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 you have a growing Blu-ray disc collection and a Dolby Atmos soundbar, 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
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."
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."
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.
You can set a stock alert over at Box.co.uk, so you'll be notified as soon as stock comes in.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Independent retailer The Gamesmen has announced it will have stock at 10am on the 19th. Better set a reminder in your calendar.