When Sony announced the next-gen PlayStation 5 in 2019, gamers everywhere expected a generational jump in performance, but what Sony delivered would be enough to sway even the most hardcore of Xbox fanboys. Slated to release on 19th November, the release date had been pushed back due to trademark issues in India, but the schedule was restored as the dispute was settled in late October.
Sporting an all-AMD setup, with a 3.5 GHz, 8-core CPU using Zen 2’s 7 nm process, and a GPU using AMD’s revolutionary RDNA 2 ‘Big Navi’ architecture with 16 GB of blazing-fast GDDR6 SDRAM, the PlayStation 5 blows away its predecessor and ushers consoles into the world of high refresh rates and 4K resolution. However, one of the most noticeable improvements the PS5 makes is with regards to in-game loading times.
Shifting to an M.2 NVME SSD with 825 GB of storage space reduced load times by nearly 50% in top AAA games. Loading times in games like Spider-Man: Miles Morales reduced by 90% which shows the massive difference in speeds between HDDs and newer SSDs and this shift to faster storage can only indicate a trend in the right direction for consumers.
This improved performance also reflects in the enhanced response times in the new refreshed UI, which furthers the trend established by the PS4 converting the PlayStation 5 from a simple gaming PlayStation 5 console to an all-included entertainment system. The new UI features more support for streaming applications, and now provides notifications for all games in real-time, which greatly benefits multiplayer gameplay as notifications can be accessed without having to load up the game. The Activities tab also lets players access specific quests and side missions without having to load up the entire game and access it through in-game menus.
The GPU powering the PS5, a custom unit based on AMD’s RDNA 2 graphics architecture has 36 compute units running at a variable frequency with a max clock of 2.23 GHz and is capable of 10.28 teraflops. The GPU supports hardware accelerated real-time ray tracing, ensuring that the PS5 can deliver visuals at par with those that PC gamers enjoy, even though PCs have had the luxury of ray-tracing in desktop GPUs for longer.
This custom GPU can deliver 4K gameplay at 60Hz in supported games, and can even hit 120Hz at 4K in available games, a huge jump from the 1080p maximum resolution and 30Hz locked refresh rate that plagued the PS4. Sony also engineered the PlayStation 5 to reportedly consume less power than the PS4, which AMD’s Smart Shift definitely helped with, as it monitors activity and adjusts the GPU and CPU frequencies accordingly, maintaining ideal levels of drawn power and performance output.
Sony has a line-up of PlayStation exclusives, and although they are available for the PS4, the PS4 lacks the hardware capabilities to provide the experience the Sony PlayStation 5 can, and with the stunning visuals that modern AAA titles feature, there’s a lot one would miss out without an upgrade.
The PlayStation 5 also comes with backward compatibility for most games available for PS4, which comes as good news for those looking to upgrade their gaming experience without breaking the bank on a new game library, and those entering the world of console gaming for the first time as this ensures that consumers would not have to worry about missing out on older games that would be unlikely to see next-generation upgrades.
This, however, does come with the downside that PS4 games will probably not reduce in price, so those looking to expand their library with discounted offerings will have to wait a significant amount of time before that becomes a possibility.
The design choice for the PS 5 is also in line with the futuristic appeal that Sony has consistently marketed the PlayStation 5 with. The massive PS5 console, with its dimensions of 15.4 x 10.2 x 4.1 inches has a primarily white design, with a black panel and LED strips that glow orange and blue.
However, this does come with the downside that the PS 5 may simply be too big for most home entertainment setups, and even though the superior cooling and low noise levels would help it seamlessly blend into its environment, the chore of finding a spot to place it in should warn consumers that they should measure space and make necessary changes beforehand, which is a rare instance where the older PS4 comes out on top.
The PlayStation 5 comes in two variants, with the more expensive model coming with a UHD Blu-ray optical disk player. Pictures released by Sony, however, would indicate that the design was made with the digital-only version in mind, as the disc player takes the form of an unsightly bump on the side. Both versions come with Gigabit Ethernet and 802.11ax Wi-Fi, so downloading games should be a breeze provided your network is fast enough, and the availability of an M.2 expansion slot means that gamers will not be limited by storage capacity.
The front includes a USB-C port with USB 3.1 and a USB-A port with SB 2.0. Behind the case are two USB-A ports with USB 3.1, an HDMI 2.1 port, Ethernet port, and power connector.
Another area Sony has made drastic improvements in is the controller. The new controller, the DualSense, is instantly more ostentatious than its predecessors, with its primarily white tone with black accents closer to the original PlayStation rather than anything in between. The DualSense is also slightly larger and more ergonomically constructed, and features a better speaker and microphone array, which means that players can communicate with their teammates with just the controller.
The DualSense features voice coil actuators and adaptive triggers, which provide an unprecedented amount of immersion in supported games, with its superior haptic feedback simulating actions in-game into balanced vibrations. The DualSense also comes with greater battery capacity than its predecessors, but how this will translate into real-time usage can only be tested on release.
The PlayStation 5 also features support for the older DualShock 4 when playing backwards-compatible games, cementing Sony’s idea of integrating the PlayStation 5 into your already existing setup, and making the idea of an upgrade that much more compelling.