It’s finally arrived; the most powerful games console has just got even more powerful. Furthermore, the PS4 Pro is capable of 4K gaming, well kind of. PlayStation Pro is Sony’s mid cycle console, focused on giving gamers better resolution, better frame rates and better visuals all round. However, this all comes down to the software developers and how they optimize their games with Pro and as of launch, it varies from game to game. The Price point is pretty fair too, at £350 you’re getting a super-charged PS4 for the same price you bought the base PS4 at launch.
First of all, let’s talk about the hardware itself. Sony tout that the Pro is four times more powerful than the base PS4 unit, also recently during an interview with Gamasutra Mark Cerny stated the following:
“it’s possible to perform two 16-bit operations at the same time, instead of one 32-bit operation. In other words, with full floats, PS4 Pro has 4.2 teraflops of computational power. With half floats, it now has double that — which is to say, 8.4 teraflops of computational power. As I’m sure you understand, this has the potential to radically increase the performance of games.” – Mark Cerny, Cerny Games via Gamasutra
So hardware wise, the PS4 Pro is pretty beastly! And this enables you to play games at higher frame rates and 4K resolution. However, at this moment in time though we are yet to see such perfection Native 4K is only available on a handful of games, but I wasn’t expecting perfection from day 1. The base model comes equipped with a 1 terrabyte hard-drive, but this can be upgraded to a whopping 3 Terabyte hard drive something I’ll be doing next year.
The PS Pro is very quiet; there were times I thought my base PS4 was booting up thrusters ready for take-off, luckily this isn’t the case with PS Pro. The Pro is also much larger than the base model, but it´s still smaller than the Xbox One. So the PS4 Pro is keeping a sleek design, and there are some nice touch features underneath the console as well. The feet are made up of the classic X, Circle, Triangle and Square. Visually, the console looks pretty slick; the power light has now been moved from the top to the front. There’s also an extra USB port at the back of the console which is a Godsend. So now I have ports for PS VR, Astro mix Amp and a charging cable (that means that I no longer need to swap cables in and out, yay!). The PS4 Pro also supports HDMI 2.0, and it has buttons for eject and power spaced apart. In other words, even Polygon will now know how to use it.
PlayStation VR also benefits from the Pro with a higher Pixel count. So that means longer view distances, sharper images and more. After playing both Robinson the Journey and Eagle flight, both experiences were incredibly smooth sporting some great visuals with less pop in especially. Numerous other VR titles are receiving the Pro treatment some more noticeable than others, while certain titles like Robinson. Battlezone and VR Worlds are good to go; we’re still waiting on Pro Updates from the likes of Rush of Blood and Eve Valkyrie. It’s worth noting you can still get a 4K image through the VR Pass-through unit, but you won’t get HDR. However, in-order to get this, I had to swap one of the HDMI cables out to achieve this. You can find out your resolution capabilities in Settings, Sound and Screen.
There’s also a new controller included with the PS pro, it looks like a normal Dualshock 4. However, there’s now a light on the touchpad that admits a warm glow and the charging ports feels sturdier. There’s a metre long cable included giving you a bit of distance between your Tv during charging times as well. The charge time also appears to be quicker, after an hour the controller was fully charged.
So let’s talk about the killer feature of the PS Pro, 4K content at last or should I say Dynamic 4K because not every game on the Pro at the moment is native 4K, and some aren’t even hitting that target at all. However, a handful are and these are the likes of The Last of Us, Skyrim Remastered, Mantis burn racing and Hustle games while other games like Rise of the Tomb raider, Infinite Warfare and Battlefield 1 are accomplishing a better image by checker-boarding, which in short presents an image as good as 4K. The Last of Us really pops at native 4K and 30FPS and Skyrim looks glorious. Up-scaled games like infinite Warfare also look amazing. Sadly enough though, with certain games like Dishonoured and Titanfall 2, I didn’t see much of a difference.
It’s not all been clean sailing. You see, Digital Foundry have been in their lab putting the Pro to the test and have noticed some poor performance issues on a selection of games consisting of frame drops where they simply shouldn’t be. I also had a pretty poor experience with Dishonoured 2, visually it didn’t really stand out like Infinite Warfare did (as in image quality) and I was being met with screen tearing and various bugs and glitches but is this the Pro’s fault or is it simply poor optimization? (this could be applied to a few other games).
However, I do have one quarrel with the Pro, and that’s the lack of information for the user. I mean, it would be nice to receive a PS Pro notification for Pro enabled games. Hell, some games don’t even give you any options they just work automatically…Others I wonder if they have received any Pro patches, or if they’re Pro ready? Well, I’m hoping in a new firmware update Sony will address this because it can be a pain trying to figure out if there’s anything different with certain titles.
It’s important to keep in mind that the Pro’s 4K content is half of the deal. You’re going to need a decent TV to do the job too, and I’ve been playing on a Samsung 4K 49” UHDR curved screen TV which I must say displays images brilliantly, input lag is also minimal. Obviously, Pro works with 1080P TV’s too which players will benefit from Frame rate boosts and super sampling giving you a slight crisper image and detail, but the true benefits will be reaped by 4K TV owners.
The future of PS4 Pro lies with the software. So I find it to be kind of strange that Sony has already announced the Pro will not receive any exclusive content, and they intend to keep some kind of parity with the base model. For example, Pro owners don’t get the upper hand in Multi-player games, but surely the Pro acts as future proofing as games become more demanding. So I doubt all this power will go to waste. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if PS Pro gets some kind of exclusive content in the coming years. It simply exists to give the developers the option to optimize their games with higher visual fidelity and lock down frame-rates. I don’t see the Pro coming into form until next year with major releases such as Horizon Zero Dawn, Days Gone, Spiderman, Detroit, God of War, resident Evil 7 and more.
All in all, my experience so far has been positive and things will with no doubt get even better over time as developers get used to the new hardware. While there are some teething issues with certain games these will be fixed over time. So for £350 you’re getting a pretty decent Gaming machine. I mean, try building a 4K PC with a £350 budget, and you might have a hard time. Sure, while some games are simply being up-scaled or not quite hitting 4K, the extra image quality is a treat. So whether it’s native 4K or checker-boarding, 1080P is nice, but we’re now entering realms beyond that, and the future is looking very, very pretty.
I would also like to take my time to respond to Robin´s “Does the PS4 Pro suffer from serious performance and overheating problems?” post. So here I go. Well, the console hasn’t gotten hot, not as hot as the base ps4 which apparently had the same issues at launch, it actually pushes heat out the back and I’ve had no issues so far, and you still got to keep these guys ventilated. As it’s like a PC in a small box. As for graphical issues, some suffer while others don’t it’s a bit up in the air.
And with that said, yes, I do think that the PS4 Pro console is worthy of a 4/5 grade. So that´s the grade that I´m going to give it.
+ Higher frame rates and 4K resolution
+ The launch price is pretty fair (£350/$399.99)
+ PS4 Pro is said to be four times more powerful than the base PS4 unit
+ The PS Pro is very quiet (it´s much more quite than the base PS4)
+ Sleek Design
+ PS VR gets some TLC
– Some PS4 Pro users “might” experience performance issues with their console (some games suffer from poor frame rates)
– Overheating problems (for some users)
– You’re going to need a decent TV in-order to enjoy the true 4K Gaming experience
– Not all games are native 4k
– Pro enabled games should be labeled
– Not all games are getting a pro patch
Robin Ek – Editor
This is a personal opinion of the writer, and it doesn’t necessarily represent the other writers (nor The Gaming Ground´s) opinions.
The Gaming Ground
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