PS4 vs PS5: should you upgrade?

PS4 vs PS5: should you upgrade?
(Image credit: Future)

As we noted in our five-star review, the PS5 delivers a "true next-gen gaming experience" and doubles as an all-singing, all-dancing multimedia device that can stream movies, music and more. But should you upgrade to a PS5 if you already own a PS4? Joysticks at the ready, as we bring you the ultimate PS4 vs PS5 comparison...   

The PS4 itself launched all the way back in 2013, followed by the PlayStation 4 Pro in 2016. The PS5 finally hit stores in November 2020, offering a bevvy of blockbuster games and next-gen features such as 3D audio and silky-smooth 4K video at 120fps. 

Sony's next-gen console has been such a hit that stock is hard to come by (here's where to buy a PS5, if you're struggling). Considering that most current and upcoming PS5 games are or will be coming to the last-gen PS4 anyway, you might be wondering if it's actually worth buying a PS5.

This page aims to answer that question, with a complete rundown of the PS4 vs PS5. We'll cover price, specs, games and more to help you make the right choice at the checkout.

PS4 vs PS5: price

PS4 vs PS5: should you upgrade?

(Image credit: Sony PlayStation)

The PS5 is a powerhouse of a console so it commands top dollar. Prices start at £449 ($499, AU$749) for a PS5, and £359 ($399, AU$599) for the PS5 Digital Edition. The latter is identical to the standard PS5 in terms of performance and specs, but lacks an optical disc drive. Both models come with 825GB of SSD storage. 

The original PS4 has long disappeared from shelves, having been replaced by the PS4 Slim (referred to from here on in as simply 'PS4') in 2016. You can pick up the 500GB PS4 for £259 ($299, AU$440). There's also the 4K-capable PS4 Pro, which hit shelves at £349 ($399, AU$559) in 2016. 

The good news for those buying a PS4 or PS4 Pro is that both have plunged in price during the seasonal sales – here's today's best PS4 deals. The less-good news is that Sony plans to axe most PS4 models, though it will continue to support the PS4 family in terms of games and features for years to come.

Ultimately, if you're looking for a bargain the PS4 wins hands down – it's almost half the price of the PS5.

** Winner: PS4 **

PS4 vs PS5: spec

PS4 vs PS5: should you upgrade?

(Image credit: PlayStation)

When it come to power, PS5 vs PS4 isn't really a fair fight. The PS5 boasts the latest AMD Zen 2 processor capable of 3D audio and 8K video output, while the PS4 makes do with a much older AMD Jaguar chip that's good for 1080p HD video. 

The PS5 also boasts more RAM (16GB vs 8GB), can display higher frame rates (120fps vs 60fps) and sports a faster GPU (2.23GHz vs 0.8GHz). The PS5 wins the storage war, too: it has a custom 825GB Solid State Drive (SSD) that does a fabulous job of shrinking loading times. The PS4 uses a slower, mechanical 500GB Hard Disc Drive (HDD), which loads games up to 19 times slower than the PS5, according to Sony's own calculations.

In gamer language, the PS5 "owns" the PS4 – which it to be expected given the significant age gap. The PS4 Pro – Sony's mid-generation model – provides a decent jump in performance over the PS4 and 1TB of HDD storage. It also supports 4K video, too, so you can stream 4K video from Netflix et al. That said, games rarely run in true, native 4K and frame rates still top out at 60fps. It lacks many of the extra graphical flourishes enabled by the PS5's extra power, too.

** Winner: PS5 **

PS4 vs PS5: features

PS4 vs PS5: should you upgrade?

(Image credit: Sony)

The PS5 offers some major advantages over the PS4, and perhaps the biggest for is its 4K Blu-ray drive. This is one of the highlights of the new PlayStation, and a big step on from the PlayStation 4, which can't play 4K Blu-rays. If you want your games console to work as the heart of your home entertainment set-up, the fact that it can spin 4K discs (which still far outweigh streaming in terms of picture and sound quality) is a big deal.

The PS5 also comes supplied with Sony's latest DualSense controller, which delivers greater immersion through an enhanced sense of touch. The controller also boasts an integrated mic, so you don't necessarily need a gaming headset to chat with friends online. In our review, we hailed the DualSense as "a massive step up from its DualShock predecessor". 

While neither the PS4 or PS5 support Dolby Atmos for games, the PS5 features a new audio engine known as Tempest 3D. It delivers convincing 3D audio, which can be enjoyed through Sony's Pulse 3D headset or, when plugged into the DualSense controller, any standard pair of wired headphones. This really is a big deal in terms of making immersive, cinematic sound available to everyone.

In terms of apps, there's little between the PS4 and PS5. NetflixAmazon Prime Video and Apple TV are all present in 4K HDR (the standard PS4 won't output 4K, of course). Disney+ is on board, along with localised on-demand TV apps. And, just like on PS4, you can play your favourite tracks from Spotify as background music while you game.

All in all, the PS5 offers a bigger and better selection of features but, once again, that's only what you'd expect from the newer machine.

**Winner: PS5**

PS4 vs PS5: picture and sound

PS4 vs PS5: should you upgrade?

(Image credit: Future)

As soon as you turn the PS5 on, it’s clear that this is a next-generation console. From the 4K HDR user interface to smooth 4K/60Hz (and even 120Hz) gaming, it offers a super-polished performance. And when it comes to 4K Blu-rays, we’re impressed by the PS5's depth, solidity and three-dimensionality.  

The PS5 runs compatible games in 4K at a consistent 60 frames per second, with the option to further enhance the visuals by enabling beautiful ray tracing or upping the 60Hz frame rate to 120Hz. The PS4 does not offer either of these features, although it does support HDR. As such, the PS4 remains a decent option for those with an HDR TV. But if you've got a TV that also supports 4K@120Hz or you simply want you games to look as gorgeous as possible, you really need to be aiming for the PS5.

As for sound, the PS5 produces an open, spacious and atmospheric sound. Sony's 3D audio technology delivers good placement of effects and a convincing sense of three-dimensionality. When combined with the ray tracing, you'll find that PS5  games look and sound a lot more realistic than their PS4 counterparts.

** Winner: PS5 **

PS4 vs PS5: games

PS4 vs PS5: should you upgrade?

(Image credit: Marvel)

Here's where the PS4 comes into own. There are more than 4000 PS4 games available right now, and the discs are typically much cheaper than PS5 equivalents. Better still, Sony has confirmed that a number of top PS5 titles will be available for the PS4, so there's no need to rush out and upgrade.

However, if you choose to splash out on a PS5 you'll enjoy the best of both worlds. All but a tiny handful of PS4 games are playable on the PS5. Furthermore, a subscription to PlayStation Plus (£5/$5 per month) offers PS5 owners free access to 20 of the best-ever PS4 titles, including Uncharted 4 and God of War. Those with a PS4 and PlayStation Plus won't be able to access the same perk.

The PS5 also boasts a few exclusive next-gen titles. Those with a PS4 Pro can grab a copy of Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales, but the brilliant Demon's Souls and Astro's Playroom (which comes pre-installed on the console) can only be played on PS5. Other PS5 exclusives are on the way, such as God of War: Ragnarok, Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart, Gran Turismo 7 and Returnal, and that list is only going to get longer as time goes on.

So, both machines boast an abundance of games, but while the PlayStation 4 offers more bang for your buck, if you want those games to look and play at their best and you don't want to miss out on future blockbusters, you have to get a PlayStation 5.

** Winner: PS5 **

PS4 vs PS5: verdict

PS4 vs PS5 is an epic battle worthy of two of the 21st century's greatest games consoles. Whether you choose the PS4 or PS5 really comes down to your budget. The PS4 is almost half the price of its cutting-edge rival and is a cheap way to access the impressive back catalogue of PlayStation games. You'll be limited to HD unless you go for the PS4 Pro, but if you can live with that, the PS4 remains a good buy.

If you can afford to spend a bit more, the PS5 is a no-brainer and an undeniably better long-term buy. It brings a ton of next-gen upgrades and doubles as a 4K Blu-ray player. It's also super-powerful, supports some smart accessories and offers spectacular 4K (and potentially 8K) gaming.

As for those of you who already have a PS4 and are mulling over the question of whether to upgrade, we suggest that depends on whether you've already got or are about to buy a new TV that will make the most of the PS5's enhanced visuals and 120Hz output (check out this list of the best gaming TVs), and whether there's an exclusive PS5 game that you're desperate to play. There's no harm in waiting for, say, God of War: Ragnarok to be released before you trade in your existing console for a shiny new PS5 – there might even be plenty of stock around by then...

** Overall winner: PS5 **


Read our in-depth review of the Sony PS5 and PS4 Pro

Get gaming for less with the best PS4 and PS4 Pro deals

Next-gen consoles compared: PS5 vs Xbox Series X

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