PS5 digital vs. disc edition: Which PlayStation 5 is best for you?

PS5 digital vs. disc edition: Which PlayStation 5 is best for you?
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A standard slim next to a slim PS5 digital edition
A slim PS5 (left) and a slim PS5 digital edition (right).

Sony’s PS5 is the fastest-selling console of the current generation, and buyers can choose between two primary models: the slim PS5 with a disc drive or the slim PS5 digital edition.

The standard slim PS5 costs $500 and includes a detachable 4K Blu-ray drive so you can load game discs as well as play digital downloads. The slim digital-edition PS5 costs $450, but it doesn’t include a disc drive for physical media, so you’re limited to playing downloaded games. However, you can purchase an attachable disc drive for $80 if you decide you want to add one later on.

Digital downloads are convenient and popular, but there are still benefits that come from paying a bit more for a PS5 that includes a disc drive. Most notably, physical games can be bought pre-owned for a discount, resold, or shared with friends and family. The disc-drive PS5 also lets you play Blu-ray movies, while the all-digital PS5 is limited to streaming.

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

PS5 digital vs. disc: Pricing and availability

PS5 Slim models
The slim PS5’s design uses a detachable disc drive.

The slim PS5 with disc drive costs $500, while the slim digital-edition PS5 costs $450. Both slim models are now readily available at various retailers online and in-store. You may also still be able to find old stock of the original, slightly larger PS5 models that launched in 2020, but the slim editions are the only versions that Sony is manufacturing going forward. 

Sony also bundles PlayStation 5 consoles with popular games like Spider-Man 2 and Call of Duty Modern Warfare III. PS5 bundles are normally priced at $560, which presents a $10 discount over buying a game and console separately. However, the Spider-Man 2 bundle is sometimes available for just $450, which is $50 less than the regular price of a PS5.  

PS5 digital vs. disc: What’s different?

The original PlayStation 5 models released in 2020 offer nearly identical designs and specifications — the only real difference between them is the absence of a 4K Blu-ray drive on the digital edition. Along with being unable to play games and movies on Blu-ray discs, the original digital-edition PS5 is slightly thinner and weighs about 1.3 lbs less than the original standard version.

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The new slim PS5 and slim PS5 digital edition released in November 2023 are about 30% smaller than the original models and have larger 1TB solid-state drives. Once again, the most important difference between each slim PS5 is that the digital-edition model does not include a disc drive. However, the slim digital-edition PS5 allows you to add a 4K Blu-ray drive attachment later if you’d like. This feature is not supported on the original PS5 digital edition.

Despite these design differences, all versions of the PS5 deliver the same gaming performance. This 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.

Every PS5 comes with the same DualSense controller, which offers haptic feedback and has a built-in microphone, and they support all of the best PlayStation accessories.

PS5 digital vs. disc: Games

Spider-Man gliding through New York.
Spider-Man gliding through New York in “Marvel’s Spider-Man 2.”

All PlayStation 5 consoles share the same library of games and the same quality of gameplay, but disc-drive PS5 models give you more control over how you play them.

With a disc-drive PS5, games can be played on 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 backward compatibility, while the digital-edition PS5 can only access digital versions of those games through the PlayStation Store.

However, remember that 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. 

PS5 digital vs. disc: PlayStation Plus

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

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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 as long as they remain subscribers. 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

Spec

Slim PS5 with disc drive ($500)

Slim PS5 digital edition ($450)

Launch PS5 with disc drive ($500)

Launch PS5 digital edition ($400)

Disc drive

4K Ultra HD Blu-ray 

None (disc drive add-on available for $80) 

4K Ultra HD Blu-ray 

None

Storage

1TB M.2 Drive

1TB M.2 Drive

825GB M.2 drive

825GB M.2 drive

HDMI Out

Up to 4K resolution at 120Hz with HDMI 2.1

Up to 4K resolution at 120Hz with HDMI 2.1

Up to 4K resolution at 120Hz with HDMI 2.1

Up to 4K resolution at 120Hz with HDMI 2.1

Ports

2x USB-C, 2x USB 3.1, 1x Ethernet

2x USB-C, 2x USB 3.1, 1x Ethernet

1x USB-C, 3x USB 3.1, 1x Ethernet

1x USB-C, 3x USB 3.1, 1x Ethernet

CPU

AMD Ryzen Zen 2, 8 cores, 16 threads at 3.5 GHz

AMD Ryzen Zen 2, 8 cores, 16 threads at 3.5 GHz

AMD Ryzen Zen 2, 8 cores, 16 threads at 3.5 GHz

AMD Ryzen Zen 2, 8 cores, 16 threads at 3.5 GHz

GPU

AMD Radeon RDNA 2 at 2.23 GHz, 10.3 TFlops

AMD Radeon RDNA 2 at 2.23 GHz, 10.3 TFlops

AMD Radeon RDNA 2 at 2.23 GHz, 10.3 TFlops

AMD Radeon RDNA 2 at 2.23 GHz, 10.3 TFlops

Memory

GDDR6 16GB, 44GB/s bandwidth

GDDR6 16GB, 44GB/s bandwidth

GDDR6 16GB, 44GB/s bandwidth

GDDR6 16GB, 44GB/s bandwidth

PS5 digital vs. disc: Which should you buy?

A controller sitting on top of the PlayStation Five (PS5).
All PS5 models come with a DualSense controller.

The PlayStation 5 is our pick for the best gaming console you can buy, no matter which edition you purchase. However, the disc-drive PS5 could offer more value in the long run. It costs an extra $50, but it lets you play old PS4 discs, used copies of games, and borrowed discs from friends, which might save you money over time. It also doubles as a 4K Blu-ray player for movies.

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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, making it feel less of a sacrifice for the price difference. And now that the new slim version lets you add a drive later, there’s no risk if you want to initially save money and then upgrade in the future. 

Consider the standard PS5 if …

  • You already own physical PS4 games you want to play on your PS5
  • You want to play movies on Blu-ray and 4K Blu-ray disc
  • You want to buy used PS5 games or discounted physical copies

Consider the PS5 digital edition if …

  • You want to save $50 on your console purchase
  • You only want digital games and don’t mind buying from Sony’s store
  • You don’t need the option to trade in your used games
  • You don’t mind paying an extra $80 if you decide to add a disc drive later on

FAQs

Is the PS5 more powerful than the digital edition?

The PS5 digital edition offers the same performance as the standard PS5, just without a disc drive. Other than the disc drive, both models use the same internal hardware.

Does the PS5 have more storage than the digital edition?

Both original PlayStation 5 consoles have an 825GB solid-state drive, though the system software leaves you with 667GB to use for games and other storage. Meanwhile, both slim PS5 models have a 1TB SSD.

The storage space can be upgraded with a M.2 solid state drive that meets the PS5’s speed requirements. Check out our guide to the best SSDs for PS5 for our top recommendations. 

Can you download and play digital games if you have the PS5 disc version?

The PlayStation Store operates the same way for digital purchases on the standard PS5 and the digital edition. Your Sony account and purchases can also be shared between multiple PlayStation consoles.

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