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PS5 vs PS5 Digital Edition: which PlayStation 5 console should you choose?

PS5 vs PS5 digital
(Image credit: Sony)

With two new PS5 consoles to choose from, you'd be forgiven for thinking Sony's white and black next-gen machines were exactly the same. Of course, there are two distinct differences: price and the lack of disc drive on the PS5 Digital Edition.

If you’re looking to make the jump to the next-generation of gaming with Sony, then, should you opt for the standard PlayStation 5, or save a few notes with the PlayStation 5 Digital Edition?

The PS5 continues to be hot property as demand far outweighs supply. We're searching where to buy a PS5 to help you track down Sony's next-gen system when retailers replenish their stock. 

It’s a tough, almost philosophical choice – one that takes in arguments over ownership of your entertainment media, not to mention what you can realistically can afford to spend as we experience an unprecedented international financial recession. 

Fret not, though: we’ve got all the details you need to make the right choice for you – and your wallet. Below, we've compared the PS5 to the PS5 Digital Edition in every single area, from price to specs.

PS5 vs PS5 Digital Edition - prices and release dates

Let’s get the hardcore numbers out of the way first. How much do the two systems cost?

If you go for the standard PS5, the one that still eats up shiny Blu-ray discs for breakfast, it'll cost you $499.99 / £449.99 / AU$749.95.

The PlayStation 5 Digital Edition (with its identical specs aside from the removal of the disc drive) comes in at $399.99 / £359.99 / AU$599.95. 

Both versions of the console are available now in the USA, Japan, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand and South Korea. But if you live elsewhere (including the UK and Ireland) you’ve got an extra week to wait, with November 19 being when the rest of the world gets access to the PS5.

There’s a significant saving of $100 / £90 to be made if you go the all-digital route, then. But there are a few things to consider here. 

Firstly, you’ll be losing out on the console doubling up as a 4K Blu-ray disc player, which is a nice added bonus for home cinema fans. Considering standalone 4K Blu-ray players cost several hundred dollars and/or pounds themselves, that’s a considerable chunk of cash saved.

Secondly, those with a disc drive will be able to take advantage of being able to swap, loan, borrow, and trade physical disc-based games with their friends and exchange stores. Over the course of a console’s lifespan, that could add up to considerable second-hand savings. So what you may save now with the digital console may cost you over the course of a few years, since you'll be paying whatever prices Sony and game publishers decide to set. That’s before taking into consideration the actual joy of owning a physical thing.

(Image credit: Kayane)

PS5 vs PS5 Digital Edition: specs

Here are the full official PS5 specs straight from Sony, including differences for both editions where noted. The two PS5 models are identical in terms of performance, a big difference compared to the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S, which are much further apart in price. The only difference is that the more expensive PS5 console will have an Ultra HD Blu-ray disc drive – otherwise they use the same custom processor, and feature the same 825GB SSD. 

CPU: x86-64-AMD Ryzen Zen 2, 8 Cores / 16 Threads, variable frequency, up to 3.5 GHz

GPU: AMD Radeon™ RDNA 2-based graphics engine, Ray Tracing Acceleration, variable frequency, up to 2.23 GHz (10.3 TFLOPS)

System Memory: GDDR6 16GB/448GB/s Bandwidth

Optical drive (base unit only): Ultra HD Blu-ray (66G/100G) ~10xCAVBD-ROM (25G/50G) ~8xCAVBD-R/RE (25G/50G) ~8xCAVDVD ~3.2xCLV

SSD: 825GB, 5.5GB/s Read Bandwidth (Raw)

PS5 Game Disc: Ultra HD Blu-ray, up to 100GB/disc

Video out: HDMI OUT port, support of 4K 120Hz TVs, 8K TVs, VRR (specified by HDMI ver.2.1)

Audio: Tempest 3D AudioTech

Dimensions: PS5: Approx. 390mm x 104mm x 260mm (width x height x depth)(excludes largest projection, excludes Base)

PS5 Digital Edition: Approx. 390mm x 92mm x 260mm (width x height x depth)(excludes largest projection, excludes Base)

Weight: PS5: 4.5kg

PS5 Digital Edition: 3.9kg

Power: PS5: 350W

PS5 Digital Edition: 340W

Input/output: USB Type-A port (Hi-Speed USB)USB Type-A port (Super-Speed USB 10Gbps) x2, USB Type-C port (Super-Speed USB 10Gbps)

Networking: Ethernet (10BASE-T, 100BASE-TX, 1000BASE-T)IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax, Bluetooth 5.1

As mentioned, the solid state drive included with both consoles is the same, offering users 825GB of storage with a raw 5.5GB/s throughput (and up to 9GB/s worth of compressed data). You only get 667.2GB of usable storage, though, so space is it a premium. There's a minor difference in weight and dimensions between the PS5 and its Digital Edition, but other than that they're identical.

The PS5 runs off the third-generation AMD Ryzen chipset, with eight cores and the manufacturer's new Zen 2 architecture and Navi graphics. On the visual side, the GPU features 36 compute units running at 2.23GHz and offering 10.28TFLOPs, while the PS5 packs 16GB of GDDR6 RAM with a bandwidth of 448GB/s. The console can pull off ray tracing – that is, advanced lighting that used to be the sole domain of pricey PC graphics cards. Expect fancy reflections in the games you love as a result of this addition.

3D audio is also a big part of the PS5's offering, no matter which edition of the console you own –  immersive 3D audio is powered by the Tempest Engine, which translates sound sources into the hundreds to create realistic audio. 

The PS5 can support up to 8K resolution (though not until a firmware update arrives), which many players won't need on their 1080p TVs. Whether games will run natively in 8K is more of a question mark (we assume only the least graphically intensive titles will), but it means the console is future-proofed if you decide to buy a nicer TV down the line. In addition, the PS5 supports 120Hz refresh rates, allowing you to enjoy smoother games if they offer a higher framerate if you have a HDMI 2.1 compliant TV. 

Most games won't max out these possibilities in the short term – indeed, Spider-Man: Miles Morales offers a 60fps performance mode, which dials back visual effects to hit a higher framerate than the PS4's usual 30fps. 

Both consoles include a single wireless PS5 DualSense controller, which features adaptive triggers and haptic feedback that helps elevate the feeling of realism in your games. 

Both consoles can play PS4 games, and you'll be able to buy an external HDD for additional storage to play these older titles so you conserve the SSD space for PS5 software. You can't store or play PS5 games from any external hard drives or SSDs yet, however.

(Image credit: Sony Interactive Entertainment)

PS5 vs PS5 Digital Edition games: they'll be the same

This, thankfully, is the easy bit. Aside from the fact that one will play games from discs and the other exclusively from the console’s internal storage system, the PS5 and PS5 Digital Edition play exactly the same PS5 games, in exactly the same way.

With identical internal specs, you’ll be able to enjoy 4K gaming at fast refresh rates on both the PS5 and its digital-only counterpart, and expect to see no difference in gameplay between the two.

Sony’s already lining up some great exclusive titles to play on both machines, including Horizon: Forbidden West, God of War: Ragnarok, Final Fantasy 16, the Demon’s Souls remake and the Miles Morales-enhanced Spider-Man for PS5. That’s before taking into account third party titles like Cyberpunk 2077, Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla and Resident Evil 8: Village.

Where things get a little murkier is in the backwards compatibility front. Yes, the digital edition of the console will play PS4 titles – but it obviously won’t be able to play your existing, disc-based collection. 

Instead, you’ll likely have to purchase them again, digitally. Sony is taking the sting out of that fact slightly with the introduction of its PlayStation Plus Collection perk for PS Plus subscribers, though. Going forward, the cost of the subscription of PS5 owners will also include access to free downloads of 20 top PS4 games, including God of War, Uncharted 4, and Bloodborne, among others. It’s a nice perk, and an instant PS5 library of games for newcomers to the console family. But it doesn’t do much to cover the hundreds of PS4 titles out there on discs for PS5 Digital Edition owners.

PS5 pre-orders

(Image credit: Sony)

Verdict

It’s hard to make a call on financial matters – if you’re an avid gamer without the cash to make the big jump to the top-tier PS5, by all means go for that digital console. Next-gen gaming is sure to be a delight on that entry level model, too, and it's great that performance will be consistent across both. 

But our gut feeling remains that, should you be able to afford it, go for the standard, disc-based PS5 console. It’ll open you up to access the joys of 4K Blu-ray viewing (they look better than 4K Netflix streams, honest!), not to mention the potential money you’ll save over the years in trading disc-based games with your friends and at exchange shops.

One last thing to consider, too, is the grey area that is digital ownership – be that of music, films, or indeed games. While we’ve yet to see the small print on the PS5 in this regard, it’s commonplace that, when it comes to digital media, you don’t actually own a title in perpetuity. Should, in the year 2035 or some other distant date, Sony decide to switch off the PS5’s digital storefront distribution… where then will you re-download your games from? 

Yes, the online elements of modern games means that patches come frequently, and can sometimes be required before a game will even work. But if Sony’s servers ever get taken out due to unpredictable circumstances, it's not quite as reassuring to have a solely digital games collection compared to a physical one. 

And in the rare event that your discs ever stop working: at least you’ve got a nice case with box art to reminisce with...