Fans and journalists alike have been speculating for a while now about when Sony is going to release a refresh of their current generation console. The PlayStation 4 saw its Slim and Pro variants release on September and November of 2016 respectively, roughly three years after the console’s original release. With the PlayStation 5’s three year anniversary on the horizon, Sony have yet to confirm whether such variants exist for their current console. Though that hasn’t stopped reports and leaked images to circulate around the internet.
Today, journalist Andrew Marmo shared on X (seriously, that just feels weird to type) a leaked image that has been making its way around the A9VG forum. The somewhat blurry image shows the top of a PlayStation 5, with a noticeable cutout that runs along the middle of each of its faceplates. The model number that Marmo writes for this console is CFI-2016. A user in Marmo’s replies, BwE—who according to their bio is an “independent PS4 & PS5 Software Developer & Reverse Engineer”—corroborated Marmo’s report by saying that the image was taken from a video that they have.
BwE elaborates on the image further by writing, “Note the bottom of mine says “CFI-2016” – notice the lack of A or B…And when comparing the base to a 1200 [it’s] definitely thinner.” BwE wrote a short thread a couple days prior to Marmo wherein they specified some of the dimensions and physical features; you can read their thoughts in the image below.
If this is indeed the upcoming refresh to the current PlayStation 5, then it would align with Insider Gaming’s, Tom Henderson, who spoke on X about the existence of an upcoming PS5 model that would have a detachable disc drive and is slated for later this year; further stating that the model may not be called “Slim” at all, but will move forward as the best and sole console for customers to buy moving forward. Those wanting a disc drive will now have the option to simply buy the attachment instead of the overall bulkier console—though this disc drive will unfortunately not be compatible with current PS5 models.
In an update, Henderson mentions that sources confirmed that the console is currently not in the hands of developers, because “it will have almost identical specifications to the original PlayStation 5.” This last statement is what confuses me, personally. All the reports thus far has suggested (to me, at least) that Sony may be moving to a ‘one-console-fits-all’ scenario. A slightly slimmer, slightly shorter PS5 that’s fitted with an all-new beefier chipset, that will come in the box as a disc-less console, though with the option to attach a detachable disc drive.
In turn, this console could move forward to be the model that everyone buys from here on out, making it a fairly elegant solution for parents going into stores not knowing which variant to buy their child for Christmas (ahem, Microsoft). But the fact that Henderson’s report states that this variant will be similar in power to the current model suggests that a ‘Pro’ might still be in the works, which reverts this elegant solution to a more confusing one.
Writer Cole Podany from ginx.tv reported yesterday that the PS5 Pro may use a “next-generation RDNA chipset,” siting a now deleted LinkedIn job listing that was supposedly seeking an engineer to work on the console’s chipset. Though this is positive news for the potential power of the Pro model, it only further begs the question as to why anyone would consider the upcoming not-so-Slim variant when this far more powerful one may come out as early as next year. Aside from price, which many speculate to be around the $399 USD mark, I would think one would get more for their dollar if spent on the Pro instead; especially if the overall footprint of the console is negligible—something that was the deciding factor in my purchasing of the Xbox Series S over the X.
All these reports only further the validity of a PlayStation 5 Slim, with even Microsoft believing the variant to be on its way later this year, writing in their case documents against the FTC that, “PlayStation likewise sells a less expensive Digital Edition for $399.99, and is expected to release a PlayStation 5 Slim later this year at the same reduced price point.” As for the Pro, Henderson wrote in a piece back in May that suggests the PS5 Pro—which is codenamed, “Project Trinity,” to go along with Sony’s Matrix themed codenames of consoles past—and is currently expected to release in Q4 2024. His sources go on to say that the console will target consistent frame rates at 4K, with a performance mode for 8K, as well as “accelerated ray tracing.”
It baffles me that the current PlayStation 5 box comes with a boastful “8K” logo, suggesting that the console is capable of playing games at such a resolution, when we all know that most games are barely able to hit even the 4K mark; doing so at 30fps, no less. Though I’m sure this supposed Pro will be a welcomed increase in performance, I can’t imagine most games climbing to the 8K mark seeing that even the highest of ends graphics cards of today are barely capable of doing so. But if this means that consistent 4K at 60fps for all AAA games is a possibility, then great.
A part of me can’t help but feel all this power is a tad unnecessary, however. Maybe it’s me being the lifelong, blissfully ignorant, console gamer that I am but at the end of the day, the games are what matter. And so far, the PS5 hasn’t shown me any games that truly make use of the 10.3 teraflops of power of the system. I’m talking about sheer graphical fidelity, here, not the overall quality of the games. Most of the current line exclusives on the PS5 are also playable on the PS4, which has a third of the power.
Of course there are notable graphical differences that make the PS5 superior, but they aren’t built from the ground up with the system’s hardware in mind. Demon’s Souls, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, and Forspoken are some of the more notable AAA PS5-only exclusives, and though each of them—the first two especially—do things visually that the last generation console couldn’t, I’m still yet to be truly awestruck by a game’s visuals the way that I was when I first played the original Horizon: Zero Dawn, Ghost of Tsushima, and The Last of Us Part II.
All that said, I’m still looking forward to seeing what Sony have in store for their next consoles. Though a Q4 release date for the Pro is later than I would have expected, and makes the decision for a not-so-Slim model even more eyebrow-raising. It simply seems like Sony are releasing a new console this year simply as an awkward stopgap for the Pro, which itself is a stopgap for the inevitable PlayStation 6. Couple this with their upcoming Project Q, a handheld that many (myself included) fail to see the purpose of, and you have yourself a pair of WSD’s—Weird Sony Decisions.