The PlayStation 5 has been a sensation ever since Sony teased it back in 2020. Its fandom is such that there’s a mad rush to buy the new gaming consoles while Sony is struggling to keep up with supply in India as well as globally. No surprise then that Sony’s gaming division has had a fabulous last quarter.
For Sony India, the PS5 launch in the country hasn’t been a smooth affair. From fire-fighting PS5 release dates related speculations to trademark fuss, Sony India stumbled into quite a few rough patches. In fact, the PS5 digital edition is yet to go on sale in the country. Amidst all this craze, we managed to get our hands on the PlayStation 5 for review. We have the PS5 4K Blu-ray disc drive edition for this review but before we jump in and detail our experience, let’s quickly glance over PS5 specifications and how it stacks up against its nemesis Xbox Series X:
PlaySation 5 vs Xbox Series X
|Console||PlayStation 5||Xbox Series X|
|Resolution||[email protected], up to 120fps||[email protected], up to 120fps|
|Disc support||up to 4K UHD Blu-ray||up to 4K UHD Blu-ray|
|CPU||Custom 8-core AMD Zen 2 CPU @ 3.5GHz with SMT (variable frequency)||Custom 8-core AMD Zen 2 CPU @ 3.8GHz (3.6GHz with SMT)|
|GPU||Custom AMD RDNA 2 GPU 36 CUs @ 2.23GHz (variable frequency); 10.28 teraflops GPU power||Custom AMD RDNA 2 GPU 52 CUs @ 1.825GHz; 12.15 teraflops GPU power|
|RAM||16GB GDDR6 RAM||16GB GDDR6 RAM|
|Memory bandwidth||448GB/s||10GB at 560GB/s, 6GB at 336GB/s|
|Storage||825GB PCIe Gen 4 NVMe SSD||1TB PCie Gen 4 NVME SSD|
|Storage expansion||NVMe SSD Slot, support for USD HDD||1TB expansion card, support for USB HDD|
|I/O throughput||5.5GB/s (raw), 8-9GB/s (compressed)||2.4GB/s (raw), 4.8GB/s (compressed)|
|Dimensions||390 x 104 x 260 mm||151 x 151 x 301 mm|
PlayStation 5 Unboxing
The PlayStation 5 comes in a large white and blue color box. As soon as you open it up, there’s a smaller rectangular cardboard sub-box that includes a safety guide, quick start guide, power cord, side dock, and the dual sense controller.
PlayStation 5 review: Design and build
PlayStation 5 design has been a topic of debate ever since Sony put out teased last year. While the debate is a never-ending one, the PS5 design appealed to us from the very first day. More so after looking at Microsoft’s uninspiring design choices for the Series X
Sony’s PlayStation 5 catches attention with its large footprint and dual-tone design. The console is 15.4 inches tall which makes it almost impossible to fit in the entertainment cabinet vertically. Sony isn’t oblivious to this anomaly and has added the option to position the console horizontally. There are two removable panels sandwiching a shiny black main body. This choice of design allowed Sony to address two things – firstly, it helps improve airflow for better temperature management, and secondly, it makes room to integrate disk drive with minimum alterations in order to maintain parity with the Digital Edition.
Another interesting detail is a really fine pattern of the square, triangle, circle, and cross icons on the removable panels. LED lighting in the PS5 is also very fascinating. Sony has placed two led strips behind the vents to deliver soothing hues. It glows in blue, white, and orange to denote different states.
What feels cheap in this entire package is the disk shape plastic stand which is an integral part of the package. Another choice made by Sony engineers with which I am not completely in agreement is the use of a super glossy black material for the main body.
On the front, the PS5 has an Ultra HD Blu-ray optical drive, a high-speed USB Type-A port, and a super-speed USB Type-C port, alongside a disk eject button and power button. On the rear side, one will find a power connection port, an HDMI 2.1 out, two high-speed USB Type-A ports, and an Ethernet port. As was the case with PS4, Sony once again ignores optical audio out.
Overall, as we have iterated before Sony PlayStation 5 design appeals to us more than any other current-generation gaming console. Yes, its sheer size and shape could be a challenge and so is keeping it clean, but the emphasis here is on proper aerodynamics to prevent performance throttling.
PlayStation 5 review: DualSense controller
One of the biggest highlights of the PlayStation 5 is its fresh wireless controlled which is now called DualSense. Unlike Microsoft, Sony has put in a lot more effort to improve its controller from the outgoing DualShock 4.
The new controller comes in dual-tone – white and black colors. In comparison to DualShock 4, the new PlayStation controller has a slightly larger footprint but it is fairly well-balanced ensuring it’s super comfortable over long gaming sessions. The matte finish and a rough texture on the rear further adds to the grip.
The button layout remains the same while there are minor adjustments in postures of L1 and R1 triggers. There’s also the addition of a microphone to let you chat in games, if in case you don’t wish to use it, you can turn it off with a tap on the button.
Sony seems to have worked with a single focus – precision. This has resulted in two major improvements – a new haptic feedback which replaces former rumble technology and secondly the trigger resistance which Sony prefers to call ‘adaptive trigger’.
Let’s talk about the first one first. Sony has eliminated rotating mass motors based rumble technology and placed voice coil actuators for precise vibrations. This new system is lag-free. It not just vibrates but also replicates the real-world experience of say walking on different surfaces like metal or sand. It really is an excellent feeling!
Adaptive triggers on the other hand introduce resistance in triggers as per the game situation. For example, as you climb up a wall or are pulling on a bowstring, the triggers will get stiffer to mimic real-life action. To understand how well Sony engineers have designed both these features, we would suggest you try out preloaded ‘Astro’s Playroom’.
The DualSense controller is clearly the best gaming controller we have tested so far. The only concern worth pointing out will be the average battery life. Just like its predecessor, we were only able to get around 6 hours on a single charge. Battery mileage on the DualSense controller is similar to DualShock 4, which means you will probably need to plug-in a USB-C cable in your controller after every gaming session. Of course, you can use it with wire attached as well.
PlayStation 5 review: Performance
At its price, the PS5 offers performance second to none. Sony has managed to pack some impressive hardware under its hood – the combination of AMD Zen 3 based CPU with 8-core and 16-threads clocking up to 3.5GHz speed and RDNA 2 architecture based custom GPU. It is further accompanied by 16GB of GDDR6 RAM and next-generation 825GB NVME SSD. With such capable hardware, the PS5 can do [email protected] gaming and even claims [email protected] gaming which Sony promises to unlock via a future firmware update. To deliver [email protected], the PlayStation 5 gets an HDMI 2.1 port with a maximum bandwidth of 32GBPS which is less than 48GBPS supported by HDMI 2.1 standards which means there will be a slight compromise involved here.
But why only 825GB storage? Well, that’s a genuine concern but Sony has valid reasons for it. Sony on their part reworked the entire storage pipeline by using 12 channel memory interface with custom memory controllers to achieve 5.5GBPS of data transfer speeds. This resulted in faster but expensive storage. Had Sony opted for a larger SSD it would have pushed console price further.
Out of the box, a consumer gets about 667GBs of usable space. Instead of adding more gigs internally, Sony has added an option to slip in an NVMe M.2 SSD drive which will allow users to store and run PS5 titles directly from it. Soon there will be Playstation certified M.2 SSDs available in the market. For the time being, Sony has blocked the expression port. You can also use an external SDD or HDD or USB thumb drive to install and play PS4 games.
What about the real-world performance of the PlayStation 5?
Well, for starters, games load much-much faster on the PS5 as compared to its predecessor. For instance, we tested the remake of 2009’s Demon’s Souls on the PS5 and it loaded in less than a quarter of a minute. We experienced similar results while loading new levels of the game. This clearly demonstrates how effective new SSD and other hardware is.
The games on PlayStation 5 are also clearly set up in terms of visual fidelity. The PS5 game makers have looked to take full advantage of 4K resolution. Two PS5 games that we tested so far are — Demon’s Soul and Astro’s Playroom, both of which rendered excellent levels of and textures all through the game in [email protected] The new console is also capable of delivering real-time ray-tracing but we couldn’t test it as Demon’s Soul doesn’t support it as of now.
Despite all that powerful hardware under its hood, the PlayStation 5 is almost inaudible even after hours of continuous gaming.
Let’s now talk about PlayStation 5 software and media playback.
PlayStation 5 review: Software and Media Playback
The PlayStation 5 has redesigned its interface while retaining few things from the past. Sony has created two main tabs Games and Media. As the name suggests, all the games are shown in a tiles carousel strip at the top while the remaining space showcases other details related to games such as game synopsis, your progress, collected trophies, etc.
The second tab is of Media where you will find all the OTT and other apps. While most of these worked as intended we have two major issues with regards to PlayStation 5 software. Firstly, implementation of HDR. It has two HDR options Automatic and off. It’s a system-wide implementation even when content is non-HDR. Even the system UI is shown in HDR. If you are paring the PS5 with an OLED TV this would force your TV to work at higher brightness, which could reduce the life span of organic material-based panels.
Secondly, the lack of Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos are a bit difficult to swallow for anyone who’s serious about using PS5 as their media center.
Playstation 5 review verdict
The PlayStation 5 is a well thought out device offering a truly delightful experience, special thanks to the new DualSense controller. The haptics and adaptive triggers are amazing and elevate the gaming experience to the next level. Performance-wise it surpassed our expectations.
While the PS5 aesthetics can invoke contrasting emotions in different people but UI chances are more subtle in our opinion. As a media center device, the lack of Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision is a tad hard to look past. Should you buy the PlayStation 5? Absolutely yes, especially if you are invested in the ecosystem.
- DualSense controller
- Excellent graphics delivery
- Real-time ray-tracing
- No Dolby Vision or Dolby Atmos
- Limited internal storage