mortal Kombat X, while Sony was kind enough to offer me codes for Marvel’s Spider-Man and the new Spider-Man: Miles Morales games.
The built-in SSD paired with the octa-core AMD CPU brings a well-needed boost to reduce load times, and it clearly shows. The console itself takes about 20 seconds for a cold boot-up, which is about 10 seconds faster than the original PlayStation 4 from 2013. God of War takes about 21-22 seconds to start and load into the game, while Spider-Man: Miles Morales took only 11 seconds to load from the PlayStation 5 home screen right into the streets of New York.
Visuals on the PlayStation 5 are quite impressive, and in the few days of my testing, I was surprised by how smooth the textures look. Some of the games optimized for the PlayStation 5 offer a Performance mode under the Visual settings which basically disables certain texture features including ray tracing and makes use of upscaled 4K resolution to offer more stable frames at 60 frames per second. This also means that you won’t be able to play games at 120 frames per second with ray tracing on. Despite ray tracing being off, I was pretty satisfied with the visuals, even when I used the console on my 55-inch 4K TV.
If you do care about realistic lighting, then you can turn on ray tracing by selecting the Fidelity mode which locks the game at 30 frames per second and offers native 4K resolution. The PlayStation 5 also lacks the ability to jump between multiple games and resume without having to load them from the start, something that is available on the new Xbox Series X|S. It didn’t really bother me all that much since the games don’t take an eternity to load, but I hope Sony brings this feature via a future update.
As for fan noise and thermals, Sony has done an A+ job here. You don’t hear the cooling fan at all nor does the console spew out hot air even after a 30-40 minute gaming session. This doesn’t come as a surprise since the PlayStation 5 is a massive console, allowing the company to have enough space to incorporate a large cooling fan and big exhaust vents. I am primarily a PC gamer, but trust me when I say that the PlayStation 5 has the potential to deliver games that are as good as on a high-end gaming PC while being a fraction of the cost.
Looking for games to play? Catch up on your PS4 backlog!
Section written by Mishaal Rahman
When I purchased my PlayStation 5 in mid-November, I knew that I was jumping in a bit early. The games I’m most excited about are coming out later this year, like Resident Evil: Village, Horizon Forbidden West, and God of War 2: Ragnarok. I wasn’t really interested in paying full price for Spider Man: Miles Morales (I heard it’s quite short and I picked up its prequel quite late at a discount), so I instead opted for the Demon’s Souls remake and Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla. The former was exactly as I had remembered it (only in glorious 4K) while the latter was as rote as I expected it to be. So, while I enjoyed my short time with Demon’s Souls, I really didn’t have many actual PS5 games to play.
Fortunately, I had a massive backlog of PS4 games. I’m glad I waited as I feel the PlayStation 5 is the definitive way to catch up on your PlayStation 4 backlog. The PlayStation 4’s late 2013 hardware just struggles with certain titles, especially ones released late into the console’s lifecycle. Whether it’s massive frame drops, slow loading, dynamic resolution rarely hitting 4K, poor draw distance, or lack of HDR, you may have to deal with some of these issues when playing certain games on the base PlayStation 4 or PS4 Pro.
Thanks to the much better CPU, GPU, and storage performance, the PlayStation 5 plays PS4 games the way the developers intended them to be played. Here’s a summary of the PlayStation 4 games I played on the PlayStation 5 and what benefits I got by playing them on the new hardware. For reference, I played each of these on a 75″ Sony X900H:
- Days Gone: This open-world survival game plays at a consistent 60fps with dynamic 4K resolution and HDR. There are no slowdowns when traversing the world on Deacon’s motorcycle or when fighting a massive horde. Loading times when fast-traveling are low and there’s no issue with texture pop-in thanks to the PlayStation 5’s SSD.
- Ghost of Tsushima: This stealth action game plays at a consistent 4K 60fps with HDR enabled, and it’s jaw-dropping gorgeous. GoT won Best Art Direction at the 2020 The Game Awards, and that was based on how it played on PlayStation 4! I can’t stress enough how beautiful this game’s visuals are, and when playing on PlayStation 5, you don’t have to compromise on resolution or frame rate.
- 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim: This….half-visual novel, half real-time strategy game was criminally underrated when it released late last year. While it’s seemingly a simplistic-looking game, the real-time strategy portion can tax the PlayStation 4’s hardware when it comes to the last few missions. There are no such issues on PlayStation 5, however.
I also played Yakuza: Like a Dragon because I just couldn’t wait for the official PlayStation 5 launch for the title, but honestly, I would just wait a month for the PS5 version at this point. The PS4 version of the game runs at 1080p30 on the PS5, and the only benefit you get from playing it now is minimal loading times.
I would have played more had I not had to send in my PS5 for repair which cost me 2 weeks without the console, but even that setback doesn’t make me regret my purchase of the PlayStation 5 this early in its release cycle. I also purchased the PS2, PS3, and PS4 at launch, and so far, the PS5 is the console that has given me the most entertainment despite how few games have actually been released for it. With how much use I expect further into the months, I have no regrets.
The more I use the PlayStation 5, the more I fall in love with this beast. It is silky smooth when it comes to the software experience, games look visually appealing, and overall, it is a big step forward for the PlayStation brand. I absolutely love the new DualSense controller with its insanely intuitive haptics and responsiveness along with the super-fast SSD that helps to cut down on load times. The only concern that I and probably a lot of users are going to have is its huge size. It is the largest gaming console I have seen to date, and if you don’t have the right amount of space, it can get tricky to stow the PS5. Of course, the biggest issue with the PlayStation 5 is the limited supply and from what I have heard, the massive demand is only going to be fulfilled after the first half of 2021.