PS5 Digital vs Standard: Which one should you buy?

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It’s only been a few short days since Sony launched the highly anticipated PS5 and its slimmer variant, the PS5 Digital. It may be fairly obvious that the Digital variant will rely on downloading games, whereas the standard PS5 will use Blu-ray discs, but are the differences really so simple?

In this article, we will provide you with information which distinguishes the Digital PS5 from the standard PS5 so that you can select your desired console without any confusion.

Does no Blu-ray Drive Mean no 4K Gaming?

Some on the internet are claiming that the PS5 will be limited to digital game downloads, and unable to play 4K UHD Blu-ray discs. This is technically true, but can confuse people into believing the PS5 Digital will have decreased graphical quality in gaming.

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The PS5 digital will be unable to play 4K UHD Blu-ray discs (or any Blu-ray discs, for that matter), but that doesn’t mean it isn’t capable of gaming at 4K resolution. Having the same internal hardware as the standard PS5, the PS5 Digital is entirely capable of playing games at 4K (and can upscale to 8K resolution, actually). This means your favorite soccer games, like FIFA 21, will support 4K on both PS5 versions.

For example, Spider-Man: Miles Morales will have a 4K/60FPS mode regardless if you own the PS5 standard or digital. It’s just built into the game engine, and has nothing to do with whether or not the PS5 has a Blu-ray disc drive.

What’s the Point of a Blu-ray Disc Drive?

What the lack of a Blu-ray disc drive does, for the PS5 Digital, is limit your PS5 experience to digital content, which means no 4K UHD Blu-ray movies, or trading and selling physical copies of your PS5 games.

However, this really only matters for people who intend to use their PS5 as a Blu-ray player as well as a gaming console. This Reddit post sums it up nicely:

“4K Blu Ray has the best picture and audio quality, no doubt about that. Physical is the only way to get uncompressed Dolby Atmos and surround via TrueHD. No streaming platform comes close to this, and if you have a good speaker set up, it’s definitely worth it.
Physical is noticeably better than Netflix, Amazon and Disney+ 4K, however [sic] purchases and rentals from iTunes are actually very close to the picture quality of 4K Blu Ray.”

In other words, physical 4K Blu-ray offers superior quality over streaming 4K, when compared to streaming Netflix in 4K resolution, but the difference is a lot smaller with local media. Which means you could still purchase and download movies in 4K Blu-ray quality to your PS5 Digital.

There is some concern about how good the PS5 web browser will be. The PS4 web browser was hardly maintained and a common entry-point for exploits, and Sony has mentioned almost literally nothing about the web browser in PS5. The ecosystem has moved to apps for streaming services rather than visiting a website, but if anything else, you can likely still play io games online like you could in the PS4 browser.

PS5 Standard vs Digital price

The PS5 standard costs $499.99, whereas the PS5 Digital costs $399.99.

This is only a $100 difference, which is basically the cost of a cheap Blu-ray player on Amazon. Considering that many 4K UHD Blu-ray players are several hundred dollars, you are actually saving a lot of money buying a PS5 Standard as a gaming and entertainment machine, rather than buying a PS5 Digital and then a separate Blu-ray player.

But if you don’t care about Blu-ray movies, the PS5 Digital is probably the better option.

Which one should I buy?

To make this decision making easier, let’s pay attention to both of the consoles one last time.

Scenarios where you should buy PS5 Standard

The Standard version of PS5 is going to be more suitable for you in the following circumstances:

  • If you love to collect physical discs of games.
  • If you already have a great collection of PS4 disc games.
  • If you suffer from a bad internet connection.
  • If you collect 4K UHD Blu-ray movies.

Scenarios where you should buy PS5 Digital

The digital version of PS5 is suitable for the following circumstances:

  • You have a blazing fast internet connection for downloading large games.
  • You don’t really care about owning physical copies of games.
  • You’re fine with 1080p streaming services or downloading 4K quality movies.

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