PS5 Disc vs Digital: which is better?
Our in-depth comparison of PS5 Disc vs Digital Edition consoles charts the price, specs, storage and performance of each Sony console
Our in-depth PS5 Disc vs Digital comparison is here to help you determine which of Sony’s two console models you should buy. But here’s a quick heads up – you shouldn’t buy the PS5 Digital Edition, even though it’s cheaper.
Sony’s disc-less console was the more popular PlayStation 5 console with consumers in 2022 during each PS5 restock, which isn’t a complete surprise due to its more attractive upfront cost. Saving $100 over the PS5 Disc model seems like a good deal on the face of it – especially when that money can be put towards something like a PlayStation Plus discount code – but don’t be fooled.
It’s worth paying the extra premium for the PS5 disc console if you have the option, as picking the PlayStation 5 with the 4K Blu-Ray drive will save you money in the long run, and we’ll explain how below.
The Shortcut is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
Our comprehensive PS5 Disc vs Digital comparison starts with the fact that the two consoles are identical in terms of specs. Both can play the best PS5 games at up to 4K resolution and hit frame rates of up to 120fps if you have a compatible TV (check out all the PS5 120fps games to see why 120Hz gaming is so appealing). They also support every PS5 game with ray tracing.
What’s more, both PlayStation 5 models are backward compatible, so you can play the best PS4 games on PS5, use a super-fast NVMe SSD to practically eliminate load times, and come with 825GB of storage. ✅
See our PS5 SSD upgrade guide; you only get 667GB of usable space 🪛
But here’s where the PS5 Disc vs Digital debate gets interesting: the PS5 Digital Edition – as you may have guessed by the name – doesn’t have a disc drive. The console's lack of a 4K Blu-ray drive makes Sony’s cheaper PS5 look more aesthetically pleasing to the eye, but – other than being slightly lighter in weight and thinner in dimensions – that’s about it when it comes to plus points for the digital-only model.
If you’re on the fence about which of Sony’s two consoles to buy, here’s everything you need to know about the PS5 Disc vs Digital. 👇
PS5 Disc vs Digital: price 💵
On August 25, 2022, Sony announced that the PS5 price would increase in select markets – but not the US. That means if you’re buying a PlayStation 5 in the UK, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia-Pacific, Latin America, or Canada, you could be paying up to 21% more than when the console launched in November 2020. Again, the US isn’t affected, which means the PS5 Disc and PS5 Digital Edition are the same prices as before – for now, at least.
Despite the price increase, our comparison between the two PS5 consoles remains the same. At first, the PS5 Digital Edition wins when you only consider that it’s the cheaper PlayStation 5 console. The PS5 Digital price is $399 / £359 compared to the standard PS5 Disc at $499 / £449. But don’t be fooled by the initial price tag; you’re forever tied to Sony’s digital storefront when purchasing video games in the future.
While Sony does admittedly have some fantastic online sales, it’s still rare that a digital version of a game will be cheaper than a disc copy. There’s also the fact that when you buy a digital game, you can’t do anything with it. However, with a disc, you can trade it (it retains some value), lend it to a friend, and sleep soundly knowing that your purchase will be playable for many years to come, even if Sony ever chooses to take the PlayStation Store offline.
Suppose you have an existing collection of physical PS4 games, too? In that case, you won’t be able to play them on PS5 Digital Edition, nor will you be able to pick up the physical versions of PS5 games, which are often cheaper than their digital counterparts only a few months after launch.
If that wasn’t bad enough, the PS5 Digital Edition’s lack of a disc drive also means you can’t use it as a 4K Blu-ray player. Streaming services like Netflix and Disney Plus may be all the rave these days, but knowing you have a 4K Blu-ray player to hand makes the extra $100 you have to pay even less of an issue.
🏆 Winner: PS5 Disc. At first glance, this looks like a clear win for the PS5 Digital, but that $100 saving will fade into obscurity over time. It’s more cost-effective to opt for the PS5 Disc model as you’ll save money in the long run. You also get a 4K Blu-ray player as a bonus and the option to play any PS4 games you may already have on disc. 🏆
PS5 Disc vs Digital: specs 🔍
The PS5 Digital Edition and the standard PS5 are identical apart from the missing disc drive, dimensions, and weight. There’s no difference in performance or which games can be played, as both consoles use the same custom processor and even have the same 825GB SSD.
Here are the official PS5 Disc vs Digital specs, straight from Sony:
💲Price: $499 / $399
💿 4K Blu-ray disc drive: Yes / No
💪 Size: 15.4 x 10.2 x 4.1 inches / 15.4 x 10.2 x 3.6 inches
⚖️ Weight: 9.9 pounds (3.9kg) / 7.9 pounds (3.4kg)
🤓 CPU: 3.5GHz, 8-core AMD Zen 2 / 3.5GHz, 8-core AMD Zen 2
💪 GPU: 10.3 teraflop RDNA 2 GPU / 10.3 teraflop RDNA 2 GPU
🐏 RAM: 16GB GDDR6 / 16GB GDDR6
⏩ SSD: Custom 825GB SSD / Custom 825GB SSD
The PS5 has had two revisions since its launch, making the console significantly lighter overall. The PS5 disc was originally 4.5kg but is now 3.9kg, while the PS5 Digital Edtion was 3.9kg and is now 3.4kg. Sony has changed the console’s heatsink, which has helped shave a few pounds off the PS5’s weight, bringing shipping and manufacturing costs down over time.
🏆 Winner: PS5 Disc. Again, the PS5 Disc gets the nod when it comes to specs, simply because it has the 4K Blu-ray disc drive. The PS5 Digital is slightly lighter and looks more aesthetically pleasing, but the PS5 Disc model still gets my vote as you can play Blu-Ray movies and your older PS4 discs if you have any. 🏆
PS5 Disc vs Digital: SSD 🪛
The PS5 Disc and Digital models have the same 825GB SSD capacity. There’s no difference in loading times or performance, and you can add more storage to both consoles via the empty SSD bay.
However, even though the PS5 storage is advertised at 825GB, you only get 667.2GB of usable space. That means 19% of the PS5’s drive is reserved for mandatory files. With the average PS5 game requiring around 20GB to 50GB of installation space and PS Plus free games to download each month, things can fill up fast. It’s worth remembering that every PS5 disc also installs onto the SSD, so it’s not just digital titles that will eat up storage space.
The good news is that the price of the best SSD for PS5 continues to fall, with even 2TB options becoming more affordable. Your best bang for your buck is still 1TB drives, but if you’re someone who needs more space, at least 2TB capacity drives are no longer a pipe dream.
🏆 Winner: Tie. There’s no winner when it comes to storage between the PS5 Digital vs Disc. Both models offer the same 825GB NVMe SSD, the drives are the same speed, and you can expand your console’s storage in exactly the same way. 🏆
PS5 Disc vs Digital: games 🕹️
The PS5 Disc and PS5 Digital are identical in what games they can play – the best PS5 games all run the same in our testing. Likewise, older titles that are part of the PlayStation Plus Premium games list, which we also have tested, run smoothly. Whenever there’s a hiccup in the older games, it’s present on both versions of the Sony console.
The only difference, as you might have guessed, is that you can only play digital copies of PS5 and PS4 games on the disc-drive-free model of Sony’s console.
Again, if you have an extensive library of PS4 games on disc, you won’t be able to play these on the PS5 Digital Edition. You’ll also miss out on getting PS5 upgrades on the cheap. For less than their digital counterparts, you can often find physical PS4 versions with a free or paid PS5 upgrade, such as Death Stranding, Final Fantasy 7 Remake, and even Horizon: Forbidden West.
🆚 PS5 vs Xbox Series X: which console should you buy?
Digital copies aren’t all bad, though. They’re far more convenient if you like to switch between multiple games simultaneously, as you never need to worry about changing discs. That makes digital versions a tempting proposition, but you can still buy digital games on the PS5 disc version, giving you the best of both worlds (some people miss that critical fact in this comparison).
🏆 Winner: PS5 Disc. Even though both models of the PS5 can play exactly the same games, only one has a disc drive. If you’ve amassed a large collection of physical PS4 games, you won’t be able to use them on the PS5 Digital Edition, and you won’t be able to pick up any physical games on the cheap either. 🏆
PS5 Disc vs Digital: availability 🛍️
Here’s where people don’t do themselves any favors. We’ve explained that picking up the PS5 Disc version will be less expensive than PS5 Digital in the long run because disc games get cheaper a lot faster. But the PS5 Digital Edition is also 14 times harder to find in stock.
The lack of PS5 Digital consoles is partly because it’s $100 cheaper to buy this disc-less version of the PlayStation 5. But we also know that Sony is just sending more of the PS5 Disc consoles to stores. You have to think that the disc drive parts don’t cost $100 more so Sony’s profits are slightly higher for PS5 Disc. Still, people keep trying to get PS5 Digital and probably waste more than $100 worth of time doing so.
Sony has said the PS5 stock shortage has finally come to an end, which means you won’t need to snap up the first PlayStation 5 model you see in stock. Those who are looking for a bundle will also do better going after the PS5 disc models.
🏆 Winner: Tie. PS5 Digital tends to be more popular at retail due to the lower price point, but both models of the PlayStation 5 are now easier to find. Sony says the stock shortage is over, and we’ve seen more bundles that include a game like God of War: Ragnarok appear. 🏆
Should I buy PS5 Disc or Digital Edition? 🤔
The lower price point is the most significant benefit of choosing the PS5 Digital Edition over the PS5 disc version. As I’ve already mentioned, the PS5 Digital Edition costs $399 instead of the PS5 Disc price of $499 as it doesn’t have a disc drive, so you’re saving $100, which isn’t an insignificant amount.
That saving might be enough reason for some to pick the digital version of Sony’s console, as you could feasibly put the savings towards one of the lovely new PS5 controller colors, a couple of games, or one of the best PS5 accessories. But over time, it’s almost a guarantee you’ll spend more on PS4 and PS5 games, and you also lose some functionality like being able to play 4K Blu-ray discs. ❌
Stay on top of every new release with our PS5 games 2023 list 📃
Of course, the choice of which PS5 you buy is ultimately up to you, but it’s easier to find the standard PS5 in stock than its digital-only counterpart. Sony has opted to choose its PS5 disc console for bundles, the latest of which includes God of War: Ragnarok.
🏆 Overall winner: PS5 Disc. Yes, the PS5 Digital is $100 cheaper, but you’re getting better value if you pay the premium for the PS5 Disc model. Not only do you get a 4K Blu-ray player, a nice option should you ever need it, but physical games tend to be cheaper than digital – and that continues to be the case. PS4 owners with a lot of physical games will also want to opt for the PlayStation 5 with the disc drive, as they’ll be glorified coasters if you go for the PS5 Digital Edition. 🏆
Is PS5 Digital worth it? ⚖
Like most things in life, the PS5 Digital Edition is most certainly worth it – to the right person. Although a slightly cheaper, stripped-back version of the PS5 Disc model, it’s hardly a feeble option. Sony’s disc-less console is just as powerful as its beefier sibling, and in some circumstances may be the more appropriate purchase.
The ultimate deciding factor will be how you like to buy and play your games. Second-hand physical copies are often much cheaper than digital downloads, meaning the PS5 Disc Edition could save you some dollars in the long run. But only if you plan to plump up your PS5 library with a lot of titles. If you’re the kind of person who plays only occasionally or buys only the latest FIFA and Call of Duty games each year, you’re unlikely to see much in the way of savings.
That’s similarly true for anyone banking on PS Plus. Not only is Sony’s premium subscription service required to play online multiplayer games, but it also offers a bunch of PS Plus free games every month. They vary in quality and popularity but are useful to anyone starting their PlayStation library from scratch.
All of which is to say think carefully as to whether the pricier PS5 Disc model suits your gaming habits. The PS5 Digital Edition caters best to those who tend to play few games and will likely already be shelling out on PS Plus.
Updated: April 24, 2023