Rendering large amounts of 2D sprites, is particle system inherently faster?

I am currently making a realistic 3D galaxy map. Stars are rendered as a circular 2D sprites.
One oddity I noticed was that when I place stars as actors with MaterialBillboard with simple texture. I could get around 5000 stars before the system slowed down.
With a particle system, I could get around 10,000ish before there was a noticeable frame drop.

Is there a difference between spawning sprite with a particle emitter and placing them in the world via code?

if its a simple sprite with simple texture, you could use gpu particles and have 10k stars easily.
It should all be within one drawcall, and you could use particle LOD’s combines with a few gpu emitters to reduce stars depending on distance + culling and you should be able to spam quite a few stars.