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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 hit stores in November 2020 and have been in high demand ever since. But which of Sony's console is best for you? 

If you've already 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. 

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

PS5 vs PS5 Digital Edition: which should you buy?

(Image credit: Sony PlayStation)

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.

PS5 vs PS5 Digital Edition: design and build

PS5 vs PS5 Digital Edition: which should you buy?

(Image credit: PlayStation)

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

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". 

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 PlusApple TVSpotify, 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.

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
The online shopping giant tends  to drop a fresh batch of PS5 consoles every two weeks or so, but supply is patchy. You'll need to sign up to Amazon Prime first (here's a free 30-day Prime trial, if you're not already a member).

Argos
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.

Sony
Sony sells PS5 consoles direct to consumers in the US. Customers can register on the PlayStation website to buy a "limited number" of PS5 consoles from November.

AO.com
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
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.

Walmart
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.

Gamestop
The specialist games retailer has reported overwhelming demand for PS5 stock. It tends to offer "limited" quantities of PS5 bundles.

Target
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
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.

EB Games
Specialist retailer EB Games traded in the UK as Electronics Boutique. Remember it? The Gamestop-owned chain drops PS5 stock every so often.

JB Hi-Fi
One of Australia's largest tech retailers is a good place to start your PS5 stock hunt. Supply is tight, but you might get lucky if you're persistent.

What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.


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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