A new generation of consoles is upon us, and for the first time, we are given two distinct versions of each company’s newest hardware. Microsoft has their Xbox Series X and S models, which they have been hard at work explaining the differences in, while Sony has the standard PlayStation 5 and the PS5 Digital Edition.
While there are a few obvious differences between the two, some are a bit more subtle. The contrast isn’t nearly as extreme as it is with the two Xbox models, but there are some key differences you will want to know about before deciding between the PS5 and PS5 Digital Edition. We’ve broken down each version of the console below.
Let’s start with the two most obvious differences between the two versions of the PS5 before getting into the more technical stuff. First off, the price. The standard PS5 will set you back $499, while the Digital Edition is a full $100 cheaper at $399. That alone can make the Digital Edition very enticing for a lot of gamers on a budget. If you are shopping on a budget, check out the best Black Friday PlayStation deals we found.
The disk drive
After the price, the next difference you’ll be able to spot just by looking at the two consoles side by side is the fact that the Digital Edition, appropriately enough, is missing a disk drive. Part of the reason this version can be that much cheaper than the standard console is the fact that it doesn’t have any way to play disk-based physical media of any kind. That means you can’t purchase any games for the system physically or take advantage of it as a DVD or 4k Blu-ray player. If you’re eyeing the Digital Edition, you need to make sure you’re fully committed to an all-digital library going forward.
The lack of a disk drive also cuts the Digital Edition’s value for some players by physically limited to only allowing digital games to be backward compatible. So, if you’ve got a nice library of PS4 games on disk, you’ll need to hang on to that old console if you want to revisit them. That could be extra painful considering how much of a boost even unoptimized PS4 games get just by being played in a PS5.
This is where things might get a little complex, but thankfully, Sony has made it very easy to understand what the power differences between these two versions are. Both systems, Digital and standard, have an eight-core AMD Zen 2-based CPU running at 3.5GHz, a custom AMD RDNA 2 GPU with 10.28 teraflops and 36 compute units running at 2.23GHz, 16GB of RAM, and their impressive 825GP solid-state drive. If you don’t understand what even half of those things are, don’t fret. The point is that both systems, internally speaking, are exactly the same. No game will run any better or worse because of which console you own.
There are a number of reasons why one version of the PS5 would be a better fit for you, and thankfully, the decision won’t cost you in terms of what’s most important. Games will be just as good on one console as the other, so there’s no need to fear buying a worse product. That being said, here are a few things that you should consider before plunking down your hard-earned cash on either of these next-gen consoles.
PS5 Digital Edition
If you’re feeling the allure of that $100 price drop, you’re not alone. But are you actually ready to commit to a console with no disk drive? If you’ve already jumped on the all-digital bandwagon, then you may not have many physical games you would want to play on your PS5 — but if you have a shelf lined with games, you might think twice. Going all-digital means you either need to be okay with hanging on to your PS4 to play those old games or just making a clean cut and going full force into the next gen. Remember that this applies to more than just your games. If you’re a Blu-ray collector, you won’t be able to rely on this console as your media player going forward.
The Digital Edition is going to require a speedy and reliable internet connection, preferably without any data caps. Every game you purchase for it will need to be downloaded through that connection, and with games getting up to 100GB and more in size, that could be a long wait if you don’t have the internet speed to handle it. Plus, you also need to consider space more than ever. Sony has confirmed that you will be able to expand your PS5’s storage space sometime after launch, but we don’t know how expensive that will be. That leaves you with just 825GB of space for games. Again, if your speeds are up to it, you can always delete and redownload what you need, but it is worth considering if you like swapping between a lot of big games.
The market for used games has no doubt been shrinking but it hasn’t gone away completely, and many gamers depend on those used discounts or even borrowing games from friends to keep up with their favorite games. By going all-digital, you’re accepting whatever price the publishers want to charge you, which has already gone up for next-gen games. Yes, PSN sales are more common and can be good value, but if you’re on a budget, you could be waiting a long time for that one game you have your eye on to see a price drop, if ever.
And it should be at least mentioned that the design of the Digital Edition is a bit more appealing to some people. We don’t put too much stock in the minor difference the lack of a disk drive makes in the console — it’s going to be out of sight for most people anyway — but it is a difference you might care about.
For the most part, you can take all the disadvantages of the Digital Edition and just say the opposite about the standard PS5, with the caveat of having a bigger price tag. That’s all true, but there are some more reasons to lean toward the disk-powered version.
If you’re a collector, and by that we mean both of games themselves as well as the fancy limited editions that come out, you may end up having to buy a game twice if you want all that cool physical media but can’t actually play the game that comes with it all. It may turn out that future limited editions will have the option of coming with a download code, but until that becomes a standard, you will be much safer having a disk drive handy.
The last major point for the regular PS5 is that there’s just no downside if you can afford it. You get all the bells and whistles the PS5 has to offer, plus the ability to carry forward your old library of PS4 games. You can keep it as your media center for DVD and Blu-rays, and you have the option to buy physical or digital depending on your preference or price. Between not needing to worry as much about storage space and having the option to buy or trade games, you may end up saving more than that $100 premium before you know it.
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