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PS5 Digital vs Xbox Series S: Which budget console is the best option for you?

We pit the PS5 Digital vs the Xbox Series X to find out what each digital-only console has to offer.

Published onJuly 23, 2021

Xbox Series S controller and console with foreground bokeh
Ryan-Thomas Shaw / Android Authority

The PS5 Digital and the Xbox Series S are the cheaper, digital-only counterparts to their beefy, more powerful older brothers. They are two wildly different consoles, but if you’re looking for a cost-effective next-gen console, it’ll come down to the PS5 Digital vs the Xbox Series S.

Both are digital-only consoles, but that’s where the similarity stops. In this article, we’ll look at all of the unique aspects of both the PS5 Digital and the Xbox Series S. Then, we’ll weigh out the pros and cons and help you decide which console works best for you.

Looking for more information about the other new consoles? Check out:

PS5 Digital vs Xbox Series S price

playstation logo close up on ps5
Sarah Chaney / Android Authority

If you’re considering buying either the PS5 Digital or the Xbox Series S, you likely want to save some money. The cheapest option between the two is the Xbox Series S, priced at $299.99.

If you want an even more savvy purchase option, Microsoft is offering the Xbox All Access plan. With it, you can purchase a new Xbox Series S console and get an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription for 24 monthly payments of $24.99 plus tax. If you want to upgrade to the Xbox Series X, Microsoft offers a similar Xbox All Access plan for 24 monthly payments of $34.99 plus tax.

The PS5 Digital is a bit more expensive, priced at $399.99, but you get a lot more bang for your buck in terms of specs. It has the same powerful internals as its more expensive peer, minus the disc drive. However, Sony does not currently have any monthly payment plans or bundles that decrease the console price.

PS5 Digital vs Xbox Series S design

ps5 side
Oliver Cragg / Android Authority

The design of the PS5 digital and the design of the Xbox Series S could not be more different. They’re both primarily white with black accents, but that’s pretty much the only similarity.

The PS5 digital is slightly slimmer than the standard PS5 due to the lack of a disc drive. It has a more symmetrical design, with the black console sandwiched between two sleek white panels. You can choose to place the PS5 Digital either horizontally or vertically. Although the PS5 and PS5 Digital design has been quite controversial among fans, I quite like the more modern, sleek form factor.

Read more: Sony PlayStation 5 review: A beautiful, speedy upgrade from last-gen

That said, it is every bit as tall as the standard PS5. Ensure it will fit in your entertainment center before buying, or it may end up sitting on the floor.

Xbox Series S and One S size comparison angle view
Ryan-Thomas Shaw / Android Authority
Xbox Series S (above) and Xbox One S (below)

The Xbox Series S also has a minimalist appearance, but it’s more subtle due to its size. It has the same simple color scheme as the PS5 Digital, with a single large black vent on the side. This makes it look almost like a home speaker when stood vertically.

Check out: Xbox Series S review: Good things come in small packages

The Xbox Series S is the smallest console Microsoft has ever made. It’s about 60% smaller than its towering counterpart, the Xbox Series X. You can see a size comparison with the Xbox One X above, and the difference is even more striking when compared to the Xbox Series X or PS5.

PS5 Digital vs Xbox Series S storage

ps5 logo
Oliver Cragg / Android Authority

In terms of storage, the PS5 Digital is the clear winner. The PS5 Digital comes with a custom 825GB SSD (667GB useable). External hard drives can also be plugged into the USB ports, but only for legacy PS4 games. All PS5 games must be installed on the build-in SSD or another compatible internal SSD.

Sony has announced that there will be options to expand the internal storage in the future. However, gamers have been told not to purchase internal storage until they hear which internal SSDs are compatible with the PS5 Digital’s high-end bandwidth demands. Unfortunately, it could be a while before Sony can test various SSDs and certify specific ones for PS5 owners to purchase.

Related: First Xbox Series S expandable drive will cost nearly as much as the console

The Xbox Series S comes with a 512GB SSD (364GB useable). Considering that many games nowadays are easily 100GB or larger, this is not a lot of storage space. Microsoft has stated that Series S games will take up less space than their Series X counterparts due to the lack of 4K output, but it’s still extremely limiting.

Unlike Sony, however, Microsoft has already confirmed a 1TB Seagate internal SSD that will be compatible with their console. Nevertheless, with 2TB, 4TB, and larger SSDs, it’s disappointing that Microsoft is only offering a 1TB option. The 1TB SSD from Seagate isn’t cheap either, retailing at over $200. This makes the $299.99 price tag of the Series S not nearly as appealing.

PS5 Digital vs Xbox Series S specs

Xbox Series S console and controller close up of the front USB port
Ryan-Thomas Shaw / Android Authority

Both the PS5 Digital and the Xbox Series S have an eight-core AMD CPU. The PS5’s CPU runs at a variable 3.5GHz frequency, while the Series S’s CPU runs at a 3.6GHz frequency. This is the only spec that Xbox Series S has a slight advantage in, but it is incredibly slight.

In the rest of the spec battle, the PS5 Digital wins everything. Both consoles have the same GPU, but the PS5 has a whopping 10 TFLOPS of processing power compared to the Series S’s 4 TFLOPS. The PS5 Digital also has 6 more GB of GDDR6 RAM. It’s understandable that the PS5 Digital would win because it’s essentially the standard PS5 minus a disc drive.

See also: PS4 vs PS5 – Should I upgrade? Should I wait?

If we look at the Xbox Series S, it has less powerful specs, but it’s also $200 cheaper than the Series X. Microsoft didn’t just eliminate the disc drive to give a more affordable, digital-only option to gamers. The company wanted to provide a budget option for gamers who want to spend less or don’t need a super powerful next-gen console.

And for now, there aren’t many games where you can really appreciate the difference. Until more truly demanding next-gen Xbox Series X games are released later this year, the Series S performs nearly as well as the Series X. For a budget device, the Series S performance is pretty dang impressive.

PS5 Digital vs Xbox Series S games

ps5 dashboard

The available games for each console will be a huge deciding factor for a lot of gamers. The PS5 Digital will play all the same titles as the standard PS5, with all enhancements, like 4K resolution, higher frame rates, ray tracing, and more.

Some of the biggest PS5 games out right now include Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Demon’s Souls, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, and ASTRO’s Playroom (free with the purchase of a console). Upcoming PS5 games to look forward to include Horizon Forbidden West and the next God of War game.

Most of the PS4 library will be backward compatible with the PS5 digital too, but you’ll have to either own or download a digital copy.

xbox series x dashboard 1

The Xbox Series S offers the same games as the Series X but at a lower resolution and lower performance level. Halo Infinite was postponed to 2021, so you’ll have to wait for the flagship property, but you can still play Gears Tactics, Yakuza: Like a Dragon, and more.

Read also: Best Xbox Series X/S games

What’s great about the Series S as opposed to the PS5 Digital is that you can play Xbox One games, plus some Xbox 360 and OG Xbox games. Unfortunately, if an enhanced version of a game is available for the Series X, you won’t be able to experience it on the Series S because it’s not powerful enough.

Regardless, there’s a massive library of games to explore if you’re new to Xbox consoles. If you decide to purchase a new console through an Xbox All Access plan, you can download or stream any games available with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. Combined with Xbox Game Pass, the Series S offers gamers incredible value.

Should I buy the PS5 Digital or the Xbox Series S?

So who wins the battle of Xbox Series S vs PS5 Digital? Well, the answer isn’t so simple.

If you want a powerful next-gen console that will load current and future games incredibly fast and make them look amazing, go with the PS5 Digital. It’s more expensive than the Xbox Series S, but it has all the same specs as the standard PS5, and it delivers the same next-gen performance.

You may have to increase more internal storage later on, but 667GB of usable storage is a pretty decent amount to start with. However, if you prefer owning physical copies of games, the standard PS5 is a better investment in the long run.

Those on a tighter budget who don’t need fancy 4K graphics and ray tracing go with the Xbox Series S. You can still play next-gen games and more on this console without breaking the bank. That said, there’s not much storage space, so you might need to invest in an internal or external expansion. But depending on which games you play or how titles you play, you may not need that extra storage, making the Series S an easy choice.

If you decide on the Xbox Series S, don’t forget to look into the Xbox All Access plan. With Game Pass Ultimate, you won’t have to download games; you can stream them. You will still get the enjoyment out of experiencing new titles without taking up precious storage space on your console.

Sony PlayStation 5 Digital Edition
Xbox Series S

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