Sony is undoubtedly king of this generation of consoles, with sales of the PlayStation 4 reaching unprecedented heights. But rather than rest on its laurels it has rejigged and improved its original offering, first with a slimmer model and a new DualShock 4 controller and now with a more meaty mid-generation upgrade in the form of the PS4 Pro.
The latter is clearly the best console in the line-up – possibly even the best console available full stop – but why? And will that actually matter to you?
That’s why we’ve looked at the specifications and features of all three versions of the PS4 in order to help you make that decision.
PS4 Pro vs PS4 Slim vs PS4: 4K HDR gaming
It’s easy to cite the differences between all of the consoles when it comes to 4K gaming as it’s one of the PS4 Pro’s raison d’être. It can run games at up to 4K (3840 x 2160) resolutions while the other two cannot. In reality, the resolutions will differ. It is not as capable, say, as the latest Nvidia or AMD PC graphics cards, so it’s likely you will be offered different graphical options in games when running on the Pro.
For example, forthcoming game Nioh will run well at 4K (2160p) in 30 frames per second. It will also offer a 60fps mode, but that loses the extra definition, dropping to Full HD 1080p.
We suspect this will be the scenario more often than not – at least until developers learn to wring all of the processing power from the 4.20 teraflops offered by the new AMD Radeon GPU.
That’s considerably more powerful though than the graphics chipset in the PS4 and PS4 Slim. That is similarly made by AMD but only offers 1.84 teraflops of processing power.
When it comes to HDR it’s a different story. All PlayStation 4 consoles now have the ability of HDR presentation – adding a wider colour gamut, brighter images and better contrast to supported games when connected to a compatible TV.
PS4 Pro vs PS4 Slim vs PS4: 4K HDR video
A similar story plays out when it comes to 4K video output through the PS4 Pro – it is capable of Ultra HD video while the original PlayStation 4 and PS4 Slim are locked to a maximum of 1080p. This time though, the PS4 Pro is currently the only one capable of HDR video or, at least, is the only format that has HDR content to play at this time.
Both YouTube and Netflix are working on apps for all PlayStation models that will offer HDR videos that will work at lower than 4K resolutions but they are yet to hit. In terms of the latter streaming service, it presently doesn’t have many videos with HDR anyway – just homegrown series Marco Polo and a couple of others.
Strangely, although it is technically possible for the PS4 Pro’s HDMI output to work with 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, Sony has not put a compatible drive in the machine so it is not a UHD player in that respect. The Xbox One S is currently the only console available with that capability.
PS4 Pro vs PS4 Slim vs PS4: Performance in games
While it is clear that the PS4 Pro is better than the other two models when it comes to graphical power, it is also enhanced in terms of overall oomph.
The PS4 and PS4 Slim have identical tech specs, equating to an AMD processor with eight Jaguar cores that are clocked at 1.6GHz. They also have 8GB of GDDR5 RAM running at 176GB/s.
The PS4 Pro on the other has a similar processor but it runs faster, at 2.1GHz. It also has faster RAM – still 8GB of GDDR5, but capable of up to 218GB/s.
This all means that its processing abilities run 1.3 times faster, while the RAM has 24 per cent more bandwidth. When combined with the 4.20 teraflops of graphical power, developers have much more to play with.
In terms of standard games, it will all be used to improve graphical performance and effects, possibly even frame rates. PSVR developers can also use the enhancements to add further draw distances or more detail to their virtual reality titles.
All games will run on all three consoles, but they will be better looking and/or smoother on PS4 Pro.
PS4 Pro vs PS4 Slim vs PS4: Storage
Even though PS4 Pro games are expected to require more space on your hard drive, Sony decided on a standard 1TB HDD for the latest model. We would have liked there to be 2TB considering. However, like all PlayStation 4 consoles, you can increase it yourself for around £90/$135 and all three are easy to upgrade. The PS4 Slim and PS4 Pro even make the swapping out of hard drives easier than before, with a flap at the side and easy to remove caddy.
The original PS4 came with a 500GB HDD, as does the standard PS4 Slim. Both have 1TB models also available.
All three can make use of Sony’s cloud storage too, with save games and other files able to be stored when you have a PlayStation Plus subscription.
PS4 Pro vs PS4 Slim vs PS4: Design
The biggest difference between the original PS4 and PS4 Slim is aesthetic (hence the “Slim” nickname of the latter). As well as being angular, the original was considerably larger. Heavier too.
It was 275 x 53 x 305mm and weighed 2.8kg while the PS4 Slim measures 265 x 39 x 288mm and weighs 2.1kg. That effectively means the newer machine is neater when tucked away in an AV cabinet. It also looks better when stood on one end, using an optional vertical stand.
The PS4 Pro is a beast in comparison, thanks to an extra wedge in the sandwich design style. It measures 295 x 55 x 327mm, which is even bigger than the original model, and weighs a whopping 3.3kg.
The Pro and Slim also share a newer, rounder design theme and the gloss black section of the first PS4 has disappeared in favour of an all-over matt finish. We lament the removal of the top light strip too.
PS4 Pro vs PS4 Slim vs PS4: Price
When choosing between the three consoles price could well be your most important driving factor. And considering the well-established original console is readily available second-hand, you might want to opt for that.
A pre-owned original PS4 can be bought for as little as £180/$270 these days, from retailers such as Game. The 1TB version for £210/$315.
Alternatively, the newer PS4 Slim retails for £259/$388.5 for the 500GB model, although some retailers have it for less than £230/$345. The 1TB edition will set you back around £280/$420.
The PS4 Pro is more expensive, naturally, with a retail price of £350/$525.
PS4 Pro vs PS4 Slim vs PS4: Conclusion
Price will definitely determine which PlayStation 4 you opt for, but there are other factors that could sway your decision.
One of the most important will be the TV you own or plan to purchase. If it’s not 4K and/or HDR you will get few benefits from owning a PS4 Pro. There are some, including better PSVR performance, but the main selling point will be moot to you.
That leaves you with the option of the Slim or original models and, to be honest, apart from aesthetics there is very little difference. We found the newer version to run a tad quieter but that is unlikely to be enough. You might find it simply boils down to availability and whatever game bundle deals you can find.