PS5 review – Specs
CPU: 3.5 GHz AMD Zen 2 (8 Cores)
GPU: 2.23 GHz Custom RDNA 2 (10.28 TFLOPS)
RAM: 16 GB GDDR6 (256-bit)
Storage: 825 GB Custom NVME SSD
Optical drive: Yes
To kick off this PS5 review, I first have to warn you that you probably won't be able to buy Sony's next-gen console straight away. Even though it's now a year since its launch, the PlayStation 5 is still hard to get your hands on. Take a look at T3's PS5 restocks page to give yourself the best chance of picking one up.
Here you can find out what makes it such a popular piece of kit. I'll cover everything you need to know about arguably the most sought after console in the world.
Over time, I'll get to know the PlayStation 5 more and more so I'll be sure to update this review with fresh takes and new discoveries.
Interested in expanded storage for your PS5? Then check out T3's best PS5 SSDs buying guide for 2021. It's full of the top PCIe 4.0 NVMe M.2 SSD drives that meet Sony's strict criteria.
Just a quick update before we delve deeper into the king of consoles - T3 is pleased to announce that the Sony PlayStation 5 has won T3's prestigious Gadget Of The Year award at the T3 Awards 2021. Congratulations to Sony for delivering such an incredible piece of technology.
PS5 review: 18-month update
The PS5 has been on the market now for over 18 months so, a year and a half on, here I provide a brief overview of how things have panned out.
From a design point of view my initial take that I loved how the PS5 looked has rung true. I think the PS5's design is still awesome and every time I look at it it sparks joy for me. The little boy inside me thinks it's like an alien piece of technology from the future, sent back to keep me entertained. Ignore the haters, the PS5 is awesome in terms of design and proportions – and that's a good thing.
In addition, I'm very pleased to see that - finally - we're getting customisable case plates for the PS5, which let's you customise your console's colour as you want.
From a hardware point of view I think the PS5 has delivered, although I still don't have the feeling that we've seen what it is capable of yet. Its big blockbuster games like Horizon Forbidden West look fantastic, but do so in a kind of last gen way – they just look like a last gen game running at crazy-high settings, rather than a true next-gen experience. Unreal Engine 5 should make a difference here.
In terms of hardware, I wasn't very impressed to be honest with how long it took Sony to unlock the PS5's storage expansion bay, but now it's here it is delivering. Plug in one of the best PS5 SSDs and that limited out-of-box storage I mentioned at launch is well and truly solved (albeit with more spend required by the gamer).
From a software point of view we've had some great PS5 exclusive releases (Horizon Forbidden West, Returnal, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, Deathloop), and more top games are coming down the pipe shortly, too, even if at the time of writing it looks like God of War 2 is delayed into 2023.
The console has got multiple software updates itself at this point, too, adding in a few neat new features and polishing the experience.
Overall, then, I give the PS5 a solid B-rank at the 18-month mark of its lifespan. In no way has it been a disappointment and I've had some superb gaming experiences on it over the time period, however, I am definitely chomping at the bit now to see exactly what this next-gen console can properly do.
PS5 review: T3's testing setup
The PlayStation 5 is Sony's flagship next-gen games console, and it is loaded with top tech and advanced features such as support for 120 Hz refresh rates, AMD Freesync, HDR, 4K resolutions, 60 fps+ framerates, and much more besides. As such, we wanted to review it with one of the best TVs for PS5.
After all, what's the point in investing in a next-gen console capable of mind-blowing graphics if your TV throttles it all with out-of-date tech? Exactly. That's why T3 reviewed the PS5 console on a 2020 model LG CX television.
In our LG CX review we gave the TV a maximum score of 5 stars and, it was so highly rated, it actually won Best Gaming TV at the T3 Awards 2020. It has since been replaced with the LG C1, which took the top spot in our list of the best gaming TVs, in turn… and the LG C2 is arriving soon, and looks to be just as good an option for gaming.
PS5 review: price and release date
You only had to follow the story of PS5 pre-orders to know just how in-demand the PlayStation 5 console was in the run-up to launch. It was the number one product during the winter holiday season and, as such, gamers the world over are currently still struggling to land a system.
More consoles were promised by Sony during the PS5's launch week, although we're looking at online orders only. The PlayStation 5 release date was November 12 in the US and Australia, and November 19 in the UK and Europe. As for the PS5 price, the console costs $499 in the US, £449 in the UK, €499 in Europe and AU$749.95 in Australia.
For today's latest PS5 deals be sure to scope out the pricing chart below:
PS5 review: unboxing and design
As can be seen in T3's PS5 unboxing video, the PlayStation 5 is an absolute beast of a console in terms of proportions. This is a system that tops out at just under 40cm in height, and is 26cm deep, and 10cm wide. If you want something that's compact and easy to conceal in your entertainment setup, the PS5 isn't it.
The console comes in a compartmentalised white cardboard box, which as well as securely holding the hardware, also delivers its base, DualSense controller, cables, and paperwork.
The PS5 base is something that is unique to Sony in the next-gen, with Microsoft's Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S eschewing them due to their rather fatter, more traditional and stable designs, which are rectangular prisms.
The base can be affixed to the console either in its vertical or horizontal orientation, although it's obvious that the primary usage is for when positioning vertically. The base screws into the PlayStation 5's base in the vertical position, and just clamps on to one of its flared case wings when displayed horizontally.
When it comes to the console's design, specifically, as I mentioned in the verdict above, I'm a big fan. The PS5 design is something that has firmly split opinion among gamers, but for me I think its size, and futuristic, flared design generates a sense of awe and power.
When I look at the PS5, it generates that feeling I used to get in my younger days with a new console launch – that this was a special portal to another world of mind-blowing experiences, and that it should be treated with respect as the piece of futuristic, almost alien technology it is.
Look, I realise that to many, a console's design is down the list in importance compared to, say, power and performance, and I would agree – I would prefer my system to be a pixel-pushing beast rather than win a design award. But that's the thing, at least for me, with the PS5 – it does both, as we shall soon see.
There's load of small details I like about the PS5's design, too. It's top-mounted vents, for example, look like they should be on a hyper car like the Pagani Zonda, while the tiny cross, triangle, circle, square, pattern on the inside of the console's flared panelling is a really nice touch, too. It says to me that real care has been put into the construction and design of the PS5.
I'm also a fan of the two-tone overall aesthetic that is granted thanks to the white console panels and central, glossy body work. The matte white panels contrast really well to the gloss core, and really accentuate the system's lines.
Overall, I love that Sony has committed with the PS5 design, and really gone the full distance with its vision. Sony has not taken the safe option and, while the results may divide opinion, in me they have a firm advocate.
From a firmly practical point of view, though, what I would say is that you will need to think about where you can put this system in your setup. Its size will, most likely, make putting it in a TV cabinet not possible, and being honest I don't think that would be ideal for cooling either.
What I've ended up doing is placing the system vertically, with base attached, behind my TV on the top-plate of my TV cabinet. A secure, stable base that also keeps the console out of the way and gives it plenty of room for venting heat.
PS5 review: hardware and setup
In terms of hardware, the PS5 is truly a next-gen console, and is orders of magnitude superior to even the performance king of Sony's last gen systems: the PS4 Pro.
The system, while technically falling short of the Xbox Series X in overall power (Microsoft's flagship system is, on paper, overall just a little bit superior) comes with a suite of really strong components, including a 3.5GHz clocked AMD Zen 2-based CPU with 8 cores, a 10.28 teraflop Custom RDNA 2 GPU, 16GB of RAM with a memory bandwidth of 448GB/s, and a custom designed 825GB SSD that is capable of an IO throughput of 5.5GB/s raw.
If all of those components and numbers don't mean much to you, then you should just take the official stat, as revealed by Sony president and CEO Kenichiro Yoshida, that the new console's data processing speeds "are approximately 100 times faster than PS4". And, trust me, that's no exaggeration, as I talk about a little further down in this review.
For now, though, let's talk about setup. Setting up the PS5 is straightforward, and done directly via the controller on the console itself – unlike the Xbox Series X and S, which are setup largely through the Xbox app on a phone or tablet.
Turn the system on, and you are given both visual and audible commands which run through all the standard stuff like setting up an internet connection, creating an account (or logging into one if it already exists), setting up an energy profile, and automatic sign-in options.
The digital assistant provides instructions in various languages as you go through the setup wizard, but you can be turn it off if you prefer, and just follow the on-screen prompts.
One of the things I specifically like on the PS5, is that early on in the setup, you have a chance to insert a game disc for installation while you complete the process. I think this is a small but neat detail as it gets you gaming quicker.
All the while during this setup, PlayStation gamers are treated to Sony's typical XrossMediaBar background ambience noise and animated floating screen effects. I think this, right from the off, helps communicate that while this is a brand new console, it very much shares the same ecosystem of the past few Sony systems.
I'd say setup takes about 10 minutes, and once you're finished, you're deposited onto the PS5's homescreen.
PS5 review: performance and games
Right, straight off the bat, there is one thing that I need to discuss in this PS5 review when talking about performance – and it's something that readers of T3 will be used to by now if they have just read my Xbox Series X and S reviews. And that thing is storage space.
The PS5 is advertised as shipping with an 825GB SSD, which on paper sounds rather large, even if it is less than the 1TB drive that the Xbox Series X is advertised as coming with.
Just as the Xbox Series X doesn't actually have 1TB of useable room for games, apps, and media out of the box, with just 800GB available, the PS5 follows suit and technically only has 667GB of useable space when first switched on.
Now, look, I realise that you can install plenty of AAA games with that amount of space, but when you consider that right now at launch you can't actually make use of the console's hardware expansion port (the port's usability is being turned on in a later patch), and that flagship last-gen PlayStation systems came with more storage space, you can't help but feel a little disappointed.
Hardcore gamers will absolutely want more storage space in their PS5 and, in my mind, the sooner Sony can turn on its M.2 SSD drive expansion port, the better. Especially so as both Microsoft's systems can be upgraded in storage right now and it can be done easier, too.
While the size of the PS5's SSD isn't ideal, its speed and load times are. Indeed, the PS5's load times are so fast that gamers will be pinching themselves to check if they're dreaming.
When playing Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales on PS5, which is the launch title exclusive that every gamer should play, the game's loading from menu or in-game was just terrifyingly fast.
Just watch the video above for a taste of the speed. T3 opens the game map, selects a destination, and then within two seconds, the game has loaded again. Blink, and you'll miss it!
This really hammers home to me the raw speed this console has on tap, and it's more than backed up by in-game visuals and special effects.
Again, in Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales, which runs at 4K HDR and 60fps on PlayStation 5, the gameplay is absolutely elevated to a new dimension of enjoyability by the system's technical prowess.
Swinging through New York with a 120 Hz refresh rate enabled, ray tracing lighting effects, and the aforementioned fidelity in resolution and smoothness of framerate is a simply joyous experience.
Everything in the game world is shaper, better lit, and draw distances and model detailing are vastly superior to anything that was possible on PS4 hardware.
During T3's testing period we didn't have access to any other big new AAA games like Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales, but we're very confident that any other cross-gen game like this will benefit in a similar way; we're talking improvements in every aspect, from visuals to gameplay to audio.
For those who want a taste of Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales on PS5 then be sure to watch the below video, which shows a five minute section of the game running at 4K resolution.
Lastly, in terms of performance, let's quickly talk about accessing games on the PS5's user interface. The UI on PS5 is very similar to that on PS4, and has a top-mounted menu bar that allows you to cycle through games and apps, as well as access things like recordings, system settings, and your account's games library.
You can also access things like PlayStation Plus and PlayStation Now, if you have subscriptions to those services (I did not).
Where there is a marked change, though, is that when you press the PlayStation button on the DualSense controller, a really narrow new bottom-mounted shortcut menu (called Control Center) appears that let's you do various things (such as access captures and notifications) as well as put the PlayStation 5 into rest mode. So, in-game or in menu, if you want to quickly turn the system off you can press the PlayStation button and then select turn off.
PS5 review: features and controller
The DualSense controller is, I am happy to report, a mighty fine gamepad. It also easily beats the PS4's pad, with a slightly rounder, filled out chassis falling into the hands much easier. It feels like a hybrid between the PS4's controller and the Xbox One Wireless Controller, and that is no bad thing.
The rear of the body is finished with the same micro cross, circle, square, triangle pattern that appear on the inside console wings, which looks class and also provides that slightly rough texture that the best pads have to stop things getting slippery when the in-game heat is on.
One of the biggest takeaway features I noticed with the DualSense, too, was its in-depth and complex haptic feedback (rumble capability for those from the old school).
This is far from just a one-note rumble and depending on what you are doing, in-game feedback to your hands provides varying degrees of sensation. It's one of those features that is so well implemented that it just blends seamlessly into each gaming session, enhancing the experience.
I would confidently say that this haptic feedback tech is streets ahead of the Xbox Wireless Controller's and Sony should be commended for it.
Lastly, on the PS5's controller, it has adaptive triggers, which resist your finger presses for enhanced immersion, and its battery capacity has been increased up to 1,560mAh, which meant I only had to charge the controller a couple of times in my two-week testing period.
In terms of highlight features, I just want to spend some time talking about PS5 backwards compatibility, which from what I've experienced is excellent.
As you can see from the images below, as soon as you sign in to the PlayStation 5, all of your account's past games are displayed in the 'Your Collection' games library automatically. You can then simply select one and it will automatically download and be available to play right there.
I downloaded my favourite game of the year so far, the epic PS4 swansong Ghost of Tsushima, and instead of suffering from any jank, UI issues, bugs, or crashes, the game just loaded (and incredibly fast, too) and ran perfectly on PS5, with enhanced loading times, fidelity, and framerate.
I also wanted to see how this worked with past games using the PS5's optical disc drive, so I whipped out arthouse piece The Last Guardian. The game installed off disc incredibly quickly and was ready to play within minutes.
I think this shows that the PS5 is a great machine for backwards compatibility. And that is even without a PlayStation Plus and PlayStation Now subscription. If you've got a big bank of PS4 games, then your transition to PS5 will be seamless.
What I would say, though, is that as good as the PS5's backwards compatibility is, Xbox trumps it with its four generations of backwards compatibility and, right now, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate is the benchmark Netflix-for-games subscription service on the market.
Finally, I'd just like to note that the PS5 has a comprehensive options menu that lets you, for example, set custom button assignments to controllers, as well as tweak and control every aspect of any accessory, including the PlayStation 5's HD camera.
Storage – both internal and external (when patched) – can be analysed in detail, and there are a myriad of options to specify display settings, Blu-ray player default actions, and much more, too.
Without a doubt, the PS5 is a very strong multi-media hub, and these options give gamers total control over it.
PS5 review: verdict
I hope my PS5 review has helped to shed a bit of light on Sony's next-gen flagship, and also communicated why I think it is special.
The way the gaming industry is going, this may be the last traditional console generation we ever see, and if it is then the PS5 in my mind will be a fitting swansong.
This is a system that comes with a proper next-gen hardware suite that boasts a genuine state-of-the-art NVMe SSD, a new DualSense controller that delivers the best haptic feedback of any controller ever made, and a stylish console design that, for me at least, turns the head in a great way.
Sony has always been great at capturing the core feeling of being a gamer with its hardware I think, and the PS5 communicates this; that sense of belonging and immersion in an exciting world where you are always mere moments away from jumping into another wondrous virtual world.
Yes, the Xbox Series X is, on paper, a stronger system and as I've made clear in our review, a superb choice for a next-gen gaming console. However, console generation wins aren't decided on paper – they're decided with real-world performance and, even more importantly, the gaming ecosystem itself.
Without games and gamers, it doesn't matter how strong your console is.
The PS5 also, while certainly not blowing anyone away with its launch offering, does also have a few more exclusive new titles it is launching with, including the showpiece cross-gen PlayStation exclusive Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales. At launch, I feel this gives the Sony system the edge in terms of software.
Really, though, I think for PlayStation gamers there can be only one choice in the next-gen of consoles, and that is the PlayStation 5. It's a great system today and, when a few of its minor annoyances like low storage space are rectified in the coming months, I think it is a console that is going to deliver epic experiences for gamers for years to come. Technically this system is fantastic, but I would argue it is its more intangible X factor that Sony should be given the biggest hat tip for.
- Xbox Series X unboxing video: Microsoft's flagship next-gen console package opened