Established practices are frequently revisited for a reason: they work. Sony refreshing its home entertainment systems at some point of their run, for various reasons, is one such example: it happened with the original PlayStation model and the PSone, it happened with the PS2 and the PS2 Slim, it happened with the PS3 and the PS3 Slim (there was even a “Super Slim”… of sorts), it happened with the PS4 and the PS4 Slim and, well, yeah. It’s happening right now with the PS5 and the PS5 “Slim”, although that more of an unofficial nickname nowadays (the official line refers to it just as the “new-look, smaller PS5”).
Since the only PlayStation revision that was actually slim – for a consumer electronics product – was the PS2 one, the PlayStation5 Slim is not really slim per se, but it indeed is slimmer than the model it’s bound to replace. Question is: it’s slimmer, is it any better?
Yours truly got his hands on the new PS5 model a few days ahead of its European launch and spent some time with it to find out. Here’s what consumers need to know about this version of Sony’s popular gaming system.
PS5 Slim system specifications and capabilities
The day Sony announced the planned availability of this new PlayStation model, it also offered this detailed spec sheet for both its UHD BD-equipped and the Digital Edition versions.
|External dimensions (excl. projecting parts)
|Approx. 358 × 96 × 216 mm (W × H × D)
Approx. 358 × 80 × 216 mm (W × H × D) / Digital Edition
|Approx. 3.2 kg / 2.6 kg (Digital Edition)
|x86-64-AMD Ryzen™ “Zen 2”
|8 Cores / 16 Threads
|Variable frequency, up to 3.5 GHz
|AMD Radeon™ RDNA 2-based graphics engine
|Ray Tracing Acceleration
|Variable frequency, up to 2.23 GHz (10.3 TFLOPS)
|5.5GB/s Read Bandwidth (RAW)
|PS5 Game Disc
|Ultra HD Blu-ray™, up to 100GB/disc
|Disc Drive port (equipped with Disc Drive)
Disc Drive port (available) / Digital Edition
|Support of 4K 120Hz TVs, 8K TVs, VRR (specified by HDMI ver. 2.1)
|“Tempest” 3D AudioTech
|Input/Output (Front of Console)
|USB Type-C® port (Super-Speed USB 10Gbps)
|USB Type-C® port (Hi-Speed USB)
|Input/Output (Back of Console)
|USB Type-A port (Super-Speed USB 10Gbps) x2
|Ethernet (10BASE-T, 100BASE-TX, 1000BASE-T)
WI-FI: IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax
As one can clearly see, there are no major differences in terms of hardware between the PS5 Slim model and the original (or revised) PS5 models released up until now. Both the “full” and the Digital Edition of the new model come with an on-board 1TB SSD, as opposed to the 825GB one offered by the previous PS5 models, but there are no other upgrades to be found. There are certain layout changes under the hood – in order to fit the same hardware subsystems in a smaller chassis without compromising performance – but these have always been part of any hardware refresh Sony did during all PlayStation generations, so no surprises there.
PS5 Slim packaging, design and build quality
The packaging this new PlayStation5 version comes in isn’t all that different to the one already used by Sony for its current model: there’s a number of flagship PS titles depicted on the back, as well as the “1TB” of storage mentioned, but that’s about it. The packaging’s contents are pretty much what’s expected too: printed manuals and the like (well-written and way more informative this time around), a power cord, an HDMI 2.1 cable, a USB-C to USB-C cable, a DualSense controller, a pair of plastic feet for placing the new PS5 horizontally and the system itself. Nothing missing, nothing out of the ordinary, business as usual.
Regarding the PS5 Slim itself, it’s no coincidence that Sony’s focus has been on its reduced size and weight compared to the original PS5: the company decided against making the two systems look substantially different and it’s probably for the better, even if some of us would have admittedly liked to see a few more changes in the new model. The PS5 Slim speaks the same design language as its predecessor, following an almost identical mix of bold lines and gentle curves that still look much better when the system is placed vertically rather than horizontally. The Digital Edition of the PS5 Slim is, once more, more pleasing to the eye than the disc-equipped version – which is to say, the UHD BD drive still sticks out in the weird way it always has – but this time around consumers get to make a choice on that and even take it back if they change their minds, which is as unusual as it is welcome.
The new black “strips” on either side of the device, created by gaps between the new faceplate parts, are a design element driven by necessity (they had to be there so the part that’s replaced when adding a UHD BD drive would be easily detachable), but they look quite good in person anyway. The whole system looks very nice, in fact, and quite a bit smaller up close than what its first leak on Twitter or even its eventual official unveiling implied: it may not be a slim device, but it’s definitely a more compact, more manageable one overall – which is not easy to achieve without affecting performance. So kudos to Sony for that.
In terms of build quality there’s not much to complain about: the original PS5 was a carefully, thoughtfully constructed product with extremely few – if any – flaws and the same can be said about the PS5 Slim… mostly. It’s still put together really well, even impressively so when it comes to things such as the detachable UHD BD drive, and it feels sturdy enough. That much is true.
In contrast to the original PS5 model, though, it’s easy to notice some choices Sony made in order to keep the Slim’s manufacturing costs down: the upper two halves of the new, four-part faceplates – the glossy ones – feel cheap even by plastic standards, while the less is said about the two small, transparent plastic feet included for placing the console horizontally, the better. Yes, they do the job they are supposed to do well enough, but they have already achieved meme status on social media… which is all anyone needs to know about them. A shame, really.
The good news is that the new PS5 turned out to be one of the most modular game consoles ever released. One will eventually be able to switch to different faceplates – even to different combinations of faceplate sets, since all four parts are independently removable – to different feet or to different stands, attach or not attach an optical drive, as well as install or not install an additional SSD for more storage. The list is quite long for a consumer product of this type. The bad news, obviously, is that everything costs extra… but hey. At least there’s a choice. For the asking price of $549, though, it feels that Sony could have included a proper vertical stand instead of charging $29.99 for one. Just saying.
PS5 Slim functionality, performance and user experience
In terms of what the new PS5 model can do that the previous one could not, well… there are precious few things to focus on. The most important one is obviously the way that modular Ultra HD Blu-ray optical disc drive works: this is enclosed in its own light metal shroud and connected to the main body of the system via a proprietary port, so it can just slide out (in the case of the “full” PS5 Slim) or slide in (in the case of the PS5 Slim Digital Edition) and be secured in place remarkably easily. It’s because of this change that consumers get to enjoy the kind of choice flexibility they normally wouldn’t with “fixed” hardware: anyone can get the PS5 Slim Digital Edition to start and, if he/she feels that a UHD BD drive would be something worth having access to, he/she can purchase it separately and just add it in without voiding the PS5’s warranty.
There’s been a lot of fuss online because of the fact that, in the scenario just described, consumers will have to initially “pair” the UHD BD drive to the PS5 in question by accessing the Internet and Sony’s authentication servers – the main cause of concern being the possibility of those servers taken offline in the future, rendering any UHD BD drives not already paired to any systems useless. It is a valid concern, but it’s such a simple authentication that Sony can probably take those servers offline long after the PS5 as a gaming format is relevant to anyone. People who choose to get the PS5 Slim with the UHD BD drive already installed won’t have to worry about all this, as it’s taken care of during the setup process.
Other than the novel detachable design of the UHD BD drive, differences between the PS5 Slim and its predecessor on a hardware level are minimal. The former offers 1TB of onboard storage instead of 825GB (the read/write speeds of their SSDs are practically identical), it sports two USB-C ports on the front instead of a USB-A and a USB-C (only one of them works at USB 3.1 speeds), the disc eject button of the optical drive is now placed next to the disc slot instead of the power button (a small win there) and the light strips between the new faceplate have been moved down near the base of the device. The ports at the back of the PS5 Slim are the same, adhering to the same specs, but the HDMI and Ethernet ports have been moved away from the power port, making cable management that much harder. Nothing mentioned here obviously affects the overall functionality of the PS5 Slim or offers it an edge over the original PS5.
Since there are no hardware changes between the two PS5 models, there’s no difference in games performance. A few hours of tests playing Spider-man 2, Gran Turismo 7, Street Fighter VI or Ratchet & Clank Rift Apart confirm as much: they all play in the exact same way they do on the original PS5. Thermals and noise are as well-managed as before and power consumption on the PS5 Slim should be practically identical to that of its predecessor (yours truly did not measure power draw at the wall but the exact same CPU/GPU combination at the same specs is unlikely to need more energy when operating in the same power envelope).
Various videos doing the rounds on the Web demonstrate how the same hardware operates in pretty much the same way despite the PS5 Slim’s smaller chassis – it’s because of improved cooling, essentially – so there’s hardly any reason to be concerned or excited about the whole thing: in terms of console hardware refreshes, it’s business as usual. Whether or not the rearranged internals and different cooling of the PS5 Slim prove to be just as resilient to failure as those of its predecessor long-term is obviously anyone’s guess right now, so we’ll just have to see.
Taking all of the above into account, one expects the overall user experience of setting up and actually using a PS5 Slim in 2023 to hold no surprises of any kind… and one would be right: Sony’s system has been through three years’ worth of firmware updates, after all, so the initial setup process and the configuration process of a PS5 is a breeze nowadays. If anything, using a brand new PS5 Slim at the tail end of 2023 is a stark reminder of how spartan the user interface of the original PS5 looked a few weeks after its launch back in November 2020 in terms of functionality.
Sony has covered a lot of ground since then, delivering anything between five and eight firmware updates per year on average, adding features and fixing issues in the process. What’s more, the operating speed and ease of use of that initial spartan PS5 UI of November 2020 has not been affected – despite the long list of features added in the mean time – which can only be a testament to Sony’s careful work. Here’s hope that the company stays on course with the PS5 in terms of system software support for years to come.
PS5 Slim FAQ
For anyone looking for answers to the most obvious and frequent questions regarding the new PlayStation5 model Sony just released – or for everyone interested in just the TL;DR version of this review, really – what follows is just that: a list of the most important things consumers need to know about the PS5 Slim right now. Yours truly will keep adding more as they arrive in his inbox, so feel free to ask!
What is the PS5 Slim?
It is the latest model of Sony’s most powerful home entertainment system, the PlayStation5. It features a similar design, comparable build quality, the same system specifications and compatibility with the same PS4 and PS5 games. It comes with the same DualSense controller, the same connectivity options and the same expansion ports.
So this new PS5 Slim is not the long-rumored PS5 Pro model?
No, it isn’t. The PS5 Slim offers the same processing power and graphics capabilities offered by the original PS5 model. That rumored PS5 Pro model remains a distinct possibility, but it will not cost “just” $549 if or when it does appear – based on tech specs making the rounds it would definitely go for $699 or even $799 if Sony decided to be generous with its storage capacity – and, truth be told, there really is no point in releasing a more powerful PS5 at this point in time. Not only is it not really needed – it’s not like game developers have done all they could with the hardware of the original PS5, not by a long shot – but demand for Sony’s current system is still extremely high. So… no. The PS5 Slim is just a mid-cycle refresh, just like every other “Slim” version of any other PlayStation in history.
How does the PS5 Slim compare to the original PS5 model?
It is 30% smaller in volume and significantly lighter: the Digital Edition comes in at just 2.6kg, while the one offering a UltraHD Blu-ray drive weighs around 3.2kg. The PS5 Slim might not look all that much slimmer on paper, but it’s visibly narrower and shorter next to its predecessor, so it will be easier to accommodate in various setups. It also comes with a different set of faceplates – consisting of four parts, two of glossy plastic, two of matte – and the lower right one can be removed in order to host the UHD-BD drive (or not). Faceplates between the two models are obviously not interchangeable. There are a handful of other small differences, such as the blue light strip now residing above the UHD-BD drive and the disc eject button being moved next to the disc slot, but that’s about it.
What does the PS5 Slim offer over the original PS5 model?
It boils down to a few different things, of which two are most important: flexibility and some additional storage. The new Slim model of the PS5 can be purchased for $449 without the UltraHD Blu-ray drive, which consumers can purchase separately at a later date for $79 and attach to their system (there’s obviously a PS5 Slim version that comes with the UHD-BD drive as standard). Both new PS5 Slim variants also come with 1TB of storage instead of the 825GB offered by the original PS5 model (it amounts to around 180GB of additional usable space). There are two USB-C ports on the front of either PS5 Slim model instead of a USB-C/USB-A pair – one of the two USB-C ports is not of the standard, not full-speed, type – so it’s easier to connect i.e. a PSVR2 and a DualSense controller at the same time. Everything else, spec-wise, remains the same between the new and the old PS5 model.
Is there a performance difference between the original PS5 and the PS5 Slim?
No, none at all. They are built around the exact same hardware, so they play the same games in the same way. There are also no major differences in power consumption, thermals or noise. For all intends and purposes, the PS5 Slim is the exact same system as last year’s model (whose hardware was mildly revised compared to the original 2022 model) save for the handful of choices mentioned earlier.
Is it worth upgrading from the original PS5 to the PS5 Slim?
For all current PS5 owners, the answer is no. As there’s no performance difference between the older models and the new one, the PS5 Slim is essentially a new revision of the same home entertainment system – Sony itself does not claim it’s more than that – with just 200GB of additional storage as a nice bonus. Consumers who don’t currently own a PS5 by purchasing the PS5 Slim Digital Edition they get to choose whether they’ll be paying for the UltraHD Blu-ray drive from the start or later on (or not at all obviously) but that’s basically it. As a matter of fact, since both units play all PS5 games in the exact same way, it may be worth looking around for discounted older PS5 models over the next couple of months. Once those are gone, the Slim will be the only available PS5 model on the market.
Does the PS5 Slim come with a stand?
Yes… and no. It does come with a pair of small plastic legs sturdy enough to ensure the device’s stability when placed horizontally, but Sony designed a new vertical stand – sold separately – for the PS5 Slim model. Chances are that third-party manufacturers will also offer their own versions of both a horizontal and a vertical stand at some point in the future.
Will there be new faceplates especially made for the PS5 Slim?
Absolutely. Not only has Sony itself confirmed that there will be additional official faceplates for its newest model coming in 2024, but a number of third-party manufacturers – such as DBrand, innoAura, NexiGo and others – are expected to follow suit with even more exotic choices sooner rather than later. If anything, the way these new faceplates are designed (all four parts are individually detachable) means that consumers will be able to even mix and match different sets at will. Not bad at all!
Is the PS5 Slim worth buying?
Every review boils down to this question, yes, but the usual cop-out answer – “it depends” – really is the most fitting for this particular product: it’s worth buying for a lot of people, it’s not worth buying for many others. Current PS5 owners, for instance, need not worry: they are not supposed to replace their original PS5 model with a PS5 Slim, as there’s no compelling reason to do so. A few of them may be getting a second PS5 at some point – in which case they will only be able to get a PS5 Slim anyway – but consumers who are perfectly happy with their current PS5 are not missing on anything of importance. The PS5 Slim is not a necessary “upgrade” because it’s not really an upgrade: it’s a mid-cycle refresh designed to boost sales, lower production costs and make the PS5 more profitable because of the improved margins involved.
It’s fair to say that Sony is targeting new customers with this smaller version of the PS5 and, for those, yes: the PS5 Slim is worth buying, since the PS5 actually turned out to be the winner of the current Console Wars sooner than anyone imagined three years ago. It is the gaming system currently enjoying the largest user base and the most popular exclusive games, it’s very well-supported by third-party publishers and indie developers, it’s now offering a strong contender to Xbox Game Pass in PS Plus Extra, it has already built a rich ecosystem of peripherals and accessories. For people who intend to invest in just one gaming system, this is the one more likely to meet their needs long-term.
A more interesting, if short-lived, question is this: is the PS5 Slim a better buy than the original PS5 model? See, even though Sony did run an attractive enough offer on the latter during Black Friday and Cyber Monday, there’s an unknown but not-inconsiderable number of 2022-2023 PS5 units out there still available to purchase. For people who can find the older PS5 model at a discount it’s not a bad idea to get that instead of the PS5 Slim, maybe even more so in the case of the Digital Edition of the system (if they are absolutely certain they won’t have a use for the UHD BD drive in the future).
This remaining stock of older PS5 units is quickly diminishing though and hardly anyone expects it to last beyond January or even New Year’s Eve – so consumers interested in getting a PS5 for the smallest amount of money possible should definitely keep an eye out for clearance sales over the next few weeks.
For everybody else, come spring 2024 the “PS5 Slim” will just be “the PS5” and the only one available to purchase (at full price for the foreseeable future). It’s perfectly fine, even though Sony could have shaken things up a bit in terms of design or bonus capabilities. Then again… who knows? For people who really, really needed to see more radical changes or more features in a new PlayStation model, those PS5 Pro rumors might prove to be of interest after all, no?
SONY PLAYSTATION5 SLIM SCORECARD
TO THE POINT
Sony could have done a bit more in terms of design and/or extra functionality, but this refreshed PS5 model does offer more flexibility in a smaller size – without affecting performance – while retaining all the advantages of the most popular games platform on the market.
Reduced size and weight
The same great performance and expandability
Option to add the UltraHD BD drive later on
Fast and mostly quiet in operation
Appealing library of games
Some compromises in build quality
Still not exactly a small games console