PS5 Digital Edition review: The return of the king

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Sony Corp.’s PlayStation brand has held a long reign as a best-selling video game console. Each generation has led a long-standing tradition of pairing state-of-the-art technology with exclusive franchise titles. The latest version, the PlayStation 5, continues its command of high-tech hardware at a mass market price, particularly with the PS5 Digital Edition.

At $399, the PS5 DE is an exceptional value. It holds the same internal configuration as the PS5 – an eight-core AMD Ryzen CPU based on the 7nm AMD Zen 2 architecture at 3.5Ghz variable frequency, custom Radeon GPU with 36 compute units at 2.23Ghz for 10.28 TFLOPs capability, 16GB GDDR6 RAM, and a 825GB SSD for storage. Absent is a 4K Blu-ray disc drive, which subsequently cuts the price by $100 and affords the console chassis symmetrical proportions.

The design of the hardware is regal in its poised stature, commanding size, and excessive side panels that bend outward like a stiff collar. It has a polarizing look that dominates its space, yet begs to be leered at like an avante-garde statue. The final product is unlike any console before it but one that will likely have users waiting for a more conventional ‘slim’ version in several years.

Its large footprint is no doubt to maintain even heat distribution as the CPU and GPU work to deliver 4K/60FPS fidelity – and deliver it does. Demon’s Souls, a remake of the 2009 action RPG, is a medieval masterpiece that is as diabolically dark as it is beautiful in dynamic 4K/60FPS.

ASTRO’s PLAYGROUND, rendered at native 4K/60FPS, is a pre-loaded 3D platform title built to showcase the brilliant new DualSense Controller. From tiny footsteps to gusts of wind, all of it is felt through the controller’s impressive haptic feedback. Combined with adaptive triggers, which add resistance to each downward press, the PS5 delivers an exclusive sensory experience that pushes the boundaries of console controller engineering.

While not overtly marketed, select PS4 games see more stable frame rates and faster loading speeds by leveraging Game Boost for backward compatible titles. Resident Evil 6 for PS4 booted in less than five seconds and held a constant 60FPS.

The PS5 UI, like generations before, is refined toward better ease-of-use. From the new Control Center bar to quick access system functions to Activities cards that relay level progression and hints, the interface is intuitive and unfussy. In addition, the PlayStation Store is fully integrated into the UI for seamless browsing and purchasing.

The internal 825GB SSD relegates load times to seconds. At launch, Sony does not allow for internal SSD storage expansion, but the motherboard does include a slot for future expansion.

A machine as poised as the PS5 can still encounter pedestrian problems. Demon’s Souls froze at the launch screen several times and the title can boot users back to the Home screen if it can’t detect an online connection.

With the PS5, it sits measured and confident in its power, prestige, and nobility. Whether it maintains command in the latest console war remains to be seen. But there is little doubt that the king has returned.


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