PS4 vs. PS5

The Sony PlayStation 5 is finally here — and although it may not be the world’s fastest console, it’s a significant upgrade over the PlayStation 4. With a whole new architecture, superior resolution support, and faster storage thanks to the SSD, the PS5 console is better than the PS4 in almost every way.

From specs to design details to its expected game lineup, we know everything there is to know about the next-generation console. There’s a lot to talk about here, so let’s waste no time in comparing PS4 vs. PS5.

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PS4 vs. PS5 specs

Even a cursory glance at the specs of the PS5 shows that it’s in a different league than the PS4 (and even the PS4 Pro). Sony has improved the capabilities of its platform in every way, adding more efficient storage, faster compute parts, support for larger capacity disks, and support for higher resolutions. We know there are two versions of the PS5 — the Standard Edition and Digital Edition — both of which will offer the same specs (with the exception of the omission of a disc drive with the Digital Edition).

PlayStation 5 PlayStation 4 PlayStation 4 Pro
CPU 8-core, 16 thread, up to 3.5Ghz
(variable frequency)
8 Jaguar Cores, 1.6GHz 8 Jaguar Cores, 2.1GHz
GPU 36 CUs at 2.23GHz, 10.3 TFLOPs
(variable frequency)
18 CUs at 800MHz, 1.84 TFLOPS 36 CUs at 911Mhz, 4.2 TFLOPS
Memory 16GB GDDR6 8GB GDDR5 8GB GDDR5
Internal Storage Custom 825GB SSD 500GB, 1TB HDD 1TB HDD
External Storage NVMe SSD slot, USB HDD 2.5-inch HDD, USB HDD 2.5-inch HDD, USB HDD
Optical Drive Ultra HD Blu-ray Blu-ray Blu-ray
Video Output 4K at 120Hz, 8K 1080p 4K

We’ll get into the specifics of most of these specs throughout this comparison. As a general note, though, it’s important to consider the context of these specs. The PS5 is a much newer console built on a different architecture, and because of that, some of the specs shouldn’t be directly compared.

For example, the PS5 and PS4 Pro have the same number of compute units (CU), but the PS5’s CUs have a much higher transistor density, making them more powerful than the PS4 Pro’s CUs. That said, other specs can be directly compared. The PS5 has a strictly better optical drive and resolution support, for example.

PS4 vs. PS5 graphics

(Credit: Sony)

The PS4 and PS5 are both based on custom AMD Radeon chips, though the latter packs a lot more of a punch. Sony is boasting twice the number of CUs on the PS5 as well as significantly higher clock speed. However, the biggest difference between the two comes with the ever-important TFLOPs.

“Teraflops” is a hot term for console developers, and for good reason. Although TFLOPS aren’t holistically indicative of performance, it’s a solid number to refer to when making comparisons. The PS4, with its 18 CUs running at 800MHz, clocks in at 1.84 TFLOPS, meaning it can handle 1.84 trillion floating-point operations per second. By contrast, the PS5’s GPU is rated for 10.3 TFLOPs.

Referring to that single number, the PS5’s GPU is roughly eight times more powerful than the PS4 and two and a half times more powerful than the PS4 Pro. Sony is able to achieve such high performance because of the PS5’s 36 CUs and higher clock speed. Over the PS4, the PS5’s cores run at 2.23GHz with variable frequency.

While a higher clock speed is expected, we’re more interested in variable frequency. Speed is capped at 2.23GHz, though it will lower based on what’s required of the GPU. Locked at 800MHz, the PS4 varies power based on the workload to meet the clock speed. More demanding games require more power, but the speed is always 800MHz.

For the next generation, power is the constant and clock speed is the variable. In the PS5 technical reveal, system architect Mark Cerny explained why this was the case, stating that a graphics core with 36 CUs running at 1GHz would produce the same number of TFLOPs as a 48 CU core running at 750MHz — 4.6 TFLOPS — but gaming performance would not be equal.

The general idea is that higher clock speed is better, not more CUs, as the extra, slower units wouldn’t have enough computing work to pull their weight. By allowing variable frequency, the PS5’s GPU can achieve much higher clock speeds than expected, so long as the higher frequency can be supported by the system’s power budget.

So far, we’ve compared PS4 vs. PS5 graphics on raw numbers, but that doesn’t take into account the latter system’s more modern architecture. Each of the PS5’s CUs has roughly 60 percent more transistors than a PS4 CU. As Cerny pointed out in his presentation, that means the 36 CUs of the PS5 equal the same performance as 58 PS4 CUs.

In short, the graphical capabilities of the PS5 are massively more impressive than the PS4. The PS5’s GPU will have more cores, and those cores will be faster and more efficient.

PS4 vs. PS5 resolution

The PS5’s increased graphical fidelity is, presumably, to push games to resolutions never seen before. For output, the PS5 supports 4K at 120Hz and 8K, both with a variable refresh rate as determined by HDMI 2.1. By contrast, the base PS4 can output at 1080p, often decreasing resolution in-game based on power consumption, and the PS4 Pro can output at 4K.

Sony including an HDMI 2.1 output is very forward-thinking, even if most TVs don’t include an HDMI 2.1 port quite yet. The new standard supports higher resolutions and frame rates, but those upper limits won’t matter for years, or even decades. More important to gaming, HDMI 2.1 supports a variable refresh rate, which will prevent screen tearing.

Going into the next console generation, we suspect resolution will be a key marketing point, as Microsoft and Sony already have pushed that their consoles are capable of 8K resolutions. Although this is true — and exciting, even — that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be playing games at 8K.

8K displays will likely become more common towards the end of the PS5’s life cycle. For now, the focus is on 4K. The big deal with the PS5 is support for 120Hz displays, as there’s already a slew of TVs and monitors that support 4K and higher refresh rates. Assuming the GPU has the horsepower to push 60 frames per second and above, you should be able to take advantage of a high refresh rate TV with the PS5.

PS4 vs. PS5 price

It’s the dawn of a new generation.

As #PS5 begins to launch around the world, a message from PlayStation President & CEO Jim Ryan: https://t.co/SeyMmfoA3y pic.twitter.com/lDM0l6Ska9

— PlayStation (@PlayStation) November 12, 2020

With the massively improved specs and the implementation of the SSD, it makes sense that the PS5 will be more expensive than the PS4. The Standard Edition will cost $499.99, while the Digital Edition will set you back $399.99. Given the PS5’s speed and the fact that it’ll play 99% of your PS4 games, the value is absolutely there. You effectively would have no need for a PS4 once you get a PS5.

Interestingly, the PS4 isn’t much less expensive than the PS5. You can currently grab a 1TB PS4 Slim model for around $299.99, and a 1TB PS4 Pro for $399.99. At that point, you might as well grab a PS5, since it will do nearly everything the PS4 does — but better. It’s surprising to see such a minor price difference between the two, but with the current landscape of video games, console manufacturers must remain competitive with their prices.

PS4 vs. PS5 storage

(Credit: Sony)

The PS5 isn’t seeing an upgrade in storage capacity over the PS4, or at least, over the PS4 Pro. If you’re still holding onto an original PS4, you’ll see slightly more storage, with the base PS4 model sporting 500GB of storage and the PS5 shipping with 825GB. Those with a later PS4 model or the Pro are actually seeing a decrease in capacity, losing about 175GB of space.

Performance is the key difference. The PS5 includes a custom SSD with a raw read bandwidth of 5.5GB/s. Sony’s new storage medium is built specifically for the PS5, allowing it to more effectively communicate with the PS5’s architecture. That’s why the 825GB capacity may seem a bit stra

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