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Which PlayStation 5 is right for me?

Is the PS5 the right time to go all digital?

the PlayStation 5 Digital Edition standing to the left of the PlayStation 5, which has the DualSense controller standing to the right Image: Sony Interactive Entertainment

The PlayStation 5 is coming out on Nov. 12, but there are two versions of the console to choose from. There’s the PlayStation 5, which is the standard version of the console, and the PlayStation 5 Digital Edition, which removes the regular version’s disc drive and cuts $100 off of the price. These two options leave players with the choices about which console they want to bring with them into next-gen gaming.

The question of which PS5 to buy comes down to several factors, and everyone will have their own answer as to which console is right for them. Early on, the decision may be driven by which console you can get your hands on, but eventually you’ll be able to have your pick from the two editions. To try to help make the decision a little easier, here are some of the things you should consider when picking which console is right for you.

How fast is your internet?

Since games will have to be installed either way, the main practical benefit of having a disc for your games is that installing them from a disc may be faster than downloading them. This can be especially helpful if you live in a rural area, or simply don’t have fast internet for one reason or another. Games are getting bigger and bigger, and that trend is likely to continue for the foreseeable future. If your connection speed is anywhere south of 100Mbs, you may want to either upgrade your internet, or go for the disc-based console. However, many areas of the world are already living in the gigabit (or even faster) future. If that’s you, you’re probably going to be fine with the disc-less PS5.

the PlayStation 5 lying in its horizontal orientation on a wooden table Photo: Samit Sarkar/Polygon

Another internet-related factor could be bandwidth caps from your internet service provider. All games are likely to have patches that are necessary to play the game, so you’ll definitely want to save your downloads for those instead of the game itself. With games like Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War pushing well over 200 GB already, without even including Warzone, game downloads could chew through your bandwidth cap quickly, making the disc console a better option.

Do you care about trading games in? Or having physical copies?

Physical games take up plenty of space and have their drawbacks, but they have a few advantages for some players as well. On top of making your game collection more impressive to look at, physical copies are also your only option if you want to trade in games to sell them used and get part of the value back.

Physical editions are also the most reliable way to really own the games you buy. Digital copies are technically games you’re buying access to rather than owning yourself. This means that if Sony were to for some reason shut down servers at some point in the future, you wouldn’t have access to your games anymore — however unlikely this might be. Buying the physical disc gives you a copy of the game you’ll always have. One possible complication with that idea in this console generation, however, is that many games require internet connections to function. If that’s the case for a particular game, owning it on a disc or on your account with a digital copy won’t matter, because you won’t be able to play it either way.

Physical games also have the added benefit of being able to be shared with friends just by giving them the disc. While you can use things like Sony’s Console Sharing option to temporarily allow a friend to play a game, there’s nothing quite like handing or mailing your friend a disc-based copy of your favorite game to try out.

Do you want to watch 4K Blu-rays?

4K Blu-rays, and Blu-rays in general, aren’t super popular, but for the few people that own them, this could be a compelling feature of the PS5 with a disc drive. 4K Blu-ray players around the same quality as the PS5 cost around $200 on their own, so this could be a nice way to kill two birds with one stone.

a wide photo of the PlayStation 5 standing vertically on a round wooden table Photo: Samit Sarkar/Polygon

Do you have a big library of PlayStation 4 games on disc?

This might be the most compelling reason to get a PlayStation 5 with a disc drive. Not every game from the PS4 is backward compatible with the PS5, but many are. And in the cases where you don’t already own the game digitally, you’ll need to insert the game disc in order to play it on the PS5.

As for the Digital Edition, there’s always PlayStation Plus Collection, which will include many of the most popular PS4 games for players to download. This service is available to PlayStation Plus subscribers and while it likely won’t include all the games you may own in your physical collection, it should include plenty of the hits you might want to return to. As of right now, it’s unclear if Sony will offer another solution for Digital Edition players to transfer their disc-based PS4 collections to PlayStation 5.

So … which should I get?

If during the last console generation you made the swap to mostly digital games, then you don’t need the PS5 with a disc drive. In fact, if you don’t have a specific need for a disc drive, like slow internet, or a particular love for … video game boxes, then save the $100 and get the PS5 Digital Edition. However, if you read through the list of questions above and thought one or two might apply to you, buy the regular PS5 and enjoy your disc drive. After all, this could very well be the last console generation that will have them.

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