The PlayStation 5 is still pretty hard to find, and the last thing you want is to be scrambling over which model to get when that mystical “add to cart” button actually does light up. With that in mind, we’re here to help you figure out which model is right for you ahead of time.
Sony’s latest home console comes in two variations: the $499 PS5, which sports a disc drive, and the $399 PS5 Digital Edition, which is a cheaper model that ditches the drive for those who don’t mind downloading all of their games. And…the differences pretty much end there. Both versions of the PS5 sport identical hardware inside, meaning you’ll enjoy features like immersive 4K visuals, silky high-frame-rate gameplay, ray tracing for super-realistic lighting and Sony’s innovative DualSense controller no matter which one you buy.
But while the PS5 Digital Edition is cheaper on paper, it isn’t necessarily the best value for everyone. So while you refresh your browsers and follow your favorite PS5 restock trackers, here’s a quick look at who the PS5 and PS5 Digital Edition are for.
You should get the PS5 if…
You buy lots of physical media (including 4K Blu-rays)
This might sound obvious, but if you’re the type of person who likes to amass large shelves of physical media, the PS5 disc model is for you. The PS5 is compatible with most physical PS4 games and also doubles as a 4K Blu-ray player, so if you’ve got a big collection of that stuff, this model is the only one that will play them. It’s also the only version that will play boxed PS5 games you can buy at retail, which brings us to our next point…
You want as many options as possible for buying games
While the standard PS5 is more expensive than the Digital Edition, the fact that it plays physical games could actually save you money in the long run. Whereas the PS5 Digital Edition limits you to the PlayStation Store, the disc-based PS5 gives you the freedom to buy games from retailers such as Amazon, GameStop and Walmart — and trade them in when you don’t need them anymore. Physical games tend to go on sale more frequently than their digital counterparts, and can be bought used at lower prices. Plus, you have the added benefit of being able to borrow them from friends or lend them out.
You want the PS5 that’s in stock more often
Both versions of the PS5 are pretty elusive, but the standard model is the one that seems to pop up more often. Earlier this year, tech journalist and popular PS5 stock tracker Matt Swider told us that “PS5 Disc is easier to buy,” and that it’s the model he recommends people go for.
You should get the PS5 Digital Edition if…
You want the cheapest PS5 possible
If you don’t mind forgoing the benefits of physical games, the PS5 Digital Edition is a whole $100 cheaper than the standard model. That extra cash can get you an extra game or two, a PlayStation Plus subscription or an extra DualSense controller for multiplayer game nights.
You don’t mind downloading all of your games (and mostly own digital stuff)
As its name suggests, the PS5 Digital Edition works only with digital media. So if you’re cool with downloading all of your games and streaming all of your movies, you’ll be just fine with this one. And if most of your back catalog of PS4 games is digital, you’ll be able to simply redownload those games on your PS5. Going digital is good for folks who want minimal clutter, and since modern games take up hard drive space even if you’re using a disc, you’re not going to save any storage by going with the disc model.
You want the sleekest PS5
The PS5 is a gigantic console no matter which version you get, but the PS5 Digital Edition’s lack of a disc drive gives it a sleeker, more symmetrical design than the disc model. The Digital Model is about a half inch thinner than its disc-based counterpart at 3.6 versus 4.1 inches, which just might mean the difference between whether or not you can cram it in your entertainment center.
Given how scarce the PS5 currently is, we’d honestly recommend snapping up any model you can find available. But if you find yourself able to choose between the two, we think the standard $499 PS5 is the better overall choice, thanks to the sheer amount of options it gives you for buying games. You’ll have more opportunities to snag titles on sale, and the system doubles as a 4K Blu-ray player.
If you don’t mind being locked to the PlayStation Store and streaming all of your entertainment content, the $100 you’ll save on the PS5 Digital Edition could go a long way toward more games and accessories. No matter what you’ve decided on, make sure to follow our tips for snagging a PS5 so that you’re ready to go as soon as stock comes back.