PS4 Pro Guide: The Pros and Cons of Buying Sony’s 4K Console

Sony has officially unveiled the console formerly known as the PS4 Neo, with the PS4 Pro being debuted yesterday during the PlayStation Meeting. While the event itself was a bit of a damp squib – more on that here – there are still a few definite reasons to be interested in purchasing a PS4 Neo, even if its unveiling was a little underwhelming.

With that being said, here are the pros and cons of the PS4 Pro from everything we know about it thus far:

 

Pro: The only way you’ll be able to play PS4 games in 4K

The PS4 Pro’s key selling point is obviously its ability to play games in 4K with High Dynamic Range (HDR). Currently PS4 games can be played in a maximum resolution of 1080p, with some even running at 900p. The extra power afforded to developers by the PS4 Pro allows games to be rendered in an upscaled 4K resolution, meaning that 4K TV owners can finally play their PS4 games in a resolution resembling Ultra HD, even if the console isn’t capable of displaying all games in native 4K. If you own a 4K TV and a library of PS4 games, this will make the PS4 Pro a more reasonable investment.

 

Con: Native 4K will be inconsistent

The specs for the PS4 Pro ensure that the console will not be capable of running each and every game at a native 4K resolution, but will rather upscale many games from 1080p in order to closely resemble 4K. Though the PS4 Pro has a 4.12 TFLOPS GPU, a significant step up from the 1.84 TFLOPS of the vanilla PS4, it’s still only a marginal improvement over the GTX 970, which hit 3.9 TFLOPS. Considering that the GTX 970 is a previous generation GPU, and one that’s since been bested by the current-gen GTX 1070 which runs at 6.5 TFLOPS, it’s not feasible for the PS4 Pro to consistently run games in an Ultra HD resolution.

Upscaling from 1080p results in high-quality images that, unless you’re playing games on a particularly large TV or are sitting far too close to your screen, you won’t notice much of a difference. However, considering that the PS4 Pro is billed as a 4K gaming console, there will be many who will be disappointed that the system will rarely feature games that display at a native 4K resolution, with the system likely only able to play older, less graphically intensive titles in UHD. This means that the majority of new releases will likely display in upscaled 1080p.

PS4-Pro-Horizon-Zero-Dawn-Screenshot

Pro: Smoother frame rates…

The PS4 Pro will boast a faster, 8-core processor (its clock speed is currently unknown), which will help developers reach 60 fps with their games. Considering that this current generation has still yet to see a 60 fps parity, with some games even struggling to consistently hit 30 fps, this is a good thing.

 

Con: …but no increased frame rate in multiplayer games

Despite the PS4 Pro allowing developers to reach consistently higher frame rates, prospective owners of the console may be disappointed to learn that this will not carry over to multiplayer games – at least for the time being. According to Game Informer, Naughty Dog lead programmer Christian Gyrling said that they didn’t want to offer a “huge advantage” to PS4 Pro owners, saying:  “The main thing that we’re making sure of is that the frame rates are the same; there’s definitely no frame rate advantage. You can’t run one at 60 and one at 30.”

While this is completely understandable considering such a change would inevitably anger current PS4 owners, considering that many games feature multiplayer in some capacity it’s questionable just how widespread these frame rate improvements will be. Perhaps developers will be able to meet 60fps for single-player campaigns, but then reduce the frame rate to 30fps in multiplayer if need be? We’ll have to wait and see.

PS4-Pro-Spider-Man

Pro: PS VR runs better on PS4 Pro

Sony remained surprisingly quiet on the PS VR front during the PS4 Pro’s reveal, only touching upon the impact the new console will have on the company’s first foray into virtual reality, without giving away any specifics. However, they did state that the PS VR will run better on the PS4 Pro, despite failing to reveal exactly how it will achieve this.

Despite the curious lack of info we received from Sony, we can safely assume that the improved power of the PS4 Pro will allow the developers of VR games to not cut corners when it comes to making their games, affording them the opportunity to run games at a high resolution along with a consistent frame rate while in VR mode. Unfortunately this hasn’t been confirmed by Sony, so it remains unclear just how much better PS VR performs when tethered to the PS4 Pro, but for those eager to try out Sony’s virtual reality headset this could be considered a key selling point.

 

Con: No UHD Blu-ray player

Although the PS4 Pro boasts 4K media playback on the likes of Netflix and YouTube, it does not boast an Ultra HD Blu-ray player. This is likely due to Sony wanting to cut costs and ship the PS4 Pro for under $400, though many will still be disappointed by this oversight considering that the Xbox One S boasts a UHD Blu-ray player and is priced lower than the Pro. With there being quite a lot of 4K content offered digitally it’s uncertain just how much this omission will impact the PS4 Pro’s bottom line, but it still contributes to the belief that the PS4 Pro is ultimately a 4K console that lacks key 4K features.

PS4-Pro-Rise-of-the-Tomb-Raider

Pro: Its price

The PS4 Pro is priced at $399 in the US and £349 in the UK. This is a very reasonable price point considering that you can currently purchase the vanilla PS4 for around $300 – $325, meaning that despite the qualms people may have with its lack of native 4K and inconsistent 60fps frame rate, it’s still being sold cheap enough that many will take the plunge anyway.

 

Con: The cost of a PS4 Pro plus a 4K TV

If you don’t own a 4K TV, then there probably won’t be much point in buying a PS4 Pro. Though Mark Cerny stated that the console would improve the graphical quality of games even on a 1080p TV, in reality we know that these marginal improvements won’t be enough to justify purchasing the console without a 4K TV in tow. Considering that purchasing a PS4 Pro and a 4K TV could easily set you back over $1,000, this makes buying everything you need to make the PS4 Pro a worthwhile decision a pretty pricey endeavor, and one we’d advice against right now considering that 4K TVs are still quite expensive and are only destined to reduce in price as the months go by. 

 

Conclusion

The PS4 Pro is a reasonably priced console that, for 4K TV owners, will provide a worthwhile upgrade to their existing console. However, for those who currently own a 1080p TV you’re not really going to see a benefit that will be worthy of the $399 price tag.

Still, while the lack of native 4K and the absence of a UHD Blu-ray player may be disappointing, if you own a 4K TV and have the disposable income then the PS4 Pro should be on your wish list, especially if you’re interested in the PS VR. But if you’d have to purchase a 4K TV in order to make the most out of the console, you may want to wait a few months for those prices to drop.