You wait ages for a next-generation PlayStation, then two come along at once. Because Sony has not one but two new games consoles ready to debut this winter: the PS5 and PS5 Digital Edition. And, thanks to the recent PS5 price announcement and the first official hands-on reviews, the final pieces of the jigsaw are in place, including the prices of both consoles and both the on-sale and pre-order dates.
The main difference between them? One has a disc drive, and the other doesn't. (You can see this disc drive in Sony's official teardown of the full-fat PS5.) That means 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 not the only thing to consider when deciding which is best for you.
Here we'll run down all the major factors to take into account to help you decide which console to pre-order...
- PS5 pre-orders: all the details on where you can buy a PS5
- PS5 Digital Edition vs Xbox Series S: which all-digital console is better?
PS5 vs PS5 Digital Edition: price
Sony has finally revealed the price of both the PS5 and PS5 Digital Edition.
The PS5 costs £449 ($499, €499, AU$749) while the PS5 Digital Edition price is £359 ($399, €399, AU$599). Pre-orders at certain retailers started on Thursday 17th September.
As suspected, the disc-less Digital Edition is cheaper than the 'full-fat' version. That's the same approach as Microsoft has taken with the upcoming Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S. After all, if you're getting less functionality, it surely follows that you should pay less, right?
We had assumed that the full-fat PS5 wouldn't cost more than £500 ($500, AU$800). Estimates put the main console price at around £449 ($499, AU$750), with the Digital Edition costing around £100 less: £349 ($399, AU$600). And these were pretty much spot on.
There's talk of Sony cutting its production target by 4 million units due to production issues, but hopefully, this won't happen.
As for the release date, Sony has announced there will be two different on-sale dates depending on territory. Live in the US, Japan, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand or South Korea? You can get your hands on a PS5 on the 12th November. However, the rest of the world has to wait until the 19th November.
This gives Microsoft a slight advantage here, as the Xbox Series X will go on sale 10th November.
For reference, the PS4 launched at £349 ($399, AU$599), but that was back in 2013 when that sort of money went a lot further. Asking a little more than that for the version of the PS5 with a built-in 4K Blu-ray player seems reasonable.
So if you want to save a bit of money, the PS5 Digital Edition should be the obvious choice, especially given there are no major performance sacrifices if you opt for the cheaper console.
PS5 vs PS5 Digital Edition: design
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. At 39 x 26 x 14cm, the PS5 is Sony biggest ever console and will tower over other consoles when positioned vertically.
You can get a closer look at the PS5 in this hands-on video. And the official teardown gives a good look at the console's innards, including the 4K Blu-ray drive. This is "completely covered with a sheet metal case and mounted with two layers of insulators to reduce drive noise and vibration when the discs spin", according to Yasuhiro Ootori, VP, Mechanical Design Department, Hardware Design Division at Sony Interactive Entertainment.
Sony recently invited a handful of Japanese publications to try out the PS5, including 4gamer, who commented that the PS5 "feels slimmer than the actual size from almost any angle".
Aesthetically, the PS5's is a striking design that has split opinion. But we like it.
PS5 vs PS5 Digital Edition: specs
According to Jim Ryan, President & CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment, PS5 and PS5 Digital Edition offer performance parity. In a post on the official PlayStation blog, Ryan noted the consoles share identical power and features, including 4K graphics, ray-tracing support, the same ultra-high-speed SSD and PS5 3D audio – "whichever PS5 you choose, you’ll enjoy the same breathtaking, next-gen gaming experiences".
They also have the same 825GB of storage for games, 8K video support, a frame rate of up to 120fps, and HDR.
Talking 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.
As for HDR, 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, so the ball's now in Sony's court. We're hoping the PS5 will support at least HDR10 and Dolby Vision. There was no mention of HDR support at the September PS5 showcase.
Both could also be pretty special on the audio front, with Sony claiming the PS5 will set a new 'gold standard' in audio. Indeed, the PS5's 3D Audio engine, called Tempest, is said to deliver object-based 3D sound that will allow gamers to "hear individual raindrops".
And according to Returnal director, Harry Krueger, "in a fast-paced action game with lots of verticality, [3D Audio] can help with the player’s situational awareness, and make it more intuitive for players to pinpoint the locations of nearby enemies or incoming projectiles in the heat of combat".
Otherwise, both consoles feature the same AMD Zen 2-based CPU, the same 16GB GDDR6 / 256-bit memory, and the same 825GB SSD and so forth. According to Japanese games publication Famitsu, which recently went hands-on with the hardware, the PS5 runs extremely quietly and loads games in the "blink of an eye".
That solid state drive could quickly be filled up with games, though. PS4 titles average about 40GB in size, and more advanced PS5 games are only going to get bigger – but an external hard drive should help.
Given we now know the Xbox Series S is less powerful than its Series X sibling – it can only play games at a maximum resolution of 1440p – the PS5 Digital Edition looks like it has the edge in terms of power. It 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.
PS5 pre-order quick links
PS5 preorders are opening up across the console's launch territories. Here's a quick rundown of what we've found in the UK, US and Australia.
- JD Williams – pre-orders live, new stock available periodically
- Amazon – pre-orders live but currently unavailable
- Game – pre-orders live but currently unavailable. More stock arriving 25.09
- Smyths Toys – pre-orders live but currently unavailable
- Currys PC World – pre-orders live but currently unavailable
- Argos – pre-orders live but currently unavailable
- Box.co.uk – register your interest
- AO.com – back in stock soon
- Carphonewarehouse – register your interest
- CoolShop – no consoles but plenty of P5 games and accessories
- Amazon – pre-orders live but currently unavailable
- Best Buy – pre-orders not yet live (online only, not in-store)
- Target – pre-orders live but currently unavailable
- Walmart – pre-orders live but currently unavailable
- Gamestop – pre-orders live but currently unavailable