After a quiet confirmation just before this year’s E3, Sony has finally unveiled its revamped PS4, named the PS4 Pro – previously dubbed as the PS4 Neo or PS4K – joining Microsoft’s Xbox Project Scorpio as a new wave of mid-generation console upgrades.
Following a series of leaks earlier in the year and a reveal event in September, we know about its visual and performance upgrades as part of a dedicated ‘Pro’ mode for selected games, 4K and HDR output, and full compatibility with existing PS4 games and peripherals.
The PS4 Pro is not to be confused with the PS4 Slim, which is set to offer the same specs, software and peripheral support as the launch console in a smaller form factor.
PS4 Pro specs – how powerful is it compared to the existing PS4?
Sony has said it has “more than doubled” the GPU power of the standard PS4, that it uses AMD’s Polaris architecture, and that the clock-rate of the CPU has been boosted. Here’s a specific breakdown:
The specs matched those leaked in documentation supplied to developers earlier this year, which Digital Foundry broke down in its PS4 Pro’s leaked specs analysis. This confirmed the Polaris AMB CPU boost, but also supplied details to the CPU overclock with x86 cores from the original PS4 system, as well as a bandwidth increase to memory that, while doesn’t scale too well with the 31% CPU increase, provides a 512MB memory increase for games in Pro-mode.
Here is how the Pro and base PS4 compares:
|Base PS4||PS4 Pro||Boost|
|CPU||Eight Jaguar cores clocked at 1.6GHz||Eight Jaguar cores clocked at 2.1GHz||1.3x|
|GPU||18 Radeon GCN compute units at 800MHz||36 ‘improved’ GCN compute units at 911MHz||2.3x FLOPs|
|Memory||8GB GDDR5 at 176GB/s||8GB GDDR5 at 218GB/s||24% more bandwidth, 512MB more useable memory|
How the PS4 Pro is different to the existing PS4:
- Graphical and performance improvements to supported games when played on Pro, including PSVR titles
- 4K resolutions 2160p YUV420 and 2160p RGB
- 4K upscaling of games with checkerboard rendering (native output of select games unconfirmed)
- 4K video support (Netflix and YouTube confirmed)
- New ‘three-tiered’ design with larger dimensions (29555327mm) and a finish similar to the PS Slim, moving the light strip to front of the device
- Updated DualShock 4 controller with light strip visible on touch pad and USB data transfer
- Third USB3.1 port on rear of device
- 1TB hard drive space as standard
- Wifi Improvements – 5GB IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac supported (though also available with new Slim model)
- Streaming improvements – Remote Play up to 1080p on PC, Mac and Xperia, Share Play from PS4 Pro at 1080p
- Share improvements – 4K screenshots, 1080p video, 1080p60 YouTube streaming
PS4 Pro vs PS4 – what will be the same?
- Same library of games – so no PS4 Pro exclusives – with each piece of software a unified package that runs on both consoles
- Identical peripheral support, from the DualShock 4 to the PS Camera
- No PS4 Pro-exclusive features or DLC in any games. However, leaks have said certain modes can be enhanced; one example is if there is a two-player local split-screen mode, it could expand to four-players on Pro
- Shared and equal PSN ecosystem, so regular PS4 users can play and interact alongside Pro users with no differences online, and vice versa
- Save data, Trophy and PSN account log-in compatibility between the two systems, with the same user interface
- PlayStation Store will be the same, but expect pages and physical game-packaging to list PS4 Pro-added features
- HDR visual support, also available to base PS4 systems through firmware update 4.0
What PS4 Pro doesn’t offer:
How does the PS4 Pro compare to Project Scorpio?
Project Scorpio is to Xbox One as what the PS4 Pro is to the PS4; a mid-generation upgrade with notable graphical and performance improvements to existing software, and full backwards compatibility with all previous software and peripherals.
|PS4||PS4 Pro||Xbox One||Project Scorpio|
|CPU||Eight Jaguar cores clocked at 1.6GHz||Eight Jaguar cores clocked at 2.1GHz||Eight Jaguar cores clocked at 1.75GHz||Eight cores, speculation: up-clocked Jaguar or equivalent|
|GPU||18 Radeon GCN compute units at 800MHz||36 improved GCN compute units at 911MHz||12 GCN compute units at 853MHz||Speculation: 56/60 GCN compute units at 800-850MHz|
|Memory||8GB GDDR5 at 176GB/s||8GB GDDR5 at 218GB/s||8GB DDR3 at 68GB/s and 32MB ESRAM at max 218GB/s||Over 320GB/s bandwidth – speculation: 12GB of GDDR5|
How do the two compare in theory? While to date Xbox One has lagged behind PS4 performance, Project Scorpio is set to offer a sizable leap over both the PS4 and PS4 Pro, with much better graphical and memory capabilities, and support for native 4K gaming. (If you’re interested in investing in a 4K TV for Xbox One S and beyond, here is a list of some of the best 4KTV screens for HDR gaming.)
To quote Digital Foundry in their Xbox Project Scorpio spec analysis: “It’s a remarkable turnabout. A good portion of PlayStation 4’s success has been down to its spec advantage over Xbox One, combined with a focus on the hardcore player. Sony’s technological advantage will be gone with the next wave of hardware.”
It’s expected you will have to wait longer for one than the other, though; PS4 Pro is coming November 2016, while Microsoft has said Project Scorpio won’t release until holiday 2017. Price is also a factor, with Digital Foundry also predicting a $100 difference between the two mid-generation systems.
How does the PS4 Pro compare to Xbox One S?
Whereas the Xbox One S is essentially a slimline version of the existing Xbox One (with some added benefits for those using 4KTVs – you can read everything we know about Xbox One S in our dedicated guide) the PS4 Pro is a mid-generational upgrade over the existing PS4, with notable graphical and performance upgrades.
While all PS4s – both slim and Pro – offer HDR support through a firmware upgrade, which is something only Xbox One S models allow, Microsoft’s system comes with a UHD Blu-ray drive, while the PS4 Pro does not.
PS4 Pro games – how different will PS4 Pro games look?
Based on a first eyes-on at the September reveal event by Digital Foundry, though improvements to Pro games vary from title to title, the jump to 4K is very positive.
While the Pro’s GPU lacks the horsepower to display native 4K, the techniques used offers a “highly desirable increase in fidelity over 1080p”, with a side-by-side comparison of the two seeing a “simply stunning” increase in detail. HDR – which will also be coming to standard PS4s in some form – was described as adding “just as much extra detail as the additional resolution” in some scenarios.
But what about those with standard HD displays? All Pro-mode games will run at 1080p at standard, but the rest is down to the developer. Digital Foundry said most users “will only benefit from super-sampling, and perhaps a smoother frame-rate on most titles” in general – though not in multiplayer, as not to give away a frame-rate advantage on those playing on a standard PS4 – but developers can put the work in to offer multiple display options. Rise of the Tomb Raider was the standout example, with Pro offering a 4K30 presentation, 1080p30 locked with maximum quality settings or an unlocked 1080p mode with performance going between 40 and 60FPS – giving improvements to both 4K and HD displays.
So while aspects will vary from title-to-title, improvements for Pro-mode titles can include:
- Mandatory 1080p minimum native display resolution
- Higher frame-rates
- More stable frame-rates
- Improved graphics fidelity
- Additional graphics features
It should be noted that with mandatory support for existing PS4 games on the Pro, there will be a ceiling in terms of the improvements to performance; after all, in a statement from PlayStation boss Andrew House, both original and Pro systems will be sold at the same time “through the life cycle” of the system.
PS4 Pro game compatibility – what games will be improved on the new system?
All existing PS4 games will work on PS4 Pro, and according to leaked documents, from October 2016 all new games released on PS4 must offer a Pro mode to offer visual and performance improvements, whether it’s a resolution increase or new graphical features. This surely means many of this year’s biggest releases will have Pro modes, but until then, confirmed upcoming PS4 Pro mode games include:
- Horizon: Zero Dawn (Digital Foundry 4K performance analysis)
- Days Gone
- FIFA 17
- Battlefield 1
- Titanfall 2
- Mass Effect Andromeda
- Watch Dogs 2
- Rise of the Tomb Raider (offers 4K30, 1080p30 max settings and 1080p unlocked FPS modes)
- For Honor
- Dishonored 2
- Final Fantasy XV
- Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare
- Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered
- Killing Floor 2
Developers are welcome – but not required – to add ‘forward compatibility’ patches to their existing PS4 games, opening the door to some of this console generation’s biggest releases to get some performance upgrades. Here’s every already-released game set to receive an update:
- Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
- The Last of Us Remastered
- Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
- InFamous: Second Sun
- InFamous: Last Light
- Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
- Call of Duty: Black Ops 3
- The Elder Scrolls Online (offers native 4K support)
- The Witness
Until more have been confirmed, we’ve chosen a list of 10 games perfect for PS4 Pro updates.
PS4 Pro release date and price
PS4 Pro will be available on November 10 for 349 / $399 with a 1TB hard drive at standard. This is compared to the slim PS4, which is retailing for 259 / $399.