Sony’s PS5 might divide opinion on its looks, but there's no question it’s one seriously impressive gaming machine. For $499 (£449 in the U.K.) you can get a 4K console that you’d need to spend well over $1,500 if you wanted to buy one of the best gaming PCs or build an equivalent yourself.
Then there’s the $399 (£359) PS5 Digital Edition, which offers the same power as the standard console only it drops the Blu-ray drive. And with speedy a PCIe 4.0 SSD, both machines are packed with proper next-generation tech for less than $500. Sounds like a bargain, right? Well not quite.
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Even if you can find where to buy a PS5, $399 is the bare minimum you’ll pay for the console, as there’s a lot more you’ll need to spend on it to get the most out of the PS5. So here's what we consider to be the true cost of the PS5.
SSD upgrade: $200/£200 estimated
While the PS5 has an 825GB SSD, only 667.2GB of it is actually available for you to use, with the operating system and other software needed for the console’s operation taking up a large chunk of the SSD’s capacity. That would be fine if modern games didn't weigh in at around 50GB, and sometimes a lot more. So if you want to have an extensive library of games on your PS5 you’ll need to be prepared to upgrade the storage.
As it stands, there are no Sony certified PICe 4.0 SSDs available yet. But given the Xbox Series X’s proprietary 1TB PCIe 4.0 external SSD expansion card costs $219/£219, we can’t imagine an SSD upgrade for the PS5 is going to be cheap. We’d expect you’ll need to pay out another $200/£200 to get a 1TB SSD to boost the console's internal storage.
Pulse 3D Wireless headset: $99/£89
The PS5 comes with Sony’s custom Tempest 3D AudioTech, which delivers rich 360-degree audio through smart processing in order to deliver a better aural experience for PS5 games. While the tech will supposedly work with some existing TVs, to get the full experience here and now, you need the PS5 Pulse 3D Wireless headset.
At $99/£89 it’s surprisingly affordable for a gaming headset that needs to be used with proprietary tech. But that still means you’re adding another chunk of change to the overall price of the PS5.
Spare DualSense controller: $69/£59
Sony’s DualSense controller is a rather special peripheral given its advanced haptics that can — when implemented well — deliver a more tactile and immersive gaming experience. (Our own Marshall Honorof thought the DualSense was a gimmick until he played Demon's Souls). But you only get one DualSense controller in the PS5’s box. While the controller is easily recharged via USB-C, it only lasts some four to six hours.
So you might want to have a spare controller handy for when your main one runs out of electrical juice mid-gaming session. Or if you have friends around and want to play some split-screen multiplayer when the coronavirus pandemic subsides. To do that you need to fork out an extra $69/£59, which isn’t an unreasonable price for a pretty advanced controller. But a second DualSense means the cost of owning a PS5 creeps up yet again.
PlayStation Plus: $59/£49 per year
The most affordable way to do that is to pay for a yearly subscription, which will set you back $59/£49 per annum. It might seem a little stingy, given Microsoft offers free Xbox cloud saves, and PC gamers have long enjoyed subscription-free access to multiplayer gaming platforms as well as cloud save and sync systems. But that’s just the situation with Sony and its PlayStation consoles, like it or not.
PS5 exclusive games: $118/£118
The PS5 is ushering in a generation of games that will cost up to $70/£70 a game, which means you’re going to have to get used to spending a good amount more on games if you want to get them as soon as they come out. Let’s say you’ve just got a PS5, then your main choice of exclusives are Spider-Man: Miles Morales and Demon’s Souls, costing $49/£49 and $69/£69 respectively on the PlayStation Store.
As getting one game for the PS5 doesn't really make sense, we’re going to assume you’ll want both to get yourself started on Sony’s new console. That means you’ll need to part with $118/£118, which is a pretty hefty amount for two games, one of which is basically an expansion pack to a 2018 game — as well as a being available on the PS4 — and the other is a remake, albeit a grimly beautiful one, of a 2009 game. Fancy a third-party game, with next-gen graphics? Then you could opt for Assassin's Creed Valhalla, which will still set you back $59/£59, though the game has been discounted for the holiday season. While you can wait for game sales, getting a suite of PS5 games to get started with isn’t going to be cheap.
The true cost of the PS5: $1,044/£964 for the standard PS5; $944/£874 for the PS5 Digital Edition
When all the peripherals, games, and near-essential extras are taken into account you’ll be looking at parting with at least $944/£874 for the PS5 Digital Edition, and up to $1,044/£964 for the standard PS5. That’s quite a large amount of money for a gaming machine that’s locked into a single ecosystem.
For that amount of money, you can build a decent gaming PC, though you’ll need to shop around. And PC games are considerably cheaper, with PC gaming offering an enormous amount to play from cutting-edge titles to obscure indie creations to games from decades ago.
But if you want to game at 4K, or at least at dynamic resolutions that scale up to 4K, you’ll need to spend a fair bit more on a gaming PC. So despite our calculations, the PS5 is still surprisingly good value.
Of course, getting a PS5 right now is extremely difficult as the console has been selling out across the globe. But wait until 2021 when the demand has evened out a bit and you could land yourself a bargain bundle, as well as have a larger selection of games to choose from; we believe 2021 is going to be the year of the PS5.