Sony has at least released the new, suped-up 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, a reveal event in September, and now Digital Foundry’s extensive hands-on time and review of the PS4 Pro, 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. If you’ve already got your hands on one and are looking to transfer your data, meanwhile, we’ve explained exactly how to transfer your data from PS4 to PS4 Pro including saves, games, trophies and more, in a separate step-by-step guide.
PS4 Pro specs comparison – how powerful is it versus the existing PS4?
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|
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 core 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.
There is, of course, a little bit more to it than that, as our recent extensive look inside the PS4 Pro discusses; there is an additional 1GB of DDR3 RAM specifically for swapping out non-game apps, and 1GB of RAM dedicated to two functions, one half allowing developers to hit 4K render targets, and the other half dedicated to handling a 4K version of the dashboard; delta compression technology, enhanced 16-bit half-float support and much more – full details and an interview with system architect Mark Cerny is within the prior link.
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, some native 4K games
- 4K video support (such as Netflix, YouTube)
- New ‘three-tiered’ design with larger dimensions (295×55×327mm) 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 USB 3.1 port on rear of device
- 1TB hard drive space as standard
- Support for SATA-III hard drives
- 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
- PS4 games with no specific PS4 Pro mode set to run the exact same
- 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?
While we’re here, it’s worth discussion some of the upcoming competition. 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.
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.
A couple of additional notes on how games will look from Digital Foundry’s review of the PS4 Pro:
- HDR is generally activated or deactivated with a toggle in each individual game’s options screen – InFamous First Light, Deus Ex Mankind Divided, and Uncharted 4 are some examples.
- According to Digital Foundry, “getting a game-changing experience from HDR seems to scale in line with the amount of money you’re willing to pay” on your screen.
- 4K, on the best examples of PS4 Pro’s checkerboarding ability like Rise of the Tomb Raider, is only discernable as non-native 4K under “the most intense scrutiny”.
- That said, results are “variable”, as we mentioned, and the nature of the upscaling depends on a game-to-game basis – older games like Skyrim Special Edition render at 4K natively, whilst others such as InFamous scale up to 1800p, and the likes of Deus Ex Mankind Divided use a combination of both a dynamic scaler and checkerboarding together.
How does the PS4 Pro affect 1080p gaming?
Generally the message here is that the results are, again, variable on a game-to-game basis. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered, for example, both increases the resolution to 1620p whilst also sticking more firmly to it’s 60fps target – giving both an increase in performance and image quality.
The InFamous ports instead stick to 1080p, but use the additional power to increase frame rates. Paragon raises resolution from 900p to 1080p, adding in other visual features, whilst Digital Foundry understands that the upcoming Mass Effect Andromeda has multiple options, such as a 1800p chekerboard mode and an enhanced 1080p mode.
Others, such as Uncharted 4, seem to drop frames in similar places to the origina PS4 edition.
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
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.
It should also be noted that PS4 games without a dedicated PS4 Pro mode should run exactly the same as they do on an existing PS4. How this works is that while the PS4 Pro offers double the compute units, they are laid out like a mirror of the original PS4’s GPU, half of which deactivate when running standard PS4 games. While it means we won’t see some slight improvements on standard games as with the overclocked Xbox One S, it’ll ensure games will work with no compatibility issues.
How much power does the PS4 Pro use?
Digital Foundry have also compared the power draw of the three PlayStation 4 consoles available, with the Pro sitting at a generally lower power draw than the original PS4, but higher than the smaller, more economical PS4 Slim. Be sure to take a look at DF’s PS4 Pro review for more details, but here’s their table below:
|PlayStation 4 Power Consumption (Watts)||PS4 Pro CUH-7000||PS4 Slim CUH-2000||PS4 Launch CUH-1000|
|Front-End (Online, Disc Install)||75||75||89|
|Front-End (Online, Downloading)||71||71||80|
|Rest Mode (Online, Downloading)||58||46||73|
|Project Cars (Base Mode)||104||84||138|
|Project Cars (Base Mode)||104||84||140|
|InFamous First Light||155 (4K)||80 (1080p)||148 (1080p)|
PS4 Pro games list – what games will be improved on the new system?
While existing PS4 games will work the exact same on PS4 Pro, developers can opt to update them with Pro specific features if developers choose. According to leaked documents, from October 2016 all new games released on PS4 must offer a Pro mode to offer visual and performance improvements, such as a resolution increase or new graphical features. This surely means many of this year’s biggest releases will have Pro modes, but until then, the confirmed upcoming PS4 Pro mode games include:
|Announced Games so far||Enhancements *|
|Battlezone||Increased super-sampling resolution
Dynamic lighting in cockpit
Increased reflective lighting resolution
|Bound||Geometry edges rendered in native 4K and inner parts of polygons upscaled from 1080p for a 4K “sweet spot”
PSVR mode “rendering twice as many pixels and added extra effects”
|Call Of Duty: Black Ops 3|
|Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare||Resolution increases (Digital Foundry report)|
|Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered||Improved textures, dynamic 4K visuals|
|Deus Ex: Mankind Divided||HDR
Resolution and anti-aliasing increase
Better frame rate, lightning and reflective surfaces
|Final Fantasy XV|
|Gran Turismo Sport||4K at 1800p checkboard resolution
HDR and wide colour support, accurately reflecting Ferrari red for the first time in the series
|Gravity Rush 2|
|Hitman||Resolution increase in gameplay
4K native interface
Reflective surfaces improved, more lighting
Higher quality textures
|Horizon Zero Dawn||Supersampling for anti-aliasing on HDTVs
Increased quality of shadow maps and anisotropic filtering
2160p checkerboard support and HDR (Digital Foundry 4K performance analysis)
|inFamous First Light||HDR, 1800p checkerboarding for 4K
Improved aliasing for a smoother image
|inFamous Second Son||HDR, 1800p checkerboarding for 4K
Improved aliasing for a smoother image
|Killing Floor 2||1800p checkerboard rendering for 4K, “effectively supersampling and increased FPS on HDTV”
Additional memory used to increase texture resolution
|Mantis Burn Racing||Native 4K at 60FPS|
|Mass Effect Andromeda||1800p checkerboarding
“Separate mode for high quality graphics at 1080p”
|Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor|
|NBA 2K17||HDR, Native 4k at 60FPS
“Much better anti-aliasing” at 1080p
|Neon Chrome||Native 4K at 60FPS|
|Nioh||Movie mode 1 (1080p, high quality anti-aliasing at 30fps)
Action mode 1 (1080p at 60fps)
Movie mode 2 (4k, 30fps)
Action mode 2 (1080p at 60fps)
|Paragon||1080p at 60FPS
Added dynamic lighting with enhanced geometry, scene complexity, new volumetric effects and more
|PlayStation VR Worlds|
|Ratchet and Clank||HDR
Tmporal injection techniques, allowing “a much higher resolution, but also to do it with jaggie-eliminating anti-aliasing as well”
|Resident Evil 7: Biohazard|
|Rez Infinite||Original areas to run at 4K at 60FPS, improvements to Area X|
|RIGS Mechanized Combat League|
|Rise Of The Tomb Raider||Upscaled 4K 30FPS mode
1080p 30FPS max settings mode
1080p with unlocked frame rate mode
|Robinson: The Journey|
|Smite||Increased texture resolution so far confirmed|
|Super Stardust Ultra|
|The Elders Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited||Native 4K, “increased graphical fidelity” for 1080p screens also|
|The Elders Scrolls: Skyrim Special Edition||Native 4K|
|The Last Guardian|
|The Last Of Us Remastered||Native 4K mode, HDR
Improved 60FPS mode
|The Last Of Us: Left Behind||Native 4K mode, HDR
Improved 60FPS mode
|The Playroom VR|
Higher PSVR resolution and better MSAA quality
|Titanfall 2||Higher resolution, more stable frame rates|
|Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End||HDR, higher resolution|
|Until Dawn: Rush of Blood|
|Watch Dogs 2||1800p checkerboarding for 4K|
|Wheels of Aurelia|
1080p 60FPS 4x MSAA mode
1440p 60FPS with 2x MSAA upscaled to 4K with text and UI rendered at 4K mode
Native 4K 30FPS 2x SMAA mode
|World Of Tanks|
* Enhancements listed if known. Unless noted, all specifics of these improvements are supplied from developers or publishers, with more to be announced in future.
When is PS4 Pro available and how much does it cost?
PS4 Pro is available from 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.