Price: $499 (standard), $399 (Digital Edition)
CPU: 3.5GHz, 8-core AMD Zen 2
GPU: 10.3 teraflop RDNA 2 GPU
RAM: 16GB GDDR6
Storage: Custom 825GB SSD
Expansion: NVMe M.2 SSD slot
Disc drive: 4K Blu-ray player
Size: 15.4 x 10.2 x 4.1 inches
Weight: 9.9 pounds
The PS5 is now more than two years old, and is going from strength and strength, with a bigger roster of exclusive games and a range of impressive accessories.
Not only does the PS5 offer 4K gaming, but it also has seriously advanced haptics, a speedy SSD and immersive 3D audio. All of these and more combine to deliver a console that's truly equipped for next-generation, or now current-generation, gaming. There is a slight caveat in that the console is so big with a divisive design that it may not appeal to everyone. But it's nevertheless a compelling console that's well worth a place in your entertainment center.
So read on for our full PS5 review.
PS5 review: Price
The PS5 launched on November 12, 2020 in the U.S., and came to the U.K. and most other parts of the world on November 19. The standard PS5, which includes a 4K-Blu-ray drive, costs $499, while the PS5 Digital Edition goes for a cheaper $399, if you don’t mind going discless.
While it was once fiendishly difficult to find in stock, we are now at a stage where the PS5 is more readily available, and we've even seen it discounted over the recent summer months. And we could see it drop even lower in price over the impending Black Friday sales period in just a few week's time.
PS5 retailer links
- Walmart: PS5 | PS5 Digital Edition
- Best Buy: PS5 | PS5 Digital Edition
- GameStop: PS5 | PS5 Digital Edition
- Amazon: PS5 | PS5 Digital Edition
- Dell: PS5 | PS5 Digital Edition
- Target: PS5 | PS5 Digital Edition
- Sony: PS5 | PS5 Digital Edition
- Newegg: PS5 | PS5 Digital Edition
- Costco: PS5 | PS5 Digital Edition
PS5 review: Design
Looking at the PS5 now that it's had a couple of years to bed in, well, it still hasn't got any sleeker with familiarity. At 15.4 x 10.2 x 4.1 inches, it makes the older PS4 look diminutive, while the black and white two-tone color scheme isn't exactly subtle.
Many will find the design to be unattractive and will want to hide the PS5 away. I found that in a neat entertainment unit, it becomes less...err... eye-catching. But others may come to like the outlandish looks that definitely stand out from the boxy design of the Xbox Series X.
But the large size means the PS5 can hold a decent cooling system, meaning it can make use of its power without becoming very noisy as fans ramp up to push out heat; this was an issue with the PS4, especially after it got a little older.
Unless you plan on putting your PS5 on the floor, you’ll likely need a dedicated small table if you plan on standing it vertically. I was able to fit the PS5 in my entertainment center in a horizontal orientation, but just barely. As such, you’ll want to measure your available space before you set up a PS5 at home.
Speaking of orientation, the PS5 includes a detachable stand that allows you to position the massive console vertically or horizontally. The stand screws into the bottom of the console in vertical mode (the PS5 includes a screw, but no tool to screw it in), and clamps on to the PS5’s rear port area in horizontal mode.
It’d be nice if the PS5 included a tool for unscrewing the base, but I had an easy enough time using a coin to attach and remove it. The system stands up securely in vertical mode with the base attached, but I found the base to be far more finicky in horizontal orientation. It took me a few tries before I could get it to lay flat securely on the base. I eventually got the PS5 to sit still horizontally in my entertainment center, but the fact that the console slid off the base quite easily unless it was positioned just right gives me some pause.
Still, I’ll likely be keeping the PS5 in a horizontal orientation for most of my time with it, simply because I’m worried about accidentally tipping over the tall chassis while it sits on my table.
The PS5’s futuristic aesthetic has been the subject of much debate ever since it was unveiled, and I still have mixed feelings about it. I find that the console looks like an unsightly, oversized cable modem when standing vertically, due to its pointy white side panels and the asymmetrical bulk added on by the Blu-ray drive.
But I've grown somewhat fond of how it looks sitting horizontally under my TV, where its curves and edges seem to shine more (even if it looks like a miniature Barclays Center). I also like the attractive LED status lights on each side of the interior, which is both slicker and more pronounced than the status light on the PS4. And the tiny, hidden PlayStation controller icons within the inner panels are a great extra touch. Love it or hate it, the PS5 is a system packed with attention to detail, and looks unlike any console we’ve seen before.
As of Dec. 13, 2021, you can also invest in official PS5 covers, which will change the color of the console's faceplates. They won't alter the system's overall design, but at least you won't be stuck with a plain white color scheme.
PS5 review: Ports and expansion
The PS5 has a fairly standard array of ports, complete with some welcome modern conveniences. You get a Hi-Speed USB Type-A port up front, as well as a USB Type-C SuperSpeed port. It’s nice to see a console finally feature USB-C connectivity out of the box, especially for connecting modern accessories and storage drives.
In the back, you’ll find two SuperSpeed USB-A ports, an Ethernet jack, an HDMI 2.1 port and an AC adapter. (See the best gaming TVs for recommendations of TVs with HDMI 2.1.) The PS5 has ditched the PS4’s optical audio port, which may be a bummer for folks with high-end audio devices with optical connections. However, some companies are already offering optical-to-HDMI splitters, such as Astro with its Astro A20 headset.
If you want to expand on the PS5’s built-in 825GB of SSD storage, there’s PCle 4.0 M.2 expansion slot that you can access by opening up the console. Note that not all SSDs are supported, you will need one that hits Sony’s fairly strict requirements, such as the Western Digital SN850, Samsung 980 Pro, or the upcoming Sony-produced Nextorage M.2 NVMe SSD.
At launch, the expansion slot was locked but the latest PS5 software update has unlocked it which enables users to add an additional SSD for more storage. We tested out the process ourselves while the feature was still in beta, and enjoyed some excellent results.
The console’s SSD expansion slot gives the PS5 another arrow in its quiver against the Xbox Series X. Adding additional internal storage to Microsoft’s console requires the purchase of a pricey proprietary SSD card, whereas Sony’s SSD expansion solution allows you to select between various third-party models that range in price. The PS5 also works with standard external hard drives, but only for carrying over your digital PS4 games or save files.
PS5 review: Interface
The PS5 interface is a clean, attractive and snappy evolution of the PS4 software. Hopping in and out of games and navigating menus feels instantaneous, to the point where the PS4 menu now feels sluggish and cluttered by comparison. And while there are some features I’d like to see added to the PS5 interface, it introduces some exciting new ways to get to what you’re playing even faster. Still, there are plenty of PS5 hidden features you need to try.
The home screen will look familiar to PS4 owners, with a horizontal row of tiles that showcases your most recent games. When you highlight a game, that title’s art will take over the entire home screen while its music plays in the background, which is a neat aesthetic touch. There’s a handy Explore tab that shows news and updates, as well as a Game Library tab that allowed me to instantly start downloading my collection of PS4 titles. Much like on PS4, the PS5 lets you capture videos and screenshots, or stream to YouTube or Twitch with a quick tap of the Create button.
I like that the PS5 software looks clean overall, but I do wish there were an option for organizing your games into folders, like there is on PS4. And while it’s cool seeing the background adapt to whichever game you have highlighted, I’m surprised there’s no option to set custom wallpapers instead. (At least there's a simple trick to give your PS5 a retro look that turns the logo into the iconic red, yellow, green and blue logo found on earlier versions of the console.)
Longtime PS4 users will have to shake some muscle memory, as a tap of the PlayStation button now brings up a control center that lets you switch apps, view your friends, check notifications, monitor your controller’s battery life and more from the bottom of your screen.
Better yet, you can customize the control center to have quick access to features such as network settings, accessibility options and broadcast controls. It’s a big improvement from the PS4’s quick menu, which took up a far bigger chunk of the screen and wasn’t as snappy or customizable.
Snappy and clean software is great, but the PS5 interface really comes alive when you start playing a game. Tapping the PlayStation button while playing a PS5 game brings up the Activities menu, which shows information such as the current progress of your mission, a set of trophies you can go after, or a list of in-game activities that you can jump right into.
For example, I was able to dive into a series of side missions and challenges right from the Activities menu in Spider-Man: Miles Morales without having to actually find them in-game, saving me time I’d have to otherwise spend swinging around Manhattan. You can also access the Activities menu right from your Game Library before you even boot up a game, meaning I was able to hop right into a specific level in Astro’s Playroom without having to deal with any menus.
As someone who doesn’t always have a ton of free time, the ability to jump to a specific chunk of a game at a system level isn’t just appreciated — it’s downright revolutionary. While it may seem like a minor concession to some, the Activities menu could end up changing the way we play games, and I’m really eager to see how developers take advantage of it in the coming years.
My biggest gripe with the PS5 on a software level is that, unlike the Xbox Series X and S, Sony’s console doesn’t seem to be able to suspend multiple titles at once. While Xbox’s Quick Resume feature lets you seamlessly jump between half-a-dozen games while picking up right where you left off in each one, the PS5 requires you to boot up each game from scratch.
What’s more frustrating is that the console doesn’t warn you when your existing game will close in favor of a new one, which could lead to you losing unsaved progress. While the PS5’s load times are so fast that the lack of Quick Resume isn’t a huge issue, it’s a bummer that Sony’s console doesn’t have an answer to one of the Series X’s most convenient features.
As of March 2023, a new PS5 system update has brought full Discord integration to Sony's console. Previously PS5 users could link their PSN account to Discord, but this only offered a limited set of features, now you can join a Discord voice chat directly from the PS5 quick menu. And you can even communicate with friends who are playing on other gaming platforms such as Xbox and PC.
PS5 review: DualSense controller
The PS5 DualSense controller just might be the most next-gen thing about Sony’s new console. The gamepad’s haptic feedback, adaptive triggers and built-in speaker work together brilliantly, creating a level of tactile immersion I’ve simply never experienced while playing a game before.
The DualSense especially shines in Astro’s Playroom, a free, pre-installed title built specifically to showcase what Sony’s new controller can do. In this colorful 3D platformer, you can feel and hear the subtle impact of grains of sand while walking through a storm, or experience a smooth gliding sensation when skating over ice, just to name a few examples. Everything from pulling on a rope to gliding around in a jetpack generates an extremely detailed level of force feedback. It’s the kind of thing you truly need to feel to believe.
If you're already pondering the PS5 DualSense vs DualShock 4 battle, the new controller comes out on top for sheer innovation alone.
The adaptive triggers are especially impressive, as they can become harder to actuate based on what’s happening in-game. For example, the triggers gave much more resistance when I was controlling my character in a spring-loaded jumpsuit, accurately replicating the feeling of pushing down on a spring and releasing it. Games can even take advantage of the DualSense’s built-in microphone, as I had to blow on the controller to move a platform of ice in Astro’s Playroom.
Sackboy: A Big Adventure also makes impressive use of Sony’s controller, as I could feel a sudden sense of resistance when walking through tall grass thanks to some steady haptic patterns. I felt vibrations moving through specific parts of the controller during cutscenes, and enjoyed the soft taps that accompanied Sackboy flailing his feet around while floating in the air. And in the sword-based combat of Godfall, I felt the triggers tense up to add extra weight to the feeling of slicing up enemies of heavy attacks.
When playing Spider-Man: Miles Morales, I felt subtle, but extremely nuanced, vibrations during cutscenes, as the controller would perfectly match the clinking of glasses or the distant stomps of Rhino’s feet with tactile feedback. I also appreciated the slight feeling of resistance when using the triggers to web-swing through Manhattan, as well as the soft buzz of electricity that played out of the speaker every time I charged up Miles’ Venom attacks.
Sony’s new controller packs a built-in microphone, which allows you to chat with friends when you don’t have a gaming headset handy. And it totally works in a pinch. I had an entire voice chat with my colleague Marshall who was also on his DualSense, and we were able to hear each other just fine through the controller’s built-in speaker. You’ll still probably want to use a dedicated headset to hear your game and chat audio during a competitive Call of Duty match, but the fact that you can talk to friends on PS5 without needing a headset is a great touch.
The DualSense already shows some incredible potential, but it’s only as good as the games that take advantage of it. While games like Astro's Playroom, Spider-Man, Godfall and Sackboy do some exciting things with Sony’s gamepad, I’m curious to see how many developers fully tap into the DualSense’s unique features as more PS5 games show up.
Beyond its advanced haptics, the DualSense fares pretty well as a standard controller. It’s significantly bigger than the DualShock 4 gamepad, with a hefty feel, and a design that seems to take a page out of the Xbox Wireless Controller in terms of ergonomics. While the DualSense’s meatier grip feels satisfying to hold, I wish it were just a bit more compact, and found my hands getting cramped when playing more intense action games like Godfall and Devil May Cry 5.
The good news is that the DualSense’s buttons and triggers feel great during everyday gameplay. I had no issues doing my usual Mortal Kombat 11 combos thanks to the controller’s smooth D-pad and snappy face buttons. The thumbsticks and triggers felt responsive and accurate when I gunned down Rebels in Battlefront II. The touchpad is much bigger this time around, and I like that the built-in lightbar wraps around the center rather than being hidden at the top, as on the DualShock 4.
Players wanting an even more advanced controller will want to consider Sony's DualSense Edge. This premium pad offers a wealth of additional features including adjustable triggers, swappable sticks and back buttons. However, all these extras come at a hefty price: $199/£209. The DualSense Edge also packs a slightly smaller battery than the regular PS5 DualSense controller which is a disappointing downgrade for such a pricey accessory.
PS5 review: Performance and load times
With a powerful 8-core AMD Zen 2 processor, 10.3 teraflops of graphics power and a ridiculously fast custom SSD, the PS5 promises some of the best performance to ever come out of a games console. And while I’ve only played a handful of titles that are designed to harness the PS5’s power, I’m already impressed by what Sony’s console is able to pump out in terms of fidelity, framerate and, most importantly, load speeds.
This shouldn’t come as a shock, but games look fantastic running on Sony’s new console. Spider-Man: Miles Morales looked more akin to a high-end PC game than a PlayStation title, as I gawked at the gorgeous reds and purples of Spider-Man and his enemies popping off the screen in 4K. Thanks to the console’s ray-tracing support, Manhattan’s skyscrapers reflected off one another realistically, as did a series of lifelike puddles in a busy Times Square.
The PS5 version of Miles Morales has a special Performance mode, which turns off effects such as ray tracing and uses upscaled 4K in favor of a higher framerate. When I switched to this mode and zipped through the city at a silky 60 frames per second while still enjoying beautiful visuals, I felt like I was experiencing something that simply couldn’t be done on previous-gen consoles. This made it extremely hard to go back to the PS4 version of Miles Morales, which often chugged below 30 frames per second.
This experience is likely to improve in future, with Sony confirming variable refresh rate support (VRR) will hit the PS5 sometime in 2022.
But while ray-traced visuals and 60 fps performance modes are great, it’s the PS5’s lightning fast SSD that truly makes Sony’s console feel next-gen. When booting up a game like Spider-Man: Miles Morales, there’s almost zero downtime between selecting the title from your home screen and being out on the street, beating up bad guys. The same process took around 20 seconds before I could start playing the PS4 version.
Astro’s Playroom is just as instantaneous, as I was able to jump from the game’s main hub area to its myriad vibrant levels without a single loading screen in sight. The PS5’s blazing SSD is also what allows you to skip to certain portions of a game via the Activities menu, and upcoming titles such as the dimension-hopping Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart look they’ll do some truly inventive things with it. We’ll have to see how more titles utilize the SSD, but it already feels like one of the biggest leaps forward in console gaming in quite a while.
|Header Cell - Column 0||PS5||PS4 (2013 model)|
|Boot time||22 seconds||30 seconds|
|Spider-Man: Miles Morales (startup)||12 seconds||12 seconds|
|Spider-Man: Miles Morales (menu to gameplay)||2 seconds||20 seconds|
|The Last of Us 2 (startup)||15 seconds||33 seconds|
|The Last of Us 2 (menu to gameplay)||1 minute||1 minute, 28 seconds|
|Mortal Kombat 11 (startup)||8 seconds||11 seconds|
|Mortal Kombat 11 (menu to gameplay)||10 seconds||18 seconds|
|Star Wars Battlefront II (startup)||33 seconds||1 minute, 5 seconds|
|Star Wars Battlefront II (menu to gameplay)||12 seconds||22 seconds|
When it comes to load time improvements for PS4 games, I saw the most dramatic gains when playing The Last of Us Part II. Naughty Dog’s acclaimed action-adventure game started up more than twice as quickly on PS5 than it did on PS4, and took nearly 30 seconds less to get into a playable encounter from the main menu. I noticed similarly significant improvements for Star Wars Battlefront II, which took about 33 seconds to boot up on PS5, compared to over a minute on PS4.
The differences in load times were less stark when testing titles such as God of War and Mortal Kombat 11, but every single game I tested loaded fastest on PS5.
PS5 review: Backwards compatibility
The PS5 works with nearly all PS4 games, which is a huge step up from Sony’s complete lack of backwards compatibility last generation. I tested close to a dozen PS4 games on PS5, including The Last of Us Part II, God of War, Mortal Kombat 11, Tetris Effect and Resident Evil 2, and almost all of them loaded faster and ran better than they did on my launch PS4. Both digital and disc-based PS4 games worked without a hitch on my PS5, and my physical movies worked just fine on the system’s 4K Blu-ray drive.
The PS5 allows you to take advantage of any PS4 Pro enhancements a game offers, so games that have higher resolution or frame rate modes benefit the most from Sony’s new console. As someone coming from a launch PS4, the ability to finally enjoy God of War’s high-frame rate mode or play Tetris Effect in 4K felt almost worth the price of admission on its own (the aforementioned load time boosts certainly don’t hurt, either).
The PS5 is designed to work with most first-party and officially licensed PS4 accessories, and I had no issues bringing my existing last-gen gear over. Pairing my DualShock 4 to the PS5 was as simple as plugging it in via USB cable, and my existing headsets worked just fine with the DualSense’s 3.5 mm audio jack.
Third-party wired controllers, such as my Hori Fightpad and Victrix Pro FS Fight Stick, also worked perfectly as I mashed buttons in Mortal Kombat. Just keep in mind that the DualShock 4 only works with backwards compatible PS4 games, so you won’t be able to use it for PS5-only titles.
More recently, a new patent application filed by PlayStation designers hints that the PS5 will someday be able to run PS1, PS2 and PS3 games — giving you even more reason to pick up a PS5.
PS5 review: Games
The PS5 launched with Spider-Man: Miles Morales, a gorgeous and fun follow up to 2018's Marvel's Spider-Man complete with ray-traced graphics and an optional 60 fps performance mode. But it was joined by the likes of Sackboy: A Big Adventure, a simple but charming 3D platformer with lots of character customization, and Astro's Playroom, a free bundled game that shows off the DualSense controller with great aplomb.
One of the PS5’s biggest true launch exclusives is Demon’s Souls, a visually stunning remake of the beloved 2009 action/RPG of the same name.
But a lot of these launch games were not PS5 exclusives. However, now we're past the two-year mark there are more games that play best on Sony's flagship console.
Deathloop presented a stunning timed-exclusive shooter, Horizon Forbidden West is a gorgeous open-world adventure, God of War Ragnarok is a fantastic and beautiful follow up to the 2018 game, and Gran Turismo 7 is another triumph of realistic racing.
So there are now plenty of excellent games that make the PS5 well worth buying today, just bear in mind you many need an SSD upgrade to store a good suite of titles.
PS5 review: Apps
The PS5 has access to pretty much every entertainment app you’ll need, including Disney Plus, Netflix, YouTube, Prime Video and, new to the PlayStation ecosystem, Apple TV Plus. These apps all worked identically to their PS4 counterparts in my testing, which isn’t a bad thing.
Every app I tested loaded quickly and streamed reliably, whether I was binging Chappelle's Show on Netflix or catching up on wrestling news on YouTube. But more importantly, the PS5’s streaming apps are easier to access than before thanks to a handy Media tab that’s just a button press away on the home screen. That’s a nice upgrade from the PS4, which buried all of its streaming apps in a slow-loading TV & Video menu.
As a cautions and caveated FYI: PS4 jailbreaks could supposedly work with the PS5, which theoretically would open it up for all manner of homebrew software and apps. But we'd suggest you avoid this as it can cause problems, something you don't want to do when the PS5 is still very difficult to find in stock.
You can also check our PS5 exclusives vs. Xbox exclusives story to see how the two libraries stack up.
PS5 review: Heat and noise
Thanks to its massive internal fan and large vents along the inside of the chassis, the PS5 stayed cool and mostly quiet during my time with it. I rarely noticed any noise coming out of the console, even as I spent hours exploring Astro’s Playroom or webbing up crooks in Spider-Man. I did notice some rare moments of audible noise when running Star Wars Battlefront II, and could hear discs spinning pretty loudly when I first put Blu-rays in the machine. But compared to the jet-engine-like noises that come out of my PS4 when simply downloading a game, the PS5 is blissfully quiet.
PS5 review: 3D audio
The PS5’s Tempest Engine enables it to deliver 3D audio for supported games, allowing you to hear game sounds with greater directionality than standard stereo can offer. The PS5’s 3D audio is designed to work with most existing headphones and headsets, though Sony’s new Pulse 3D Wireless Headset is optimized for the technology. So far we’ve tested 3D audio on an Astro A20 headset, and while the effects have been mostly subtle, they show lots of promise.
The PS5’s audio tricks were most pronounced in Astro’s Playroom, as I could hear the rain clearly coming from above me, and could pinpoint the sound of a tornado whirring between my left and right ears as it shot my character upwards. It was also easy to pick out where cars, planes and enemies were coming from when swinging around in Spider-Man: Miles Morales, but I didn’t notice a huge difference between when the effect was on or off.
Like many of the PS5’s features, it’ll ultimately be up to developers to make the most of the console’s 3D audio tech. We’re eager to try more games with 3D audio support, as well as get our hands on the Pulse 3D headset for the full experience.
PS5 review: PS VR2
While the old headset is still compatible with the PS5 in a limited way, the PS VR2 brings even more power and a simpler user experience, plus new games to try out. More games are getting VR updates in the coming months too, so if you don't mind shelling out another $500 or so, you can use what's turned out to be one of the best VR headsets around.
PS5 review: Verdict
The PS5 is a genuine leap forward for console gaming, offering gorgeous 4K performance, stunningly fast load times and a truly game-changing controller that makes playing games more immersive and tactile than ever. It plays nearly all PS4 games, and, in many cases, allows them to run and load better than ever before.
The console’s massive size may also be a concern for those with limited space, and the DualSense controller itself could be a little big for folks with smaller hands. But other than that, the PS5 is a fantastic gaming machine.
It’s also worth considering Microsoft’s $499 Xbox Series X, which offers slightly more power and works with four generations of Xbox games. But if you pick a PS5 up now, you’ll be treated to a true next-gen experience complete with advanced haptics, beautiful graphics and almost zero friction between you and the games you want to play.