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PS5 vs PS5 Digital Edition: which should you buy?

PS5 vs PS5 Digital Edition: which should you buy?
(Image credit: PlayStation)

You wait ages for a next-generation PlayStation, then two come along at once. The PS5 and PS5 Digital Edition are officially on sale in the US, and due to land in the UK on the 19th November. But which of Sony's console should you order? If you've made up your mind, here's where to where to buy a PS5 and the best PS5 deals. If not, read on and we'll help you make the right choice...

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. (You can see this disc drive in Sony's official teardown of the full-fat PS5.) 

In a nutshell, 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 in your lounge... 

PS5 vs PS5 Digital Edition: price and availability

PS5 vs PS5 Digital Edition: which should you buy?

(Image credit: Sony PlayStation)

Sony set the official price of the PS5 at £449 ($499, €499, AU$749). The disc-less PS5 Digital Edition is priced at £359 ($399, €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, it surely follows that you should pay less, right?

Demand for the PS5 has been extremely high and is expected to remain so for some time. Both PS5 consoles sold out before launch and stock has been scarce ever since. The good news is that more PS5 availability is due around Black Friday. Take a look at our handy guide to the best PS5 deals to score the best prices on PS5s, as well as best PS5 games and accessories. With a bit of luck, you'll score your PS5 in time for Christmas.

The PS5 is due to launch in the UK until the Thursday 19th November. Pre-orders have been sold out for some time, but retailers are set to release more stock at launch. Amazon UK has confirmed that it will release PS5 stock at 12pm GMT on 19th November. 

Retailers both sides of the Atlantic have also promised more PS5 stock on Black Friday ( officially 27th November). Problem is, Sony hasn't given any indication of what quantity will be available so we'd suggest keeping an eye our guide to where to buy a PS5 .

Microsoft is in the same boat. It recently admitted that its Xbox Series X and Series S consoles would be in short supply until April 2021. 

Ultimately, if you want to save a bit of money, the PS5 Digital Edition should be your first port of call. We've also noticed that, in some cases, it's easier to come by. Given that the PS5 Digital Edition does not make any major performance sacrifices, it seems like the best buy for those on a budget.

PS5 vs PS5 Digital Edition: design and UX

PS5 vs PS5 Digital Edition: which should you buy?

(Image credit: PlayStation)

As you can see from the photos, the main difference between the two consoles looks-wise is that one has a disc drive, while the other doesn't. This also allows the Digital Edition to be slightly slimmer towards the base.

It actually helps its design. Both consoles have a sculpted, sci-fi look to them, but without the disc slot blotting its looks, the Digital Edition is actually the sleeker of the two. 

But they both 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.

First impressions – posted online by Japanese YouTubers – confirmed that the PS5 is big (39 x 26 x 14cm) but blessed with elegant curves. You can watch one of the earliest PS5 hands-on videos here, courtesy of respected Japanese games publication Famitsu.

Shortly afterwards, Sony gave gamers their first look at the PS5 user experience, complete with 4K animation and instant-loading capability. The new Control Center allows users to dip in and out of game levels and video feeds without any lag. 

Aesthetically, the PS5's is a striking design that has split opinion. But we like it. Fancy giving your PS5 an eye-catching makeover? One third-party retailer is already selling custom PS5 faceplates in five colours and patterns (via GamesRadar). 

PS5 vs PS5 Digital Edition: specs

PS5 vs PS5 Digital Edition: which should you buy?

(Image credit: Sony PlayStation)

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". 

Both machines support a frame rate of up to 120fps but Sony is yet to make good on its promise of silky-smooth 8K gaming. The new machines support 8K but there's currently no way to enable it in the console's settings. So, for now, both peak at 4K resolution.

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. According to Japanese games publication Famitsu, the PS5 runs extremely quietly and loads games in the "blink of an eye".

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.

Sony's next-gen console won't support all your old games, either. PlayStation CEO Jim Ryan recently confirmed that the PS5 won't support PS1, PS2, or PS3 titles.

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 support Netflix, Disney PlusApple TVSpotify, Twitch and YouTube out of the box. Amazon Prime Video, MyCanal, Hulu and Peacock are set to follow.  

One disappointment is the PS5's apparent lack of HDR support. It seems that neither machine supports Dolby Vision video or Dolby Atmos sound. Sony hasn't explicitly ruled them out, but the Japanese firm's FAQ page speaks volumes. It simply says the PS5 "will support HDR10" – i.e. no mention of Dolby Vision or Atmos.  

Instead, both PS5 and PS5 Digital will offer Sony's proprietary 'gold standard' 3D audio technology. There's a lot of hype surrounding the tech – but for good reason. The PS5's 3D Audio engine, 'Tempest', is said to deliver object-based 3D sound that will allow gamers to "hear individual raindrops".

By contrast, Dolby has already confirmed that the Xbox Series X and S will be the first-ever consoles to support Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos surround sound for gaming.

Storage wise, both PS5s boast a next-gen 825GB SSD. That could quickly be filled up with games, though – especially if the rumour that only 664GB of the 812GB is useable proves reliable (via YongYea)

There are ways to expand the PS5's storage but Sony recently reminded gamers that there are currently no ultra-high speed SSD storage devices certified to work with the PS5 – and likely wont be for some time after launch. A forthcoming system software update will fix that, but there's no news on when it will arrive.

Given that the Xbox Series S is less powerful than its Series X sibling – the Series S only play games at a maximum resolution of 1440p – the PS5 Digital Edition looks like it has the edge in terms of performance. 

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.

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.

Mind made up? Check out where to buy a PS5 and today's best PS5 deals.

Where to buy the PS5

Amazon
While the online shopping giant has sold out of PS5 consoles, it will get more stock at midday (GMT) on 19th November. "We will make every effort to deliver all orders as soon as possible," reads an email to customers. "If you order, we will email you with an estimated delivery date. However, this may be subject to change."View Deal

Argos
Troubled high street favourite Argos sold out of its pre-order stock of PS5s, and sadly there's no word on when more will arrive. All it will say is "We're working hard to get more stock."View Deal

Sony
When the PS4 launched, many gamers reported that Sony's official PlayStation store had the most stock. Could history repeat itself on PS5 launch day? We've already seen PS5s listed for sale on PlayStation.com in the US, but stock goes quickly. Check back from midnight on the 19th and you might get lucky.View Deal

Box.co.uk
You can set a stock alert over at Box.co.uk, so you'll be notified as soon as stock comes in.View Deal

AO.com
It might be best known for its appliances, but AO.com also sells PS5s. Or will when more stock arrives. Unfortunately, there's no word on when that will be.View Deal

Best Buy
Best Buy had PS5 stock available at launch, through its website and app. It also offered the option to click and collect at your local store. Expect all these options once the console is back in stock.View Deal

Walmart
Retail giant Walmart was one of the go-to retailers for the PS5's US launch on 12th November. It let gamers order the console at four times throughout the day: 12pm, 3pm, 6pm and 9pm. It's since sold out, but we would wager on it being one of the first to get more stock.View Deal

Gamestop
The specialist games retailer reported overwhelming demand for the PS5 but only offered "limited" quantities of PS5 bundles. Like most others, it currently has no stock.View Deal

Target
Target had stock available in stores on US launch day, but buyers had to purchase online to collect from the store. Again, it's currently sold out, and there's no word on when more stock is due.View Deal

StockX
You may not have heard of StockX – it's mostly used by fashion aficionados looking to buy and sell rare and limited edition clothing/sneakers. But it's also recently branched out into PS5s. You will pay more than the RRP, but StockX inspects each item it sells before dispatching, so you can guarantee it will be in mint condition.View Deal

Where to buy PS5 in Australia

Sony Store Australia
You would expect Sony to be the best place to guarantee stock come launch day. And you could be right. Sony hasn't said whether it will be selling stock on its website come the 19th, but check back then and you might strike gold.View Deal

EB Games
Specialist retailer EB Games traded in the UK as Electronics Boutique. Remember it? The Gamestop-owned chain could well have console stock come launch day – check its website to see.View Deal

The Gamesmen
Independent retailer The Gamesmen has announced it will have stock at 10am on the 19th. Better set a reminder in your calendar.View Deal

JB Hi-Fi
One of Australia's largest tech retailers sold out of its pre-order stock, plus some it was expecting for December. But never say never...View Deal

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  • Rube2k
    There are two missing issues in this article and it’s analysis. One is price of content. Visit the PS4 store and take a look at the price of The Last of Us Part 2 - about £60 today (22.08.2020). On Amazon it’s £41 so after a few games the disc drive will pay for itself.
    Secondly (but kind of related) I can then give the disc to my friend or my nephew and they can play it for free or even pay me £20 - win/win.

    Digital edition should be avoided for these reasons.
    Reply
  • ImNotHamza
    Rube2k said:
    There are two missing issues in this article and it’s analysis. One is price of content. Visit the PS4 store and take a look at the price of The Last of Us Part 2 - about £60 today (22.08.2020). On Amazon it’s £41 so after a few games the disc drive will pay for itself.
    Secondly (but kind of related) I can then give the disc to my friend or my nephew and they can play it for free or even pay me £20 - win/win.

    Digital edition should be avoided for these reasons.
    Well yes, avoid the digital edition if you like having discs.
    Reply
  • HisDudeness
    ImNotHamza said:
    Well yes, avoid the digital edition if you like having discs.

    Avoid the digital edition if you're planning on buying more than 4 games, because in that case it is most likely the more expensive option.
    Reply
  • RedPanda1987
    Avoid the digital edition if you're buying it purely to save money, really. I'm considering it because I like owning digital games. They're a lot more convenient and not always more expensive (other stores sell codes, and there are sales). But yes, it's not likely to end up cheaper, or even as cheap, as buying the disc model and accompanying discs.
    Reply
  • HisDudeness
    RedPanda1987 said:
    Avoid the digital edition if you're buying it purely to save money, really. I'm considering it because I like owning digital games. They're a lot more convenient and not always more expensive (other stores sell codes, and there are sales). But yes, it's not likely to end up cheaper, or even as cheap, as buying the disc model and accompanying discs.

    Why deliberately choose the device with less features, knowing that it will most likely be more expensive in the long run?
    Reply
  • RedPanda1987
    HisDudeness said:
    Why deliberately choose the device with less features, knowing that it will most likely be more expensive in the long run?
    My point is it's only more expensive vs buying discs. If I buy the standard PS5 (which I might, I still haven't decided) then I'll still probably be buying at least 90% of my games digitally because I'll take the convenience over saving money (especially as I rarely bother selling games on when I'm done, so they just take up space and don't always save much money anyway). That situation may not apply to many people (I have no idea) but I'm sure I'm not the only one, so there certainly is a market for the digital edition.
    Reply
  • lacuna
    I used to buy discs for my PS3/PS4 from secondhand shops (CEX etc.) and then trade them in for the next game. I don't really do that anymore because it isn't a huge saving over a digital copy when they are on sale, which is quite frequent. For example, Doom (2016) is currently £12.84 on Amazon but only £4.79 on PS Store

    I also now have a subscription to PS Now which provides me with more than enough to keep occupied. I have a 4tb external drive and with 77 games that is only about half full.

    It is likely that I will get the version with the disc drive though because it isn't vastly more expensive and since I won't be buying it this year the prices are likely to fall anyway.
    Reply