Our expert reviewer purchased an Xbox Series X to test and thoroughly evaluate it.
A quarter of a century after Sony launched the first PlayStation in North America, PlayStation 5 is here to try and raise the stakes in console gaming even further. Like Microsoft’s rival Xbox Series X, the PlayStation 5 offers far more power than its predecessor, delivering native 4K gameplay at up to 120 frames per second on supported displays.
However, Sony has done more than just boost graphics performance. The new Dual Sense controller also represents an evolution of the classic Dual Shock design, with adaptive triggers that are armed and require extra force to squeeze, not to mention the immersive haptic feedback around the gamepad. It’s a potential game changer, originally featured in the clever and very fascinating free game Astro’s Playroom.
On paper, the PlayStation 5 lags the Xbox Series X in terms of peak power, but you wouldn’t know by now – cross-platform games look the same on both systems. And from now on, Sony’s console has more exciting games to offer, thanks to exclusive releases like Spider-Man: Miles Morales and Demon’s Souls. This console battle is likely to be played out for years to come, but Sony has made a slightly more exciting presentation of the port.
Design and ports: clunky console, great controller
They are usually for flashy gadgets that avoid the boring black box, especially when it comes to home entertainment, but the PlayStation 5 takes it to the extreme. Depending on whether you place it upright or flat, the PlayStation 5 is incredibly long or over 15 inches, with an unusual size that makes it look like two opposite Pringles chips on one side and a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray. The disk drive, on the other hand, is a bloated afterthought.
Microsoft’s Xbox Series X is the simplest black-box form factor the console line has ever seen, but compared to the PlayStation 5’s overworked design touches, it’s thankfully simple and relatively compact. Both weigh around 10 pounds, so they’re tightly packed tech giants, but the PS5’s form factor has added a lot of unnecessary flourishes. The fact that it requires a detachable and compact stand in configuration, horizontal or vertical, suggests to me that usability was an afterthought in the design process.
Basically, the console design has a glossy black plastic core surrounded by matte white plastic, although there’s no clear way to describe exactly what’s going on here. It offers a lot of space, at least for ventilation. In portrait mode, the disc drive is located at the bottom right of the console, although there is a PS5 Digital Edition that omits the disc, costs $ 100 less and is slightly thinner and more uniform in size.
In this standard version, the small black power and eject buttons are located on the left side of the drive, while the USB and USB-C ports are closer to the center of the black core. Flip the console over and you’ll find a few extra USB ports, an HDMI port, a power cable port, and an Ethernet port for wired internet (PlayStation 5 also supports Wi-Fi).
Controller: a real game changer for haptics
The aforementioned Dual Sense controller continues the line of the Dual Shock line and closely resembles the PS4’s Dual Shock 4 in terms of external functions and positioning: parallel analog sticks, a touch pad on top, familiar PlayStation button icons and the shape of the trigger buttons. . However, it’s been given a more curved, fuller, and more futuristic look reminiscent of the console, but luckily it’s less clunky here. There is a nice contrast between the black and white plastic and a bright glow from the light that covers the touchpad when it is turned on. It charges via the USB-C port and you can charge it while you play if it runs out unexpectedly.
More importantly, as the name change suggests, there’s more beneath the surface of the Dual Sense controller. The tactile feedback is a great leap over the traditional rumble function, delivering more precise vibrations to your hands with variable intensity and better location than the general rumble. It’s a subtle difference, but it’s a significant one if you use the web like Spider-Man, for example.
Adaptive triggers, on the other hand, are an innovation that changes the atmosphere of games. They offer variable resistance set by the game developers for a better tactile feel when performing tasks like pulling a gun trigger, shooting an arrow, or yes, a spider web as it moves through the waves of Manhattan. You have to hear this to appreciate the change, but all together the Dual Sense is enough of an upgrade over the old gamepads that I’ve seen attract more people to the PS5 than the Xbox Series X and its familiar, slightly updated version. With an Xbox One game controller.
Either way, if I’m going to buy a cross-platform game, I’ll probably go with the PS5 version for Dual Sense over the Xbox. Astro’s Playroom, a whimsical, nostalgic platform adventure for PlayStation, is the best Dual Sense controller demo out there right now, featuring haptic feedback, adaptive triggers, and touch and tilt controls through intriguing and clever challenges. Best of all, it came pre-installed for free on the PlayStation 5. It put a huge smile on my face, and it did so before the controller tutorial even finished.
Storage – You need more
The PlayStation 5 has 825GB of internal storage, which is not only an odd number, but a bit tight given the growing size of big games – Call of Duty: Black Ops – Cold War, for example, takes up 133rd GB alone. That’s nearly 20 percent less game space than the Xbox Series X’s 1TB SSD, and when formatted and factoring in Sony’s software footprint, the PS5 only has 667GB of game space. .
Currently, you can connect an external hard drive via USB to save and play PS4 games, but not PS5. Fortunately, the PS5 has an NV Me SSD slot for additional storage, but Sony has yet to announce compatible hard drives that you can install on the console. Until then, you may have to be picky with your limited space and delete games to re-download later.
Installation process: select your location
From the start, you have to decide how to place the PlayStation 5, as the included stand must be installed in one of two places. If the stand is vertical, it can be screwed to the bottom of the console to keep it upright. Otherwise, the stand pivots and can be attached to the back of the console and sit under it for horizontal placement (no screws required). It’s a cleverly versatile piece of plastic, although it ends up looking like an oddly shaped console slot.
Performance: power and speed meet
The PlayStation 5 has the same internal hardware as the Xbox Series X, albeit in a different way. Both feature a custom AMD Zen 2-based octal-core processor paired with an AMD RDNA 2 GPU, but the PS5 has 36 processing units clocked at 2.23GHz, while the Xbox Series X opts for 52 processing units clocked at 1,825GHz. What’s the difference? The PS5 has a total graphics performance of nearly 10.3 teraflops, more than five times that of the original PS4 and more than double the PS4 Pro review, while the Xbox reaches 12 teraflops.
At the dawn of a new generation.
For the PS5, $499 is a steep price for a new gaming system that has many of the same games as your old console, just with better graphics and faster load times. But these improvements are great if you don’t want to invest money now. The PlayStation 5 is a slightly stronger alternative to today’s releases thanks to dazzling exclusives Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Demon’s Souls and Astro’s Playroom, and the Dual Sense controller adds excitement to the equation. Xbox may eventually win out with brute force, but right now Sony is offering more compelling reasons to upgrade early.