You wait ages for a next-generation PlayStation, then two come along at once. The PS5 and PS5 Digital Edition hit stores in November 2020 and have been in high demand ever since. But which of Sony's console is best for you?
The decision really comes down to this: do you want to splash out on the full-fat PS5 or the cheaper PS5 Digital Edition? The main difference being that the former has a disc drive, and the latter doesn't.
The disc-less Digital Edition will only be able to stream games, films, music and TV shows, rather than running them straight off a CD, DVD or Blu-ray. But that's certainly not the only thing to consider when selecting between Sony's latest gaming hardware.
Here, we'll run down all the major factors to take into account to help you decide which PS5 belongs under your TV...
PS5 vs PS5 Digital Edition: price and availability
The standard PlayStation 5 costs £449 / $499 / AU$749. The disc-less PS5 Digital Edition is the cheaper option at £359 / $399 / AU$599.
Pricing the Digital Edition cheaper than the 'full-fat' PS5 mirrors the approach has taken with its Xbox Series X and all-digital Xbox Series S. After all, if you're getting less functionality you should pay less, right?
Of course, finding where to buy a PS5 is easier said that done. Demand continues to soar. And with the pandemic and the global semiconductor chip shortage wreaking havoc on supply chains, retailers are selling out of PS5 stock the minute it goes on sale.
Indeed, chipmaker AMD has said that PS5 stock shortage won't ease before mid-2022. But with Black Friday just around the corner, here's hoping we'll see some bumper PS5 restocks and some of the best PS5 deals yet.
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PS5 vs PS5 Digital Edition: design and build
As you can see from the photos, the PS5 is an imposing machine (39 x 26 x 14cm). The main difference between the two models, looks-wise, is that one has a disc drive and one doesn't. Consequently, the Digital Edition is 12mm slimmer towards the base and around half a kilo lighter.
Both consoles have a sculpted, sci-fi look to them and can be vertically rather than horizontally (you'll have to unscrew and reposition the included pedestal stand, mind).
Both devices have the same distinctive design elements, namely a high, white-collared shell that's separated from the black body of the unit by finned gaps to aid ventilation.
Talking of which, the PS5 is not completely inaudible in a silent room (like the Xbox Series X), but the consistent whirr is quiet enough to be drowned out by any sound coming from your TV or sound system.
In terms of the PS5's disc drive, we'd peg it at about 5dB quieter than the Xbox, so opting for Sony's most expensive next-gen console won't intrude on your movie soundtrack.
The user interface, which includes a new home screen with game ‘cards’, is fresh, super-stylish, logical and snappy. It's also familiar enough to ensure that existing PS4 gamers can quickly find their way about.
All in all, the PS5's is a striking design that has split opinion. But we like it.
PS5 vs PS5 Digital Edition: specs
In a post on the official PlayStation blog, PlayStation boss Jim Ryan confirmed that both PS5 consoles share identical power and features, including 4K graphics, ray-tracing support and PS5 3D audio. So, "whichever PS5 you choose, you’ll enjoy the same breathtaking, next-gen gaming experiences".
Spec-wise, both PS5 consoles feature the same AMD Zen 2-based CPU, the same 16GB GDDR6 / 256-bit memory, and the same 825GB SSD. The way Sony has designed and integrated the PS5’s storage makes it so fast (more than twice as fast as that of the Series X) that it boosts overall console performance.
Neither PS5 has an 8K output option. Instead, silky-smooth 4K at 60Hz is the performance target, with 120Hz available via some games, sometimes at the cost of resolution and/or certain graphical features.
In terms of games, you'll be able to transfer most PS4 games to PS5 and in most cases, enjoy free upgrades such as increased frame rates. However it's worth noting that to do this you'll need to use the PS5's disc drive to transfer the game discs to the next-gen console. The PS5 doesn't support your old PS1, PS2 and PS3 titles, either.
Eyeing up the PS5 as an entertainment hub as well as a games machine? The PS5 and PS5 Digital Edition are a great choice. They now support Netflix, Disney Plus, Apple TV, Spotify, Twitch, YouTube, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Peacock, Disney Plus, HBO Max and PlayStation Video. There's also a rumour that Apple Music is headed to the PS5 at some point in the not-so-distant future.
One disappointment is the PS5's lack of high-end HDR support. Neither model supports Dolby Vision video, or Dolby Atmos sound for that matter. Sony hasn't explicitly ruled them out, but for now, PS5 owners will have to make do with regular HDR10. Here's our take on how to get the best picture and sound from your PlayStation 5.
On a more positive note, both PS5 and PS5 Digital offer Sony's proprietary 'gold standard' 3D audio technology. The PS5's 3D Audio engine, 'Tempest', produces open, spacious and atmospheric sound with good placement of effects.
And although Dolby Atmos isn't an option for games, it is for the PS5 disc edition, which can do a very good job of Dolby Atmos soundtracks when given the chance. It doesn’t quite have the crispness of a dedicated player, but it does produce a room-filling sound with good clarity.
Based on spec, PS5 Digital Edition will appeal to those gamers and streamers who are happy to ditch physical game discs but who don't want to sacrifice performance. If, on the other hand, you have a collection of 4K Blu-ray discs, the pricier PS5 could be for you.
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PS5 vs PS5 Digital Edition: verdict
Given the only differences between the PS5 and PS5 Digital Edition are the presence of a disc drive and price, which console is right for you will really come down to whether you can live without disc support.
If you want your games console at the heart of your entertainment set up, to frequently double as a DVD/Blu-ray/CD player, you'll likely want the full-fat PS5. If you use your console purely for gaming, however, or have a speedy and robust internet connection for streaming and downloading and can cope with storing games digitally rather than on disc, the Digital Edition could save you a fair bit of money.
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Where to buy the PS5
High street favourite Argos seems to drop a fresh batch of PS5 and PS5 Digital Editions every few weeks. It's worth checking the Argos app, too.
It might be best known for its appliances, but AO.com also sells PS5s. It sometimes has stock available over the phone, so you might want to give them a ring.
Best Buy has dropped PS5 stock on a fairly regular basis over the last few months, and we'd expert to arrive more soon. TotalTech members get priority access.
Retail giant Walmart was one of the go-to retailers for the PlayStation 5's US launch and releases PS5 stock every few weeks or so. It often has in-store availability, too.
The specialist games retailer has reported overwhelming demand for PS5 stock. It tends to offer "limited" quantities of PS5 bundles.
Target had stock available in stores on US launch day, and has been dropping PS5 stock on the regular ever since. Supply has tightened up lately, though.
StockX is a high-end eBay that specialises in rare and limited edition sneakers. It also offers PS5s but you will likely have to pay over the odds due to high demand.
Where to buy PS5 in Australia
Sony Store Australia
Sony guaranteed PS5 stock on launch day but supply has dried up since then. Check back every now and then and you might strike gold.
Specialist retailer EB Games traded in the UK as Electronics Boutique. Remember it? The Gamestop-owned chain drops PS5 stock every so often.