The National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Ocean Power Technologies (OPT) conducted a collaborative code validation and design optimization study for OPT’s PowerBuoy wave energy converter (WEC). NREL utilized WEC-Sim, an open-source WEC simulator, to compare four design variations of OPT’s PowerBuoy. As an input to the WEC-Sim models, viscous drag coefficients for the PowerBuoy floats were first evaluated using computational fluid dynamics. The resulting WEC-Sim PowerBuoy models were then validated with experimental power output and fatigue load data provided by OPT. The validated WEC-Sim models were then used to simulate the power performance and loads for operational conditions, extreme conditions, and directional waves, for each of the four PowerBuoy design variations, assuming the wave environment of Humboldt Bay, California. And finally, ratios of power-to-weight, power-to-fatigue-load, power-to-maximum-extreme-load, power-to-water-plane-area, and power-to-wetted-surface-area were used to make a final comparison of the potential PowerBuoy WEC designs. The design comparison methodologies developed and presented in this study are applicable to other WEC devices and may be useful as a framework for future WEC design development projects.