PS4 Pro vs PS4: What’s the difference and should current PS4 owners upgrade to the Pro? Trusted Reviews has the answers.
Sony launched two new PS4 consoles back in 2016. The PS4 Pro represents a meatier, more powerful unit that delivers better performance capable of 4K gaming and HDR.
It’s other new console became known as the PS4 Slim, which offers the same functionality as the launch model in a sleeker form factor. Sony calls this the ‘PS4’ as it’s phased out the original console.
That’s the basics, but in our PS4 Pro vs PS4 guide will explain the details in simple terms – and complicated ones for those who like numbers – and answer common questions, including:
- How powerful is the PS4 Pro?
- How do the graphics compare?
- What is HDR and should I care?
- Do you need a 4K HDR TV?
- Is the PS4 Pro better for PlayStation VR?
And if you just want the short version of this article, scroll to the end for the definitive verdict on the PS4 Pro vs PS4 debate.
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Best PS4 Game Deals
God of War (PS4)
Picking up GOTY 2018 at the Trusted Reviews Awards, this is an unmissable price for one of the year’s best games.
Marvel’s Spider-Man (PS4)
Insomniac Games’ vision of everyone’s favourite superhero is a brilliant PS4 exclusive, and quite a steal at this price.
Destiny 2: The Forsaken Legendary Collection Limited Edition with Bonus Digital Content + Collectors Items (Exclusive to Amazon.co.uk) (PS4)
Destiny 2 is better than ever nowadays, and this collections gets you the base game and all of its DLC.
Shadow of the Colossus (PS4)
Bluepoint Games’ masterful remake of Team ICO’s classic is excellent, and absolute bargain at this price for PS4 owners.
The graphics processor (GPU) in the PS4 Pro – that’s the bit that generates the 3D graphics in games – is just over twice as powerful as that in the PS4. Sony’s also upgraded the processor, which handles things like physics and artificial intelligence in games.
Sony claims the new PS4 Pro can run at 4.2 teraflops, compared to the 1.84 teraflops of the original PS4 – teraflops is a simple measure of computer performance, a bit like horsepower in cars. We’ll get onto how that power is used a little later.
Best PS4 Deals
Sony PlayStation 4 1TB Console – Black
The compact, efficient Sony PS4 Slim in all its glory with plenty of storage. You can save more by buying a bundle deal right now, however.
In addition, while the PS4 Pro has the same amount of memory as the original PS4 – 8GB GDDR5 – it runs at a higher speed to improve performance. The PS4 Pro also has an extra 1GB of memory for non-gaming applications like Netflix. This means they won’t waste space games can use and means you can switch between apps faster.
Here are the PS4 Pro specs compared to the original and PS4 ‘Slim’ versions:
|PS4 (2013)||PS4 (2016)||PS4 Pro|
|CPU||1.6GHz 8-core AMD Jaguar||1.6GHz 8-core AMD Jaguar||2.1GHz 8-core AMD Jaguar|
|GPU||1.84 TFLOP AMD Radeon||1.84 TFLOP AMD Radeon||4.2 TFLOP AMD Radeon|
|Memory||8GB GDDR5||8GB GDDR5||8GB GDDR5 & 1GB|
|Storage||500GB||500GB & 1TB||1TB|
|USB||2x USB 3.0||2x USB 3.1||3x USB 3.1|
|Wi-Fi||802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi (2.4GHz only)||802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi (2.4GHz & 5.0GHz)||802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi (2.4GHz & 5.0GHz)|
|Bluetooth||Bluetooth 2.1||Bluetooth 4.0||Bluetooh 4.0|
PS4 Pro vs PS4 Graphics Comparison
It depends on the game. Developers can use the extra power for anything they want within reason. Most will increase the resolution – the number of pixels that make the picture – of their games, so they appear sharper on 4K TVs, but that’s not all.
Developers can also use the more powerful PS4 Pro GPU to improve the quality of textures and lighting effects, leading to more realistic graphics and smoother performance with fewer slowdowns. The only demand Sony makes is games must play as well on the PS4 Pro as they do on the PS4, and vice versa.
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Here’s a shot of a demo running on the PS4.
And now the same demo running on the PS4 Pro.
The most obvious difference is the lighting. The ‘god rays’ give the scene a new dynamism, lighting up the rocks and enhancing the contrast in the scene.
Another benefit is the foliage. There’s copious extra greenery, such as extra plants, grass and vines. The PS4 version has simpler, flatter textures that add little.
The PS4 Pro isn’t just about making things look sharper. More power allows developers to render more items in the game, which helps create worlds that are packed with more interesting details to enjoy.
But I heard the PS4 Pro doesn’t actually run games at native 4K…
Well, this is technically true. Some games will run at a native 4K Ultra HD resolution – that’s 3,840 by 2,160 lines pixels by the way – but the most demanding games won’t.
Why? Because it’s very hard to render games smoothly at such a high resolution, even with the additional power of the PS4 Pro. A gaming PC that can run games at 4K would cost several times more than the PS4 Pro, after all.
Instead, many games will run at a resolution close to 4K – often but not always 3,200 by 1,800 lines – and then be upscaled to 4K. Sony has employed a clever technique that improves this process, so much so that’s it’s very hard to tell the difference between its upscaled visuals and native 4K ones. There is a difference, but it’s hard to spot.
And this practice is nothing new. Many games already run below 1080p on existing consoles and are upscaled to it. And while the Xbox One S can upscale 1080p games up to 4K, there’s no serious comparison between the two consoles.
The closer to 4K you get the better the upscaling will appear, so the Xbox One S can’t match a PS4 Pro running the same game.
What is HDR and what difference does it make?
HDR, which is short for High Dynamic Range, is about making films, TV and games appear brighter, more colourful and closer to real life.
For years TVs have been hamstrung by decades old standards designed for CRT TVs and cinema screens. HDR defines a new standard that allows TVs to exploit their full potential.
What this means in practice is higher peak brightness and brighter, more vibrant colours throughout, leading to a more realistic and immersive picture.
Again, it’s hard to appreciate this unless you already have an HDR TV, but this example from The Last of Us: Remastered gives you a good idea of the difference.
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This is a shot of the game running on a normal PS4.
And this is same game running on the PS4 Pro. HDR support transforms the mushy white sky into a deeply detailed and textured sky.
On the opposite extreme, imagine a shot of the sun in a game. On a non-HDR TV, it would look unremarkable. On a good HDR TV, it would feel more like staring at a bright light – not as bright as staring at the real sun, obviously, but bright enough to dazzle you.
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Do you need a 4K HDR TV to use the PS4 Pro?
No, but we do recommend you have one. Some games use a method called Supersampling to improve the graphics for players on 1080p TVs, but not all games will. Right now, I don’t I think it’s worth upgrading from your existing PS4 if you don’t own a 4K TV.
PS4 update 4.50 will also introduced a new feature known as “Boost Mode” that can dramatically increase performance of some games. It won’t enhance then to 4K, but it will provide you with a noticeable improvement in frame rate of up to 40 percent. Finally, those without a 4K TV have reason to invest in PS4 Pro.
Is the PS4 Pro better for PlayStation VR?
Not conclusively. Games won’t be any smoother in VR on the PS4 Pro compared to the PS4. And while a few add visual upgrades, there aren’t enough examples to justify the extra expense. The difference could become more significant in future, however.
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How much larger is the PS4 Pro compared to the PS4?
Quite a bit, which is worth considering if space is an issue, though the PS4 Pro’s still smaller than the notoriously huge original Xbox One.
PS4 Pro vs PS4 Size Comparison(WxDxH):
- New PS4 Slim: 26.5 x 28.8 x 3.9cm
- Original PS4: 27.5 x 30.5 x 5.3cm
- PS4 Pro: 29.5 x 32.7 x 5.5cm
So the PS4 Pro is a good three centimetres wider, four centimetres deeper and close to two centimetres taller. That doesn’t sound like much written down, but the PS4 Pro is actually 78% larger in volume than the PS4 ‘Slim’ model – it’s 20% larger than the launch console.