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PS5 Digital Edition vs. Xbox Series S: Which one should you buy?

PS5 Digital Edition vs. Xbox Series S
(Image credit: Future)

"Should I get the PS5 Digital Edition or the Xbox Series S?" That's the question on the minds of money-conscious gamers who want to snag a next-gen console but don't want to pay top dollar.

Although the PS5 Digital Edition and the Xbox Series S are cheaper, all-digital versions of the standard PS5 and the Xbox Series X, respectively, both consoles have notable differences. The PS5 Digital Edition retains the power of its disc-equipped counterpart, but the Series S trades top-of-the-line specs for a wallet-friendly price tag. Let's dive into a meaty comparison between the PS5 Digital Edition and the Xbox Series S.

Xbox Series S vs. PS5 Digital Edition
Xbox Series SPS5 Digital Edition
CPU8x Cores @ 3.6 GHz (3.4 GHz w/ SMT) Custom Zen 2 CPU8x Cores @ 3.5GHz Custom Zen 2
GPU4 TFLOPS, 20 CUs @ 1.55 GHz Custom RDNA 2 GPU10.28 TFLOPS, 36 CUs @ 2.23 GHz Custom RDNA 2
RAM 10GB GDDR616GB GDDR6
Storage512GB SSD825GB SSD
ResolutionTarget 1440p, 4K upscaledTarget 4K, up to 8K
Frame ratesTarget 60FPS, up to 120FPSTarget 60FPS, up to 120FPS
ControllerXbox Series S controllerDualSense
Optical DriveNoneNone
Price$299$399

PS5 Digital Edition vs. Xbox Series S: How are they similar?

Let's start with the similarities between the PS5 Digital Edition and the Xbox Series S. First, both consoles do not feature a disc drive. This means you will not have the option to play Blu-ray discs or enjoy physical copies of games.

Ps5 Digital Edition vs. Xbox Series S

Ps5 Digital Edition vs. Xbox Series S (Image credit: Sony/Microsoft)

If you own a PS5 Digital Edition console, you'll have to download games from the PlayStation Store. With the Xbox Series S, you'll have to download games from the Microsoft Store.

The PS5 Digital Edition and Xbox Series S are also more affordable than their flagship counterparts. The Digital Edition PS5 has a $399 price tag, which makes it $100 less than the $499 disc-equipped PS5. The Xbox Series S costs $299; it's $200 cheaper than the $499 Xbox Series X.

Now let's talk specs. The PS5 Digital Edition and Xbox Series S both offer ray-tracing capabilities, a cool rendering technique that produces realistic lighting effects. 

Ray tracing

Demo of ray tracing via NVIDIA (Image credit: Nvidia)

Sony and Microsoft both use "4K" as a buzzword to entice gamers to purchase their consoles. The PS5 Digital Edition can reportedly run native 4K games at 60 frames per second. The Xbox Series S will feature 4K upscaling, which attempts to mimic 4K resolution by increasing the pixel count of lower-resolution material. Of course, upscaled 4K content certainly doesn't look as good as native 4K content. Natively, the Xbox Series S can play 1440p games at 120Hz. 

When it comes to processing power, both consoles have an eight-core, custom Zen 2 CPU, but the Xbox Series S has a slight advantage over the all-digital PS5 when it comes to CPU clock speed. Let's dive into important differences between the two.

PS5 Digital Edition vs. Xbox Series S: How are they different?

The PS5 Digital Edition and the Xbox Series S are both budget-friendly, all-digital alternatives to their pricier siblings, but don't let these similarities fool you. Both consoles are unique and appeal to different crowds. Let's break down the differences by price, specs and design.

PS5 Digital Edition vs. Xbox Series S

The PS5 (Image credit: Sony Interactive Entertainment)

Price: PS5 Digital vs Xbox Series S

Yes, the $399 PS5 Digital Edition is more affordable than its $499 disc-equipped counterpart, but Sony did not make it cheaper because it's less powerful than the standard PS5. In fact, the Digital Edition has the same specs as its disc-equipped counterpart — the sole reason for the cheaper price tag is the absence of a 4K Blu-Ray drive. See our comparative specs chart between the PS5 Digital and PS5 below for reference.

PlayStation 5 Digital Edition vs. Standard Edition specs
PS5 Digital EditionPS5 Standard Edition
GPU10.28 TFLOPs, 36 CUs @ 2.23GHz10.28 TFLOPs, 36 CUs @ 2.23GHz
GPU architectureCustom RDNA 2Custom RDNA 2
Memory/Interface16GB GDDR6/256-bit16GB GDDR6/256-bit
Memory bandwidth448GB/s448GB/s
StorageCustom 825GB SSDCustom 825GB SSD
Performance target4K @ 60 FPS, Up to 120 and 8K4K @ 60 FPS, Up to 120 FPS and 8K
IO throughput5.5GB/s (Raw), Typical 8-9GB/s (Compressed)5.5GB/s (Raw), Typical 8-9GB/s (Compressed)
Expandable storageNVMe SSD SlotNVMe SSD Slot
Optical DriveNone4K UHD Blu-ray Drive
Price$399$499

Microsoft, on the other hand, slapped a $299 price tag on the Xbox Series S because, yes, it is less powerful than the Xbox Series X. The $499 Series X has a GPU that's three times more potent than its cheaper counterpart. The Series X also has 6GB of more RAM, which means that it can handle multitasking processes better than the Series S. 

PS5 Digital Edition vs. Xbox Series S

Xbox Series S (Image credit: Microsoft)

It's also worth noting that the Series S has only 512GB of storage compared to the Series X's 1TB of storage. This won't be enough if you play storage-hungry games like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, which requires over 200GB of storage. On the plus side, the Xbox Series S has a slot for a 1TB expansion card. See our comparative specs chart between the Xbox Series S and Series X below for reference.

Xbox Series X vs. Xbox Series S specs
Xbox Series X Xbox Series S
Price $499 $299
CPU Custom AMD Zen 2 8-core @3.8GHz (3.66GHz with SMT) Custom AMD Zen 2 8-core @3.66GHz (3.4GHz with SMT)
GPU AMD Navi RDNA 2 with 52 CU @1.825GHz AMD Navi RDNA 2 with 20 CU @1.565GHz
GPU Power 12.15 Teraflops 4 Teraflops
RAM 16GB GDDR6 10GB GDDR 6
Memory bandwidth 10GB at 560 GB/s, 6GB at 336 GB/s8GB at 224 GB/s, 2GB at 56 GB/s
Storage 1TB PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSD 512GB PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSD
Expandable storage 1TB Proprietary expansion card, USB 3.2 HDD support 1TB Proprietary expansion card, USB 3.2 HDD support
I/O Throughput 2.4 GB/s (raw), 4.8 GB/s (compressed) 2.4 GB/s (raw), 4.8 GB/s (compressed)
Disc drive 4K UHD Blu-RayNone
Performance target 4k 120fps, 8K 60fps 1440p 120fps
Backwards compatibility Xbox One and supported Xbox 360 and Xbox games Xbox One and supported Xbox 360 and Xbox games

Specs: PS5 Digital vs Xbox Series S

Let's compare the specs of the two all-digital consoles. Packed with a 4-teraflop GPU, the Xbox Series S has less than half the graphics power of the PS5 Digital Edition's 10.28-teraflop GPU. The PS5 Digital Edition also has 16GB of memory compared to the Series S's 10GB of RAM. Out of the box, the PS5 is equipped with 825GB of storage while the Series S only has 512GB of storage. Interestingly, the Series S's processor is 0.1-GHz speedier than the PS5's 3.5-GHz CPU.

PS5 Digital Edition vs. Xbox Series S

Xbox Series X compared to the Xbox Series S (Image credit: Microsoft)

The Xbox Series S has a performance target of 1440p resolution at 120 fps and supports 4K upscaling. The PS5 Digital Edition, on the other hand, has a performance target of 4K resolution at 60 fps and supports 8K upscaling.

Design: PS5 Digital vs Xbox Series S

PS5 Digital Edition vs. Xbox Series S

The PS5 Digital Edition on the left. (Image credit: Sony)

The PS5 Digital Edition looks similar to its disc-equipped sibling, but thanks to the absence of an optical drive, it has a sleeker form factor. It has a sci-fi, futuristic vibe with a black core sandwiched between a white shell. In my opinion, the PS5 looks like a Dubai skyscraper that a tech CEO would live in. The PS5 Digital Edition has dimensions of 15.3 × 3.6 × 10.2 inches and it weighs 8.6 pounds.

Some say the Xbox Series S looks like a washing machine with its circular black grille and white slender body. 

PS5 Digital Edition vs. Xbox Series S

Xbox Series S (Image credit: Microsoft)

According to Microsoft, the Xbox Series S is 60% smaller than the Xbox Series X. Its dimensions are 5.9 × 2.6 × 11 inches and it weighs 4.3 pounds.

Who is the PS5 Digital Edition for? 

The $399 PS5 Digital Edition is for folks who want an all-digital library. You'll still get all the power that the disc-version PS5 has, but you're limited to digital downloads. If you have physical copies of PS4 games that you'd like to test on the PS5, the standard PS5 console is the best option for you.

The PS5 Digital Edition is also for those who don't mind spending an extra $100 to snag a machine that is far more powerful than the Xbox Series S. Lastly, the PS5 Digital Edition is optimal for gamers who prefer PlayStation exclusives like the beloved The Last of Us series.

Who is the Xbox Series S for?

The $299 Xbox Series S, like the PS5 Digital Edition, is for folks who don't mind having an all-digital experience. It's also for those who cringe at the thought of spending $500 for a console, and they're fine with sacrificing some GPU power, storage, native 4K resolution support, RAM, and of course, a disc drive. 

Still, you can experience a slice of the next-gen experience with the Series S's ray tracing capabilities and solid-state drive, which should help cut back on load times.

Lastly, if you are partial to Xbox exclusive,s such as Halo: Infinite, you should consider getting the Xbox Series S.

The $399 PS5 Digital Edition will hit store shelves on November 12 while the $299 Series S will be available on November 10. The PS5 is currently accepting pre-orders (if you can snatch one in stock) and pre-orders for the Xbox Series S will go live on Sept. 22.