The PlayStation 5 Digital Edition vs Xbox Series S debate is a new one. It’s the first time that we’ve seen Microsoft and Sony release, at launch, affordable versions of their flagship consoles. However, the PS5 Digital Edition and the Xbox Series S just aren’t cheaper versions of the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, respectively.
Well, technically, the PlayStation 5 Digital Edition is. It’s basically the same as the standard PS5. The only difference is that it’s $100 cheaper and has no optical drive.
The argument exists that the PS5 Digital Edition is the better value compared to the PS5, but we’re not here to talk about that.
Instead, what we’re here to talk about is the PlayStation 5 Digital Edition vs Xbox Series S argument.
The Xbox Series S is different in that it’s not the same as the more powerful Xbox Series X. It’s $200 cheaper at $299 (the Xbox Series X is $499). However, the internals and hardware are different. The Xbox Series S even sports a slightly different design from the Xbox Series X, essentially making it a different console despite belonging to the same generation.
With that said, with a $100 price difference separating the two, let’s shed some light on the PlayStation 5 Digital Edition vs Xbox Series S argument.
In doing so, we’re hoping to help the more budget-conscious consumers make a more informed purchasing decision.
PlayStation 5 Digital Edition vs Xbox Series S
Hardware and Specifications
The Xbox Series S is the weakest of the four next-generation consoles that will release in November.
But, make no mistake. The Xbox Series S is only weak relative to the other three. However, if you compare it to previous generation consoles, namely, the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, it’s plenty powerful. In fact, it’s slightly more powerful than the PlayStation 4 Pro and the Xbox One X. It also benefits from running on more modern CPU and GPU architecture, as well as a lower price point.
The Xbox Series S sports an 8-Core AMD Zen 2 processor running at 3.6GHz with 20 Compute Units and a GPU running at 1.565GHz.
Microsoft claims that the Xbox Series S should be capable of running certain games at 60 frames per second at 1440p resolution with support for up to 120fps.
Because the Xbox Series S has “slower” hardware compared to the Xbox Series X, it won’t run 4K-enhanced versions of older games. Of course, older games will still look better on the Xbox Series S. It’s just that they won’t look as pretty as they would have on the Xbox Series X. Also, the Xbox Series S will have a smaller 512GB solid-state drive.
What About the PlayStation 5 Digital Edition?
Both the Xbox Series S and the PlayStation 5 Digital Edition are diskless versions of the standard Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 consoles, respectively.
Not having optical drives aren’t the only difference between the two though.
As already mentioned earlier, the PlayStation 5 Digital Edition sports the same hardware as the standard PS5. It’s not lower-specced at all. Everything is the same, which means that it’ll perform just as well as the standard PS5 but will cost $100 less.
Already, that means that the PlayStation 5 Digital Edition has a significant lead over the Xbox Series S in terms of performance.
As a matter of fact, in terms of hardware and performance, the Xbox Series S has nothing going for it.
The Xbox Series S sports noticeably slower and weaker hardware, with less storage space (512GB vs 825GB), and can’t support 8K resolution videos, HDR, 120fps at 4K resolution, and more.
TLDR; The PlayStation 5 Digital Edition justifies its higher asking price over the Xbox Series S in terms of hardware and specifications.
Design and Build
Now, this is arguably the most subjective part of the argument.
After all, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”.
With that said, it is worth noting that the PS5 Digital Edition is argued to look better than the standard PS5. This is because of the lack of an optical disc drive. This allows the PS5 Digital Edition to have a slimmer design because it doesn’t have that noticeable bulge on the right side that the standard PS5 has.
However, just like the standard PS5, the aesthetics of the PS5 Digital Edition might not be for everybody.
The biggest PlayStation console yet, the PS5 and PS5 Digital Edition tower over most consoles today, and it will take up a lot of space on your console table. On the other hand, the Xbox Series S is nearly 60 percent smaller than its bigger brother, the Xbox Series X, and could technically fit inside the more powerful console.
Microsoft refers to the Xbox Series S as the smaller Xbox that Microsoft has ever made. This makes the Xbox Series X the more portable option.
Of course, as we’ve mentioned, the design choice is completely up to you.
We’ll chalk this up to a draw so we can move on to the next one.
Believe it or not, Microsoft has more exclusive titles at launch and beyond for the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S compared to what Sony has prepared for the PlayStation 5 and PlayStation 5 Digital Edition.
The main difference? Sony arguably has the more popular titles.
The highly anticipated Demon’s Souls, for example, has the potential to be the first next-generation game to showcase what next-gen gaming will look like. Also, despite being available on the PlayStation 4, Spider-Man: Miles Morales looks noticeably better on the PlayStation 5 as well. At the same time, the standalone expansion for PS4’s Spider-Man title is arguably a bigger release.
Keep in mind that Sony won the war of the exclusive games in the previous generation. This is thanks mostly to the presence of games such as God of War and Horizon: Zero Dawn. Although Microsoft did have a couple of exclusives going for them, their games didn’t make as much of a lasting impact.
With the sequels, God of War: Ragnarok and Horizon: Forbidden West, as well as exclusives titles like Final Fantasy XVI, releasing soon, Sony’s lead when it comes to quality only becomes more evident.
Microsoft does have a trump card in this aspect.
In case you missed it, Microsoft recently acquired video games publisher, ZeniMax Media. Because of this, Microsoft now technically owns the companies behind the latest Doom titles (id Software), The Evil Within (Tango Gameworks), Fallout and The Elder Scrolls franchises (Bethesda Softworks), as well as the Dishonored franchise (Arkane Studios).
Should Microsoft feel like it, they can make the next games in the aforementioned franchises exclusive to the Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X.
There’s no indication of that happening just yet. However, Microsoft now has the power to do so.
In each of their respective current forms, the Xbox Game Pass is miles ahead of the PlayStation Plus.
Sure, Sony seems to have taken a step in the right direction in the last few months. In fact, the PS Plus Collection was a good decision. It’ll give PS5 and PS5 Digital Edition owners plenty of games to play at launch, so long as they are subscribed. However, it looks like they’re catering mostly only to gamers switching over to consoles for the first time in a long time if not ever.
In comparison, the library of games that the Xbox Game Pass gives subscribers access to is much more comprehensive.
With more than 100 Xbox titles available for download, the Xbox Series S owners won’t be left wanting for games.
Mind you, we’re not just talking about older games here. We’re also talking about titles such as Gears 5. In fact, the Xbo Game pass will give players access to titles for the Xbox Series S and X as soon as they’re made available.
This is the opposite of what Sony has done for the PlayStation Plus so far.
The fact that the Xbox Game Pass also includes other platforms, like the PC, makes it a more comprehensive subscription than the PlayStation Plus.
Also, not to rub salt to the wound, but Microsoft seems really all-in on making the Xbox Series S and X more accessible with the introduction of the “Xbox All Access“.
Basically, what the Xbox All Access is that it is a 0% interest and 0% downpayment installment plan starting at $24.99 a month for 24 months for the Xbox Series S that gives gamers the opportunity to own the less powerful next-gen Xbox console, along with an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription.
Who Is Each Console For?
In terms of power, there’s no denying that the PlayStation 5 Digital Edition is the better console.
After all, it is a standard PS5, just without the optical drive. Meanwhile, the Xbox Series S is a watered-down version of the Xbox Series X.
It’s not even close to the PS5 in terms of performance.
With that said, each disc-less console seems to cater to its own market.
Buy an Xbox Series S if:
1. You’re looking to save money
The Xbox Series S is a frugal and value-packed purchase.
For example, let’s say that you take advantage of Microsoft’s “All Access” financing program.
Through it, you’ll be able to get your hands on an Xbox Series S at no upfront cost at 0% interest rate for $24.99 a month. Not only that, but the monthly payment also includes a subscription to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, along with Xbox Live Gold.
The subscription alone is worth $14.99 a month.
Substracted to the $24.99 a month, then you’re essentially getting the Xbox Series S for just $10 a month. This means that, by the end of the lease, you’ll only have paid $240 for your Xbox Series S instead of the $299 sticker price.
That’s some serious value right there.
2. You don’t mind not having the ultimate 4K gaming experience
If you have a 4K screen already, then yeah, you’ll want to get an Xbox Series X. However, before you dump that extra $200 on the more powerful console, you might want to ask yourself first if it’s worth it.
The thing is, the Xbox Series S can still handle 4K movies (via streaming) and upscale games to 4K resolution.
What this means is that games will still look great on your 4K TV with the Xbox Series S.
Also, if you don’t have a 4K TV already but have a budget for one, the cost-savings of getting an Xbox Series S over the PS5 Digital Edition is substantial enough that you only need to add a bit more to get yourself a competent 4K TV. This is especially true if you take advantage of Microsoft’s financing option.
3. You don’t want a huge console taking up space on your living room or desk
The Xbox Series S is the smallest Xbox console ever.
The Xbox Series S is so small that most people didn’t even notice it in the background during an interview with the Xbox chief, Phil Spencer, back on July 1.
4. You’re okay with a “less speedy” SSD
The Xbox Series S might not have as much space on its slower SSD as the PlayStation 5 Digital Edition, but, in real world performance, the difference is negligible.
The SSD of the Xbox Series S might be a second or two slower, but you’ll be too engrossed in gaming anyway to notice that.
Buy a PlayStation 5 Digital Edition if:
1. You want to experience true next-gen gaming
Let’s face it. If you’re buying a next-gen console, you might as well get one that will make you experience “true” next-gen gaming.
This isn’t to say that the Xbox Series S isn’t capable. It’s still a next-gen console, after all. It’s just that, because of its slower hardware, you won’t be able to experience next-gen games, not just in 4K, but in 8K.
If you already have an 8K television, you’ll be doing yourself a disservice by not getting an 8K-capable console.
2. You want a better-looking console
Yes. The PS5 is huge.
And, yes, looks are subjective.
However, we can’t deny that the futuristic design of the PlayStation 5 is attractive. Plus, without the optical disk drive, the PlayStation 5 Digital Edition has a more svelte design that seems more fitting for next-gen gaming than the standard version.
So long as space isn’t an issue, the PS5 Digital Edition will look awesome on your console table or desk.
3. You want a console that’ll last longer
Eventually, the Xbox Series S will meet games that it won’t be able to run as well as the PlayStation 5 Digital Edition. It won’t happen soon, but it’ll happen.
Also, while this advantage goes for both the Xbox Series S and PS5 Digital Edition, not having an optical disc drive means that you’ve pretty much done away with one of the few mechanical parts left in today’s consoles. This means that there are fewer moving parts to worry about if you go the disc-less route.
One could argue that both the Xbox Series S and the PlayStation 5 Digital Edition are the true next-gen consoles.
After all, the rest of the world has shifted towards digital already. Although there are a few advantages to using their disked counterparts, the fact remains that most devices today no longer use discs.
With that said, as long as your internet connection can support the constant downloading and updating of large file sizes, both the Xbox Series S and the PlayStation 5 Digital Edition should give you more value for your money.
What do you think of the PlayStation 5 Digital Edition vs Xbox Series S debate? Do you think that the cheaper and less-powerful console from Microsoft is worth the money? Or is the PS5 Digital Edition still the better purchase? Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments down below.