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PS4 Slim vs. PS4 Pro: Which PlayStation should you buy?

It's hard to go wrong with either version of the PlayStation 4 console, but these two versions serve very different purposes. While you can still play every PS4 game on each option here, you'll notice a significant difference in overall quality depending on the room you're playing in, and the other hardware you connect to the PlayStation. It is worth noting that the PS4 Pro is no longer being sold by Sony, making them harder to find.

PlayStation 4 stock issues

Due to the pandemic, it's become increasingly difficult to find the PlayStation 4 in stock anywhere. When you do, it's normally price-jacked for way more than its MSRP. You'll have to ask yourself whether it's worth it to purchase a console for $100 more than it's usually listed. Personally, I wouldn't buy a PS4 Slim for anything more than $350. 

If you can find a PS4 Pro for less than $500, you might want to pick it up if you absolutely need a new console, especially as the Pro is now discontinued. You might also want to consider purchasing a used or refurbished console, as these will be much cheaper.

PlayStation 4 Slim vs. Pro: What's the difference?

PS4 Pro Screenshot

(Image credit: Sony)

Sony has a history of releasing a "slim" version of the PlayStation a couple of years after its initial release. In the past, those consoles were labeled a little differently at launch to make it easier to tell the new version apart from the old one. These slimmer versions typically offer more a physical than a functionality difference, which is no different. The significant feature and performance difference comes with the PlayStation 4 Pro, and even then, the difference isn't huge unless you own a 4K television with HDR support.

That last bit is a lot more important than you may think. Where an increase in resolution from 1080p (often referred to as Full HD) to 4K can often mean improved details in the games you play, adding HDR means the colors in every aspect of those games are more vibrant and lifelike. Games with wide-open spaces and lots of scenery will truly pop on these displays, especially when combined with 4K resolution.

CategoryPS4 Slim (2016)PS4 Pro
Price$290$440
Dimensions10.43 x 11.34 x 1.54 inches11.61 x 12.87 x 2.17 inches
CPUAMD Jaguar 8-core (x86-64)AMD Jaguar 8-core (x86-64)
GPUAMD Radeon (1.84 TFLOP)AMD Radeon (4.2 TFLOP)
Storage500GB / 1TB1TB / 2TB
Optical outNoYes
WiFi802.11b/g/n (2.4GHz + 5GHz)802.11b/g/n (2.4GHz + 5GHz)
AV outHDMI 1.4HDMI 2.0
Power consumption165w max310w max
4K StreamingNoYes
USBUSB 3.0 (x2 )USB 3.0 (x3)
PSVR supportYesYes (Enhanced)

The biggest functional difference between the original PS4 and the new slimmer PS4 is power consumption. Sony claims the new PS4 has a max power draw of 165 watts, which sounds impressive next to the original 250w max of the first PS4 until you see most benchmarks. The original PlayStation 4 had an average power draw of 150w during its heaviest gameplay sessions and never pushed anywhere near that 250w max. It is slightly smaller, though, so there's that.

This change in power consumption means the "slim" PS4 will consume far less power when performing the same tasks, including sitting idle. For parents, this means a cheaper electricity bill when your kid leaves the PS4 on all day because they're in the middle of an important part of the game.

PlayStation VR performance is something altogether different.

As you can see in the chart, Sony uses the same CPU and a GPU that's a little more than twice the performance in the new PS4 Pro. There's also an updated version of the HDMI standard in the PS4 Pro, but there's no immediate difference in performance out of the box for video output. 

Games that struggled in the past to maintain 30fps or 60fps on a standard PS4 will be able to offer a more consistent experience with the PS4 Pro through its "boost mode" feature. This basically means games that appear to stutter a little on a normal PS4 will look and play smoother on a PS4 Pro.

Finally, storage is an extremely important thing to keep in mind for your PlayStation Console. Every PS4 game takes up space on your hard drive, even if you buy a disc from the store. The games have to be partially installed on the console before playing, so storage is essential. If you buy games digitally, they can take up even more space on the drive included with your PlayStation. 

While it is possible to buy additional storage for your PlayStation, regardless of which one you buy, the 2TB option is available with some PS4 Pro versions means you wouldn't need to for much longer than if you had a less spacious PS4 Slim.

PS4 Slim vs. PS4 Pro: Understanding 4K and HDR on PlayStation

PlayStation 4 Pro also offers 4K video streaming and enhanced graphics on supported titles. Game developers can provide higher quality graphics to PS4 Pro gamers, clearly labeled with PS4 Pro Enhanced on the box.

As for HDR support, while all of these consoles are technically capable of outputting HDR visuals thanks to a software update from Sony, the HDR content offered by almost every app and game doesn't apply to anything but the Pro. HDR is typically tied to either 4K content or PS4 Enhanced content, neither of which will play on these older consoles.

CategoryPS4 Slim (2016)PS4 Pro
HDR OutputYes (through an update)Yes
4K StreamingNoYes
Remote Play720p1080p
Share Play720p1080p

What about the PS5?

Ps5 Hero

(Image credit: Source: Jennifer Locke / Android Central)

While they're part of the same family, the differences between the PS5 and PS4 Pro are night and day. The PS5 is faster, more powerful, and can handle games that the PS4 Pro couldn't even dream of, thanks to the PS5's SSD, GPU, and CPU. Their controllers are different, too, with the DualSense much better than the DualShock 4 thanks to its adaptive triggers and advanced haptic feedback. There's even a PS5 Digital Edition that comes without a disc drive.

PS5PS4 Pro
GPU10.28 TFLOPS, 36 CUs @ 2.23 GHz Custom RDNA 24.2 TFLOPS, AMD Radeon
CPU8x Cores @ 3.5GHz Custom Zen 28x cores @ 2.16 GHz Custom Jaguar
Memory16GB GDDR68GB GDDR5
Memory bandwidth448GB/s176GB/s
Storage825GB SSD1TB HDD
Backward compatibilityYesNo
PSVR supportYesYes
Optical drive4K UHD Blu-Ray drive1080p HD Blu-Ray drive

You can buy a PS5 right now, but stock is extremely difficult to come by. Now that the PS4 Pro is discontinued however, the PS5 is definitely the option to choose if you're looking for a bit of extra power.

What about PlayStation VR?

Man in PSVR

(Image credit: Sony)

PlayStation VR performance is something altogether different. PS4 Pro was built to better support PlayStation VR, but even here, the differences are subtle on many titles.

Most titles that were available before the Pro was released look slightly better on the Pro. Those titles updated to support the enhanced graphics in the Pro are noticeably better looking than on the standard PS4. Because of the high focus on framerate in PlayStation VR, you'll see more detail in Pro Enhanced titles.

Long-term, you'll probably want a PlayStation 4 Pro for better PlayStation VR gaming, even if you don't notice a huge difference in quality between the two right now. Bigger and better games will want that additional power. 

That said, Sony is working on a PS5 VR headset with an updated controller similar to the Oculus Touch, and it should connect using only one cable. Everything about it will be much better than the old PSVR, featuring an improved display and more advanced tracking. 

The old PSVR will work on PS5 though, but you will need an additional PS4 camera adaptor. These can be requested on the Sony Support page, or can be found in the box of new PSVR bundles. 

Limited edition consoles

PS4 Pro Spider-Man

(Image credit: Sony)

The overall design of your PS4 console probably shouldn't be a final purchase decision, but it's certainly something to consider. When Sony thinks a game will be hugely popular when it comes out, you can usually find a Limited Edition version of the console right behind it. There are also some cool classic designs such as a PS4 themed like the original PlayStation or a bright blue version with the iconic button layout across the side.

The one important detail with PS4 Limited Edition consoles is they were almost always designed around the PS4 Pro. Now that the Pro console is discontinued, these will be extremely tricky to find, and will only be available through third-parties.

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PS4 Pro

For the best possible last-gen PlayStation experience, this is the one to buy, if you can find one. The PS4 Pro is an excellent gaming console for those not wanting to upgrade to the PS5, but premium 4K gaming comes with a premium price tag.

Buy From: GameStop (opens in new tab)

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PS4 Slim

The slimmer PS4 is quiet and will run games with ease, but the lack of 4K output is noticeable if your TV supports it. It is also fairly outdated now, and is far more inferior than the Pro when compared to the more powerful PS5. 

Buy From: Amazon (opens in new tab)

Russell is a Contributing Editor at Android Central. He's a former server admin who has been using Android since the HTC G1, and quite literally wrote the book on Android tablets. You can usually find him chasing the next tech trend, much to the pain of his wallet. Find him on Facebook and Twitter

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