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PS5: Release date, launch games, and everything you need to know about the Sony PlayStation 5

PS5
(Image credit: Future)

The PS5 is Sony's brand new gaming console, delivering the next-generation of experiences with a focus on decreased loading times, higher resolutions, and better overall performance. Currently, there are two PS5 variants available - one with, and one without a disc drive - but many are still struggling to find a consistent source of PS5 stock right now. Outside of performance though, the PS5 aims to continue Sony's legacy of delivering top-tier exclusives with its roster of upcoming PS5 games and PS5 exclusives.

Whether you're looking to buy a PS5, already have one, or simply just want to know more about Sony's new PlayStation 5 console, we've got you covered. In this guide, we have everything you need to know from the PS5 price - $499 / £449 for the standard PS5, and $399 / £349 for the Digital Edition - to all the secrets of the PS5 design, and which PS5 accessories you'll want to add to cart before you check out.

Our verdict

PS5

(Image credit: Future)

Read our full PS5 review here

PS5 release date

When was the PS5 release date?

Sony released the PS5 on the following dates in 2020:

  • November 12 (US, Japan, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea)
  • November 19 (Rest of world)

PS5 specs

PS5 specs and performance

(Image credit: Sony PlayStation)

Here's the full list of PS5 specs courtesy of Digital Foundry:

  • CPU: 8x Zen 2 Cores at 3.5GHz (variable frequency)
  • GPU: 10.28TFLOPs, 36 CUs at 2.23GHz (variable frequency)
  • GPU Architecture: Custom RDNA 2
  • Memory/Interface: 16GB GDDR6 / 256=bit
  • Memory Bandwidth: 448GB/s
  • Internal Storage: Custom 825GB SSD
  • IO Throughput: 5.5GB/s (Raw), Typical 8-9GB/s (compressed)
  • Expandable Storage: NVMe SSD Slot
  • External Storage: USB HDD Support
  • Optical Drive: 4K UHD Blu-Ray Drive

The PS5 runs on an AMD CPU chip based on the third generation of AMD's Ryzen line. It's an eight-core, custom-made, beast based on the company's new 7nm Zen 2 microarchitecture. The CPU is a custom variant of AMD Radeon's Navi family, and will support ray tracing - an effect that is a staple of Hollywood, and one that's beginning to appear in high-end PC processors and the Nvidia RTX gaming line. 

The PS5 harnesses the power of the last-generation Zen CPU architecture in conjunction with AMD's freshly revealed Navi graphics architecture. 

A big part of that GPU setup is support for 8K resolutions and ray tracing in PS5 games. The latter is a technology that greatly improves the visual fidelity in games, as it mimics the way light moves and bounces from object to object, particularly reflective surfaces, and refraction through water, other liquids, and glass. Given the proper optimizations, games can exhibit more realistic lighting and shadows as a result. PS5 architect Marc Cerny has said that say ray tracing isn't just about visuals, as it can yield audio enhancements for players and developers alike.

"If you wanted to run tests to see if the player can hear certain audio sources or if the enemies can hear the players’ footsteps, ray tracing is useful for that,” he says. “It's all the same thing as taking a ray through the environment.”

It turns out that Sony is also adding a custom unit for 3D audio in the PS5 too, taking the attention to audio and sound improvements to the next level for its upcoming console. "As a gamer," said Cerny, "it's been a little bit of a frustration that audio did not change too much between PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4. With the next console, the dream is to show how dramatically different the audio experience can be when we apply significant amounts of hardware horsepower to it.”

For gamers though, one of the biggest new improvements for the PS5 specs is the huge decrease in loading times. 

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Thanks to the fact the PS5 is switching from disc-based hard drives to SSDs, Sony also changed its approach to how we store games on the next-gen console. You can now configure exactly what parts of a game you want to store on your machine, "allowing [a] finer-grained access to the data". That means you're able to install just the multiplayer, or just the single-player, or delete one or the other once you're done with it. 

PS5 design

(Image credit: Sony)

The PS5 design is a bold step away from the traditional black box, with both the digital-only and disc drive versions boasting a white and black color scheme and serious curves. Think Wall-E's Eve on her best day. 

DualSense PS5 controller

What is the PS5 controller like?  

PS5 controller, AKA DualSense

(Image credit: Sony)

The PS5 controller, AKA the DualSense, is the successor to the DualShock line. Sony abruptly revealed the controller in April after months of rumors and patents hinting at its functionality, and now we've had it in our hands, we can confirm the DualSense PS5 controller is a thing of magic.

Our verdict

PS5 DualSense

(Image credit: Future)

Read our full DualSense PS5 controller review here

While the DualSense is distinct from the DualShock, its design follows many of the same principles. It's altogether rounder, with a sleek white-on-black aesthetic rather than the usual jet-black default, but the input layout is roughly the same. The light bar on the back of the DualShock 4 is now split between the sides of the central touchpad, and there's a new Create button in place of the Share button, but most everything else is standard for a PlayStation controller. 

The biggest changes and advancements are found on the inside of the DualSense. The high points are:  

  • Haptic feedback: the DualSense delivers "a variety of powerful sensations that you'll feel when you play, such as the slow grittiness of driving a car through mud." The DualShock 4 had rumble functionality, but the DualSense goes much further with more subtle and varied types of feedback. 
  • Adaptive triggers: the L2 and R2 buttons on the DualSense can match tension of in-game actions. Drawing the string on a bow was the example Sony gave, but based on previous accounts, the same can be said of firing a heavy machine gun and the like. Sony also says that the angle of the triggers, relative to the whole controller, has been tweaked slightly
  • Create button: the Share button has been replaced, but the new Create button serves a similar purpose. Sony says that this button will create "new ways for players to create epic gameplay content to share with the world, or just to enjoy for themselves." 
  • Built-in microphone: you read that right - the DualSense has a microphone built right into it, which makes hopping into a chat with friends quick and seamless. 

Other PS5 accessories

(Image credit: Sony)

Here are all the official best PS5 accessories currently available:

  • Pulse 3D wireless headset – offering 3D audio support and dual noise-cancelling microphones
  • HD camera featuring dual 1080p lenses for gamers to broadcast themselves along with their epic gameplay moments
  • Media remote  with built-in microphone to navigate movies and streaming services with ease
  • DualSense charging station for convenient charging of two DualSense Wireless Controllers.

PS5 UI

What is the PS5 UI like?

The PS5 UI was the very last piece of the puzzle to be revealed right at the end of 2020, just before launch. Mere weeks from launch we were finally got a good look at the PS5 user experience, and it's quite the difference from what we've become very familiar with on PS4. The 11-minute video, which you can watch above, showcases several of the new features arriving with the PS5 UI. 

This includes the new Control Centre, which gives you access to a tonne of top features and settings at a single press of the PlayStation button on the new DualSense controller - evolving that sidebar that we've got now on PS4. You can do all of this without leaving a game, from checking who's online, the status of a download, managing your controller, and more.

(Image credit: Sony)

Above the Control Centre, you'll find a series of cards that will give you information tailored to you, from news on the games and publishers you're following, to the latest screenshot you've captured. But, alongside these cards over on the right-hand side, you've also got a new feature called Activities. These Activities are part of Sony's mission to remove barriers from gameplay, allowing you to see key objectives for certain levels, how long you've got left in an activity, and even bring you things like in-game guides for certain games if you're a PlayStation Plus subscriber.

Some of these Activities cards can be pinned to the side of your screen too, which includes some elements of party chat such as Share Screen functionality. Handily, the built-in microphone means you can join in party chat whenever you want too. 

The PlayStation 5 Home Screen offers a hub for each of your games - which includes news, videos, DLC and more in one space. The PlayStation Store has been integrated into this Home Screen too, rather than having to launch a whole new app. 

Take a look at the video for more info!

PS5 backwards compatibility

How does PS5 backwards compatibility work?

The TL;DR answer to that question is that it's really, really simple. You can access all your PS4 games on PS5 via your game library, by inserting the disc, or by transferring your content to PS5. Take a look at the guides below for the specifics:

PS5 VR

What's happening with PS5 PSVR?

PSVR 2 is rumored to appear with PS5.

PSVR 2 is rumored to appear with PS5.

Sony has officially announced that it is working on a PS5 PSVR headset, and although it won't launch in 2021, it aims to offer players "the ultimate entertainment experience with dramatic leaps in performance and interactivity". 

That's according to a PlayStation Blog post on the subject anyway, which sadly didn't give us any glimpses at what the PS5 PSVR will look like. 

What we do know though is that it's going to offer "a next-gen VR system that enhances everything from resolution and field of view to tracking and input. It will connect to PS5 will a single cord to simplify setup and improve ease-of-use, while enabling a high-fidelity visual experience."

There will also be a new VR controller that goes with the new headset. It will incorporate some of the key DualSense features (we're thinking haptic triggers and feedback), but also focus on "great ergonomics". 

"There’s still a lot of development underway for our new VR system, so it won’t be launching in 2021. But we wanted to provide this early update to our fans, as the development community has started to work on creating new worlds for you to explore in virtual reality," explains Hideaki Nishino, senior VP of platform planning and management at Sony.

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