PS5 test: crazy loading times, unprecedented gaming performance, Sony is a game-changer

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PS5 review

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?

PS5

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, it is coming out in an era where technology allows for smooth 4K gaming and all gamers have 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 has yet to checkout. 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 loading times eliminated thanks to the presence of an SSD.

A console is of course defined by its games, but not only. It’s also a concentrate of technologies to run 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 multimedia part 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.

PlayStation 5

We will update this test once all of these are available.

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Price And Availability :

The PlayStation 5 is released on November 19, 2020 at all brands. Two models are available: the version with a disc player which is sold at 499 dollars and the Digital Edition, therefore without a player, at 399 dollars. All versions have an 825 GB SSD.

PlayStation 5
CPUZen 2 custom processor – 8 cores – 3.5 GHz (variable frequency)
GPU10.28 TFLOPs, – 36 CUs – 2.23 GHz (variable frequency)
GPU architectureAMD RDNA 2 (custom model)
Memory16 Gb GDDR6 / bus 256mb
Memory throughput448 Gb/s
Internal storageSSD 815 Gb
Transfer speed5.5 Gb/s (Raw)
8 to 9 GB/s (compressed)
Possibility of storage expansionNVMe SSD internal slot
External storageUsb disk
Optical drive4K 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 true liner.

The PS5 compared to the PS4

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 of 40 x 10 x 26 centimetres. 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.

ps5

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 change here with an original design somewhat reminiscent of the creations of Alienware, known for its risk-taking in this area. So we have a large 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 that gives the impression of having been crammed a little by default on the side.
While it is useful when the console is in an upright position, it is not the case when it is lying down, since it is a bit hidden and difficult to access.

In horizontal position, the disc player is hidden, which is inconvenient

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 LED, going from blue to yellow through white depending on the use of the console, as on the PS4.
PS5
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 PlayStation logo carefully engraved on the back cover, just like the Sony, very discreet for its part.
Sony PS5
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 go find a rear port if you want to connect a USB key or simply charge a second controller.
PS5 Ports
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 didn’t 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, the PS5 looks like a big high tech oyster. Not very gracious.
Likewise, while it can stand without a stand (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.

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A Joystick Between Evolution And Revolution :

Since the very first DualShock released in 1997, Sony has always kept the same formula, evolving its skeleton in small steps 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 over on new bases and that goes through a new name: DualSense.

PS5 Controller

Sony, however, has not buried the past, as 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 light strip makes a comeback, but is here transformed into a discreet line that surrounds the touchpad.

Manette

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.

In terms of 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 connectivity side, there is the headphone jack on the front as well – and this is new – 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 make the user feel the same as their in-game avatar. The vibration has multiple levels distributed throughout the 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 game’s hero, 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.

The Era Of Ray-Tracing On Consoles Begins :

The PS5 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 SSD or HDD on the market. It is of course possible to connect an external SSD to its console to have more space.

With these features, 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.

Spider-Man tour in 4K / 60FPS in fashion performance

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 for 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 from standby, it takes 15 seconds before you can interact with the interface. Impressive when you’re still used to the old Sony machine.

It takes less than 35 seconds to start your console and play Spider-Man

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”, it takes a little over a second to find yourself on the streets of New York, time to 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 off and you can 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 startup time is so short that it is 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 has announced that the larger titles of the PS4 will be patched to fully embrace the capabilities of the PS5. In our test, only Ghost of Tsushima and Days Gone were updated. Once large patches have been downloaded, the games run like a charm in 4K (adaptive) and 60 FPS (which was not the case on PS4 Pro). However, loads are not shorter on Days Gone. It takes 46 seconds to get to the main menu, which is the same as before. Those of Ghost of Tsushima are halved.

Days Gone tourne in 4K/60 FPS.

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 clarified at the start of the test, we were unable to test it as this tab was 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 PS4 titles. In addition to that, we have various applications dedicated to gaming, such as 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.

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, a sequel to the 2017 game, will land 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.

Added to this are the 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 Microsoft’s angle of attack is very different, even innovative, with its Xbox Series X. The Redmond company relies heavily on on-demand gaming with its Game Pass offer, which is also full of great nuggets. Now all that remains is to determine which licenses and which games appeal to you the most in order to make a choice.

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