Set to launch to the general public on November 10. Sony’s mid-generation update, the PS4 Pro, is about to make super high-definition gaming a reality. But is this a console worth paying $100 more for? We’re going to take a look at what’s on offer and try to answer that question.
Why choose a PS4 Pro?
According to Sony, its latest console will usher in a whole new world of high-def gaming because it will be the world’s first-ever 4K console. However, that’s not all; the console also features much more powerful hardware which will make older games run faster and new games look amazing on compatible television sets.
And while the design of the PS4 Pro isn’t miles apart from the slimmer PS4, the difference is obvious. The new device is about one-and-a-half times its height when lying flat on its back, which makes it not the sleekest or most attractive console available; however, the matte black finish is an improvement.
The reason most people over the years have chosen to purchase a console over a gaming PC is simple. What you play on your console is identical to what your friend is playing on his/her console. However, with the PS4 Pro, Sony has introduced a new variant that changes this once-sacred reason for console gaming. The difference is the need to have a 4K television to see visual improvements in graphics output.
If you own an older 1080p TV, buying a PS4 Pro will provide you with some benefits, such as being able to play your favorite games at an improved frame rate and the possibility that some (not all) games will see an improvement in textures. However, the console was not designed to be played at 1080p, so to get your money’s worth, a 4K TV is required.
Assuming that you’re PS4 Pro-ready and have a 4K TV already set up, you’re going to benefit more than those who choose to stick with 1080p. But if along with 4K, your television is capable of handling HDR, your games will get a face-lift. With the two technologies, combined games like Second Son are dramatically altered with contrast and particle effects significantly improved.
However, they won’t look like games on high-end PCs because the PS4 isn’t capable of outputting native 4K for every game. Some games support Pro Mode, but right now 4K is achieved via upscaling to the required resolution. What this means is that older games won’t have the 4K polish you’re expecting, but most new games will. Having said that, no game on the PS4 Pro is going to compete graphically with PC-quality gaming.
While there are connectivity differences between the Pro and PS4 Slim, the latest isn’t offering many. There is an extra USB 3.0 port, plus an optical audio port which isn’t available on the PS4. Additionally, there’s an HDMI 2.0 port for the output of 4K, but that’s where the connectivity differences end.
UI, software and power
Sadly the PS4 Pro does not offer support for 4K Blu-ray playback, but it does have higher-speed 802.11ac wi-fi. There’s really nothing new with the UI; it’s mostly the same as what’s on the PS4. However, there has been a significant improvement in the internal components of the console.
While the standard PS4 and the PS4 Pro do have the same AMD Jaguar processor, the Pro’s chip has been overclocked to go from 1.6Ghz to 2.1Ghz, which results in a faster device. However, of more importance to graphics is the GPU, and this has also been tweaked up from 1.8 teraflops to 4.2 teraflops. This tweaking begs the questions of how much heat the PS4 Pro will produce and how much noise its internal fans will make.
Additionally, the PS4 Pro has 1GB of extra DRAM compared to the older console. This will apparently help it move between apps faster.
Strangely, Sony has been quite tight-lipped about the benefits the PS4 Pro can offer PSVR users. Early reports from owners of the older PS4 who have the VR headset suggest that the device works perfectly. Those who’ve been able to test VR on the Pro say that they have not seen any significant improvement.
If you believed the early hype surrounding the PS4 Pro and VR, it could offer an improvement in the future. It could be that the PSVR was originally designed for the PS4 before the Pro was a concept, and it may just take developers a while to catch up.
With this new console comes the tweaked DualShock 4 controller. The major new addition is a light strip above the middle trackpad. The lights on this strip match the colors seen on the console; this allows a user to know the controller status. This isn’t a huge upgrade, but it does enable quick and easy understanding without the need to turn the controller around.
Other than that, it is virtually identical to its older sibling. The dual-analog sticks are the same, and the face buttons and direction pad are too. In fact, the shoulder buttons, touchpad, speaker, and color have not changed at all
Should you upgrade?
According to Sony, the PS4 Pro is not the next generation. It’s merely an iteration that fills the technology gap and an addition to the PS4 family. And while it is ultimately much more powerful than its predecessor, it won’t offer much for users playing unpatched games.
So if you haven’t purchased a 4K TV yet, our advice would be to wait and stick with your PS4. However, if you don’t have a console and already own a 4K television capable of HDR, it’s worth getting a PS4 Pro because you can use all the benefits.