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.
In 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, at least at the time of its launch. In reality though, it's really like comparing apples and oranges.
- Check out our guide to the best PS4 games available right now.
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.