Two years on, and the PS4 is still the same fantastic console
- Compact design
- Energy efficient
- Super quiet
- Lacks 4K Blu-ray player
- PS4 Pro launch on the horizon
Sony has a long history of streamlining its games consoles so the PS4 Slim’s existence was all but assured – we knew it was coming well before Sony’s official announcement. As its name implies, the PS4 Slim is simply an aesthetically revised version of the original PS4. It weighs 61g less and takes up considerably less space than its already slender predecessor.
Inside it’s essentially the same console, so don’t expect any performance boosts over its older sibling. Instead, those after a more powerful PS4 can look to the PS4 Pro, a considerably beefier version of the PS4 capable of rendering games at 4K resolutions.
Of course, the PS4 may soon be replaced by the next-gen PS5; according to Sony, the PS4 has reached the end of its life cycle amd the PS5 is already in development. But don’t get too excited just yet, as Sony is not expected to unleash another console until 2020.
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PS4 Slim review
Design, controller and ports
Now, the original PS4 was a gorgeous bit of console design. This time around, however, Sony has done away with the strikingly clean, slate-like composition for something that’s a little softer around the edges, opting for smooth, rounded corners and a matte, plastic finish.
The power light strip running across the top of the console has also disappeared, and the only remaining adornment is the PlayStation logo in the middle of the top panel. Luckily, its textured chassis isn’t nearly as prone to picking up scuffs and smudges as the half-glossy coating on the original.
Sony has also given the PS4 Slim proper physical power and eject buttons, much to the delight of owners of inquisitive cats. More importantly, these buttons are now much easier to identify than the confusing double-stacked strip on the original PS so hopefully you’ll be able to remember which button does what for many years to come.
Admittedly, the buttons themselves feel a little loose in their housing, but they remain an improvement on the overly sensitive touch buttons of the original. Another nice touch, although not one you’ll notice much, is that the feet are made up of tiny circles, triangles, crosses and squares – as appears on the PlayStation’s controller buttons.
The two front-facing USB 3 ports are now located at either end of the console, so you won’t be struggling to plug in items in the dark, while around the back you still have HDMI, 3.5mm aux input and Ethernet connections. Sadly, the optical S/PDIF output is no more.
The PS4 Slim comes with a brand-new Dualshock 4 controller, too. There’s a change of colour here, with light-grey buttons, sticks and triggers replacing the all-black design of the original. There’s also a thin translucent line at the top of the touchpad, which lets out a little light from the rear lightbar. It’s near-identical in terms of what it does and how it works, though, and you can pick one up separately for £54.
Noise and power consumption
The PS4 Slim is a wonderfully quiet machine, with our sound-level meter recording it at between 47dB and 53dB up close when it was playing a Blu-ray disc; the background office air-con was running at 41dB. The Xbox One S ran marginally quieter, but you’d be hard-pressed to notice the difference in everyday use.
The unit shouldn’t be as expensive to run over the course of a year, either, thanks to its lower power consumption. It sucked up only 45W while sitting on the homescreen, and around 53W with a Blu-ray disc spinning, compared with the PS4’s 71W and 95W respectively. It’s a little more power-hungry than the Xbox One S, but not noticeably so.
Thankfully, despite the removal of several vents at the rear, the PS4 Slim’s thermal management is largely just as effective as the original PS4. Using an infrared temperature gun, I measured that the PS4 Slim’s external casing reached a maximum of 41 degrees with a Blu-ray disc spinning.
User interface and HDR
In preparation for the PS4 Pro’s launch, Sony has introduced a major new firmware update on PS4s – both old and new – with the aim to enable HDR gaming. Update 4.00, as it’s called, also brings with it a fresh UI, with new system backgrounds and navigation options, and proper folder organisation to keep your RPGs separate from your platformers. It looks quite different to Sony’s previous PS4 interface, but I like it – it’s cleaner and streamlined, and more pleasant to use.
However, the biggest new feature in Update 4.00 is the debut of High Dynamic Range (HDR) support, although this isn’t unique to the PS4 Slim – it’s rolling out across all PS4 models. This essentially allows the PS4 to reproduce a much wider range of colours, making images and games appear richer and more vibrant, as well as more detailed in its light and dark tones.
You’ll see this wider colour palette only if you have a compatible TV, though, and there aren’t many older PS4 games currently support HDR. Almost all releases, going forward, do support HDR and the likes of Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor, Final Fantasy XV and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided have been updated to make the most of HDR support.
As mentioned previously, there’s no noticeable graphical benefit to running games on the PS4 Slim compared to its chunkier counterpart, but that doesn’t lessen the quality of the PS4’s existing, and extensive, library of content.
With years of games to choose from, there are some fantastic console exclusives available. For me, Sony has a more diverse range of indie titles than Xbox One, giving you a wider selection of games to sink your teeth into. To see more of our top picks, make sure you check out our Best PS4 Games for 2018 article.
A welcome refinement to the PS4 formula, the PS4 Slim is still the same great console we already know and love, albeit in a much neater package. For less than £250 you get one of the greatest games consoles ever made, made even better by an overhauled design and drastically reduced footprint.
It’s a shame Sony hasn’t seen fit to include a dedicated 4K Blu-ray drive in the PS4 Slim (you’ll have to go to the Xbox One S for that), but if that doesn’t bother you – or you don’t have a 4K TV to take advantage of it – then the PS4 Slim is a great choice.
Of course, there’s also the PS4 Pro to consider, but when that costs over £100 more, the PS4 Slim remains a great budget option for those who want something a little more discreet.