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PS5 Pro and Slim: everything we’ve heard so far about upcoming PlayStation 5 versions

Is a mid-life hardware refresh for the PlayStation 5 on the cards?

Sony PS5 Pro and Slim

When will we get a PS5 hardware upgrade? Well, it took three years for the PlayStation 4 to get a new version, but as you’ll hear the PlayStation 5 Slim might not be that tardy.

Following the launch of the PS4 in November 2013, the PlayStation 4 Slim and higher-end PlayStation 4 Pro both appeared in September 2016.

The same was true of the PlayStation 3, which saw another three-year gap between its launch in 2006 and the Slim version in 2009. If Sony follows the same timetable, we could see a PS5 Slim and/or PS5 Pro in late 2023.

And, to be completist, the 2004 PS2 Slim followed the 2000 PlayStation 2 and the 2000 PSOne followed the 1994/5 original PlayStation.

The former could come in a smaller, cheaper, cooler-running PlayStation 5 version based on the latest chip fabrication technology. A beefed-up Pro version, capable of higher resolutions and frame rates, might also be on the horizon, too.

Sony's PlayStation 5 console seen from a low angle.

PS5 Slim: what we know so far

Recent rumours from TheLeak have suggested a redesigned PS5 is on the way – but it may not actually be called PS5 Slim. The goal will still be to reduce size and weight, though. A die shrink (smaller, more efficient version of an existing CPU) could help bring power consumption down. The tweaked chassis should also be able to stand vertically without the need for a stand. Production will apparently start in Q2 next year, with sales beginning in Q3.

We aren’t putting all our faith in a single source just yet, but will update this article once there’s more information.

PS5 Slim vs PS5: what could be different?

The PlayStation 5 console has seen a few changes already. Firmware updates have delivered the ability to output variable refresh rate video, while at the hardware level, the August launch of the CFI-1202 model shaved 300g off the version with the Blu-ray drive. We’d expect a Slim model to reduce the weight by even more.

Sony could potentially drop the disc drive version altogether and embrace a fully downloadable lifestyle in the same way as the Xbox Series S has. That seems unlikely, though, seeing how (anecdotally) it was the model with a disc drive that was harder to come by during the shortage-hit early months of the console’s life.

The current PS5’s internal chipset is said to be rather large. A die shrink from the original 7nm processors to the new 3nm fabrication technology being touted by TMSC, the company that actually makes the AMD-designed chips, could save a lot of space. Because the chips would run cooler, they could use a smaller heatsink, in turn letting Sony shrink the console. Fingers crossed any move would also cut down on noise as well.

Previous PlayStation generations have seen dramatic physical changes between the original and slim versions. The PS4 did stay fairly true to the console on which it was based, though, so it’s a toss-up as to whether Sony will keep things similar, or go for a different design altogether.

Close up on a cooling vent on a Sony PlayStation 5 console.

PS5 Pro vs PS5: what do we want?

As we saw from the PlayStation 4 Pro, a mid-life upgrade is all about running the same games but making them better, offering higher resolutions and faster frame rates.

While 8K TVs are now available, the sheer processing power needed to push that many processed, lit and textured pixels probably rules it out for at least another console generation. With that in mind, a Pro version of the PS5 is more likely to concentrate on getting 4K really right. This means games that run at that resolution without dynamically dropping it when a scene becomes complicated, and a rock-solid 60fps frame rate.

The PS5’s current eight-core CPU is based on AMD’s Zen 2 architecture from 2019. A move to the current Zen 4 could see greater processing ability as well as increased power efficiency, although that would likely play havok with backwards compatibility. It might also force developers to relearn the PS5’s underlying architecture. A clock speed increase, like the one seen between PS4 and PS4 Pro, is more likely.

The same goes for the graphics unit, which uses AMD’s RDNA 2 from 2020. Increasing the number of compute units and upping the clock speed could have a dramatic effect on its ability to push polygons.

Increasing the console’s 16GB of shared memory would allow it to store more information without having to bother the SSD, which although fast, isn’t running at the same speed as the RAM. Modern PC games are starting to demand more than 16GB of memory when totalled across the main and graphics allocations, so a rise in RAM capacity isn’t out of the question – as long as developers continued to support the original hardware.

Sony PlayStation 5 controller and PS5 logo

How much could a new PS5 model cost?

The PlayStation 4 cost £349 at launch, and was followed up by the £259 PS4 Slim (£309 if you went for the model with a 1TB hard disk). The PS4 Pro then turned up for £349 – a competitive price, given the performance upgrade over the OG model.

When the PS5 arrived, you could spend £360 on a digital-only console, or £450 on one with a Blu-ray disc drive. Sony then raised those prices to £390 and £480, blaming global inflation and exchange rates. And with the cost of living crisis showing no sign of abating any time soon, that makes guessing the price of any Slim and Pro variants a little tricky.

We’re betting £550-600 is possible for the Pro, making it a serious investment. The PS5 Slim should fare a little better, though.

It’ll need to compete with Microsoft’s popular Xbox Series S, which is available for £249. That said, Microsoft’s head of gaming Phil Spencer told CNBC that Series S consoles are sold at a loss in the hope that gamers will buy lots of games to play on it. £299 is our estimate right now.

When can we expect it?

We have seen some reports that suggests a PS5 Pro may hit shelves around 2023 or late 2024. That’s a long time to wait, but before that we may see a PS5 with a detachable disc drive. In a tweet from Insider Gaming owner Tom Henderson, they say that a number of test kits with disc drives are in the hands of a select few and “works flawlessly.” This overhauled PS5 is set to be released in late 2023, rumours suggest.

Insider Gaming came through with the goods once again by spotting what may be the biggest hint at a PS5 Pro release date yet. In an interview between Japanese games magazine Famitsu and Sony platform experience EVP Hideaki Nishino, Famitsu noted how a PS4 Pro came three years after the release of the PS4. In response, Nishino said: “We believe that it will be a very important time for the platform as well. I hope you will look forward to next year.” Is this confirmation of a PS5 Pro? No, not exactly. But is it the best we have for now? Absolutely.

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