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The real reason the PS5 is so huge

When Sony revealed the PlayStation 5 during a presentation on June 11, it opened the new console up to speculation, criticism, and anticipation. Not only did gamers get to check out upcoming titles for the system, they got to see exactly what it looked like in all its black and white glory — both the regular edition with the disc drive, and the all Digital Edition.

Folks had a lot to say about the new design, from its futuristic appearance to the bumps on its textured surfaces. And if you have an eye for detail, one of the things you might have noticed about the PlayStation 5 is just how big it is. While it was shown with a simple white background so it was hard to place it into context, it's clear the console system itself dwarfed the DualShock controller. Especially when compared to the PlayStation 4.

But why exactly is the PlayStation 5 so big? Even the Digital Edition doesn't look much smaller, despite its lack of a disc drive. It turns out, there are some very good reasons why Sony might be going for size as well as sleekness.

What's the actual size of the PlayStation 5?

Many industry people have been trying to guess the exact dimensions of the PlayStation 5 unit based on its relationship to the USB ports and disc drive, which have standardized sizes. Most reports put the height of the Sony PlayStation 5 at 15-16 inches tall and 3.5 inches wide. One Redditor created an image comparing the predicted size of the new PlayStation with past consoles — and it dwarfs them, even the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox One. The PlayStation 3 was originally 12.8 inches wide, while the original Xbox was 12.6 inches wide.

On June 19, a ResetEra user posted an image labeled as "the first PS5 image straight from the factory?" The unverified shot shows three men in uniforms holding what looks like a PlayStation 5 console. But since the alleged PlayStation is shown from the side, it's hard to tell if this is the same unit revealed by Sony — you can't see the curves at all. 

The image does make the supposed PlayStation look pretty huge when compared to the torso of the man holding the unit. Still, as you don't know the sizes of the men, it's probably not the confirmation you're looking for.

Why does the PlayStation 5 need to be so big?

The answer, according to the vice president of UX Design at PlayStation, is "thermals." Matt MacLaurin took to LinkedIn to explain to a commenter why, in this day and age when portability and convenience are key, the PlayStation 5 has apparently eschewed mobility in favor of power. He wrote, "This gen is little supercomputers. While the 7nm process delivers amazing heat performance for the power, the power is very extreme."

His statement refers to 7nm transistors, millions of which make up a CPU. This measurement can help you gauge how powerful and efficient a CPU is: the smaller a transistor, the less power you need for it. 

In another LinkedIn comment, MacLaurin elaborated, "This tech is still so fresh it throws a lot of heat so we need room to dissipate."

Basically, he's pointing out that the PlayStation 5 needs the extra room to keep the heat from melting the system, or degrading electronic parts inside. This shouldn't be any surprise, since in the past consoles like the Xbox One have contained a large footprint for that very reason. If the large size of the PlayStation 5 is meant to prevent something like the Red Ring of Death, then it seems like a smart decision.