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

Between the PS5 vs PS5 Digital Edition, which console should you choose? The PlayStation 5 is the newest games console from Sony, and straight away we've got two versions of the PlayStation 5 to choose from, which could potentially make figuring out the best option confusing. 

There’s the standard PS5 and there’s the PS5 Digital Edition. If you're hoping to jump into Sony's latest console, you're probably wondering which one you need. Get started by reading our full PS5 review. For most people, the PS5 will seem like the obvious pick. This model comes with a 4K Blu-ray drive and, in every way, it’s a solid upgrade over whichever console you currently have.

But let’s not dismiss the PS5 Digital Edition. If you want to save some money, you might prefer the PS5 Digital Edition. This model is different from the PS5 in that much like the Xbox Series S, it's completely disc-less, so you can only buy games for it digitally. Considering it has the same specs as the normal PS5, you won't see the same level of savings, but it's still cheaper.

You'll have to consider one question, is the PS5 Digital edition really cheaper in the long-term? As always, which one is right for you depends on your budget, playing preferences, and how you feel about physically owning games over accessing them digitally. We’ve created this guide to help you decide which PlayStation 5 you should buy.

The big questions are: is the PS5 Digital Edition right for you? Does anyone truly need a 4K Blu-Ray drive in today's digital world? Or is it always going to be a better option to pay more for a disc drive? We’ve covered everything needed to make the right decision for you. In this guide, we've compared the PS5 to the PS5 Digital Edition in every key area, from price to specs.

PS5 vs PS5 Digital Edition: Price and release date

If you go for the standard PS5, the one that eats Blu-ray discs for breakfast, it initially 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.

However, much like the Oculus Quest 2, we've seen the PS5 get a price hike with Sony blaming this on soaring inflation globally. While the USA isn't seeing any price increases, that's affected pricing across the UK, Europe, Australia, and more. In those regions, the standard PS5 costs £479.99 / €549.99 / AU$799.95, and £389.99 / €449.99 / $649.95 for the digital edition. Unsurprisingly, some argue this is the worst time to buy a PS5.

Both console versions are available worldwide, with the PS5 released on November 12 in select territories, and on November 19 elsewhere. There’s a significant saving of $100 / £90 to be made by going for the all-digital route, then. But there's a few additional factors to consider.

Firstly, you’ll lose out on the console doubling up as a 4K Blu-ray disc player, a nice added bonus for home cinema fans. Considering standalone 4K Blu-ray players cost several hundred dollars/pounds alone, that’s nothing to sneeze at.

Secondly, those with a disc drive can 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 save now with the digital console's upfront cost may cost you in the long-term, since you'll be paying whatever prices Sony and game publishers decide to set on PSN. That’s before taking into consideration the actual joy of owning physical items.

PS5 vs PS5 Digital Edition: Specs

PS5

(Image credit: Future)

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 significantly 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 at a premium. There's a minor difference in weight and dimensions between the PS5 and its Digital Edition, but they're otherwise 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 the best graphics cards on PC. Expect fancy reflections in the games you love as a result, like we saw in Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales.

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. You'll get better sound for this from a headset, though a firmware update did enable 3D audio through TV speakers too.

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 all games will run natively in 8K is more of a question mark, as we assume only the least graphically intensive titles will. right now, the only game supporting 8K (The Touryst) is limited to 4K output.

But it does mean the console is future-proofed if you buy a nicer TV down the line. Additionally, the PS5 supports 120Hz refresh rates, allowing you to enjoy smoother games if they offer a higher frame rate, providing you have an HDMI 2.1 compliant TV. Thanks to a post-launch firmware update, PS5 now supports 1440p resolution too.

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 frame rate than the PS4's usual 30fps.  Both consoles include a single wireless DualSense controller, which features adaptive triggers and haptic feedback that helps elevate the feeling of realism in your games.

Both consoles can also play the best PS4 games (naturally, any physical copies you own won't work on the PS5 Digital Edition), and you can buy an external HDD for additional storage for these older titles. So, you can conserve the SSD space for PS5 software. 

You can't play PS5 games from any external hard drives, however, but you can upgrade PS5's internal SSD storage or store them on an external drive. If you're wondering whether PS5 SSD read and write speeds make a difference, there's a few things to consider.

PS5 vs PS5 Digital Edition: Games

(Image credit: Sony Interactive Entertainment)

This is the easy bit. Aside from the fact that one can play games from discs and the other exclusively from the console’s internal storage system, the PS5 and PS5 Digital Edition play the same PS5 games in exactly the same way. With identical internal specs, you can enjoy 4K gaming at fast refresh rates on both the PS5 and its digital-only counterpart, so don't expect any differences in gameplay.

Sony’s lined up some great exclusive titles to play on both machines. Right now, you can currently play big hits like The Last of Us Part 1, Gran Turismo 7, God of War: Ragnarok, the Demon’s Souls remake, and more. That’s before taking into account third-party titles like Cyberpunk 2077 and Resident Evil 8: Village. There's also games like Final Fantasy 16 on the way.

Where things get a little murkier is in the backward compatibility front. Yes, the digital edition of the console will play PS4 titles – but obviously, it can’t play your existing, disc-based collection. Instead, you’ll have to purchase them again digitally. 

Sony has taken the sting out of that fact slightly through its PlayStation Plus Collection perk for PS Plus subscribers, though. This collection allows PS5 owners access to free downloads of 19 top PS4 games, including God of War, Uncharted 4, and Bloodborne. 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. That said, the revamped PS Plus service now includes a library of digital games for those subscribed to PS Plus Extra or Premium tiers, saving money in the long-term. That's without factoring in the PS Plus free games each month too, which is a nice bonus for all tiers.

It’s worth noting that not every PS4 game is compatible with PS5, either, though the incompatible PS4 games list (opens in new tab) is frankly tiny. Unless you’re really wanting to play Afro Samurai 2: Revenge of Kuma Volume One or Shadwen again, it won’t be a problem for most. On a more positive note, at least you can now view hidden trophies for the games you want to play.

PS5 vs PS5 digital

(Image credit: Sony)

PS5 vs PS5 Digital Edition: Verdict

Realistically, we can't make a call for you on financial matters. But if you’re an avid gamer without the cash to make the big jump to the top-tier PS5, by all means, go for the digital console. New-gen gaming will still be a delight on that entry-level model, too, and it's great that performance is consistent across both. 

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

One last thing to consider, too, is the gray area that is digital ownership – be that of music, films, or indeed games. 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 will you re-download your games from? Just remember Sony planned to close the PS3, Vita, and PSP stores last year before reversing this decision.

Yes, the online elements of modern games means that patches come frequently and unfortunately, 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 stop working: well, at least you’ve got a nice case with box art to reminisce with...

Adam was formerly TRG's Hardware Editor. A law graduate with an exceptional track record in content creation and online engagement, Adam has penned scintillating copy for various technology sites and also established his very own award-nominated video games website. He’s previously worked at Nintendo of Europe as a Content Marketing Editor and once played Halo 5: Guardians for over 51 hours for charity. He is now an editor at The Shortcut.