Release Date: 11/10/2016
Colors: White, Black
This console cycle is really strange as we are now seeing updated hardware with more powerful components rather than just slimmer sizes. This is due to using off-the-shelf parts rather than proprietary hardware which won’t change the coding for the games. Using 64-bit architecture allows Sony to just give users and developers more powerful hardware rather than just giving consumers a cooler-looking system. To me, this seems worth the upgrade price as you’re not just getting the same system as you had before. We saw this back with the New Nintendo 3DS which had a faster processor allowing for more advanced graphics.
The problem with all these hardware changes is the confusion for consumers. Unless you have a 4K TV is it really worth the upgrade? Yes, as the PS4 Pro can “Boost” games that aren’t patched for it allowing supersampling anti-aliasing on 2K or lower resolution TVs allowing for crisper images while still getting higher framerates, but is it really worth it? If you are really into how your games run or making them pop on your TV then yes, otherwise just stick with your original PS4.
With that said, the Pro not only looks bigger but looks better than the original model. The top illumination strip is now laid in the front horizontally with actually marked eject and power buttons on the left and right. The same two USB slots are upfront with a USB 3.0 slot in the back for external hard and USB drives. The Pro comes with a 1TB HDD standard now which is a must-have if you have more than 10 PS4 games. The system even has PlayStation symbol rubber feet on the bottom which I found quite interesting. It’s a much bigger system, but the bulk is sheered away with shelf appeal and just seems more round and sleeker looking. I also have to note the PS4 finally has 5Ghz support! This means faster downloads, fewer cutouts, and reduced ping times. I can’t tell you how excruciating it was to be stuck on 2.4Ghz wifi when it’s been a standard feature since the late 2000s.
Outside of the physical appearance the PS4 software experience is exactly the same outside of some exclusive features such as 4K rendering, power options, and the Boost mode for older games. You will notice the biggest change when actually playing games. I tested the system with God of War and the difference is astounding. The visuals were crisp, vivid, and night and day from the standard PS4. The game ran smoother, and while not in 4K for that title, the framerate difference was the big winner here.
Next, I tried The Last Guardian which was one of the biggest performance increases I have seen. On the standard PS4, the game ran in the low 20’s, but in 4K the game rarely dipped that low and ran at a smooth 30FPS. After that, I tried Shadow of the Colossus and it ran smoothly with noticeable performance increases. Crash Bandicoot: N.Sane Trilogy didn’t really see much of a performance increase, but seemed to look a bit sharper in a higher 2K resolution that it renders at.
Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection ran at a locked 60FPS and looked buttery smooth with zero slowdowns anywhere. I am still continuing to test out games and noticing stark differences that make the upgrade well worth the purchase (or you know…just trade in that old PS4 when a deal hits). Note that the PS4 rarely renders natively at 4K but uses checkerboard rendering (just like the Xbox One X) to give an image that looks 4K and usually you won’t notice a difference, and I sure don’t. Most movies aren’t true 4K either as we just don’t have the graphical power on smaller systems to render this just yet at a cost-effective level.
Overall, the PS4 Pro gives games a resolution and performance boost this generation desperately needs. While not every game is patched to support all the Pro features, the Boost mode will help older games run smoothly with rare framerate drops if not at all. I highly recommend this system if you have a 4K TV with HDR, and 1080p TV users will benefit as well with added clarity to their images. My only critique of the system is the need for games to be patched and there is no UHD Blu-Ray support. You will need an Xbox One S or X for that.