As we enter the fourth quarter of the year, we will soon have three different options for the Sony PlayStation 4 console that seem very similar to each other. The original PS4 and the new slimmed down version seem to share the exact same branding. The PS4 Pro on the other hand will bring some hardware upgrades along with a new naming scheme. So let’s take a look at what’s under the hood for all three consoles.
As with Sony’s previous slim PlayStation releases, the changes for the newer slim model are mostly aesthetic and have little to do with the hardware. The main feature, of course, is size. The new PS4 is thinner and slightly narrower than its predecessor. The new design also takes on the matte black look instead of the half glossy appearance.
Now, it may seem trivial for some, but one of the biggest updates for the new PlayStation 4 is the buttons on the front of the console for power and disk ejection. The touch strips are no more and we will no longer have to put up with tapping the PS4 in an attempt to make it obey our commands.
The DualShock 4 controllers have also received a slight upgrade. There is now a portion of the touch pad on the top of the controller that shows you the color of the light coming from the light bar. This alleviates you from flipping the controller to see if it’s power on and it’s definitely a minor change in all regards.
One of the biggest reasons to look at when considering upgrading your current PlayStation 4 is the hardware specifications. Not much has changed when it comes to the PS4 Slim, with it following in the footsteps of the original PlayStation 4. There are a few small differences however.
The first and probably inconsequential change is the removal of the optical out port in the PS4 Slim. The legacy port is rarely used nowadays in home theater systems, but owners of older generation models will miss this feature. A more important addition is the upgraded Wi-Fi compatibility, making use of 802.1ac which affords faster download speeds and a more stable connection when playing online.
The standard PS4 comes with the usual 1.6GHz eight-core AMD Jaguar processor, 8GB of GDDR5 RAM at 176 GB/s, 500GB/1TB hard drive and 1.84 teraflop AMD Radeon GPU at 800MHz. No changes in this department for the PS4 Slim variant either.
With the PS4 Pro, the hardware takes a leap forward. The same 8-core AMD Jaguar processor is outfitted with a 4.20 teraflop AMD Radeon GPU, boasting much higher performance outputs as compared to the other models. This means the Pro will basically run games with a smoother overall experience and fewer framerate issues. Moreover, games which support the ‘Pro’ mode will get improved resolution or increased texture/effects qualities, depending on the game developer.
With the increased power output of the PS4 Pro, one would normally expect developers in the near future to come out with titles that run exclusively on the Pro. But Sony will be making sure all games for the PS4 Pro are compatible with the older models – the original PS4 and the slimmer 2016 PS4. Although the PS4 Pro games will have exclusive features like better framerates, higher resolutions and higher quality textures, they will still run in older consoles at acceptable levels. The PS4 “Pro Enhanced” titles can be identified by the label found on their packaging or on the online store descriptions.
What we can glean from the difference in hardware specifications for the various models of the PS4 is that the PS4 Slim is not a direct upgrade to the original PS4 in any meaningful way. If you already own a PS4, then there’s no reason to buy the 2016 version of the PS4. If you’re looking to upgrade your console, you’re better off waiting till the PS4 Pro drops to the shelves on November 10, 2016.
If you don’t have a PS4 and are planning on getting one, the PS4 Slim makes for a good choice since it’s priced relatively low. Unless you’re planning on making use of the 4K and HDR capabilities of the juiced-up PS4 Pro, the PlayStation 2016 should suffice for your console gaming needs at a reasonable price point.