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PS5 vs. PS5 digital edition: Which PlayStation 5 is the best choice in 2023?

Sony’s PS5 is the fastest selling gaming console of the current generation, and buyers can choose between two models: a $500 standard edition and $400 digital edition

The more affordable digital edition doesn’t have a disc drive for physical games and movies, so you’re limited to playing digital game downloads. Meanwhile, the standard PS5 includes a 4K Blu-ray drive to play game discs and movies.

Sony’s decision to make a cheaper all-digital version of the PS5 comes at a time when digital PlayStation software sales continue to outpace physical sales. According to Sony’s most recent earnings report, about 70% of all PlayStation games were purchased digitally during Q4 of the 2022 fiscal year. Though that’s a decrease from the start of 2022, when digital sales accounted for 80% of all PlayStation games sold, digital remains the most popular way to buy a PlayStation game.

But while digital downloads are convenient, there are clear benefits that come from paying a bit more for a PS5 with a disc drive. Most notably, physical games can be bought pre-owned for a discount, resold, or shared with friends and family.

Whether the standard PS5 is truly worth an extra $100 over the digital edition really comes down to how heavily you weigh the advantages of that disc drive. Here’s a full breakdown of how the two PS5 models stack up to help you decide if those disc perks are worth it.

PS5 digital vs. disc: Pricing and availability

The standard PS5 ($500) costs $100 more than the PS5 digital edition ($400). But while cheaper, the digital edition is often shipped to retailers in smaller quantities, so the standard PS5 is typically easier to find.

Availability for both consoles is considerably better in 2023 than it has been in previous years. Both models have been in stock regularly during the first half of 2023. They can still sell out quickly, but restocks are frequent and it’s no longer as rare to find them in stores.

Sony also bundles both PlayStation 5 consoles with popular games; God of War Ragnarok is the most frequently bundled game right now, but another bundle featuring Final Fantasy XVI will launch in June 2023. Bundles featuring Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and Horizon Forbidden West were also released in 2022. 

Standard PS5 bundles with a game are priced at $560, which isn’t really a discount, but they’re even easier to find in stock than standalone PS5 consoles. The Ragnarok bundle with a standard PS5 has recently been on sale for $50 off, but it’s not clear how long this deal will last.

PS5 digital vs. disc: What’s different?

Both PlayStation 5 models offer nearly identical designs and specifications — the only real difference between them is the absence of a 4K Blu-ray disc drive on the digital edition.

Along with being unable to play games and movies on Blu-ray disc, the digital edition PS5 is slightly thinner and weighs about 1.3lbs less than the standard version.

Other than these two differences, the standard PS5 and PS5 digital edition deliver the exact same gaming performance. That includes support for gameplay at up to 4K resolution and 120 frames per second on compatible displays, lightning fast load times thanks to the console’s solid state drive, and advanced graphical features like ray tracing on select games. 

Both console’s also come with the same DualSense controller, which offers haptic feedback and has a built-in microphone, and they support the same lineup of PlayStation accessories.

PS5 digital vs. disc: Games

the last of us game
Joel and Ellie in The Last of Us video game on PS5. 

The two PlayStation 5 consoles share the same library of games and the same quality of gameplay, but the standard PS5 gives you more control over where you can buy them and how you play them.

With the standard PS5, games can be played off of discs or via digital downloads. Meanwhile, the digital edition PS5 limits you to buying and playing downloaded games only.

Digital purchases of PlayStation games are tied to your Sony account. The PlayStation Store is the only place you can buy digital games, so owners of the PS5 digital edition won’t be able to take advantage of deals at retail stores like GameStop and Best Buy.

Though digital game downloads are convenient, having the option to buy physical discs on a standard PS5 gives you the ability to re-sell your games or lend them to a friend. The standard PS5 can also play old PS4 discs via backwards compatibility, while the digital edition PS5 can only access those games through the PlayStation Store.

Keep in mind, however, many physical games still require an internet connection and significant PS5 storage space to install and play. This means that going with a disc copy on a standard PS5 won’t save you hard drive space versus downloading the game.  

In terms of discounts, games in the digital store frequently go on sale throughout the year, while sales on physical copies are more rare. But it’s still possible to find better prices on old or used physical copies of certain games. 

PS5 digital vs. disc: PlayStation Plus

Sony provides a digital service called PlayStation Plus that offers online multiplayer and a catalog of games to download on the PS5. PlayStation Plus works the same on both PS5 consoles, but digital edition owners might get the most out of the service since certain plans provide easy and affordable access to a bunch of PS4 games without the need for a disc drive.

For $10 a month, PlayStation Plus Essential gives gamers access to online play and a monthly selection of free games that will stay in their collection so long as they remain a subscriber. The next two tiers of PlayStation Plus, Extra ($15 a month) and Premium ($18 a month), provide access to more than 400 PS4 and PS5 games; Premium adds even more games from older PlayStation consoles and the option to stream games directly to a PS5.

PS5 digital vs. disc: Specs

SpecStandard PS5PS5 digital edition
Disc drive4K Ultra HD Blu-ray None
Storage825GB M.2 drive825GB M.2 drive
HDMI OutUp to 4K resolution at 120Hz with HDMI 2.1Up to 4K resolution at 120Hz with HDMI 2.1
Ports1x USB-C, 3x USB 3.1, 1x Ethernet1x USB-C, 3x USB 3.1, 1x Ethernet
CPUAMD Ryzen Zen 2, 8 cores, 16 threads at 3.5 GHzAMD Ryzen Zen 2, 8 cores, 16 threads at 3.5 GHz
GPUAMD Radeon RDNA 2 at 2.23 GHz, 10.3 TFlopsAMD Radeon RDNA 2 at 2.23 GHz, 10.3 TFlops
MemoryGDDR6 16GB, 44GB/s bandwidthGDDR6 16GB, 44GB/s bandwidth

PS5 digital vs. disc: Which PS5 should you buy?

PlayStation Five (PS5)
All PS5 models come with a DualSense controller. 

Both PlayStation 5 models deliver the same gaming performance, but the standard PS5 could offer more value in the long run depending on your buying habits. It costs an extra $100, but it lets you play old PS4 discs, used copies of games, and borrowed discs from friends, which might end up saving you money over time. It also doubles as a 4K Blu-ray player for movies.

The digital edition PlayStation 5 is still a great pickup, especially if you want to save money upfront, but it’s better for gamers who don’t already have a collection of PlayStation discs and don’t need the PS5 to be the center of their home entertainment system. Unlike the more affordable Xbox Series S, the digital edition PS5 doesn’t have performance drawbacks, which makes it feel like less of a sacrifice for the price difference.

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