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PS4 Pro vs PS4: What's the difference?

Andy Vandervell

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PS4 Pro vs PS4

PS4 Pro vs PS4: What's the difference between the two and should current PS4 owners upgrade to the Pro? Here’s everything you need to know.

Sony launched two new versions of the PS4 in 2016. The PS4 Pro represents a meatier, more powerful unit that delivers better performance capable of 4K gaming and HDR.

The other new console became colloquially known as PS4 Slim, which offers the same functionality as the launch model in a sleaker 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 I’ll 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.

Update 01/03/2017: We've added Horizon Zero Dawn to the list of best games as it's the first to truly use the PS4 Pro to its fullest, and it looks outstanding.

How much more powerful is the PS4 Pro?

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.

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
CPU1.6GHz 8-core AMD Jaguar1.6GHz 8-core AMD Jaguar2.1GHz 8-core AMD Jaguar
GPU1.84 TFLOP AMD Radeon1.84 TFLOP AMD Radeon4.2 TFLOP AMD Radeon
Memory8GB GDDR58GB GDDR58GB GDDR5 & 1GB
HDR

YesYesYes
4K

NoNoYes
Storage500GB500GB & 1TB1TB
USB2x USB 3.02x USB 3.13x USB 3.1
Wi-Fi802.11b/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)
BluetoothBluetooth 2.1Bluetooth 4.0Bluetooh 4.0

PS4 Pro vs PS4 Graphics Comparison: What’s the difference?

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.

But beware watching YouTube videos that compare the two. Unless you’re viewing videos in 4K on a 4K TV, it’s really hard to tell the difference. In this case, still images are often the best comparison. Look closely at the examples below:

PS4 ProHere’s a shot of a demo running on the PS4.

PS4 Pro 3And 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.

As for upcoming games, if you’re lucky enough to own a 4K HDR TV, this 4K demo of Mass Effect: Andromeda is a good taste of what’s to come.

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.

Related: Xbox One S vs PS4 Pro

PS4 Pro 2This is a shot of the game running on a normal PS4.

PS4 Pro 1And 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.

Related: HDR TV Explained

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 introduce 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.

It’s worth noting the PlayStation VR has an compatibility issue with the PS4 Pro, too. The PlayStation VR uses a version of HDMI incompatible with 4K and HDR, so PS4 Pro users have to unplug the VR system to play games on their TV as intended. It’s an odd oversight from Sony that makes using the two together kind of annoying.

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.

Sony PS4 Pro 11

Will my PS4 games run on the PS4 Pro?

Yes. There’s no such thing as a ‘PS4 Pro Exclusive’ game. Games must be enhanced for PS4 Pro, but Sony won’t allow any game to only run on PS4 Pro.

What are the best games for PS4 Pro?

All PS4 games must now support a PS4 Pro mode with improved graphics and performance, but some games do this better than others.

Horizon Zero Dawn: This is the first PS4 exclusive designed specifically with the PS4 Pro in mind. It looks stunning, so it's must-have for any PS4 Pro owner.

Resident Evil 7: An excellent game that really benefits from HDR, adding to the already creepy feeling throughout the game.

Rise of the Tomb Raider: One of the best examples of PS4 Pro upgrades. While it doesn’t support HDR, visual improvements in both ‘4K’ and 1080p make this is a visual treat.

The Last Guardian: Supports both 4K and 1080p high performance modes on PS4 Pro and the HDR. HDR works on the existing PS4 as well, however.

The Last of Us Remastered: Probably the best game for HDR in the PS4 Pro line-up, it supports native 4K at 60fps and looks great.

Hitman: No HDR support, but both performance and textures are improved on PS4 Pro.

Battlefield 1: One of the best PS4 Pro upgrades around. There’s more terrain detail and you’ll even get a performance advantage in busy multiplayer games.

Watch Dogs 2: Looks great in the 4K and 1080p supersampled versions thanks to improved anti-aliasing.

Related: Best PS4 Games

Does the PS4 Pro play 4K Blu-ray discs?

Sadly, no. While the Xbox One S supports Ultra HD Blu-ray, the PS4 Pro doesn’t and won’t in future. It does support 4K HDR content from the likes of Netflix, however.

If you do want to play Ultra HD Blu-rays, read our guide to the best Blu-ray players, or buy an Xbox One S.

Video: PS4 Pro vs Xbox One S

PS4 Pro vs PS4: Conclusion

Don’t upgrade if you own a PS4 and have a 1080p TV. Until you decide to upgrade to a 4K TV, I see no sense in spending more to buy a PS4 Pro. The cost outweighs the benefits. It’s worth upgrading if you’re buying a new 4K TV, but if you can’t afford both then buy the TV first. Our best 4K TV guide is a good place to start.

Seriously consider upgrading if you own already a 4K TV. I can’t outright recommend you buy a PS4 Pro, but there are plenty of compelling reasons to do so. Games look great on a 4K TV on a PS4 Pro and upcoming releases like Mass Effect: Andromeda and Horizon: Zero Dawn are showing great promise. Only reconsider if you want but don’t already own an Ultra HD Blu-ray player, or if you own a budget 4K TV that lacks HDR support. Head to best Blu-ray players for our top picks.

Buy a PS4 Pro if you don’t own a PS4 already. Provided you can afford it, of course. Even if you don’t own a 4K TV, a PS4 Pro will give you faster and better looking games and is future proof should you upgrade your TV in future. And if you can’t afford a PS4 Pro, the existing PS4 will play all the same games and remains a great console. If you're ready to buy, head on over to the best PS4 deals page.

What do you think of the PS4 Pro? Let us know in the comments

torreth

September 17, 2016, 9:44 pm

Well, will I buy one? Done! Money is already out of my account and in Bestbuys pocket. Is the graphic improvement enough to warrant my purchase? Absolutely not! Why did I buy it then? I suspect the reason Sony wanted to release it now, instead of waiting for it to clear the launch of the PSVR, is because the PSVR graphics quality is about to shock VR enthusiasts when they find out that all the demos theyve been playing, and loving, were all played on a system with Pro mock ups, and not standard PS4 consoles. Is my suspicion correct ? Who cares, but its been done in the past. Im not going to take the chance of getting a second rate VR experience! Im also not going to keep my current TV either! I'll buy a 4K HDR TV in Nov. so I'll get the best out of the Pro before it launches anyway. Am I absolutely insane? Probably, but im trying my best not to think about how much money Im wasting on a hobby that I cant justify the cost of.

AF C

October 3, 2016, 12:22 pm

yep, your insane. Not for buying the PS4 pro but because you were having a conversation with your self.

torreth

October 3, 2016, 8:58 pm

Most of the time its the only intelligent person I deal with.

Sentwi

October 5, 2016, 8:48 pm

PS4 pro = Glorified 4K Netflix machine. Paying for online play makes the machine literally worth less than you pay for it.

Five5x

October 6, 2016, 5:10 am

Something tells me Sony and Microsoft planned on doing this far before they even released the ps4 and xbox one. Both consoles were under powered compared to a decent gaming computer. Where the ps3 had a top of the line graphics card at it's release in 2006, the ps4 had a mid level laptop graphics card for 2013. Even the ps3's cpu has more raw power than the ps4's cpu.

I think both companies started looking at 3-5 year lifespans instead of 5-6. That way they could use mid level hardware and save money. As well as, keep the price a little lower for consumers. While in the long run, making us shell out more money to buy another console a few years later.

What truly bothers me about the the PS4 pro is the lack of a 4k player. Since 2000, Sony has been the company at the forefront of how we watch movies at home. They pushed the dvd, then, bluray. So why wouldn't they do it this time? Is it because they want to save money or because they think physical movies are a thing of the past?

4K streaming isn't 4K at all. Netflix 4k streaming uses roughly 7 gigs per hour. While, a 1080p hr and half long movie on bluray is between 20 and 40 gigs. 4k streaming is extremely compressed and very misleading to the consumer. Ps4 pro can't even run games in true 4k.

polysix

October 6, 2016, 2:36 pm

Actually I think they did it more for VR than anything else. PSVR if it takes off (and I hope it does) will soon hit the limits on the std PS4. PS4 Pro is there, at a 'decent' price waiting to step in and keep PSVR afloat till second gen VR (and PS5). That's a good thing if you are a VR fan, but maybe annoying if you just want normal games and don't have PSVR or a 4K TV.

polysix

October 6, 2016, 2:40 pm

I imagine they are saving that for PS5 when the cost of inclusion will be negligible, here it may have added more onto the cost to make a mid-gen upgrade pointless to most (i.e too expensive people just wait for PS5). Sure it would be nice to have it, and I agree they have pushed the formats before, but this is a balancing act. The most important thing here is not 4k blu-ray playback but future proofing, if only for another year or so, their PSVR and ability to at least look 'decent' on the ever growing 4K tv population. Xbox S may indeed have the 4k player BUT it's not upgraded internally (power wise), when you look at it only being 100 more than the old PS4 (in fact even less) for double the power GPU and double HD space etc it's a bargain. Add in 4k BluRay and it would bump it another 50 or so and push it outside of the bracket for many who already own PS4 (and most couldn't even USE the 4k player anyway as don't own the TVs).

Don't judge sony on what ms do, their console is woefully poor (Xbox one/S) next to the Pro especially. 4k player or not. And scorpio is a year out yet.

polysix

October 6, 2016, 2:43 pm

I don't think they were using pros hidden as ogs for VR, but I do agree PRO is going to be where it's at for PSVR. I have PSVR and PRO pre-ordered for day one delivery (next week for PSVR!) and It'll work ok, but as an ex VIVE and DK2 owner I know VR needs all the power it can get so Pro makes perfect sense and I definitely believe without PSVR pro would never have happened. Scorpio neither (with future oculus HMD).

I'll sell my OG PS4 for an OK amount which makes the upgrade to PRO nothing too bad anyway. And still cheaper than I paid for my VIVE alone!

Console and PC Master Race

October 10, 2016, 4:32 pm

I bought Sony's new 100" Z9D tv for use with my PS4 Pro. Also can't wait to try PSVR upon launch (bought that too.). Gotta have the best. :)

michael andrews

October 14, 2016, 3:04 am

Pre ordered ! I wanna play awesome games don't give a crap about expensive UHD disks.

Gastón

October 15, 2016, 1:02 am

They never confirmed what you are asking, but I suspect it will be the same as the old PS4. Probably everyone who changed the base HDD of their PS4 are going to do the same you are planning to do, so I don't think Sony would be such bastards as to cut that out.

Saurabh Joshi

October 15, 2016, 10:36 pm

I think that a lack of 4k player makes sense. All content is going digital (ie. physical disks are out of style). The entire tech industry is moving away from physical storage, and moving towards the cloud (hence why both MS and Sony are pushing for services like Netflix, and why Block Buster went extinct etc.).

With Steam and Origin being such a huge success, I believe that even physical copies of games will start to disappear within the foreseeable future.

Five5x

October 18, 2016, 6:41 am

Physical discs are not out style. They just happened to be one of the many possible ways to play media. Anybody with a nice tv set up will want true 4k, not compressed 4k. It's the same thing when people say cd's are out of style. Yet, cds are 40% of all sales in 2015. There will always be a place for physical media.

Block Buster went out of business because there were much easier ways to watch/rent movies. People still go and buy movies in physical form. Hence why when block buster went tits up, physical media didn't. There are still plenty of games that only come in physical form and movies not easily found on streaming sites. Not everyone knows how to torrent movies or want to.

Physical media hasn't disappeared. Nor will it anytime soon. I, myself, would like a 4k player and I would rather be part of my gaming set up, then having to go buy something else.

NoneOfYourBusiness

October 19, 2016, 11:25 am

I agree 1000%

NoneOfYourBusiness

October 19, 2016, 1:19 pm

Just pre-ordered. Let's be honest....this is the PS5. And in regards to the lack of a 4K blueray player, its a GAME CONSOLE. I stream everything nowadays so I don't care. Never watched a blue ray disk in either my PS3 or current PS4. Discs are dead. Move on.

Guy

October 19, 2016, 6:50 pm

Discs are not dead yet

Valter Vilar

October 19, 2016, 11:56 pm

If you wanna play blu ray 4k you can buy an Xbox One S... See the irony?

NoneOfYourBusiness

October 20, 2016, 6:58 am

If you're gaming experience is based on what resolution you watch movies in then so be it. The rest of us will be enjoying superior gaming on our Sony units. See that irony?

Rob Hayward Barnes

October 26, 2016, 10:30 am

Quite honestly I don't care whether the PS4 Pro or XBox One S play 4K movies, I have never used any of my previous or current machines to play films that's why i have a dedicated 4K player for that. What is important for me is that they are capable of running games in true 4k. Neither the PS4 Pro or XBox S are capable of that and that means i'll have to wait for the XBox Scorpio but what both the latest versions of the consoles do is give the ability to upgrade the graphics to near 4K. Seeing as the Scorpio is a year away i feel justified in upgrading to the new consoles, why? I want the best i can currently get as any self respecting gadget freak would admit. If Scorpio was available sooner then maybe i'd have trouble justifying the cost of the lesser consoles but who am i kidding.

Archie Srey

October 28, 2016, 7:50 pm

As far as multiplayer games go, I'm strictly for xbox. Just my opinion, online gaming is better on xbox live. I used to have a PS3 once upon a time ago but never really liked the online experience. So I'm sure PSN as drastically improved since they started charging for online service. Plus I have friends I play with and friends I've made through xbox live that are now my dedicated battlefield squad. Although I have not really had any interest in Xbox exclusive games. On the other hand PS4 has always caught my interest for the sole purpose of their exclusive/single-player games that I want to play, and the fact that other reviews claim games run better on PS4. My only problem is that I can't decide on just a regular PS4 slim or spend the extra money for a Pro. Im only buying a PS4 just for their exclusives and single player games that would interest me.

jxs9

November 3, 2016, 9:37 pm

I have to agree but I didn't care for paying for it. But since now both are forcing you to pay. Xbox live is better. But Ps4 has xbox beat when it comes to exclusives. Shemnue 3,last of us,bloodborne,etc I would only buy the pro edition if I planned on using those features. Since I have 4k TV's. I might grab the new xbox and ps4.

Santos

November 4, 2016, 12:21 am

Hello...what happens in my case that i have a 1440p (2k) monitor?? The games Will run?

lolipedofin

November 4, 2016, 9:19 am

It's dead to me since 2008. I have always torrent any media since then, but now I am starting to move to netflix. There really is no point in getting blu-ray except for collection and a case of having too much money.

Guy

November 4, 2016, 2:17 pm

Well that is how you feel about it and many people don't like the idea of it and like to own their own physical copies of them like myself. A lot of people have DVD still and don't have Blu-Ray yet and some people don't even have internet or even cable so yeah everybody is different with this

Chris C

November 5, 2016, 1:02 am

"Superior gaming"

Until next year when Scorpio says hello. And includes 4K bluray. People will then be actually getting true 4K as well.

And if you think discs are actually dead, well, I feel sorry for you. Educate yourself.

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