The PlayStation 5, or PS5 for those in the know, is finally coming to market after years of waiting. The Sony machine promises to take console gaming to a new dimension with the addition of major technical innovations. We broiled it for you and today we deliver our verdict. Console of the future or simple evolution?
Rarely has a console been so popular. After a PS4 generation marked by great games, the PS5 comes at the right time, in a context conducive to spending your free time in front of a screen without feeling guilty. More than that, she comes out in a time when technology allows to play smoothly in 4K and where all players have only the word ray-tracing in their mouths.
The wait is enormous. Sony is already talking about record pre-orders and stock-outs, to the point of worrying anyone who hasn’t yet checked out. In fact, Sony Interactive Entertainment has warned, not everyone will be served on D-Day. It remains to be seen whether this craze will be up to the much desired machine. Sony promises a lot with its product: games in 4K and 60 FPS as well as load times suppressed thanks to the presence of an SSD.
A console is of course defined by its games, but not only. It is also a concentrate of technologies to spin these long-awaited titles and an object designed to be easy to use. In this test, we will see what the machine has in the stomach and if it keeps all of its promises. Design, technique, controller, interface, we are going to take a full tour of the Sony console.
Our test conditions
Before starting, a point on our test conditions. Sony lent us the Classic Edition console (with record player) a week before this article was published, along with a game: Spider-Man Miles Morales. Note that as with all machines sold on November 19, our PS5 has Astro’s Playroom on board. The interface we tested was not in final version, so we weren’t able to try out the media component of the OS, the built-in PS Now, and the PS Store. Likewise, we cannot give our opinion on the social aspect of the interface.
We will update this test once all of these are available.
Price and availability
The PlayStation 5 is released on November 19, 2020 at all brands. Two models are available: the version with disc player which is sold at 499 euros and the Digital Edition, therefore without reader, at 399 euros. All versions have an 825 GB SSD.
|CPU||Zen 2 custom processor – 8 cores – 3.5 GHz (variable frequency)|
|GPU||10.28 TFLOPs, – 36 CUs – 2.23 GHz (variable frequency)|
|GPU architecture||AMD RDNA 2 (custom model)|
|Memory||16 GB GDDR6 / 256mb bus|
|Memory throughput||448 GB / s|
|Internal storage||815 GB SSD|
|Transfer speed||5.5 Gb / s (Raw)
8 to 9 GB / s (compressed)
|Possibility of storage expansion||NVMe SSD internal slot|
|External storage||Usb disk|
|Optical drive||4K UHD Blu-Ray Player|
However, if you haven’t pre-ordered the console, there’s no chance you’ll find it on D-Day, plus the stock-outs add lockdown that makes searching impossible. Sony has warned, no PS5 will be found on store shelves.
The PS5, a liner full of details
The design of the PS5 was presented in June 2020 and has divided fans. Some adore it, others less so, to the point of mocking it through hijackings. For our part, we are in the first category. However, we weren’t prepared for such a massive console: the PS5 is a real liner.
Weighing in excess of 4.5 kilograms (in the same range as the Xbox Series X, its direct competitor), it is as heavy as it is massive. It adopts dimensions 40 x 10 x 26 centimeters. A mastodon that will not fit in all TV furniture. For our part, it does not hold in a standing position. If the console is so imposing, it is for thermal reasons, in order to better circulate the air while keeping a silent product. We will see that in the technical part, but it is a success on the part of Sony.
With that massive look digested, let’s move on to the visual design. Sony has always chosen black for its consoles since the PS2, at least in the launch versions. Total turnaround here with an origina designl which is somewhat reminiscent of the creations of Alienware, renowned for its risk-taking in this area. So we have a wide black curved plastic band (which easily attracts fingerprints) clamped between two white wavy plates, also plastic.
The striking thing about this design is how much it has been designed to not accommodate the record player. The latter represents an unsightly bead which gives the impression of having been crammed a bit by default on the side.
While it is convenient when the console is in a vertical position, this is not the case when she is lying down, since it is a bit hidden and difficult to access.
We notice that the design is full of details. For example, the ventilation grilles run over the entire surface of the machine, discreetly placed between the joints of the white and black parts. These same joints are also equipped with LEDs, going from blue to yellow through white depending on the use of the console, as on the PS4.
We also notice the grainy appearance of the white plates composed of small square, cross, round and triangle patterns, the emblems of the brand. An impressive detail, especially since it cannot be seen at first glance. We appreciate the Carefully engraved PlayStation logo on the back cover, just like the Sony, very discreet for its part.
When it comes to connectivity, Sony has been the basics, which makes sense for a console. On the front, on the black strip, we find a USB Type-A port as well as a USB Type-C port, which is appreciable. At the back we find the eternal power outlet. Note on this point that there is no external power supply, which is a good thing. We also find an HDMI port, Ethernet, but also two other USB Type-A ports. This point is a bit of a shame. Sony did not want to overload the facade, their position can be explained, but in use, it is not practical. When the controller is charging, you have to find a rear port if you want to connect a USB key or simply charge a second controller.
With the PS3, Sony had introduced the sensitive buttons (Power and Eject) on the front, which had annoyed many players. They had been removed with the Slim version of the console, but made a comeback with the PS4, much to the chagrin of users. With this PS5, Sony did not make the same mistake again, since we have good old mechanical buttons. The sensitive looks very chic, of course, but has the annoying tendency to be very painful to use. On the PS5, the physical keys are very inconspicuous, black as deep as the shell they sit on.
The console can stand or lie down. Standing up, she looks like an Alienware PC, as we said before, and there is real vibrancy to her form. Things are different after lying down. In this position, thea PS5 looks like a big high tech oyster. Not very gracious.
Likewise, if it can stand without a base (supplied in the box) vertically, this is not the case when lying down, where it is wobbly. You must use this plastic foot. The latter does not really grip the machine. In fact, it just needs to be propped up using the hooks at the back. There is no physical feedback, like a click, to let us know that the foot is set. This is not done blindly, however, since the hooks must be placed on either side of the small PlayStation symbols, once again discreetly engraved into the shell. Attention to detail, always. But if you accidentally move your console, there’s a good chance the stand will come off.
The base is recommended for placing the console vertically. If again, no “click” tells us it is properly seated, it is possible to attach it to the PS5 with a sight hidden in the object. Smart.
Whether the console looks good or not is not for us to judge, it’s up to you. But we salute Sony’s attention to detail, which has managed to combine design tips and technical aspects, as with the invisible vents. A console that imposes it, of course, but which has a real personality and which stands out completely from previous iterations. We will just regret a little too exaggerated height vertically as well as two or three mistakes, such as the rear USB ports or the cradle in a horizontal position.
A joystick between evolution and revolution
Since the very first DualShock released in 1997, Sony has always kept the same formula, evolving its skeleton by small touches over generations and adding new features each time. We can evoke the Sixaxis on PS3 or the touchpad on PS4. With the PS5, Sony is looking to start afresh on new bases and that goes through a new name: DualSense.
Sony has not buried the past, however, since this DualSense is halfway between evolution and revolution. We thus find all the features introduced over time, but improved. Movement recognition is present, as is the touchpad (much more precise) and the Share button. The layout of the keys also remains the same and the sticks are still symmetrical. A Mute button for the headset has appeared, hidden between the two sticks. The DualShock 4’s light strip makes a comeback, but is here transformed into a discreet line that surrounds the touchpad.
However, the manufacturer has completely redesigned the shape of its controller, with longer handles, which makes it much more comfortable in the hand. On this specific point, it is similar to the Xbox One controller, the best on the market in terms of ergonomics. The texture of the plastic which oscillates between soft and grainy is very pleasant in the game.
There is a big difference in design, with a mixture of white and black, which makes it much more sober and gives it a little futuristic side. An impression reinforced by the absence of colors on the keys. However, we fear that this white will yellow with time. At the moment, no totally black controller announced.
At the buttons, they are firmer under the fingers, especially the sticks. These are also textured on the sides, which makes their handling much more pleasant than on the PS4 controller.
On the connection side, we find the headphone jack on the front as well -and this is new- than a USB Type-C port on the back. A USB-C / USB-A wire is provided in the box to charge your controller. This is very short (1.5 meters!) And does not allow you to play comfortably when fully charged. Too bad, given that the PS3 and the PS4 had already been criticized on this point. However, it is still possible to use a longer wire purchased elsewhere. Regarding Bluetooth autonomy, we calculated between 10 and 15 hours before needing a recharge, which is quite fair.
Haptic feedback, the real argument of this controller
The DualSense introduces a cool new feature never seen on a console, haptic feedback. This is a new way to deal with vibration to give the user the impression to feel the same as their in-game avatar. For this, the vibrations have several levels distributed over the entire controller. They can be located only on the right side of the pad and then gradually shift to the left side.
The illusion works. In order to give an accurate idea of the matter, Sony has included the title Astro’s Playroom at no additional cost in its machine. This little platform game gives a good overview of the object’s capabilities. For example, the vibrations adjust depending on whether Astro, the hero of the game, walks on metal, grass or ice. We can “physically” feel the material. The same goes for slips or shocks. To reinforce this immersion, Sony uses the built-in speaker. The mayonnaise takes and in play, we really have the impression of feeling the twists and turns of our avatar. A small technical feat. The most impressive use we have seen is when it starts to rain in the game. Here we feel all the little raindrops scattered around the controller randomly via vibrations.
The triggers have also been revised with a very impressive force feedback. In game, the user actually feels resistance from keys R2 or L2 in some cases (when he has to press an accelerator pedal on Astro’s ship, for example). Something we’ve seen on the Xbox One controller before, but that’s even more impressive here. However, it will be necessary to see over time if the tired triggers can withstand massive use of this gimmick.
Astro’s Playroom serves as a giant demo of the controller capabilities, but these features are used in other games as well. In Spider-Man, for example, the haptic feedback is present, but a little more discreet. The same goes for the triggers, which impose a very small resistance each time Miles throws a web. Demon’s Souls, which we weren’t able to test, promises to make full use of the pad’s capabilities, as does Resident Evil VIII scheduled for next year. You’ll have to scrutinize other games from third-party publishers to see how these vibrations are used (or not) intelligently, like Assassin’s Creed Valhalla or Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War.
Ultimately, Sony is revolutionizing its controller, without however denying the heritage of the previous ones. More pleasant in the hand, also more beautiful than the DualShock, it brings really impressive new features. Haptic feedback can be a real plus for immersion, provided it is used wisely, just like adaptive triggers. A real success, both technical and ergonomic. A big highlight of the console.
The era of ray-tracing on consoles begins
The PS5’s spec sheet is equivalent to that of a mid-range gaming PC. However, we all know that the power of a console isn’t everything – far from it. The machine has an octa-core processor designed by AMD with 16 GB of RAM. On the GPU side, we still find AMD at work with a custom graphics chip based on the RDNA 2 architecture.
One of the main strengths of the PS5 is also the presence of its 825 GB SSD with a theoretical reading speed of 5.5 GB / s, which is huge. However, it should be noted that we only have 667 GB usable for games and applications. Not to cry scandal, since this reduction makes sense, whether here or on all SSDs or HDDs on the market. It is of course possible to connect an external SSD to its console to have more space.
With these characteristics, Sony promises 4K gaming at 60 frames per second. Ray-tracing is also at the heart of the manufacturer’s communication. It’s hard to keep these promises even when the most powerful graphics cards on the market like the RTX 3080 are struggling to stay the course on this specific point. On our two games in test, namely Astro’s Playroom and Spider-Man Miles Morales, the promise of 4K 60 FPS is kept. On Astro, the graphics really do feel like playing an animated movie, although we’re still a long way from the Ratchet and Clank Rift Apart demos.
The case of Miles Morales is a bit special. The title indeed offers two game modes: a performance mode, which can reach 60 FPS (in 4K) as well as a fidelity mode. The latter blocks the game at 30 FPS, but offers improved lighting effects but above all ray-tracing. This graphic improvement is really felt in night scenes and indoors. Here are some examples of scenes in fidelity mode (with ray-tracing, therefore), then in performance mode:
The presence of ray-tracing is appreciable, but for our part, we still recommend playing in performance mode. The framerate of 60 frames per second is indeed a real plus to the immersion and it is difficult to admire the reflections of the windows launched at full speed in the streets of New York. Finally, we have to admit that while the game is beautiful, graphically we are very close to a PS4 Pro title, which is explained by the fact that it was developed first for this platform. We will have to wait until Demon’s Souls, the first real PS5 exclusive, to get a real idea of the technical capabilities of this new console. It will also be necessary to see what gives Unreal Engine 5, presented a few months ago through an impressive demo, operated by the various developers.
In terms of speed, the SSD does wonders. Sony promised the end of load times, and we’re really not far from it. When the console is off, we calculated a boot time of 24 seconds, compared to almost a minute for the PS4. When waking up, it takes 15 seconds before you can interact with the interface. Impressive when you’re still used to the old Sony machine.
In play, the SSD is no exception. Once Spider-Man Miles Morales is launched from the interface, it takes 9 seconds to get to the main menu. When you press “Play”, you have to wait a little more than a second to end up in the streets of New York, the time of a fade to black. Bluffing. This lack of charging time is also felt on a fast trip that doesn’t last longer, even at the other end of the map. This performance is the same on Astro’s Playroom, which also has zero loading times.
Note that if you are playing and come back to the main menu, the title does not cut and it is possible to return to it instantly. Same thing if you put the PS5 in sleep mode. This means that if you turn your console back on to standby (indicated by the orange LED), it will take you in theory 16 seconds to return to the game (we add a second beat for the time you press cross). This is the real revolution offered by the console. Xbox Series X offers a “Quick Resume” option, which lets you switch between games without leaving them. The PS5 does not work the same, since when you switch from one title to another, the first one quits. However, the start-up time is so short that it’s not a handicap.
The PS5 is compatible with 99% of the titles released on PS4. Technically, the games are not optimized for the SSD and the loading times remain. However, Sony announced that larger PS4 titles will be patched to fully match the capabilities of the PS5. In our test, only Days Gone was updated. Once the big 35 GB patch is downloaded, the game runs like a charm in 4K (adaptive) and 60 FPS (which was not the case on PS4 Pro). However, the charges are not more expensive. It takes 46 seconds to get to the main menu, which is the same as before.
It remains to be seen if other developers will update their games for the PS4. We already know that will be the case for Ghost of Tsushima and Everybody’s Golf. Without this update, the games have a loading time half as long, but present (here Red Dead Redemption 2 which loads in 38 seconds and Jedi Fallen Order in 55 seconds). Graphically, an unpatched game is the same as on PS4 Pro and offers 4K at 30 FPS or 1080p at 60 FPS in some cases.
The PS5 is big, a definite choice from Sony for noise and heat management. Successful bet on this point, since we we did not find any excessive heat coming out of the fans (the expulsion of air being distributed over the entire surface of the console), or even noticeable noise. In full play (here Spider-Man) the machine gives off only 39 decibels on average. Almost imperceptible noise, except in a quiet room with the sound of the TV muted. This is a change from the old PS4 first version which makes the sound of a plane taking off on recent titles.
On the other hand, the disc player (4K UHD Blu-ray) is a little less discreet. We noticed a noise of 43 decibels when launched. He gets along, but it’s not excessive.
A technically mastered console, ultimately, but which still has a lot to prove. If the 4K / 60 FPS rendering as well as the ray-tracing are there, we are now waiting for the real technical slaps. The first, we have said, is likely to be Demon’s Souls. But other blockbusters could impress. Polyphony Digital has for example indicated that its Gran Turismo 7 will run at 4K / 60FPS with ray-tracing enabled. We want to see.
A faster interface, but not necessarily simpler
Sony offers a brand new interface with this console, which is faster and above all clearer. If the first point is successful, there is always a relatively cluttered OS, sometimes drowning the user under a ton of information.
Sony is keeping the horizontal drawer system introduced with the PS3, but changing it drastically. This time we have two menu levels: Games and Multimedia. The latter includes all applications not related to games, such as Netflix, Disney Plus or Spotify. As we specified at the start of the test, we were unable to test it, this tab is not up to date. The other main menu concerns the game. We find our brands again, with a page dedicated to each title installed. Going down, we find all the information dedicated to it, sometimes placed in a chaotic way. PS5 games are affected, but also the PS4 titles. In addition to that, we have different applications dedicated to gaming, like the gallery, the PS Now or the PS Store (again, not updated on our machine). The latter is directly included in the interface (and not in a separate app like on PS4) and access is therefore instant. Finally, we find the library, which informs via tiles if a game is installed or not, if you have the physical or disk version (symbolized by a padlock.). Enough to easily find all your titles purchased over time.
Finally, note that the options are completely separate, in a tab at the top right of the screen. The navigation is fast, fluid, without any downtime. Nice thing when you remember the gas factory that the PS4 interface had become.
In a game, you can access various information by pressing the PS button. Tiles are then displayed showing the current objective, your progress in a quest or even video help if you get stuck (reserved for PSN subscribers). It takes a little time to understand this aspect, the information not being prioritized in a consistent manner.
The PS button also displays another menu, not linked to the game, in order to see your notifications, your controller battery or even connected friends. Convenient ! Everything that is described here is done instantly and does not leave the game. A real pleasure of navigation.
Finally, note that the Share function has been reviewed. Push the button no longer quits the game and it is possible to store photos taken on the fly for later. The Share menu can also allow you to view previous screens (handy for comparing them) instantly and share them right away in an operation that takes less than a second. Each trophy is accompanied by an automatically captured screen (this was already the case on PS4) and it is always possible to find sequences recorded minutes before. The Share button also allows you to launch a video and even a live broadcast. A menu that is simple to use, fast and efficient.
If Sony prided itself on having redesigned its OS from scratch. This is not entirely true, since certain design logic of the PS3 and the PS4 revisits this version. We can however welcome the optimization work of the manufacturer who delivers a fast interface, if not perfectly readable in all conditions.
Our quick review on games
Spider-Man Miles Morales: a wise but enjoyable stand alone
Spider-Man Miles Morales is one of the big Sony exclusions for the PS5 launch. This is a stand alone, that is, a single player game developed from the same mechanics and graphics as the base game, namely Spider-Man on PS4. Here we control the young Miles Morales, charged with watching over New York in the absence of a Peter Parker gone on vacation.
Unsurprisingly, this solo episode takes up what made the success of the first game. The mechanics are the same (with a few additions in terms of powers) and the fun remains intact. The adventure is significantly shorter than the previous one, but also better told. We quickly become attached to a sparkling Miles and to the various quickly endearing characters. A success on this point. This is an open world that remains wise, but which sublimates certain known mechanics, such as combat, ultra nervous, or the movement system. The latter also represents the great strength of the title. The simple fact of weaving your web between the buildings of New York is extremely enjoyable.
Not a technical slap, we said, and not a game that will mark the media either, Miles Morales brings a lot of fun and represents a good first outing in the PS5 game library.
The little robot Astro, introduced with the PS VR, returns in a platform game thought to give a glimpse of the capabilities of the controller. Coming out of that aspect, the title doesn’t have much to offer. It’s about of a 3D platform game very wise which takes literally the recipes for success of the tenors of the genre, Mario in mind, but in the PlayStation universe.
We still have a good time in front of this game which ends in two hours in a straight line. However, it is full of bonuses to find and winks to discover. Here is the DualSense that brings the spice to the adventure, immersing us as never before in the skin of the character thanks to the haptic feedback. We will regret some big peaks in difficulty during the adventure that will discourage the little ones.
A nice demo of what the PS5 controller can do, but nothing more.
A bright future
A console is sold above all through its games. On this point, the PS5 has a bright future. We already know the headlines that will enrich the game library. In 2021, Horizon 2 Forbidden West, sequel to the 2017 game, will land it on the console. Likewise, it will host, at least for a while, Final Fantasy XVI. A fifth installment of God of War, subtitled Ragnarok, was also presented a few months ago.
We can count on the sixteen studios of Sony Interactive Entertainment to develop exclusive games, as was the case for the PS4. The console has very strong licenses, like Uncharted, Ghost of Tsushima, Spider-Man, Days Gone, and many more. We can also expect new licenses created by SIE studios.
To this is added multi-platform games that will land on the console, sometimes at launch (Assassin’s Creed Valhalla) or in the coming months (Harry Potter, Deathloop, Oddworld). An extremely classic operation applied to consoles since their creation. We can also talk about backward compatibility, which concerns 99% of PS4 games.
note that l’angle d’attaque de Microsoft est très différent, voire novateur, avec sa Xbox Series X. La firme de Redmond mise beaucoup sur le jeu à la demande avec son offre Game Pass, qui regorge également de belles pépites. Ne reste maintenant qu’à déterminer quelles licences et quels jeux vous attirent le plus pour faire un choix.