It seems like only yesterday when the PS5 first launched, yet it’s actually been out for over three years now. Yet there’s likely many people who are yet to make the jump from the PS4, whether it’s due to financial constraints or pessimism whether the upgrade is actually worth the steep investment.
If you find yourself in the above situation, then you’re in the right place. In this guide, we’ll be exploring the key differences between the PS4 and PS5 and determine whether or not it’s time for you to upgrade.
So without further ado, here are the key differences between the PS4 and PS5 consoles.
The PS4 is no longer being manufactured, so it is very difficult to find in stock. It previously retailed for £249.99, although you may find it even cheaper now, especially if you’re willing to buy it second-hand.
The original edition of the PS5 is no longer in production, and so can only be purchased second-hand or in a retailer clearout. It’s currently available in retailers such as Game for around £450.
Instead, Sony has released a sleeker model of the PS5 (dubbed the PS5 Slim by fans) which is available in two different flavours: £479.99/$499.99 for the standard model with a detachable disk drive, and £389.99/$449.99 for the digital model which does not come with a disk drive.
The PS5 and PS4 consoles look very different. The PS4 looks like a plastic black box, with diagonal edges giving it a little bit of styling and the PlayStation logo slapped on top.
The PS5 looks far more extravagant, with huge white faceplates on both sides. This makes it harder for the PS5 to blend into your home entertainment setup, sticking out like a sore thumb.
The PS5 is also noticeably larger than the PS5, making it more difficult to slot in a cupboard underneath your TV. Sony has a good reason for this, as it has expanded the cooling system to make the thermals more efficient. As a result, the PS5 runs far more quietly than its predecessor.
The PS5 can also be customised with other face plates. So while it comes in white at default, Sony also offers faceplates in blue, pink, purple, black and more. The PS4 can’t be customised in the same way, although you can sometimes purchase special editions that look more unique.
Both the PS4 and PS5 support horizontal and vertical placements, although switching between the alignments is more of a hassle with the PS5. Instead of just flipping it on its side, you need to make some adjustments to the stand.
Just like the PS4, the PS5 has a disk drive. That said, you can purchase a Digital Edition at a slightly cheaper price which forgoes the disk drive. The new PS5 Slim model (pictured above) has a detachable disk drive. This provides more flexibility, so you can switch to the slimmer and more elegant design whenever you don’t need to use a physical disk.
The PS5 Slim is also thinner than the original version, although it’s still noticeably larger than the PS4 console.
Specs and performance
We’ve compiled the technical specifications of both machines below so you have a concrete idea of how they compare. Obviously, the PS5 is significantly more powerful given it’s essentially the next evolution of Sony’s console brand.
|8x Zen 2 Cores at 3.5GHz (variable frequency)
|8x Jaguar Cores at 1.6GHz
|10.28 TFLOPs, 36 CUs at 2.23GHz (variable frequency)
|1.84 TFLOPs, 18 CUs at 800MHz
|Custom RDNA 2
|16GB GDDR6 / 256-bit
|8GB GDDR5 / 254-bit
|Custom 825GB SSD
|5.5GB/s (RAW), Typical 8-9 GB/s (Compressed)
|Approx 50-100MB/s (dependent on data location on HDD)
|NVMe SSD Slot
|Replaceable internal HDD
|USB HDD Support
|USB HDD Support
|4K UHD Blu-Ray Drive
With such power, the PS5 is able to play modern games in 4K. Sometimes you’re also able to play games at a high frame rate, with a maximum output of 120fps. This makes fast motion appear smoother, which is important for eSports games since it gives you a competitive edge.
The PS5 also supports ray tracing, which allows games to make use out of more realistic lighting and shadow effects. However, it’s rare for a game to be able to run in both 4K and ray tracing without seeing the frame rate drop down to 30fps. The PS5 may be powerful, but it still has to make several compromises when running modern games.
So if you’ve got a 4K TV or monitor, games should look substantially better on the PS4. The added power also enables the newer console to up the graphics settings for a high visual fidelity.
The most obvious performance upgrade can be seen through the SSD upgrade though. By adopting an NVMe SSD, the PS5 is now able to load games in a matter of seconds. Games such as Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart have taken advantage of this technology, allowing characters to travel between game worlds in a blink of an eye. In comparison, PS4 users will usually have to wait a few minutes to load up a new game world.
The PS5 is backwards compatible, which means it can run virtually any PS4 game, either via a disk or a digital download. However, this is not a two-way relationship.
There are a number of PS5 games that are too demanding for the PS4 specs, and so are not able to run on the older console. These include Returnal, Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart, Demon’s Souls and Marvel’s Spider-Man 2.
However, this list isn’t as long as we would expect from a console over three years into its lifecycle. Flagship PlayStation games of recent years, such as God of War Ragnarok and Horizon Forbidden West, are available on the PS4 as well as the PS5. This is surprising, although we don’t expect this trend to continue for much longer.
From 2024 onwards, it seems highly likely that Sony will switch attention to making PS5-only exclusives, finally leaving the PS4 behind when it comes to game compatibility. So if you’re eager to play all of the latest cutting-edge PlayStation games, then it may well be time to finally upgrade to the PS5.
Sony has introduced some major upgrades to the PS5 compared to the older PS4, with a more powerful graphics performance to better support 4K resolutions, faster loading times thanks to the new SSD and superior cooling to prevent the console’s fans from ever becoming too loud. There’s no doubt that the PS5 is the better console when it comes to specs.
However, the jury is still out whether the steep price is worthwhile. The new PS5 Slim model costs as much as £479.99/$499.99 if you want a physical disk drive. And yet, there aren’t quite as many games that take full advantage of the console’s hardware in 2024 as we had previously hoped for.
That is expected to change very soon though. Upcoming games such as Wolverine and Grand Theft Auto VI are not expected to be available on PS4. So if you’re looking forward to either of those games, it’s worth looking to upgrade to the PS5 in the near future. We also suggest that you purchase a 4K TV ahead of the PS5, as otherwise you will be wasting one of the best features of Sony’s latest console.