|GPU||18 Radeon GCN calculators @ 800 Mhz||36 enhanced GCN units of account @ 911 Mhz|
|Processor||8 Jaguar Cores @ 1.6Ghz||8 Jaguar Cores @ 2.1Ghz|
|RAM||8GB GDDR5 @ 176GB/s||8GB GDDR5 @ 218GB/s (plus 1GB DDR3)|
|Maximum power consumption (gameplay)||148W (79W for PS4 Slim)||154W (4K gaming)|
|USB ports||2 USB 3.0 ports||3 USB 3.0 ports|
|Hard Drive||500 GB (1 TB special editions available)||1TB|
|Size (widest points)||275 x 53 x 305mm (10.8 x 2.1 x 12″)||295 x 55 x 327mm (11.6 x 2.2 x 12.9″)|
|MSRP||$300 with bundled game ($250 in holiday deals)||$400 without a bundled game|
A new video game console is usually an opportunity to envision a whole new future for popular gaming. After years of developers and players exploring the old console inside and out, a new console breaks cleanly with the past. Mostly it introduces new features, new exclusive franchises, and a clear, new pinnacle of what’s possible in terms of graphics and processing power (at least in a non-PC living room console).
The PlayStation 4 Pro is different. As you may already know from our coverage, the Pro represents more of a split in the current era of the PS4 rather than an obvious break from what came before. Sony has gone to great lengths to point out that every console game it makes or licenses will run on both the PS4 and PS4 Pro for the foreseeable future, essentially making them one “platform” from a software perspective. The promise, according to Sony, is that those games will look and perform better on the Pro hardware, for example with a higher resolution, better frame rates or more detailed in-game character models.
So, reviewing the PS4 Pro is more like reviewing a new graphics card for the PC than reviewing a new console (although, yes, the Pro also upgrades the RAM and CPU slightly from the stock PS4). However, unlike a modular PC, upgrading the graphics on the PS4 requires you to ditch the entire console you may have bought only three years ago (or less) and start all over with a new $400 box. also means dealing with a scattered and inconsistent software update system from Sony and its partners, which means that performance can vary greatly from game to game.
Like a piece of physical hardware, the triple-decker PS4 Pro looks like someone added an extra story to the regular PS4 and smoothed out the two-tone ceiling while they were at it. While the new unit is only a few millimeters taller than the old PS4, the new case adds a few inches to both the width and depth of the old system, which could make all the difference in a tightly packed entertainment unit. The ports on the back of the device can also be a little more difficult to access, as they are well below a deeper diagonal overhang.
The new physical power and eject buttons are a nice addition to the Pro case, and those buttons are now separated by the full length of the front of the console, making them easier to distinguish than the very similar touch panels on the original PS4. An additional USB port on the back (in addition to the standard two on the front) is especially useful for connecting the PS4 camera. The fan on the Pro unit seems as quiet as the one on the original PS4 and can move a lot of heat through some well-positioned vents on the back.
The PS4 Pro also comes with the newly designed DualShock 4 controller, which premiered with the PS4 Slim. That’s especially handy because you can see the LED color on the back of the controller through a small slit on the front touchpad.
First things first, if you don’t have a display capable of 4K resolutions and/or high dynamic range colors (or a PSVR headset – see below), you should probably even consider putting off a PS4 Pro purchase until you get one. one gets. While users with standard HDTVs (1080p or lower) can get some Taking advantage of the extra horsepower of the PS4 Pro, the difference is so marginal it’s not worth the investment.
On a standard HDTV, the PS4 Pro’s extra horsepower sometimes means an improvement from a lower resolution (often about 900 lines of vertical resolution) to “true” 1080p high-def. For other games, the extra horsepower is used for super sampling, which renders a game with an internal resolution higher than that on the screen, then uses that extra pixel data to smooth out lines and edges through improved anti-aliasing.
In either case, the difference is so small that it is difficult to distinguish under normal viewing conditions on a 1080p display. Yes, if you go straight to the TV and look for the stairway patterns on diagonal edges, you’ll see some difference between the two consoles. However, if you play the game a few feet away, you probably won’t notice that much has changed.
There are also games that offer improved frame rates on the PS4 Pro, usually through some setting in the options menu. In a game like Infamous: First Light, the extra smoothness was noticeable, but not revealing. When I went back to the original frame rate, it didn’t seem unnecessarily choppy by comparison. Like the supersampling, it’s a small advantage that buying a completely new system probably isn’t worth it.
Okay, let’s say you have a 4K display. Chances are it will also offer the ability to display colors in the high-dynamic range (HDR), a wider color range that’s literally impossible on older sets. Displaying these kinds of colors is one of Sony’s biggest marketing points for the PS4 Pro, which makes it a little odd that it’s not a selling point for the system at all.
That doesn’t mean HDR color isn’t impressive. The improved color range makes everything look hyper-realistic in a way that’s hard to convey if you haven’t seen it in person (screenshots and videos shown on a non-HDR screen won’t tell the difference). Blacks are much darker, bright colors appear much brighter in HDR, and the improved contrast makes it easier to distinguish details even without extra pixels of resolution.
The HDR effect is most apparent in scenes with fire and explosions or with the bright neon colors common in games such as Infamous: First Light. But you can see the effect more subtly in other scenes. It’s reflected in the way the light reflects off Nathan Drake’s face in Uncharted 4 or in the richness of a leather sofa under a lamp in the last of us. The effect makes everything look a little shiny, as if the non-HDR images are being viewed through slightly tinted glass.
The difference is noticeable enough that it’s a little hard to go back to the non-HDR versions of these games after experiencing them in HDR. For those who spend a lot of time in front of a screen, it’s easy to feel like you didn’t see the world quite right before. It’s not quite the jump from black and white to color, but it’s close.
But here’s the thing: the PS4 Pro doesn’t need this great improvement. Back in September, Sony quietly announced that the existing PS4 would also natively support the expanded HDR color output. In our tests, games like Uncharted 4 already a decent shot look better with HDR even on a standard PlayStation 4.
Sony deserves a lot of credit for making HDR a core part of its entire console line. But for those who choose between a PS4 and the more expensive Pro, HDR is no reason to upgrade. If you have the suitable display, the existing PS4 already looks a lot better thanks to the same HDR support.