Unboxing the PS5: Everything in the box

Cables and console, yes; styrofoam, no. Plus a first run at the included game Astro's Playroom.

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
3 min read

Update, Nov. 6: Read our PS5 review.

The PlayStation 5 is coming soon. How soon? Soon enough that we have a final retail unit to unbox and examine in detail. Sorry, no hands-on with the games or UI yet, that will have to wait a little longer. But we can now get a close-up look at what comes in the box and what doesn't, and find out more about the look and feel of the console itself. 

Dan Ackerman/CNET

Here's what's in the box (as pictured above):

  • PlayStation 5 console
  • DualSense wireless controller
  • HDMI cable
  • AC power cable
  • USB-A to USB-C cable
  • Console stand

Looking back at our unboxing of the first-gen PS4 back in 2013, the setup was similar, but back then the controller cable was USB-A to Micro-USB, and the PS4 included a simple headset mic in the box. That's not included here, but the new controller does have a built-in mic. 

Here's what I learned from unboxing the new hardware and comparing it with the previous generation. 

Dan Ackerman/CNET

It's much bigger than the PS4. When placed vertically, the original PS4 was 11.5 inches tall, while the PS5 stands 16 inches tall. As I discovered when test-driving Ikea media furniture with the Xbox Series X and Series S, consoles are getting larger, and the PS5 easily towers over its predecessors, as well as the Series X. 


The PS5 stand in its horizontal orientation. 

Dan Ackerman/CNET

Yes, you can place it horizontally, but there's a catch. Like the PS3, the PS5 has a curved surface that can make it difficult to fit into your media cabinet. I suspect that it's to discourage you from stacking other components on top of it. But unlike the PS3, the new console isn't flat on the bottom either. The PS5 was clearly designed to stand vertically, and nearly every promo photo shows it in that orientation. 

To place the PS5 horizontally, you need to slip a plastic stand underneath it, where it loosely clips onto the rear fin. It levels the system out, but doesn't actually attach, so if you push or pull the console to move it around, the stand will usually get dislodged. You're also supposed to use the stand in the vertical orientation. For that, you need to rotate part of the plastic stand by about 45 degrees and then literally attach it to the bottom with a screw. So no, not easy to switch from vertical to horizontal on the fly. 

Dan Ackerman/CNET

The new DualSense wireless controller is a big step up. While the new Xbox controller is a modestly modified take on the classic Xbox game pad, the new PS5 controller has evolved far beyond the PS4 version, in both design and functionality. The controller is bold but minimalistic, with the retro-futurism of a Space: 1999 prop mixed with a creepy killer robot Ghost in the Shell vibe. 

The biggest improvements are the adaptive triggers (which can offer resistance), built-in mic and better haptic effects. I got to try those features out in a short session with Astro's Playroom, a game that comes preloaded on the PS5 and is partly meant as a demo reel for the new controller. It's a cute platformer that is so Nintendo-like you're literally collecting big floating coins. The simple graphics don't necessarily show off the PS5 hardware, but the controller feels great in the hand, and both the motion controls and force feedback are rock-solid so far. 

The one thing I'm not loving about the new controller so far is the home button, which is now a cutout PlayStation logo, rather than a circle button. It's hard to hit by feel, and it's too close to the microphone button, which may make it easy to accidentally turn on your mic when you don't mean to. 

More on the PS5 and Xbox Series X soon, including a full review and detailed buying advice.