Next-gen gaming is here — in our lab/living room, anyway. The Sony PlayStation 5 has arrived on our coffee table test bench. And while we can't share test results just yet, we do have the opportunity to show you what comes in the box and give you our first impressions of the PS5 hardware.
The box itself is sizable, which should give you an idea of the fact that the console is, too. In keeping with the PS5's aesthetic, the box has a clean, white look with some photos of the console, the controller, and mentions of 8K support, and 4K 120 fps support (with the right monitor and games). That outside box is just a sleeve, though, and inside it's all cardboard (good for recycling), with the DualShock controller (more on that in a bit), a USB-C to USB-A cable, an HDMI cable and instruction manual all nested above the actual system.
That system, when I pulled it out, immediately felt massive. It's 15.4 x 4.1 x 10.2 inches (390 x 104 x 260 mm). It's the biggest console, period, though that should hopefully help with cooling the Zen 2-based CPU and the AMD Radeon RDNA-based graphics. I immediately grabbed my launch PS4 for comparison. That measures 11.8 x 2.1 x 10.8 inches (300 x 53 x 275 mm). Of course, there was a smaller PS4 Slim and larger PS5 Pro, but the launch model shows the stark difference between generations. And the Xbox Series X, Microsoft's most advanced console, will be 5.9 x 5.9 x 11.8 inches (151 x 151 x 301 mm).
From a design perspective, Sony has made a huge leap away from the PS4. While the previous-generation system was a half matte, half glossy affair that was minimalistic and designed to disappear into your entertainment system, the PS5 immediately stands out. Not only is it large, but it's white on the sides with dramatic curves away from the black system in the center. It's designed to be noticed. We got pre-release access to the $499 version with a DVD drive, and it's not sleek. It looks bolted on.
Frankly, I wish Sony went with something more subdued. Because you can remove the side panels, I suspect there will quickly be a slew of other colors available from third parties, if not Sony itself. I understand the size may keep it cool, but the stylings are a bit garish, and I much prefer the simplicity of Sony's last gen consoles in this regard.
The front has seen some improvements over the PlayStation 4. There are two ports: USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A and Type-C. It's refreshing to see both options, as it will allow for existing and new peripherals. The power and disc eject buttons have been firmly separated, too.
On the back, there are two more USB Type-A ports, an Ethernet jack, an HDMI 2.1 output, a lock slot and the power jack.
PlayStation 5 Stand
Whether you stand it tall or lay it on its side, the PS5 requires a stand. And that base is both fascinating and tedious. However, I suspect most people will put it in one position and leave it that way for the console's life cycle.
Putting it on the side is easy enough. You rotate the base, which spins a bit like a lazy Susan. On the rear, there are some PlayStation controller symbols: the square, cross, circle, triangle. You can easily align the clips with the ends of the pattern and press it on.
Standing it vertically is more work. First, you have to remove a small circular cap that protects the screw hole, which you can do easily enough with your fingernail. If you twist the base, there's a hidden space holding a screw, with room for you to place the cap. Pop the screw out, and then you can latch the base onto the bottom. You'll need a coin or flathead screwdriver (I had one on a pocket knife) to tighten it. This bit is a lot like attaching a monitor base to the arm.
Accessing the M.2 Storage Bay and Cleaning Dust
One big difference between the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X is that the former allows for a standard M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD for extra storage -- the Xbox requires proprietary drives. That may be important to some users, especially since it comes with an 825GB SSD, not even a full 1TB.
To access the M.2 slot, you'll need to remove the right side panel (the side with the DVD drive). You'll need to take the base off, place the system on its side, lift the back corner and slide the panel off. This isn't in the instruction manual, but you can find it in Sony's own teardown video. The M.2 bay is covered by a small metal shield held in with a Phillips head screwdriver. Once that's off, you can add storage.
You can remove the opposite side panel in a similar fashion. Both sides show part of the PS5's 120mm, double-sided intake fan, and the company also put dust catchers here for you to clean out. Both side panels can be easily slid back on to lock into place. Perhaps one sacrifice of the sliding panels is that the whole thing doesn't feel rock solid, but it's not going to fall apart in your entertainment center either.
PS5 DualSense Controller
The name says it all: With this new controller, Sony is moving on from rumble being the only big haptic experience.
The DualSense maintains a lot of the comfort that I loved from the DualShock 4 on the PS4, so that's a win in itself. It's made of matte plastic with a two-toned look. It's primarily white, with some black accents, including the control sticks, trigger and PlayStation button. It's a futuristic look that goes with the system quite well. In fact, the system looks better with the controller in view. But the controller is also larger and noticeably heavier than the DualShock 4. The controller is about 0.6 pounds and houses a 1,560mAh rechargeable battery. It boasts USB Type-C for charging this time around, rather than micro USB, and the light bar has been moved from the top of the controller to being a strip around the touchpad.
Some things haven't changed. There's the same basic layout, including options and share buttons and the standard PlayStation controllers. There's a headphone jack at the bottom for audio without connecting directly to the system. And, like the PS4 controller, there's a speaker and a touchpad.
But what makes it really special is the new vibration functionality and adaptive triggers. We'll see how those work when we get access to more games and can get to really testing the system. You can see our first impressions using the DualSense in our hands-on with Astro's Playroom, which is preinstalled on the system.
As for more gameplay and more in-depth testing, stay tuned.