PS5 vs. PS5 Digital Edition: Which should you buy?
PlayStation's next-generation console packs a ton of power, with a (variable) 10.28 TFLOPs, an ultra-fast solid-state drive, and a 4K Blu-ray drive. This drive ensures you can keep playing digital and disc-based media, including any PS4 titles in your collection.
The full deal
PS5 Digital Edition
PlayStation is also offering a digital version of its next console. It's packing the same amount of power and the same incredible SSD. However, there's no disc drive, which means you won't have to bother with discs — but you'll also lose the option forever.
PS5 Digital Edition
Sony surprised the world when it announced its new PS5. It showed off an upgraded console with an all-new design for the brand. Sony also revealed a previously unknown second model, a PS5 Digital Edition, which is like the regular model in almost every way, but with one key difference. Now that we have both of these consoles are in our hands, there's a fair bit to unpack in deciding just how you're going to play the best PS5 games.
PS5 vs. PS5 Digital Edition: What's the difference?
Sony has reiterated that these two consoles are almost exactly the same. Both PS5 consoles have immense graphical power, good CPUs, and a highly custom, super quick solid-state drive (SSD). They both use the new DualSense controller and are compatible with the same accessories. The main difference is the lack of Ultra HD 4K Blu-ray drive.
The regular PS5 includes this drive, meaning it can play games installed through a disc, including backward-compatible PS4 titles. You'll also be able to watch Blu-ray or Ultra HD Blu-ray titles. Meanwhile, the Digital Edition console will, of course, lack these capabilities. It's intended for anyone who doesn't use physical media anymore, so if you're already purchasing the digital versions of games, while also watching your movies and TV shows digitally, you won't miss out.
|Header Cell - Column 0||PS5||PS5 Digital Edition|
|GPU||10.28 TFLOPS, 36 CUs @ 2.23 GHz Custom RDNA 2||10.28 TFLOPS, 36 CUs @ 2.23 GHz Custom RDNA 2|
|CPU||8x Cores @ 3.5GHz Custom Zen 2||8x Cores @ 3.5GHz Custom Zen 2|
|Memory||16GB GDDR6||16GB GDDR6|
|Storage||825GB SSD||825GB SSD|
|USB||USB 3.0, USB-C||USB 3.0, USB-C|
|Optical drive||4K UHD Blu-Ray drive||None|
|Audio||"Tempest" 3D AudioTech||"Tempest" 3D AudioTech|
|Weight||9.9 lb (4.5kg)||8.6 lb (3.9kg)|
|Dimensions||15.3 x 4.1 x 10.2 inches||15.3 x 3.6 x 10.2 inches|
PS5 vs. PS5 Digital Edition: What this difference means for you
Memory and storage
Both PS5 consoles include a custom 825GB SSD. This SSD is extremely fast, reaching speeds of 5.5GB/s of raw data, well beyond what most SSDs are currently capable of. Whether you buy your games physically or digitally, they'll need to be installed, which will take up space on the SSD. While you can extend your storage space thanks to a 2021 update that added support for select NVME drives, they have to meet several key factors in performance and physical size, to the point we've added a PS5 SSD expansion guide for further clarification.
One such drive compatible with the PS5 is the Seagate Firecuda 530, which provides optimal performance and no technical issues when used.
Both consoles are backward compatible with PS4 games, with the "overwhelming majority" of PS4 games being supported on day one. Some (but not all) of these titles, including PSVR games, will be able to tap into the vastly enhanced power of the PS5 to run at higher resolutions or more stable framerates.
It is, however, important to note that the PS5 Digital Edition will not be able to play PS4 discs; it will only be compatible with digital PS4 games. This is an essential factor to consider if you have an extensive collection of physical PS4 games you'd like to continue to play.
PlayStation Plus Collection
PlayStation 5 and PlayStation 5 Digital Edition owners will be able to pay for a new subscription called PlayStation Plus Collection. This allows subscribers to access many PS4 titles on the new console. This includes games like God of War, Bloodborne, and Final Fantasy 15. The PlayStation Plus Collection is playable on PS4, but you have to have redeemed the games on PS5 first.
Limited edition consoles
No limited edition consoles have been revealed — yet. It appears that some interesting designs could be on the way in the future, as in a now-deleted thread, Sony's VP of UX design at PlayStation, Matt MacLaurin, explained that the PS5 hardware is customizable in ways the previous console wasn't. He also said there will be "a special edition for everyone."
The PS5 and the PS5 Digital Edition meet the same performance specs, so there's absolutely no difference in how well your games will play. This is extremely important, as it means that big upcoming PS5 games like the Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic Remake will run identically on both systems.
Sony Worldwide Studios is also hard at work on a slate of upcoming exclusive games, including Insomniac Games' Marvel's Spider-Man 2, Marvel's Wolverine and more.
However, note that for obvious reasons, you won't be able to enjoy the physical version of a PS5 game on the PS5 Digital Edition. This is something to keep in mind, especially if you're a collector looking at special limited editions, like the different editions of Horizon Forbidden West.
Regardless of which system you go with, you'll be in for another generation of high-quality games. I'd recommend grabbing the Digital Edition if you're new to the PlayStation ecosystem since it's a bit cheaper and smaller. You also won't have the clutter of discs to store. If you've got Blu-ray movies or PS4 games you want to continue playing, however, then you'll want to go with the regular PS5.
In our PS5 review, PlayStation lead Jennifer Locke noted it was impossible to go back to the PS4 once she experienced everything the PS5 has to offer. The PS5 and PS5 Digital Edition are currently available for purchase, but finding one in stock is extremely difficult. If you can get one, consider picking up some of the titles available for the system, such as the excellent Demon's Souls remake.
Time to play
Keep all your options open with the regular PS5, as you won't get cut off from PS5 or PS4 discs. If you aren't ready to give up physical media, this is the console for you.
Time to play — digitally
Play the same great PS5 games and your older PS4 titles — provided they are all digital. No more worrying about discs if you go this route.
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Samuel Tolbert is a freelance writer covering gaming news, previews, reviews, interviews and different aspects of the gaming industry, specifically focusing on PlayStation on Android Central. You can find him on Twitter @SamuelTolbert