We present a direct comparison between interface-resolved and one-way-coupled point-particle direct numerical simulations (DNS) of gravity-free turbulent channel flow laden with small inertial particles, with high particle-to-fluid density ratio and diameter of approximately three viscous units. The most dilute flow considered, solid volume fraction
, shows the particle feedback on the flow to be negligible, whereas differences with respect to the unladen case, notably a drag increase of approximately 10 %, are found for a volume fraction
. This is attributed to a dense layer of particles at the wall, caused by turbophoresis, flowing with large particle-to-fluid apparent slip velocity. The most dilute case is therefore taken as the benchmark for assessing the validity of a widely used point-particle model, where the particle dynamics results only from inertial and nonlinear drag forces. In the bulk of the channel, the first- and second-order moments of the particle velocity from the point-particle DNS agree well with those from the interface-resolved DNS. Close to the wall, however, most of the statistics show major qualitative differences. We show that this difference originates from the strong shear-induced lift force acting on the particles in the near-wall region. This mechanism is well captured by the lift force model due to Saffman (J. Fluid Mech., vol. 22 (2), 1965, pp. 385–400), while other widely used, more elaborate, approaches aiming at extending the lift model for a wider range of particle Reynolds numbers can actually underpredict the magnitude of the near-wall particle velocity fluctuations for the cases analysed here.