If you’re any console gamer not living under a rock, by now you may have heard about the PS5. It’s coming. 2020 is set to be big for consoles, with the Xbox Series X and PS5 going head to head late in the year. These new beasts may even upset the Switch’s current popularity, and take gaming to new heights.
On June 11, Sony revealed the PS5 in an hour-long event through its website, Twitch, YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook channels. You could even view it through the PS4. And what we’ve seen so far is exciting, to say the least.
The Spotlight – What’s new
First, let’s focus on the main selling points of the next-gen. These have either been confirmed by Sony or uttered by their officials.
- Everyone’s hyped up for the new SSD, which is expected to minimize load times massively and overcome many performance bottlenecks. And we can safely say this will be a giant upgrade because of I/O speeds. If you’ve ever switched from an HDD to an SSD, you know what I’m talking about.
- Sony’s new Dolby Atmos – ahem – Tempest 3D audio engine may seem like a marketing bullet point. But it may be the dark horse of this setup, pushing game immersion up a notch. It’s said to work with 3rd party stereo headphones, and even TV speakers and entertainment systems.
- The UI is said to be completely redesigned, according to Mark Cerny, the PS5 lead.
- New accessories! And mics everywhere! The DualSense controller has unique looks and a built-in microphone. It’ll have haptic feedback, adaptive triggers, and a familiar button layout. The touchpad will also be carried over from DualShock 4, and it charges via USB-C. And before you ask, yes, it has a headphone jack. Another option to charge up to a pair of these new controllers is with the DualSense Charging Station.
- Other new goodies include the HD cam – which has dual 1080p lenses and is geared towards amateur streaming, the Pulse 3D wireless headset replacing the PS Gold with 3D audio, and dual noise-canceling mics, and a media remote which features, you guessed it, a built-in mic. What’s up, Sony? Wanna hear even more from your consumers?
Under the Hood – Technical Specifications
Get out your calculators and scratchpads, let’s get down to business. The new specs and what they mean are pretty straightforward, but we’ll have to see more of actual gameplay performance to comment more.
- GPU: 10.28 TFLOPs, 36 CUs @ 2.23 GHz; AMD RDNA2 architecture
- CPU: 8 AMD Zen 2 Cores @ 3.5 GHz
- RAM: 16 GB GDDR6; 256-bit
- Memory Bandwidth: 448 GB/s
This setup is a definite step-up from what we’ve seen of previous consoles. The Control Unit (CU) is a larger one than the PS4, which means it has better efficiency and can handle more processes. Sony has surprisingly opted not to increase the number of CUs from the PS4 Pro, but has used a higher clock speed to squeeze performance against price. The processors have variable frequency – but note that unlike PC overclocking, this is more of a power balance thing between the GPU and CPU.
AMD’s new RDNA2 architecture – which we hinted at in the RTX 3090 – also has improvements. Although we are not privy to all details, RayTracing and Geometry engine have been confirmed. This is promising news.
- Storage: Custom 825 GB SSD
- IO Throughput: 5.5 GB/s (raw), Typical 8-9 GB/s (compressed)
Now we come to the heart of the matter. Sony engineers have spent a large portion of their time optimizing the SSD. The custom 12 chip/channel M.2 design and the 6 priority levels instead of the standard 2 are definite upgrades. However, the real enhancements might be the small details that add up to a larger whole.
I/O is done by dedicated hardware ie, no CPU meddling in. There are different co-processors for the SSD I/O and memory mapping, which reduces file read bottlenecks. The hardware decompressor can load data from SSD at a blazing fast 22 GB/s. The dedicated DMA, GPU cache scrubbers, and the on-chip SRAM all work hard to contribute to this effort. Sony hopes to achieve a no-complaint track record from developers on the storage front.
Expandable storage and Connectivity
- Expandable storage: NVMe SSD slot
- Optical drive: 4K Blu-ray (optional)
- Connectivity: HDMI 2.1, 1 USB-A and 1 USB-C confirmed, (more ports speculated)
If you run out of space, then Sony has an NVMe SSD slot. However, no market product will currently fit the specifications once the PS5 comes out, so you may have to wait a while to expand. There is an option for a 4K Blu-ray, and we’ve seen a few ports at the front of the device. HDMI 2.1 will up the specs to 8K at 60 fps or 4K at 120 fps, an expected boost.
Let’s face it. Design is never the number one thing a console focuses on. Past PlayStations have been called many names. The console crowd also seems less enthusiastic about RGB than their PC gaming counterparts.
This being said, the PS5 actually looks quite pleasing. The clean black and white plastics with blue highlight lighting give a futuristic feel. The console has departed from its boxy origins and now has curves. Its the largest in the family till date, and can be set up either horizontally or vertically.
The Game Offerings
The reveal event focused heavily on the games more than the product itself. Spider-Man: Miles Morales was featured, and will launch with the PS5.
Other exclusive titles showcased were Resident Evil Village, Horizon II: Forbidden West, Gran Turismo 7 (the 3D audio on this better be incredible), Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart, and Hitman III. There are also Demon’s Souls and Gothic remakes to please the old-schoolers.
Epic’s Unreal Engine 5 may be a game-changer, heh, in terms of graphic fidelity and smoothness in the future. Epic Games’ VP, Nick Penwarden, was gushing about the PS5’s SSD in an interview with VG247. They apparently rewrote part of the code to make use of the advancements. Cool.
Backward compatibility is confirmed for most of the 4000+ games of the PS4, and the top 100 games will be supported at launch. That should give you plenty of titles to choose from.
There are plenty of other games announced for the PS5, including Godfall, NBA 2K21, and more.
Astro’s Playroom will come pre-installed. And mark my words, this one game about robots and cats called Stray will be huge in 2021.
Release Date and Pricing
They built all this excitement for the PS5. But Sony’s answer to when it’ll launch is ‘Holiday 2020’. This probably means somewhere between October to December of this year, just ahead of the Xbox Series X.
You cannot really pre-order the console now, but sites and stores are offering email signups to notify people.
Two versions can be expected on launch day, an all-digital, and a disc one. Prices will probably hover around the $500 mark, a sure increase, but not one to break the bank. More versions will likely arrive in the console’s lifecycle, with color variations and much more.
The Predecessors – How the PS5 Balances
In short, there are upgrades all over the board. The PS4 and PS4 Pro were fine machines, but they can’t hold a candle to the new kid.
- The CPU speed has risen from 1.75 GHz of the PS4 and 2.1 GHz of the PS4 Pro to 3.5 GHz, although variable as we explained before.
- GPU has skyrocketed. The PS5 has 10.3 TFLOPs of gross processing power compared to the 1.84 TFLOPs and 4.2 TFLOPs of the PS4 and Pro, respectively.
- Memory has doubled from both the PS4 and Pro’s 8 gigs into 16. It is also now GDDR6 from the former duo’s GDDR5.
- Internal storage is the massive upgrade, as we keep saying. Soon, a generation of new gamers will be amazed that the PlayStation had HDD into its fourth generation.
- The resolution has obviously gone up from the 1080p of the PS4 and 4K of the Pro to 8K60/4K120.
The disappointing news is that VR seems to be overlooked a bit. Fans were expecting at least a confirmation of the PSVR2, if not an outright launch. But a new VR headset appears to have been put on the backlog for now.
Check out an early comparison of the PS4 and PS5 playing Ratchet and Clank here:
The Competition – Xbox Series X
|Category||PlayStation 5||Xbox Series X|
|Processor||AMD Zen 2 (3.5 GHz, 8 cores)||AMD Zen 2 (3.8 GHz, 8 cores)|
|GPU||AMD RDNA 2 (10.28 TFLOPs, 36 CUs)||AMD RDNA 2 (12 TFLOPs, 52 CUs)|
|Memory||16GB GDDR6||16GB GDDR6|
|Storage||825GB (NVMe SSD)||1TB (NVMe SSD)|
|Optical Drive||4K Ultra HD Blu-ray||4K Ultra HD Blu-ray|
|Ports||HDMI (out), USB-A and USB-C, other TBA||Three USB-A 3.0 ports, HDMI (out), proprietary memory slot|
|Dimensions||TBA||15.1 x 15.1 x 30.1 cm|
The Series X is 2020’s, another console herald. With fans of the two brands bickering everywhere, the consoles are going head to head as well. They’ll likely release within a few months of each other.
Right off the bat, in terms of raw specs, the Series X looks to be winning. More so in the GPU/CPU front. Both have AMD’s RDNA2. The PS5 might get its upper hand with the SSD, its 5.5 GB/s speed vastly superior to the Xbox’s 2.4 GB/s. But whether game developers will be able, or even willing, to use this optimization remains to be seen.
Sony’s NVMe drive is also noteworthy, as it promises 3rd-party storage solutions that Xbox has frowned upon. But the moves Sony will make in the specifications for its storage expansion will dictate this situation. The Xbox is expected to cost more, but it may also have an all-digital lower-tier sibling to rival costs.
FAQs and Glossary
Have some pressing questions? Unsure what some terms meant? This section is for you. Else, you can jump straight to the final part.
1. Will Covid-19 delay the release?
No, according to Sony. While it is reasonable to expect problems in the supply chain that could affect production, the company has said it is on schedule.
2. Can PS4 and older games be played?
Kinda. Almost all of the 4000+ titles are supposed to be supported. However, at launch, the company has declared that the 100 most popular games will be playable. You could expect later system updates to fix some compatibility issues. Just don’t get mad if your Tyr: Chains of Valhalla does not work right after you unbox the PS5.
3. Will PS5 have VR?
Yes, the current PSVR will work. But, no VR titles were shown on launch explicitly, and no news of PSVR 2 yet. Some patents are surfacing, though.
Here are some terms you might not have gotten or forgotten.
- TFLOPs: A teraflop is the processing power to perform one trillion floating-point operations per second. Higher TFLOP means the ability to support higher framerate and resolutions.
- SSD: Solid State Drives are the best consumer tech we have to store stuff, pricier, and much faster than the old HDDs.
- HDD: A Hard Disk Drive has magnetic storage and moving parts that groan, and is slower than SSDs. A lot slower.
- I/O: A term denoting input/output; in this context, it means how fast data can be transferred between the hardware parts.
- VR: Virtual Reality is the family of headsets and tech used to create a simulated, immersive environment. You know this one, though, right?
The Bottom Line – Is The PS5 Worth Waiting/Upgrading
So, we’ve reviewed everything we know. Breakthroughs? Certainly. Impressive? Of course. Series X? Well, that remains to be seen. But that decision will be influenced by your preference for exclusive games, no doubt.
The main verdict is whether you should line up in front of Sony stores this ‘Holiday season.’ On second thought, don’t line up. Just order online.
If you are on the market looking for a new console, then yes. By all means, wait some months or even a year. The console wars are getting fierce, which is good news for us gamers.
Should you upgrade from a PS4 or Pro? Uhh, if you have money to spare. A console that supports 8K is useless if you don’t have an 8K TV, right? Don’t empty your wallet just for the PS5, you still need accessories and more purchases. If you have loads of cash, though, go ahead. The engineers have worked hard on this one. The PlayStation 5 promises brilliance.