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

Dualsense Ps5 Xbox Series X Controller Half
Dualsense Ps5 Xbox Series X Controller Half (Image credit: Android Central)

Xbox Series S

Xbox Series S Render White Background

Microsoft is taking an aggressive approach to next-gen with the Xbox Series S, offering a disc-less console that delivers the experience players expect at an extremely low price point. To make it even better, Xbox All Access should allows players to finance it with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate.

Xbox Series S

Value

Xbox All Access is a great deal
Affordable price and financing
1440p/120FPS
Ray-tracing
512GB solid-state drive
Less powerful GPU
Less storage

PS5 Digital Edition

Ps5 Digital Edition Render Cropped Reco Box

Instead of making a less powerful machine, Sony decided to go the disc-less route while keeping the same specs as the base PS5. This makes the PS5 Digital Edition much more powerful than the Xbox Series S, but it also ends up with a higher price as a result.

PS5 Digital Edition

Power

Powerful GPU and CPU
Capable of 4K gaming, up to 8K
825GB solid-state drive
Ray-tracing
More expensive
Specs could be seen as overkill compared to cheaper competition
No option to finance with PS Now and PS Plus

The next console generation has started with the release of four console SKUs across Sony and Microsoft. While the PS5's main competition is the Xbox Series X, it looks like the Xbox Series S will take on the PS5 Digital Edition. Both consoles drop the disc drive entirely, and they'll definitely be more affordable than their siblings.

PS5 Digital Edition vs. Xbox Series S: What's the difference?

The Xbox Series S is a smaller Xbox Series X without a disc drive. It's a more affordable console with less powerful specs that still delivers the next-gen experience you've come to expect with ray-tracing, a solid-state drive (SSD), and targeting 120FPS. The PS5 Digital Edition is the exact same as the PS5, just without a disc drive. Because of this, the PS5 Digital Edition is wildly more powerful than the Xbox Series S on paper. That might not mean you should get it over Microsoft's system, though.

Xbox Series SPS5 Digital Edition
Price$299$399
GPU4 TFLOPS, 20 CUs @ 1.55 GHz Custom RDNA 2 GPU10.28 TFLOPS, 36 CUs @ 2.23 GHz Custom RDNA 2
CPU8x Cores @ 3.6 GHz (3.4 GHz w/ SMT) Custom Zen 2 CPU8x Cores @ 3.5GHz Custom Zen 2
Memory10GB GDDR616GB GDDR6
ResolutionTarget 1440p, 4K upscaledTarget 4K, up to 8K
Frame rateTarget 60FPS, up to 120FPSTarget 60FPS, up to 120FPS
Ray-tracingYesYes
Storage512GB SSD825GB SSD
ControllerXbox Series S controllerDualSense
Backward compatibilityYesYes
Optical driveNoneNone
Weight4.3lbs8.6lbs
Size10.8x5.9x2.5 in.15.4ix3.6x10.2 in.

What these differences mean for you

What do the CPU and GPU power?

Marvels Spider Man Miles Morales Swing

Source: Sony Interactive Entertainment (Image credit: Source: Sony Interactive Entertainment)

You can think of the CPU (central processing unit) and GPU (graphics processing unit) as the brains of a console that work together to deliver the best possible games.

Microsoft knows how important the CPU and GPU are.

Every image you see on screen is created and rendered by the GPU, dictating how good an image looks. Because the PS5 Digital Edition has a more powerful GPU, it can render images at up to 8K (Full Ultra HD) resolution, with a normal target of 4K (Ultra HD). The Xbox Series S is targeting 1440p (Quad HD) resolution. To put that into perspective, 4K has four times the amount of pixels than that of a 1080p (Full HD) image. Either way you're getting stunning images, but 4K is technically sharper and clearer than 1440p. Not everyone can tell the difference, though. It also depends on what TV or monitor you hook your console up to — some can't render 4K at all.

The CPU exists to keep everything running. It processes all information and performs countless calculations per minute. Those pretty pictures don't mean very much if your console is running slow. Microsoft knows how important this is and equipped the Xbox Series S with a CPU that can match the PS5's, clocking out at a speed of 3.6GHz, nearly the same used within the Xbox Series X. With a faster CPU, you get increased framerates, including some PS5 games at 120 FPS.

What should we expect with storage?

PS5 SSD GDC Presentation

Source: Sony via YouTube (Image credit: Source: Sony via YouTube)

Both the PS5 Digital Edition and Xbox Series S use SSDs for their storage. Compared to the HDDs used in previous console generations, SSDs allows for more data to be read at faster speeds. An SSD differs from an HDD because it doesn't have any moving parts and data is stored on flash-memory chips. HDDs use moving mechanical parts to read/write information, slowing down the entire process.

While you'll be getting an SSD in whichever next-gen console you buy, the PS5 Digital Edition does offer more storage right out of the gate. It comes with an 825GB SSD as opposed to the 512GB SSD in the Xbox Series S. That could mean the difference between installing a handful of games on your system. Luckily, you will be able to buy extra storage for both. The Xbox Series S has a slot for a 1TB expansion card.

SSDs should also cut back on load times, latency, and texture pop-in. The PS5's faster SSD touts load times for some games as nearly instantaneous.

What is Xbox All Access?

Xbox All Access Banner

Source: Microsoft (Image credit: Source: Microsoft)

Here's the kicker. Microsoft is planning to offer the Xbox Series S through Xbox All Access, a financing program that was launched a couple of years ago. At $25/month over the course of 24 months, you'll get the Xbox Series S console and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. This means players have access to online multiplayer and hundreds of games on demand, with Xbox exclusives launching into Game Pass the day they're available. Xbox Game Pass Ultimate also includes Project xCloud game streaming and EA Play.

PlayStation has no similar program. If you want the PS5, you'll need to purchase it outright from your favorite retailer for hundreds of dollars unless Sony announces otherwise.

PS5 vs Xbox Series S exclusives

Sony Worldwide Studios

Source: Sony Interactive Entertainment / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Sony Interactive Entertainment / Android Central)

PlayStation Studios and Xbox Game Studios own dozens of companies, all working on exclusive games for their respective platforms.

PlayStation Studios includes Sony Santa Monica, Guerilla Games, Naughty Dog, and Sucker Punch. These studios have created IP like God of War, Horizon Zero Dawn, Ghost of Tsushima, The Last of Us, and many more franchises that compose the best PS5 games available.

PlayStation Studios

  • Bend Studio
  • Guerilla Games
  • Insomniac Games
  • Media Molecule
  • Naughty Dog
  • Pixelopus
  • Polyphony Digital
  • Sony Japan Studio
  • Sony London Studio
  • Sony San Diego Studio
  • Sony San Mateo Studio
  • Sony Santa Monica Studio
  • Sony XDEV Europe
  • Sucker Punch Productions

Bethesda Xbox Studios Banner

Source: Microsoft (Image credit: Source: Microsoft)

Thanks to some big acquisitions from Microsoft including Bethesda Softworks, Xbox is poised to become an RPG powerhouse with Bethesda, Obsidian, and inXile. Upcoming games like The Elder Scrolls 6 and Starfield could even potentially be exclusive on Xbox.

Xbox Game Studios and Bethesda Softworks

  • 343 Industries
  • Alpha Dog Games
  • Arkane Studios
  • Bethesda Softworks
  • Compulsion Games
  • Double Fine Productions
  • id Software
  • inXile Entertainment
  • MachineGames
  • Mojang
  • Ninja Theory
  • Obsidian Entertainment
  • Playground Games
  • Rare
  • Roundhouse Studios
  • Tango Gameworks
  • The Coalition
  • The Initiative
  • Turn 10 Studios
  • Undead Labs
  • World's Edge
  • Xbox Game Studios Global Publishing
  • ZeniMax Online Studios

Xbox Game Pass vs PlayStation Now

Xbox Game Pass Ea Play

Source: Microsoft (Image credit: Source: Microsoft)

If you ask anyone, most of the time they'll tell you that Xbox Game Pass is much better than PlayStation Now. Both services want to be a "Netflix for games" for their platforms, but Microsoft increases its value exponentially. Not only do Xbox Game Pass Ultimate members have access to hundreds of games on demand, they also get Xbox Live Gold, EA Play, Cloud streaming, and get to play new exclusives that release into Game Pass.

CategoryPlayStation NowXbox Game Pass
Price$60/year or $10/month$120/year or $10/month
Number of gamesOver 800Nearly 400
Previous generation gamesYes (PS2, PS3, PS4)Yes (Xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox One)
Available regions19 countries40 countries
Exclusives launch into serviceNoYes
Offers discounts on gamesNoYes

What about price and release date?

Microsoft released the Xbox Series X on November 10, 2020 for $299. Sony then launched the PS5 Digital Edition for $399 on November 12, 2020.

PS5 Digital Edition vs Xbox Series S: Bottom line

For the average person, getting the Xbox Series S will be the smarter option. While the PS5 Digital Edition does have its specs on its side, the Xbox Series S can still deliver next-gen performance at an affordable price. When you think about the possibility of getting it through Xbox All Access, the decision is becomes pretty clear.

With that said, if you're willing to spend a bit more, go for the PS5 which will net you Sony exclusives like Horizon Forbidden West and Spider-Man: Miles Morales, as well as far higher pixel counts and increased visuals overall.

Jennifer Locke
Jennifer Locke

Jennifer Locke is Android Central's Games Editor and has been playing video games nearly her entire life. You can find her posting pictures of her dog and obsessing over PlayStation and Xbox, Star Wars, and other geeky things on Twitter @JenLocke95.