Sony have taken an unprecedented move this console generation and given their latest PlayStation a major upgrade. The PS4 Pro includes 2.3 times the graphics processing power, a faster CPU and RAM, and a 1000GB hard drive. All this means games played on the new system will look significantly better than on a standard PS4 (which often already looks stunning).
It’s important to note, that the Pro and standard console play exactly the same games. The same discs will run on either system. The only major difference is how the games look on your TV, but that difference is fairly substantial.
What is perhaps most impressive about the PS4 Pro is that it is capable of displaying at 4K resolutions while only costing what the PS4 cost a couple of years ago. Though many games will take a bit of a shortcut with a clever technique of running the game at a 2K resolution and upscaling it to 4K (for comparison, at best, most games currently run at what is essentially 1K). This produces an effect which looks very close to what a native 4K picture looks like, but at a fraction of the price. Some games, such as The Last of Us: Remastered can run at native 4K, but even games that rely on upscaling to 4K are far more crisp and detailed than anything we have seen before (unless you have spent over £1000 on a PC recently).
The only drawback, of course, is that you might not have a 4K TV. If you think you’ll buy a TV in the next few years, it probably will be 4K ready as HD only TVs are rapidly being phased out (for example, every Sony TV released this year is 4K ready). But you don’t need a 4K TV to benefit from all that extra processing power. The additional power can be used to add detail to scenes. For example, clothing will have extra texture detail, light will work more realistically and there can be more features in scenery, for example more trees can been seen in the distance. In fact, you’ll also be able to see further into the distance. On top of this, the additional power can be used to increase frame rates, giving you a smoother and more life-like experience.
The PS4 Pro comes with a number of smaller refinements to the system as well. For a start, there is a new DualShock 4 controller. While it is largely the same as the older version, it features a narrow translucent strip on the front of the touch pad. This means you can see the light which is normally only seen on the back of the controller. It’s a nice feature which benefits games like Transistor, where the controller flashes in time with the robotic speech which comes out of the controller’s speaker. Another improvement is that the console includes a faster wi-fi card, which is useful as you can now stream yours games at 1080p, and stream video from the internet at 4K.
One controversial aspect of the new system is its lack of 4K Blu-ray player. As 4K gaming is a primary selling point of the PS4 Pro, you would expect it also be able to play 4K blu-ray discs. The reason for leaving this out is presumably as a cost cutting measure and not a technical one, since the far less powerful XBox One S is able play the discs. Indeed, as mentioned before, 4K video is available and comes in the form of streaming services such as YouTube and Netflix.
But really, the console is aimed at hardcore gamers who really appreciate high quality visuals, people with 4K TVs or people who don’t own a PlayStation 4 yet. Since it only costs around £90 more than the standard console, if you appreciate good graphics, it’s worth spending a bit extra.