So it’s been just over a month since the PS4 Pro was released into the world and we’ve had some time to get to grips with “the world’s most powerful console”. Touting itself as the first ‘Dynamic 4K-gaming’ console for an impressive price point, is the PS4 Pro worthy of your money or should you upgrade from your base PS4? Read on to find out what we thought of the PS4 Pro.
Like any new console, the PS4 Pro’s set up process was pretty quick and painless. We were very happy to see the effort Sony went to to make the transferring process from an original PS4 to this new model as streamlined as possible.
When setting everything up initially, there is a step by step guide as how best to transfer all of your old data to your new console. Playstation Plus subscribers can be one step ahead of the pack by having their game saves uploaded to the cloud before making the switch but, even if you don’t use this service, the process was still nice and simple. You must make sure to have an ethernet cable to hand to connect the two devices together along with having both consoles on the same type of network. (we connected both our consoles to the Wifi in the office).
Going from a 500GB PS4 with about 360GB worth of content only took us about 40 minutes of transferring time which was pretty quick in our opinion.
Obviously, not everyone will want to transfer everything over from their old console so you could also just plug your new PS4 Pro and set it up as brand new console, downloading your digital games as you please. For this method though, this is where you’ll need to have your saves backed up via a Playstation Plus subscription.
4K & HDR Gaming
Now this is an area that has caused much debate ever since the PS4 Pro was announced. Anyone who’s aware of the sheer computing horsepower needed to deliver true, native-4K gaming have been looking at the PS4 Pro’s alleged credentials with skeptical eyes. Many of the titles which have either launched with PS4 Pro support or earlier titles which have been subsequently patched all offer varying forms of ‘4K gameplay’.
AAA titles such as Watch Dogs 2 and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare have been used as poster-children for the capabilities of this extremely powerful console, but, in-depth research by leading graphics and performance testing Youtube channel, Digital Foundry, have found quite varied results.
Many of the titles we’ve tested have given back results varying from 1440p up to 1890p in terms of resolution on offer from the games. Native 4K resolution is described as 3840×2160 with the term ‘4K’ referring to the almost 4000 vertical lines on any 4K display. So, for example, Titanfall 2 runs at a resolution of 1440p across the horizontal axis meaning, if you’re going from a 1080p display, you’re going to be getting another 360 lines of pixels packed into the overall presentation, offering a much cleaner and sharper image.
The PS4 Pro, like the recently updated base PS4 model, also supports HDR which stands for High Dynamic Range which basically means your 4K games and other streamed content delivers much more life-like levels of brightness and contrast on compatible displays. Again, this isn’t something that’s implemented into every game and it’s up each developer to either patch their titles or launch their new titles with it built in.
We tested the PS4 Pro on the Samsung UE55KS7000 – rated one of the best ‘budget’ 4K HDR TVs out there by Digital Foundry (it will still cost quite a bit). Transitioning from a 42″ 1080P HDTV to a 55″ would normally mean a typically worse image up close as the image is stretched out further but with 4K and a low response time, games look absolutely fantastic and butter smooth which honestly is quite jarring. Having played Titanfall 2 on Xbox One and PS4 Pro on it, it’s easy to see that even when things get hectic, the frame rate is rock solid and the extra detail is a really nice to have. That’s it though, it’s a nice to have. It’s nice to have nicer frame-rates and better graphics but you really don’t lose much without a Pro. If you game a lot and are planning to upgrade your TV ahead of Xbox’s Project Scorpio, a new PS5 inevitably and 4K content on Netflix then upgrading to the Pro is a really nice addition to your set up.
We also tested the console out on a non-4K TV using the 55″ Full HD, 1080p display we have in the office. This is an area which also shows up varying results depending on the title but, on the whole, it appears to be the area which benefits the most from the increased power of the PS4 Pro.
Games such as The Last Guardian, which released this month with PS4 Pro support built in, performs the best on the PS4 Pro running on a 1080p screen as it produces the steadiest frame-rate. We jumped between the 1080p and 4K mode for the game and found the frame-rate to stick more to the 30FPS target during the 1080p mode test.
Other games, such as Watch Dogs 2, had its own framerate issues when trying to downscale its 1800p image, which the Pro can produce, to the 1080p supersampled image Full HD TV owners see when playing the game. Thankfully, Ubisoft has addressed these issues and the game now runs great on both 1080p and 4K displays.
PS4 Pro & PSVR Gaming
The PS4 Pro’s power can not only push out 4K & HDR gameplay but can also be used to power more immersive gaming experiences for Sony’s virtual reality headset, the PSVR. Again, and something which is becoming a repeating theme, PS4 Pro support for PSVR titles isn’t mandatory and is up to the developers themselves to either patch their current titles or have support for the PS4 Pro built in from launch.
We’ve tested out PS4 Pro supported titles such as Crytek’s VR title, Robinson: The Journey, both before and after their patches and, for Robinson in particular, the game looks and plays much better on the PS4 Pro thanks to its increased horsepower. Other titles, such as Driveclub VR, which also received PS4 Pro support, doesn’t actually show any clear visual improvements and goes to show how varied and successful the implementation of PS4 Pro support for PSVR titles can be.
Being the first ever home console to offer ‘dynamic 4K gaming’ was a bit step for Sony to take and one which hasn’t been without its disputes. Admittedly, this review could be much longer in terms of analysis but we felt it was best to summarise our overall experience with the console in the time we’ve had with it. As the weeks and months roll on and more and more games are released to take full advantage of Sony’s new console, I think we’ll begin to see the PS4 Pro impress us more and more.
Right now, for anyone looking to pick up a new Playstation, for the difference of €100, you’d be much better off picking up the Pro model so that you’re future-proofing yourself for the next couple of years with the ability to play game and streaming content in 4K. You even get a nice bump of 500GB in extra space over the original and Slim PS4 and 5GHz Wifi connectivity if you’re currently on the old PS4 meaning you’ll get smoother multiplayer and faster downloads if you use Wifi and have a compatible router. Even if you already have a base model PS4, now could be a good time to make the upgrade if only to ensure you’re getting the best gaming experience Sony has to offer right now, 4K screen or not.