The PS4 Slim (given the technical title of CUH-2000) represents the new standard PlayStation 4 console. It’s a hardware revamp that incorporates a makeover of both console and controller.
Physically, it’s a big change, but functionally this PS4 is the exact same as the console that you either already own or was thinking about buying before Sony gave it a makeover. That’s not a terrible thing, though: while there’s no 4K Blu-ray player or bump in game performance to shout about (unlike with the Xbox One S), it’s quieter, leaner and less power hungry than its older brothers, making it a decent upgrade.
However, consumers now also have the choice of buying the PS4 Pro, which boasts a significant boost to performance, 4K gaming and even frame rate improvements for existing games, making the Slim the lesser (but cheaper) console.
The new PS4’s pricing is similar to that of the older model.
The console is currently sold with two different storage capacities: 500GB and 1TB. The 500GB unit retails with an RRP of £259, but with retailers offering competitively priced bundles, you could add more value to the mix for not much more, and the same is true of the 1TB model, which retails at £309.99.
PS4 (Slim) Video Review
The 500GB and 1TB models are available in stores now.
When leaked pictures of the PS4 ‘Slim’ began surfacing online, I didn’t think it looked particularly good. However, getting to see the new model in person, I can confirm my initial reservations proved unfounded: it’s a really cool-looking console.
Sony’s removed the beam of light running atop the console, leaving the slim with a simple matte black top and small PS4 logo. I always found the light bar on the console to be a massive eyesore and an outright annoyance when playing games with the lights off – which is why I’m happy Sony’s ditched it.
In its place you have a very simple, elegant (and also welcomingly dim) line of light on the power button.
Related: Nintendo Switch review
The vertical power and eject buttons have also been removed and replaced with small, “clicky” buttons on the lower half of the console. It’s a simpler, more elegant look that makes mis-presses, which were a regular occurrence on the first PS4, a thing of the past.
The angled design is maintained from the older models, though in this smaller and thinner form factor it’s not nearly as prominent. The snazziest change actually comes on the bottom of the unit, with the face button symbols used for its feet. It’s a very cool bit of design.
On the front of the hardware the two USB 3.0 ports have been spaced out, with one sitting on the far right and the other just next to the disc tray. It’s annoying that there’s still no rear-facing USB port, as having devices such as an external storage drive or PSVR headset plugged in permanently will make the new, slimmer PS4 look untidy.
The right side of the console once again features the iconic square, circle, triangle and cross, but the circle is hollow to allow for the vertical stand needed if you want to place the console upright.
Related: PS4 Pro vs Xbox Scorpio
Around both sides of the unit there’s far less ventilation than on the launch PS4, which will hopefully mean far less dust entering the machine, thus preventing it becoming much noisier after a few months.
On the back of the unit we have all the same ports – HDMI, power, aux for the PlayStation Camera and Ethernet – but the optical output has been scrapped. This is presumably because Sony reckons most mid-range-and-above TVs have optical ports built in, but anybody who’s using the output on their current PS4 will have to rethink their home cinema setup.
There’s also a new slot on the back-right of the console that allows much easier access to the hard drive, for those wishing to upgrade. A simple pinch on the cornered slot will reveal a small piece of tape – which looks like film leaking from a camera – and by unscrewing a single screw, you can effortlessly slide out the pre-installed SATA hard disk and replace it with another. For those picking up the 500GB model – and anyone who already has a 500GB PS4 will know how quickly space runs out – being able to easily upgrade is a big plus.
The new controller has had some minor visual tweaks, but functionally it remains very much the same beast. The analogue sticks, face buttons, Options/Share buttons and D-pad have been given a new grey tone to contrast with the black of the controller. The grey used is reminiscent of the PlayStation 20th Anniversary Edition controllers, though a couple of shades darker.
The touchpad is also now translucent at the top to allow a slither of light to pass through from the lightbar on the back of the controller. The tweak makes it easier for players to see which colour they are in multiplayer matches. Considering the initial disdain for the light bar in the first place, it feels like a strange thing to include, and not something many players were screaming out for. It may, however, find greater use in the weeks and months to come, via the impending launch of PSVR.
A big disappointment is something that remains unchanged: the analogue sticks. Vulnerable to rapid wear and tear, it would’ve been nice if Sony produced better materials that would last longer, like on the Xbox One’s excellent controller. I’ve already shelled out for new thumb pads for my original controller, and I’ll have to do the same with the new one.
The slim PS4 has the exact same specifications and offers the same performance as the original PS4. It is, however, noticeably quieter.
My launch PS4 screams like a vacuum cleaner working overtime these days, despite several (unsuccessful) attempts to clean and remove dust. The constant whine of the machine is present whether I’m playing a game from a disc or the hard drive, or when I’m simply streaming Netflix. However, this new PS4 is absolutely whisper-quiet.
Related: Best PS4 Games 2016
Playing games on mute I could barely hear the console. The only time noise was noticeable was when a disc was spinning. In these instances the console was admittedly still pretty loud, but it remained quieter than my other unit.
Thanks to a patch, the PS4 Slim will also be getting HDR gaming support. While it may lack a 4K Blu-ray drive, you’ll still be able to enjoy some HDR visuals if you own a 4K TV with that functionality.
Not only is the console smaller and better looking, but it’s also less power hungry. I put the PS4 Slim to the test against my launch unit, comparing it by using three games: The Witcher 3 (on disc), PES 2017 (on disc) and Paragon (digital). You can see below the difference in peak power usage across all three titles. All of the games were monitored across approximately an hour of gameplay, with the highest wattage level recorded.
Peak power consumption: PS4 Slim CUH-2000/Original PS4 CUH-1000
PES 2017 – 81W/147.6W
The Witcher 3 – 88.9W/146.2W
Paragon – 85W/144.7W
As you can see, the energy efficiency of the new hardware compared to my launch console is pretty drastic. In fact, the launch PS4 uses as much energy in the main menu of the system as the Slim does playing games, averaging in the mid-80s.
If you included the mid-life refresh, the CUH-1200, that machine’s power consumption would be somewhere in the middle of the two.
The new design won’t be for everyone, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction and grew on me during my time with it. It’s smaller, whisper-quiet and sips electricity, making it the best PS4 currently on the market.
The one giant elephant in the room is the forthcoming PS4 Pro. With the launch of a new high-end machine capable of delivering 4K and HDR gaming, plus upscaled resolution and improved framerates for 1080p, it’s tough not to ask: is it worth grabbing a Slim now?
Related: PS4 Pro vs Xbox Scorpio
If you already have a PS4, probably not, as the Pro would make more sense as your next big investment. But for those without a 4K/HDR TV or a PS4, and who aren’t interested in the very ‘cutting edge’ of console performance, this is the console to buy.
If you’re debating whether to buy the Slim or the Xbox One S, the question really comes down to your intended use. If your main interest is 4K movies on your snazzy new TV, then the S is the way to go, but with the Slim still outshining Xbox as a games console, then Sony is the way to go for gamers.
The best PS4 money can buy – for now.
For our review of the original PS4, head over to page two.