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PS4 vs PS5: should you upgrade?

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

The launch of a new PlayStation is a major event, not only for gamers, but for anyone interested in home entertainment. Because consoles aren't just for gaming, they're all-singing, all-dancing multimedia devices that can deliver all types of content, including movies and music.

And unlike smartphones, you won't be tempted to buy a new one every year. The most recent Sony console was the PlayStation 4 Pro, which launched in 2016. And the actual PS4 itself launched all the way back in 2013. So to say the follow-up is long-awaited would be putting it mildly.

Excitement is already building, with Sony unveiling the hardware and a bevvy of blockbuster games at a recent PlayStation event. But if you already own a current PS4, do the differences between the consoles mean you should consider upgrading to a PS5?

This page aims to answer that question, with a rundown of what the PS5 can do and how it compares to PS4. We'll cover all the main areas like price, specs and games to give you an early idea of what to expect. Because as with any big purchasing decision, forewarned is forearmed.

PS4 vs PS5: price

PS4 vs PS5: should you upgrade?

(Image credit: Sony PlayStation)

We don't know the exact PS5 price yet, but we do know one thing: it won't come cheap. It's shaping up to be an absolute powerhouse of a console, after all, and that kind of performance commands top dollar.

The good news for those wanting to keep costs down is there's a cheaper PS5 on the way, the PlayStation 5 Digital Edition. This version of the PS5 doesn't have a 4K Blu-ray disc drive, which should help keep the price down, just like the rumoured Xbox Series S. However, whether the lack of a disc drive is the only difference between the two PlayStations remains to be seen.

So how much are we expecting to pay?

According to @IronManPS5, we'll pay £449 ($499, approx AU$730) for the top-tier console, and £349 ($399, approx AU$506) for the disc-less version. That's £100/$100 difference between the two, which seems realistic.

Of course, these prices aren't official. Sony likely won't announce the prices until closer to launch, so we have a bit of a wait yet. There's always the chance that Sony might charge a little more for both: around £499/$499 for the full-fat console, and £399/$399 for the digital-only. But given current expectations, anything over £500/$500 would be pushing it.

While we're not expecting any deals on the standalone console at launch, there should be a few PS5 bundles around. These will be more expensive than just buying the console on its own, but they do offer better value if you want a specific game or two to play on the PS5.

PS4 vs PS5: specs

PS4 vs PS5: should you upgrade?

(Image credit: PlayStation)

The PS5 has a 4K Blu-ray drive. This is one of the highlights of the new PlayStation, and a big step on from the PlayStation 4, which didn't double as a 4K Blu-ray player. So if you want your games console to work as the heart of your home entertainment set-up, that's a major box ticked.

As for power, it has oodles (that's a technical term). Here are the PlayStation 5 specs:

CPU: AMD Zen 2-based CPU with 8 cores at 3.5GHz (variable frequency)
GPU: 10.28 TFLOPs, 36 CUs at 2.23GHz (variable frequency)
RAM: 16GB GDDR6
Frame rate: Up to 120fps
Resolution: Up to 8K
Optical: 4K UHD Blu-ray drive
Storage: Custom 825GB SSD (plus expandable storage)

To compare, here are the PlayStation 4 specs:

CPU: 8-core AMD x86-64 Jaguar 1.6 GHz CPU
GPU: Custom AMD GCN Radeon integrated into APU; clocked at 800MHz
RAM: 8GB GDDR5
Frame rate: Up to 60fps
Resolution: Up to 1080p HD
Optical: Blu-ray drive
Storage: 500GB HDD (plus expandable storage)

PS4 vs PS5: should you upgrade?

(Image credit: Sony)

As you can see, the PS5 looks like the much faster console. Its processor is more than twice as powerful, as is the graphics engine. It also uses a solid state drive (SSD) instead of hard drive, which will speed up operations considerably. According to Sony, the inclusion of an SSD will give the console 100x faster loading speeds compared to a hard drive. So hardly any time will be wasted on load screens, and you should encounter extremely quick boot-up and streaming speeds.

Games should appear slicker with twice the frame rate possible, and the fact PS5 doubles as a 4K Blu-ray player means it should slot effortlessly into your surround sound system. Splendid.

Sony is also overhauling its dashboard for the PS5, so we should get an improved user interface, too. And there are some new accessories on the way.

PS4 vs PS5: should you upgrade?

(Image credit: Sony)

The new DualSense controller promises to deliver greater immersion through an enhanced sense of touch, plus it has a built-in mic, so you don't necessarily need a gaming headset to chat with friends online. Though if you do want a headset, Sony has you covered. 

Its new Pulse 3D headset looks similar to the current Platinum Wireless Headset, albeit with much more matte white on show, to match the PS5's aesthetic. It's likely to be the best way to experience Sony's 3D audio, and judging from how good Sony's recent headsets have been, we're looking forward to trying it.

There's also Sony's new Media Remote, which will hopefully make using the PS5 as a 4K Blu-ray player and video streamer as intuitive as possible. The last couple of official Sony PS5 accessories are a DualSense Charging Station (for docking and charging two controllers at once) and HD Camera. Expect more accessories to be announced closer to launch, including the usual glut of third-party offerings.

While Sony is yet to confirm if the PS4's DualShock 4 controllers will work with the PS5, we hope they will. However, PS4 controllers won't have the enhanced haptic feedback and adaptive trigger resistance you'll get from the PS5 controller. There's also a chance that you will only be able to use PS4 controllers to play PS4 games on the PS5, but Sony's being tight-lipped on the situation.

PS4 vs PS5: picture and sound

PS4 vs PS5: should you upgrade?

(Image credit: Future)

First, the good news for home cinema buffs: the PlayStation 5 has a 4K Blu-ray drive. That means it can spin all your favourite 4K Blu-rays, so you won't have to fall back on your ageing DVD collection.

The PlayStation 4 lacked the ability to play 4K Blu-rays, so it's heartening to see Sony right that wrong. The Xbox One X and One S also support 4K Blu-rays, as will the Xbox Series X, so it would have been a strange decision by Sony not to include this feature.

If you're not that fussed about 4K Blu-ray discs - maybe you prefer streaming, or will be using it purely as a gaming machine - you can always opt for the PS5 Digital Edition, which doesn't have a disc drive. That means it can't play games from a disc, but as long as you have a robust internet connection, streaming and downloading content to the console should do you fine.

There's been no word on whether the PS5 will come with streaming apps like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney Plus out of the box, but we'd like to think it will. Some previous consoles made us wait for a software update before being able to easily access these services, but hopefully, Sony has got its act together on this front for the PS5.

The PS5 will support 8K video, but there's been no real word on whether any launch titles will take advantage of this resolution. Even if they do, you 'll still need an 8K TV to get any benefit.

The PS4 and PS4 Pro support HDR, so we would expect the PS5 to do the same. These consoles support HDR10, and we assume the PS5 will support more advanced HDR formats like Dolby Vision too. Time to make sure you've got an HDR TV that's up to scratch.

Now, the bad news: it looks like the PS5 won't support Dolby Atmos or DTS:X audio, at least for gaming. Microsoft's games consoles support both for games and 4K Blu-ray playback, which could leave Sony's console at a serious disadvantage.

The Japanese giant could be looking to achieve the same effect using its own sound technology. Sony has said PS5 3D Audio will set a 'gold standard' for console sound and will output native 3D audio. Sony's Pulse 3D headset will be enabled for 3D audio, but even standard headphones plugged into the DualSense controller should work with the PS5's 3D Audio processing. The console could also work with Sony's own 360 Reality Audio format.

It's worth noting that Sony hasn't ruled out Dolby Atmos support completely, so there's every chance it could be in place by the time the PS5 goes on sale. This would be especially handy for films and TV shows - Netflix, Amazon Video and 4K Blu-ray discs all use the format, so it wouldn't make sense to ignore Dolby Atmos completely.

PS4 vs PS5: games

PS4 vs PS5: should you upgrade?

(Image credit: Marvel)

Sony held an event in June 2020 at which it unveiled a whole host of PS5 games. These include:

Astro’s Playroom; Demon’s Souls; Destruction All Stars; Gran Turismo 7; Horizon Forbidden West; Marvel’s Spider-Man Miles Morales; Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart; Returnal; Sackboy A Big Adventure; Bugsnax; Deathloop; Ghostwire; Godfall; Goodbye Volcano High; Grand Theft Auto V; Grand Theft Auto Online; Hitman 3; JETT : The Far Shore; Kena: Bridge of the Spirits; Little Devil Inside; NBA 2K21; Oddworld Soulstorm; Pragmata; Project Athia; Resident Evil Village; Solar Ash; Stray; Tribes of Midgard; and The Pathless.

Other titles also on the way include Assassin's Creed Valhalla; Cyberpunk 2077; Outriders; The Lord of the Rings: Gollum; Madden 21; Quantum Error; Cris Tales; Sherlock Holmes: Chapter One; Dustborn; Metal: Hellsinger; Chivalry 2; Paradise Lost; Dirt 5; WRC 9; Chorus; Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines; and Observer: System Redux.

Some of these, such as Marvel’s Spider-Man Miles Morales, will be available at the console's launch, while others will land in the months that follow.

The PS5 will be backwards compatible, so you can play PS4 games on it. Sony has confirmed that the "overwhelming majority" of the PS4's 4,000+ titles will be playable on the new console.

Sony is yet to confirm if the PS5 is compatible with Sony's PlayStation Now service. If it is, you'll be able to stream all manner of PS4, PS3 and PS2 titles on the PS5.

PS4 vs PS5: verdict

Without testing the new console, we can't say for sure whether it's worth upgrading from the PS4. But given the differences on paper, there really is lots to look forward to from the PS5. It's super powerful, has a range of accessories, and supports 4K Blu-rays. And, there's always the PS5 Digital Edition, if you want to save yourself a bit of money.

Add an impressive list of games, some cool accessories and a natty new controller, and you have what looks like quite a proposition on your hands. We can't wait to get our hands on one!

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