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PS5 vs. PS5 Digital Edition — Which one should you buy?

PS5 Digital Edition vs. regular
PS5 Digital Edition vs. regular (Image credit: Sony)

 “Should I get the PS5 Digital Edition or the standard model?” That’s the question many gamers are asking themselves. 

Sony unveiled not one, but two editions of the PlayStation 5 at the June 11 Future of Gaming virtual event. And for some, the double reveal has caused mind-warping indecision as they hem and haw about which PS5 model is best for them. On Sept. 16, the gaming giant finally revealed the prices of both consoles during its PS5 Showcase livestream event. The PS5 Digital Edition costs $399 and the standard model costs $499.

I won’t stand on a soapbox and shout, “Buy this or die!” But I will help you make an informed decision — after all, no one likes buyer’s remorse. Without any further blathering, let’s delve into the pros and cons of the Digital Edition and the disc console so you can make a PS5 purchase that’ll leave you feeling fulfilled and satisfied.

PS5 vs. PS5 Digital Edition — how are they similar and how are they different? 

The PS5 Digital Edition and the disc model are almost “identical,” according to an interview with Sony’s Playstation CEO Jim Ryan. 

PS5 console revealed

(Image credit: Sony)

Both systems should sport an eight-core AMD Zen 2-based CPU clocked at 3.5GHz, a custom AMD RDNA 2 GPU with 10.28 teraflops and 36 compute units clocked at 2.23GHz, 16GB of RAM, and a custom 825GB SSD. 

The PS5 duo also boasts exciting next-gen features including instantaneous load speeds, 8K graphical capabilities and advanced 3D audio. 

While these console twins have many similarities, there are some differences worth mentioning.

1. The 4K Blu-ray player

The most obvious difference? PS5 Digital Edition is disc-less. That means any game you’d like to play on the Digital Edition must be obtained through internet-connected channels, like the PlayStation Store. Your disc-less console will be digital-download central as you will not be able to use any physical copies of media on the PS5 Digital Edition.

The disc-equipped console, on the other hand, will gladly gobble up your PS5-compatible physical copies. The optical drive is also a Blu-ray player that supports 4K video. The PS5 disc console widens the scope of home entertainment that you can enjoy with family and friends, including DVDs and Blu-ray discs.

2. Design

The PS5 Digital Edition sports a disc drive that defiles the console’s symmetry with an off-putting side bulge and conspicuous optical-drive slot. 

PS5 Digital Edition vs. regular

(Image credit: Sony)

Many have joked that the PS5 disc version looks like it's ready to give birth in a few months. 

Conversely, the Digital Edition is sleeker and more symmetrical than its counterpart with its “snatched” waist. The curved white shell that drapes the black core modernizes the console design. With that said, the Digital Edition is arguably more visually appealing than its disc-equipped sibling.

3. Price

“How much does the PS5 Digital Edition cost?” many gamers wonder. The PS5 Digital Edition costs $399.99. The standard PS5 with a disc drive costs $499.99.  The disc-drive PS5 matches the price of the Xbox Series X

The digital version of the PS5 is $100 more than the Xbox Series S, the Series X's more affordable, all-digital option. However, it's worth noting that the digital PS5 is essentially the same as the standard PS5 -- it simply lacks a disc drive. The Xbox Series S, on the other hand, is geared toward money-conscious gamers who are willing to sacrifice top-of-the-line specs to shell out less money out of their bank accounts.

Who should buy the Digital Edition PS5? 

If our breakdown of design, price and more still has your head spinning about which PS5 system you should purchase, we’ve rounded up an illuminating list of who would best benefit from the PS5 Digital Edition console.

1. Your internet doesn't suck. With the PS5 Digital Edition, you'll be entirely dependent on your internet connection. Can it handle 100GB-plus downloads? Is it fast enough? If your internet is notorious for having connectivity issues, you may want to upgrade to a speedier network or purchase the optical-media PS5 console.

2. You don't care about owning physical copies. While some traditionalists may not be ready to let go of the physical-copy gaming world, others look forward to a digital-only future. Many laptops have ditched optical drives and gaming consoles are headed toward the same path. If having a digital-only library doesn't faze you, the Digital Edition is the perfect console for you.

3. You're a stickler for symmetrical designs. Some people are finicky with designs. Some PlayStation loyalists don't care what the console looks like, but others will fuss if the design doesn't align with their tastes. Many have voiced an aversion to the disc-equipped console's bulging optical drive. As a result, they'll be opting for the Digital Edition for its sleeker, symmetrical design.

4. You want to save some money. The Digital Edition PS5 is $100 cheaper than its disc-equipped counterpart with a $399 price tag.

Who should buy the PS5 disc console?

The advantage of the disc-equipped PS5 is that you’re not stuck with one way of downloading your games — you can choose between snagging a physical copy or downloading it digitally. Here are the folks who’d get the most out of a standard PS5:

1. You don't want total internet reliance. If you don't want to rely on your spotty Internet connection to download games, consider getting the disc-equipped PS5.

2. You own a swath of popular PS4 discs. The PS5 has limited backwards compatibility -- it will support "almost all" of the top 100 most-played PS4 games. So if you want to sink your teeth into some nostalgic gaming on your new console, get the disc-equipped PS5.

3. You have a DVD and Blu-ray collection. Every now and then, you may want to wipe the dust off your DVD collection and watch a movie or two. You won't be able to do that with the Digital Edition, so if you prefer a console that can support gaming, DVDs and Blu-ray, the standard PS5 will be the best choice for you.

4. You love getting collector's edition game packages. Some gamers love getting their hands on collector's edition packages, which can feature audio soundtracks and behind-the-scenes DVD footage -- media goodies you won't be able to use on PS5's Digital Edition model.

5. You’re a traditionalist who enjoys tactile satisfaction. Traditionalists prefer physical copies, in part, because of the tactile satisfaction of reading through game manuals, running their fingers over a visually pleasing poster and zapping the CD into the optical drive. 

Bottom line 

To wrap it all up, the PS5 Digital Edition is for audacious gamers who are ready to dive in — head first —  into our imminent, digital-only future of gaming. 

The standard PS5 model, on the other hand, is best for folks who aren’t quite ready to commit to an optical drive-absent system. And on the plus side, gamers with the disc-equipped console can download games through two channels: digitally and physically. 

Pre-orders of both the standard model and the Digital Edition are flying off the shelves. If you need help in securing a disc-equipped PS5 or Digital Edition PS5, check out our PS5 pre-order buying guide.