PlayStation 5 REVIEW
PlayStation 5 REVIEW
Sony’s stunning new console looks like a supercomputer that fell out of a time warp from the future, raves PAT PILCHER.
$649 (digital edition) $819 (with optical drive)
After what seemed like an eternity, the PlayStation 5 console has finally landed. It’s a futuristic-looking beast that packs a bunch of clever tricks which help make it feel like a generational leap over the PS4. With demand outstripping supply, Witchdoctor struck it lucky and managed to get hold of a review unit. Here are our first impressions.
First thing first, the PS5 is no shrinking violet. If you have limited space in your AV cabinet, get out the tape measure. Allow for additional ventilation space in your measurements so its cutting-edge hardware can stay cool as you work on your PlayStation tan. Speaking of cooling, it uses just one large fan, which is surprisingly quiet. I actually found its 4K Blu Ray drive was noisier than the cooling fan.
Looks-wise, its curvy, near organic design is refreshingly different from the boxy lines of the PS4, but it’s quite polarising. While many (me included) like the PS5’s stylish curves, others are less than impressed. Personally, I think it looks like a supercomputer that fell out of a time warp from the future. Its blue/white LED accents (which illuminate its inner edges when it powers up) are a nice touch too.
Sony has also made sure that the PS5 can be accommodated by designing its stand so it can stand upright or recline horizontally. If horizontal is your thing, you’ll need to make use of the stand as the PS5’s curved base means it won’t sit flat horizontally without wobbling.
One particular area where Sony deserves massive kudos is the PS5’s DualSense controller, which is an engineering marvel. While most console upgrades have traditionally been about boosting processing and graphics power, Sony has literally added to the feel of games. This is thanks to cutting-edge haptics and force feedback.
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Resistance and tactile feedback on the triggers can, for instance, indicate in-game fatigue levels. In shooters, pulling one of the two triggers can result in an actual “click” when firing a gun along with haptics giving you a hint of the gun’s recoil. All told, Haptic feedback across the DualSense controller must be felt to be believed. In use, you get a sense of direction and texture that really adds to the gameplay. The Dual sense controller also comes with a built-in mic (which has an on-controller mute button) allowing gamers to communicate with others in online multiplayer games.
As with the PS4, there is also a headphone socket on the controllers that you can plug a standard pair of wired headphones into. Aside from preventing you from blasting the household with game noise, plugging in headphones gives you access to the PS5’s 3D spatial audio. It can sound expansive or claustrophobic, depending on in-game environments. It’s a neat feature.
Under its hood, it’s blindingly fast, and waiting for games to load is now a thing of the past. The PS5 packs an 8-core AMD CPU that clocks in at 3.5GHz. Its AMD graphics processor gives the PS5 10.28 teraflops of pixel-pushing power. Old-school mechanical hard drives are gone burgers – they’ve been replaced with a solid-state drive. That gives you 825GB of storage.
On the video front, the PS5 can output UHD at up to 120Hz (this is mainly dependent on game titles though) and a higher resolution and faster refresh rates seem to come at the expense of graphical features. The most compelling graphics feature on offer with the PS5 is its real-time ray tracing capabilities. These equate to super realistic lighting, shadows, and reflections, which when combined with higher resolution, HDR and more detailed textures deliver seriously impressive graphical eye-candy.
While all 4K HDR-capable TVs will support 4K gaming with ray tracing, support for 120Hz Performance Mode gaming is still limited to a small number of TVs. Hopefully, this will change over the next year. Sony has yet to implement ALLM (Auto Low Latency Mode) and VRR (Variable Refresh Rate) on the PS5 but has committed to supporting both in a future software update.
As well as being a games machine, consoles need to be able to perform as entertainment hubs. It turns out that the PS5 is no slouch on this front either. First and foremost, there are the usual selection of streaming apps (Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and so on) as well as a 4K Blu-ray player. While I’d love to see a good media player like KODI available on the PS5, its existing media player capabilities worked fine.
An odd omission, however, is the absence of Dolby Atmos audio. While the PS5 does a solid job of delivering 7.1 surround sound with streaming apps/games, Atmos is only available with Blu-ray playback via the Disc Player app. Similarly, Dolby Vision is absent, even though Blu-ray movies can be played back at 60fps with HDR.
When it comes to Gameplay, the PS5 is a breath of fresh air. Its 4K HDR user interface, new and intuitive crossbar home screen navigation system, and game ‘cards’ makes for a stylish and contemporary look. That said, its UI will be familiar enough to PS4 gamers that no steep learning curve is needed. I particularly liked that the PS5 also comes with Astro’s Playroom pre-installed. It’s a fun title to play and is an excellent way for Sony to showcase its DualSense controller and next-gen graphics.
Along with the review unit, Sony supplied a review code for their exclusive title – Spider-Man: Miles Morales. In-game graphics are stunning with ray tracing enabled. Manhattan feels incredibly real as you swoop between skyscrapers. Much of this is thanks to the liberal use of detailed textures, lots of people and traffic. Ray tracing is used to good effect. It takes the form of reflections in building windows and other shiny surfaces, all of which helps make Manhattan feel super realistic.
The PS5 is stunning and is only going to get better as more games that can make use of its cutting-edge graphics and controller become available. Sony deserves accolades for the innovative DualSense controller, which moves console gaming forward. Cutting edge graphics and impressive 3D spatial audio also make the PS5 feel like a real generational leap forwards in console gaming. If you can get your sweaty paws on a PS5, grab one. You won’t regret it.
Maximum resolution 4K
Maximum frame rate 120fps
Storage 825GB SSD
Outputs HDMI 2.1, 3.5mm headphone jack (on controller), USB (Type-A) x3, USB-C
Audio formats Dolby Digital, Dolby Atmos (Blu-ray only), DTS
HDR formats HDR10
Dimensions (H x W x D) 39 x 10 x 26cm