The PS4 Slim offers the same insides as the original PS4 but benefits from a sleeker design that also shaves off a few figures from the price tag. It’s a fantastic console, even compared to the PS4 Pro and the next-gen PS5, so even though it may be starting to show its age, it doesn’t stutter for a moment.
Many models of the PS4 have been discontinued since the PS5 was released, but the PS4 Slim is still one of the remaining being stocked, and Sony intends to keep production going for as long as possible. So, you can find some reasonably priced PS4 bundles in any upcoming sales. But, if you’re looking for something to support 4K gaming, then the PS5 is more than likely up your alley.
The PS4 Slim is also the most affordable option for PS4 home consoles, but there are certain compromises because of this. There’s no 4K resolution and no optical audio output, but you can work with these limitations, so the PS4 Slim offers a lot of bang for your buck. The compact size also means the console is quieter and uses less power.
With all this in mind, is the PlayStation 4 Slim still a console that’s worth picking up or would those looking to game with Sony be better opting for a PS5? That console does offer a massive jump in power over the PS4 and, though there are shortages, it’s going to be easier to find than the now discontinued mid-gen upgrade PS4 Pro.
Overall, the PS5 is the smart option to save for if you really want to future-proof for the next few years of PlayStation games. Yes, plenty of the latest releases are being released across the generations, so if you pick up a PS4 you won’t immediately be left behind.
However, you might find that some new games aren’t quite up to scratch on the older hardware. Plus, the PS5 is backwards compatible with the best PS4 games, so you won’t miss out on the back catalogue. if you’re truly looking to weigh up the best option for you, we’ve got you covered in our head-to-head guide: PS5 vs PS4: should you buy a PlayStation 5 in 2022?
If, however, you aren’t all that interested in the latest hardware with its 4K bells and whistles and you just want a machine that’ll help you catch up with the PS4’s fantastic library of games, then the PS4 Slim is an option that might just suit you. Read on for more detailed thoughts on the console.
Sony PS4 (Slim): quick questions answered
What’s the difference between the PS4 Slim and the PS4 Pro? The PS4 Slim is essentially a slimmer, cheaper and better-looking version of the original PS4. In contrast, the PS4 Pro is more premium and can play games in 4K
If you want to dig deeper into the differences between the two PS4 consoles, then check out our head-to-head guide: PS4 Pro vs PS4: what’s the difference? Do be aware, though, that the PS4 Pro is no longer widely available.
Is the PS4 Slim better than the PS4 Pro? When it comes to specs, no. It’s the PS4 Pro that’s the superior console. It offers you ‘true’ 4K gaming, which is difficult to get on other devices without compromising. It’s also bulkier on the outside and on the inside, the GPU is a great deal faster. Although the CPU is architecturally similar, it’s been clocked at a faster speed.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean you should buy one. The PS4 Pro is better for those who want a premium gaming experience and have a 4K TV. If you don’t have a 4K TV or money to spare, the PS4 Slim might be better for you.
Is the PS4 Slim 4K? No it’s not. You won’t get 4K with the PS4 Slim, so if you’re interested in 4K gaming and a 4K Blu-ray player, you’ll need to set your sights on the PS4 Pro or PS5 instead.
PS4 Slim: design
Cast your mind back to when the original PlayStation 4 hit the scene, and you may remember that its unconventional shape drew quite a bit of attention when it was first revealed. The slimmed down PS4 that debuted in 2016 more-or-less retained the core visual identity of the first PlayStation 4, but made the parallelogram package even more compact, smoothing off some of the edges.
The first PlayStation 4 measured 27.5 x 30 x 5.3 cm, whereas the latest PS4 Slim cuts that down to 26.5 x 26.5 x 3.8 cm, roughly a third smaller. The overall weight is comparably lighter too.
The first PS4 mixed shiny and matte plastics, but the PS4 Slim extends the matte black finish all over the console. The top-mounted colored light bar indicator – showing sleep, wake and off statuses – gets dropped in favor of small illuminated dots over the power button (which are actually harder to see, so take care before unplugging the unit).
As before, the disk drive slot is a front-facing affair, above small power and eject buttons. More recent revisions of the PS4 also featured physical buttons on the console, but the launch edition PS4 favored touch-sensitive controls instead. Two USB ports sit on the front of the PlayStation 4 Slim, as was the case on earlier PS4 models, but they’re now much further apart and slightly easier to plug into.
Both 500GB and 1TB versions of the PS4 Slim are available, though the former is much rarer. If you opt for the smaller of the two you might find your hard drive fills up surprisingly quickly with the console’s reliance on mandatory game installs, but thankfully it’s fairly easy to upgrade the internal hard drive or install games to an external hard drive.
Around the back is the power plug socket (no need for an external power brick), a HDMI port, the PlayStation Camera’s expansion port (essential for the PlayStation VR) and an Ethernet network jack socket.
The only major casualty of the slimmed-down design is the Optical Out port on the rear: HDMI will suit the needs of many gamers for carrying audio signals, but the Optical Out port will be missed by those hooking up older home cinema receivers, or souped-up gaming headsets.
The PS4 Slim has plenty of nice design touches dotted around its chassis though. The iconic Square, Triangle, Circle and Cross symbols of the PlayStation brand are stamped into the side of the console (with the Circle acting as a fixture for those wishing to stand the console upright with a base accessory).
The same symbols are found stuck to the bottom too, acting as feet to raise the machine off a surface for improved airflow. All in, it’s a well-considered design, markedly justifying its “Slim” street name.
PS4 Slim: setup
Setting up the slim PlayStation 4 is very easy – especially if you’re upgrading from the original PS4 (or even a PS3), because you can use all the same cables, so no need to stretch behind your TV.
Simply plug in the included HDMI and power cables and connect to the internet to download the console’s various patches and updates. Alternatively, you’re able to skip Wi-Fi or Ethernet altogether and just pop in a game. Unlike the Xbox One, you can get to the homescreen without initially connecting to the web and patching first.
Once you do connect to the internet, you’ll need to let the PS4 update before you can make purchases from the store or play online.
PS4 Slim: media
Since the very first PlayStation, Sony’s home consoles have led the charge when it comes to media playback support. The PS One made for a great CD player, the PS2 was many gamers’ first DVD player, and the PS3 introduced a Blu-ray deck and USB playback.
The PS4, while not introducing a new format of its own, picked up the baton passed by the PS3, offering wide-ranging streaming service support, Blu-ray and DVD playback, USB media functionality and even banging out the tunes with its own Spotify player. That’s been carried over to the PS4 Slim.
What the PS4 Slim doesn’t do, however, is offer an answer to the Xbox One S’s 4K Blu-ray player, instead sticking with the original PS4’s standard full HD Blu-ray player. It’s still a strong deck, but anyone looking to show off their 4K TVs with the PS4 Slim will be disappointed (and it’s notably absent from the PS4 Pro too).
You could argue that with streaming increasingly used to watch media content, it’s not a desperately needed feature, especially if it keeps the overall cost down. But it will age the PS4 Slim console, preventing it from being fully future-proofed. What’s perhaps more annoying is the complete removal of the optical out audio socket, which could cause headaches for those with older AV equipment.
However, one upgrade that applies to the entire range of PS4s, the PS4 Slim included, is HDR support. This adds greater detail to light sources in an image, and is pretty much a staple in TV tech these days.
All the other streaming services and apps featured on the PS4 return for the PS4 Slim, including (but not limited to) Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, as well as BBC iPlayer and TV from Sky in the UK, and HBO Go and Hulu in the US.
Sony’s own movie rental platform is available too if you’re looking for the latest Hollywood releases. YouTube is here, as is Twitch game streaming, and a Spotify Connect-enabled version of the popular music streaming service, letting you control tunes on your telly from the comfort of your phone.
The PlayStation 4 Slim edition launched with a brand new DualShock 4 controller, though you’d be excused for not being able to spot the difference.
In the hand, it’s practically identical to its predecessor, which was easily the best pad Sony had ever made, and up there with the best of all time – and the PS5 DualSense controller is even better than both.
Though its analog sticks succumb to wear and tear a little too easily, the DualShock 4 is wonderfully ergonomic, with a responsive D-Pad and comfortable triggers and face buttons. A criminally-underused touchpad sits in the middle of the pad (which also houses barely-used motion control capabilities), while a light bar sits on the rear, indicating player status and used as a tracking aid for a PSVR headset, if you’ve splashed out on one.
It’s this light bar that marks one of the notable changes to the new DualShock 4. There’s now a slight translucent strip in the touchpad, letting you see the color your controller is set to. It’s a small convenience, saving you from twisting the pad upwards to see which player color you’re set as.
A more significant addition, especially for pro gamers, is the option to switch between the controller’s Bluetooth connection and a wired USB data connection with the PS4. Previously, this USB connection would only supply charge, leaning on the Bluetooth connectivity regardless of whether it was plugged in or not.
This won’t mean much to many players, but Bluetooth introduces an infinitesimal degree of lag to your controls. For a pro gamer, that can be the difference between a win (and a pot of esports prize money) or a loss, so they’ll no doubt be very pleased. The feature should be make a welcome addition for PC gamers who want to use the DualShock 4 with their rig, as there’s now no extra Bluetooth dongle required.
With a whole host of streaming services built in, as well as online play and a digital download store, the PS4 Slim is very reliant on its network connection. Thankfully, this gets a fresh lick of paint with the new model, too. The PS4 Slim introduces a 5GHz IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac connection to the console, alongside the trusty old Ethernet jack.
Previous PS4s only featured 2.4GHz bands, and while Ethernet is still your best bet for a consistently stable connection, the 5GHz band is less likely to suffer from interference from the menagerie of products hogging the 2.4GHz space. In effect, you’re less likely to suffer lag and drop out as a result.
The 5GHz connection should improve the quality of the PS4’s Remote Play function too. With a PS Vita handheld, a PC, Mac or compatible Sony Xperia mobile device, you can beam games from your PS4 to a second device, freeing up the TV set for something else.
Though we’ve had no problems with Remote Play over the 2.4GHz connection of our original PlayStation 4, the PS4 Slim has so far offered up stable connectivity when using the second screen function. It must be noted, however, that 5GHz connections can struggle beaming through thick masonry, so line of sight with the console is still recommended when using PS4 Remote Play.
PS4 Slim: PlayStation Store
The PlayStation Store has been around since the PS3, and remains your only source of downloadable games on the PS4. The ability to pre-load games makes a return, so you aren’t left waiting for downloads to complete on launch day, and you can also start playing a game before the download has fully completed by instructing your console to prioritise certain parts of the game.
With games now happily filling up 50GB Blu-ray discs, this is pretty essential if you don’t want to have to leave your games downloading overnight.
You can also use the PlayStation app on iOS or Android to remotely purchase games and set them to download when you’re away from your console, or avoid the download process entirely by making use of the ever-expanding Playstation Plus subscription service.
PS4 Slim: sharing gameplay images and videos
Of course online gaming videos are big business these days, and Sony has fully embraced this with the ability to share videos of gameplay baked right into the console.
Simply press the ‘Share’ button on the DualShock 4 and your console will immediately save up to the last fifteen minutes of gameplay. You’re then free to save this to a USB stick, or you can share it to YouTube, Facebook, or even Sony’s own PSN.
Alternatively you can hold the same button to share a screenshot. Livestreaming is also supported on the console, if you want to allow others to watch you as you play on Twitch. The process is remarkably easy to set up, but make sure you have a fast enough internet connection to upload video in real time.
PS4 Slim: PlayStation Plus
When the PS4 launched, Sony took the decision to make its users pay for online multiplayer. The practice had previously been exclusive to Microsoft’s Xbox Live Gold service, while Sony kept its PS Plus service for optional extras. We can’t forget those monthly PlayStation Plus’ free games, either.
If you’ve already purchased a PS Plus subscription for another Sony device, it’ll automatically carry over to the new console, bringing discounts on PSN, a monthly selection of free games, and occasional early access to DLC.
Cloud saves are a great inclusion for when you need to switch between consoles for any reason, and automatic downloading and installation of game updates is also helpful. Sony’s PlayStation Plus is a great service for anyone who owns a PS4, and brings so many more benefits than just online play.
Sony’s undergone a major revamp of PlayStation Plus in 2022, merging it with the now-defunct PlayStation Now. Now split between three tiers, PS Plus Essential is basically the same service Sony’s always offered. However, PS Plus Extra provides subscribers a wider library of games to access while you hold membership. As for PS Plus Premium? That gives you cloud streaming for PS3 games, plus a selection of retro PlayStation titles, too.
PS4 Slim: Share Play
Share Play is an interesting feature that allows you to have friends remotely control your PS4 gameplay, even if they don’t own the game in question. This works as a cooperative tool, or a competitive one, depending on how you want to use it.
This functionality is accessed through the same ‘Share’ button mentioned above, at which point you can choose to send out a share play invitation from the menu that pops up.
Unfortunately, both players need to be PlayStation Plus subscribers for the functionality to work, and each session can only last a maximum of an hour. It’s also limited to 720p resolution, rather than the PS4 Slim’s maximum of 1080p.
Unlike the PS4 Pro or Xbox One S, the PS4 Slim is at best a resolutely 1080p gaming machine: it can’t compare to the 4K-capable Microsoft rival or its premium Sony sibling in this respect. What it is is a match for original PlayStation 4 consoles – and in some respects outperforms them.
Performance increases lie primarily with power draw and energy efficiency, which Sony claims reduces power consumption by 28% compared to earlier models. Though unable to test the precise power draw, even to the naked eye (or ear, at least) the improvement is tangible.
Fan noise is a great indicator of how much power a gadget is using, as they generally speed up and get louder as a component draws more power and begins to heat up. Compared to a well-used launch edition of the PS4, the PS4 Slim fan noise was noticeably quieter when in use, suggesting Sony’s claims are true.
What doesn’t seem any quieter is the disc drive itself, which still spins up very noisily when a either game is installing, or a Blu-ray or DVD is playing. You might have to crank your speakers up a bit to drown that out.
PS4 Slim: Performance
Otherwise, for pretty much every other performance aspect, the PS4 and PS4 Slim consoles are identical. There’s no perceptible difference in loading times or frame rates for games, which have so far ran all-but-identically across our tests. There may be a slight improvement in UI responsiveness, but that could equally be down to our older console having been jammed full of games and years of use, whereas the newer machine was relatively box fresh.
Sessions with a wide range of games, from indies like Rogue Legacy, to colorful platformer LEGO Jurassic World, to the chilling first-person frights of Alien Isolation, all saw the slim PS4 hitting the same frame rates you would expect from a standard PlayStation 4. In other words, it’s a top-notch gaming machine, running most games at a tight 1080p/30ps, and many at 1080p/60fps.
Though it’s not quite a fair comparison given the myriad build options, in PC gaming terms, the PS4 Slim would sit towards the middle of the market in terms of performance. In reality though, it’s really like comparing apples and oranges.
While the PS4 Slim stands tall against its predecessor then, it doesn’t compare as favorably against the Xbox One S, which offers upgraded 4K upscaling alongside its similarly slimmed-down proportions. However, the Sony console does at least support HDR visuals, which have now been added via a software update.
The PS4 is a great console, and the PS4 Slim does nothing to change that conclusion. Where it takes away an optical port, it gives back with improved power efficiency, networking capabilities and a sleek new form factor.
Launching at a relatively affordable price, and now boasting a superb catalogue of games, it’s easy to recommend – even if its Xbox One S rival boasts flashier specs that are also worthy of your attention.
PS4 Slim: we disliked
No one likes to waste power and deal with insane energy bills, so it’s reassuring to see Sony dialling back the PS4’s power consumption. Though the original PS4’s looks have become comfortingly familiar, the smaller and more reserved design of the new PS4 Slim make it an easier fit for many AV setups.
Networking improvements mean the PS4 Slim is a more stable online gaming machine, and the new DualShock 4 even gives a nod to pro-gaming esports players. It’s also easier than ever to install a new hard drive (though a 1TB drive comes as standard in most cases now).
PS4 Slim: we disliked
When sat next to the Xbox One S, which isn’t massively more expensive than the 2016 PlayStation 4 Slim, it’s hard not to feel a little jealous of the 4K Blu-ray player inside the Microsoft machine. It’s a luxury, for sure, but it’s a future-proofed one that may mean the PS4 Slim is relegated before its time.
Likewise, the audio optical out connection’s removal is annoying. Though it was probably only used by a small percentage of PS4 gamers with the original console, those that rely on for their dedicated AV speaker systems will now have a tough choice to make – upgrade to a PS4 Slim, meaning the additional cost of upgrading their audio receivers too, or sit tight with the existing PS4? It’s a choice they shouldn’t have to make.
PS4 Slim: Final Verdict
If you’ve been patiently waiting to grab a PS4 console, the right time has come. Affordable, newly-shrunken and with a stonking back catalogue of excellent games, the PS4 Slim is a great entry point into Sony’s current gaming world.
However, after a slow start, Microsoft came out swinging with the Xbox One, especially with the Xbox One S console revision: it’s a mighty gaming machine in its own right. In fact, the choice may be made for you – with both consoles so closely matched (4K Blu-ray players notwithstanding), it may well come down to which machine has already embraced most of your friends for online play sessions.
Go down the PS4 route, and you’ve another question to ask – should you opt for the pricier but more powerful PS4 Pro or PS5 instead? It’ll come at a premium, but has support for 4K resolutions – the next graphical frontier in gaming.
The PS4 Slim is a workhorse. It might not have the flashier specs of the PS4 Pro or the media capabilities of the Xbox One S, but if you want a console to rely on for 1080p gaming at an affordable price – and aren’t ready for the next-gen leap just yet – then the PS4 Slim is a great option we can wholeheartedly recommend.