5 fixes the PS5 still needs

Even if you can find one, the PlayStation 5 still has some kinks to iron out.

Dan Ackerman Editorial Director / Computers and Gaming
Dan Ackerman leads CNET's coverage of computers and gaming hardware. A New York native and former radio DJ, he's also a regular TV talking head and the author of "The Tetris Effect" (Hachette/PublicAffairs), a non-fiction gaming and business history book that has earned rave reviews from the New York Times, Fortune, LA Review of Books, and many other publications. "Upends the standard Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs/Mark Zuckerberg technology-creation myth... the story shines." -- The New York Times
Expertise I've been testing and reviewing computer and gaming hardware for over 20 years, covering every console launch since the Dreamcast and every MacBook...ever. Credentials
  • Author of the award-winning, NY Times-reviewed nonfiction book The Tetris Effect; Longtime consumer technology expert for CBS Mornings
Dan Ackerman
5 min read

The PlayStation 5 has lived up to its reputation as a forward-looking next-gen console. In my original launch review, I said, "The powerful new PlayStation 5 console towers over its predecessor, both physically and in its forward-looking graphics capabilities ... The design is bold [and] the new controller is a big step forward, both in ergonomics and features." 

But that doesn't mean the PS5 is flawless. An early issue with machines going into rest mode has been fixed, and after being nearly forgotten at launch, we finally have our first look at what virtual reality on the PS5 will look like, thanks to some new PSVR 2 controller images. Another new wrinkle is the potential loss of future Bethesda games, now that the Fallout and Elder Scrolls publisher is part of the Microsoft empire

Beyond that, these are our biggest current issues with the PlayStation 5.

Read more: PS5 review: Exclusive games power Sony's sky-high space-age console

Limited expandable storage 

The biggest PS5 elephant in the room is its limited storage space for games. There's basically just under 700GB of available SSD space. Most PS5 games will take up between 40GB and 80GB, with a few like Call of Duty Black Ops blowing past the 100GB mark. 

That means adding new games can mean deleting old ones, which you'll have to download again to play again, which takes time and eats up lots of bandwidth. Just hook up an external USB drive, right? Think again. As Sony itself says:

"You can download PS4 games and add-ons from PlayStation Store directly to the extended storage and move games from your PlayStation 4 system storage to extended storage. You can play PS4 games directly from an extended storage drive, which gives you more room on your PS5 system storage for PS5 games."

That means you can't currently play PS5 games from an external drive, but there has been a recent change. As part of an April software update, you'll now be able to shuffle PS5 game files onto an external drive. Sony says, "You can now transfer your PS5 games to USB extended storage from your console's internal storage ... and you can seamlessly copy your PS5 games back to the console's internal storage when you're ready to play."

That means you can shift a PS5 game to the external storage to free up space on the internal SSD, but you'll have to make space and transfer it back to play. PS5 games also can't be directly downloaded to external storage. 

Don't forget that there's also an M.2 accessory expansion slot built right into the back of the console. But... it's currently disabled. Sony says: "The PS5 console will support storage expansion via M.2 drives in the future. We're currently working on this feature and will keep you posted with any updates."

Dan Ackerman/CNET

Controller drift 

Almost immediately, some PS5 gamers claimed to experience controller drift, which means one or both analog joysticks registered movement even if you weren't touching it. It's a known issue with many game controllers (including Nintendo's Joy-Cons) and we previously wrote about it here

Why does this happen? It's because no matter how fancy a game controller is, it probably uses off-the-shelf joystick parts, which are prone to wear and tear. The always excellent team at iFixit did a deep dive into the DualSense controller and found a joystick assembly like this might have a useful lifespan of between 278 and 417 hours, which serious gamers could hit in a matter of months. 

For what it's worth, I haven't had any drift issues so far, and for me the DualSense is still the most impressive part of the PS5 hardware package. 

You still can't actually buy one

Five months into the PS5 era, and it's still virtually impossible to buy one. We track PS5 restocks very carefully, offering updates whenever possible, but even that hasn't helped many gamers get a PS5. If it's not wonky retail websites crashing immediately, it's shopbots snapping up limited inventory for resale at inflated prices. 

Supplies of both the PS5 and Xbox Series X are expected to be limited until at least summer 2021, and even President Biden has gotten in on the act, signing an executive order to review the semiconductor chip supply chain, which is at least partially responsible for the shortage. 

Still a freaking giant monster 

The PS5 is roughly 447 cubic inches of gaming power, sculpted into a high-design box that's virtually guaranteed not to fit anywhere you actually want to put it. It's just over 15 inches tall by 10 inches wide, and 4 inches deep, while the Xbox Series X is a bit less than 12 inches tall. There's a somewhat awkward stand you can use to place the PS5 horizontally, but it's still the size of an early-gen DVD player. 

Ironically, the Xbox Series X isn't much smaller in volume, but its compact rectangular shape makes it an easier fit in all kinds of media cabinets


The PS5 next to a PS4. 

Dan Ackerman/CNET

PlayStation Plus doesn't stack up to Xbox Game Pass

It's rare to find a product that gets almost universal acclaim, but Microsoft's Xbox Game Pass is the closest I've seen in a long time. At $10 per month for either the console or PC versions, or $15 per month for both, plus Xbox Gold online access and EA Play, it's a fantastic value. That's even truer now that many Bethesda games are part of the catalog, and new games like Outriders are coming to it on Day 1. 

The PlayStation version of that is PS Plus, which is $10 a month, or $5 a month if you pay annually. It's actually also an excellent value, adding great games like Final Fantasy VII Remake and offering a small but impressive back catalog called the PlayStation Plus Collection, with God of War, Monster Hunter: World, Uncharted 4 and other classics. 

But it pales in comparison with the Xbox Game Pass catalog of 300-plus games, plus console/PC crossplay on some games and the still-in-beta xCloud gaming feature that lets you stream some games online. Sony also has a cloud-based service, but it's entirely separate (and is an extra $10 a month or $60 a year), called PS Now, and doesn't get a lot of buzz. 

We asked Sony for comment, and a company rep said it had no updates on the storage, controller drift or premium subscription issues.

I'll admit, it took some time to come up with even five things that really bugged me about the otherwise excellent PS5. That's a good sign for the console's long-term outlook, and it's certainly been much less buggy than any previous console launch I've covered, going all the way back to the Sega Dreamcast.