PS4 vs. PS4 Slim: The more things change, the more they stay the same

In late 2016, Sony launched two new consoles — the PlayStation 4 Slim and PlayStation 4 Pro — both of which are updates to the PS4 hardware. While the PS4 Pro is pushing the hardware toward 4K gaming and stronger VR performance, the PS4 Slim is a smaller, sleeker take on the PS4 as we’ve known it the past three years.

The Slim system will be the base PS4 model going forward, replacing the larger model that has been available since 2013. But just how does the PS4 Slim measure up the original? Below you’ll find a detailed breakdown of the specifications for each of the two consoles, as well as analysis of how they stack up against each other in terms of power, design, and more.

PlayStation 4 Slim

playstation-4-slim-305x210

PlayStation 4

Playstation 4

Dimensions 10″ x 11″ x 1.5″ 12 inches x 2.09 inches x 10.83 inches
Weight 4.6 lbs 6.1 lbs
Processor CPU: Eight-core X86 AMD Jaguar
GPU:1.84 T-FLOPS, AMD Radeon Graphics Core Next Engine
CPU: Eight-core X86 AMD Jaguar
GPU:1.84 T-FLOPS, AMD Radeon Graphics Core Next Engine
Memory 8GB GDDR5 RAM 8GB GDDR5 RAM
Hard drive Built-in, 1TB HDD (earlier models were 500GB) Built-in, 500GB HDD/1TB HDD (can be swapped for larger drive)
AV output  HDMI Out HDMI out, Digital Output (Optical)
I/O output 2 x Super Speed USB 3.0 2 x Super Speed USB 3.0, AUX
Communication Ethernet, Bluetooth 2.1, Wi-Fi Ethernet, Bluetooth 2.1, Wi-Fi
Controller DualShock 4 (redesign) DualShock 4
PlayStation VR compatible Yes (Sold separately) Yes (Sold separately)
4k Output No No
HDR Yes Yes (With patch)
UHD Blu-ray No No
PlayStation camera compatible Yes (Sold separately) Yes (Sold separately)
Price $300 Varies
Availability Available now  Through resellers
DT review 4.5 out of 5 stars 4 out of 5 stars

Design

This is the largest, and pretty much only, difference between these two PS4 models. The new slim model packs all of the hardware from the original model into a smaller form factor, resulting in a decrease in size of about 30 percent. Of course, to squeeze into a smaller shell, there often has to be sacrifices, but the only loss here is the optical audio port — all other ports and components, including the two USB 3.0 ports, Ethernet port, HDMI and AUX ports, remain.

One of the more puzzling aspects of the PS4’s original design were its Power and Eject buttons. The original PS4 had two small touch sensors located in the center-front of the console’s face that were not only difficult to find, but also placed close to one another, making it easy to confuse the two. A very minor hardware update fixed these, adding better tactile buttons. The fix has been carried over to the Slim.

Finally, the DualShock 4 controller also received a minor redesign. The light bar, which changes color and brightness dynamically depending on in-game actions and context, is now on top of the controller’s touchpad, in addition to its original location on the front. This should make it easier to see and appreciate these subtle color changes, which were previously obscured due to the light bar’s placement. The new DualShock 4 ships standard with the PS4 slim models.

Both models are still sleek, slightly angular devices, with a matte black finish and understated PlayStation logos emblazoned on the case. The PS4 Slim’s edges are more beveled compared to the sharp edges of the original PS4, but there really isn’t any major difference between the two in terms of aesthetics. These two consoles look like they belong to the same family of devices — something true for even their PS4 Pro sibling.

Since this is really the only aspect in which the new PS4 slim model differs from the original, we’re going to give the win in this category to the Slim. But if design doesn’t matter much to you, then you can largely disregard these differences.

Winner: PS4 Slim

Power

When Sony says the PS4 Slim is the same as the original PS4, just in a smaller package, it isn’t kidding. The same GPU, CPU, and RAM that power the original PS4 are in the PS4 Slim, and both consoles will run games at the same proficiency — you won’t see any visual or technical enhancements to your games by playing them on one over the other.

This extends to new and upcoming features and peripherals as well, such as HDR visuals (which are being patched in to all PS4 models via a firmware update) and PlayStation VR, which the PS4 and PS4 Slim are fully compatible with.

Both of these systems lack the special features of their more powerful sibling, the PS4 Pro — most notably 4K content.

Winner: Tie

Price and Availability

The PlayStation 4 Slim is now the standard PS4. It’s available for $300 with 1TB of storage, and you can often find it bundled with games.

At this point, you cannot find a brand-new launch version of the PS4. You can, however, find a pre-owned one for less than the PS4 Slim through resellers.

Winner: PS4 Slim

Conclusion

Simply put, these consoles will perform almost identically. The same goes for how the consoles handle PlayStation VR, in contrast to the more powerful PlayStation 4 Pro. The differences lie purely in the aesthetics of each device and their respective controller iterations.

Price varies a bit, but with the number of bundles, sales, and deals available for games and accessories, it’s a wash.  In fact, unless you really care about having a smaller console — or, alternatively, require optical audio — the whole comparison is a  wash.

The PS4 Slim is a great choice, but if you already have a launch model PS4, it’s not worth upgrading.

Winner: Tie

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