Playstation 4 Pro Review

The Playstation 4 Pro is not the first time we’ve seen a console manufacturer try and breathe new life into a console mid-cycle. Remember the expansion pack for the Nintendo 64? Although not a brand new console it was additional memory that was required to play certain games like Perfect Dark and The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask. I was still in my early teens at the time but I remember soaking up every piece of information I could to figure out exactly how this extra piece of hardware would improve my Nintendo 64. Sadly, only a couple of games ended up requiring/using it and most quickly forgot about it.

I reminisce on the Nintendo 64 expansion pack because it faced similar challenges that the new Playstation 4 Pro is going to face. I received my review unit a little less then week back and a lot of the same thoughts came to mind while I tested it. What does this new console do to the existing Playstation 4 marketplace? And did Sony manage to push the current Playstation 4 hardware further to make this a worthy purchase for the 40+ million who’ve already purchased a Playstation 4?

Design

One of the most surprising elements of the Playstation 4 Pro is the subtle and unremarkable design changes to the console over the original Playstation 4. For most I would imagine that if I didn’t tell them it was a different console they wouldn’t notice. The design stays true to the original Playstation 4 design with sleek angles and a nice solid frame. I personally put my consoles in an entertainment center so the minor changes from the original design just aren’t all that noticeable. Part of me was left hoping for just slightly more from a “Pro” device. When I look at the Xbox One S, which sits in the slot next to my Playstation 4 Pro, it looks like a newer fresher model. That might be because of the white paint but it also is just a smaller sleeker console.

With that being said I still like the Playstation 4 Pro design and am happy to report that its design seems to keep things quiet and cool. I never once even noticed any ambient noise coming from the Playstation 4 Pro, nor did my entertainment center get noticeably warm.

Technical Specifications

Main processor

Single-chip custom processor

CPU: x86-64 AMD “Jaguar”, 8 cores

GPU: 4.20 TFLOPS, AMD Radeon™ based graphics engine

Memory

GDDR5 8GB

Storage size

*

1TB

External dimensions

Approx. 295×55×327 mm (width × height × length) (excludes largest projection)

Mass

Approx. 3.3 kg

BD/ DVD drive (read only

BD × 6 CAV DVD × 8 CAV

Input/ Output

Super-Speed USB (USB 3.1 Gen.1) port × 3 AUX port × 1

Networking

Ethernet (10BASE-T, 100BASE-TX, 1000BASE-T)×1

IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac

Bluetooth® 4.0 (LE)

Power

AC 100V, 50/60Hz

Power consumption

Max. 310W

Operating temperature

5ºC – 35ºC

AV output

HDMI™ out port (supports 4K/HDR) DIGITAL OUT (OPTICAL) port

Performance

For my review time with the Playstation 4 Pro I had it hooked up to a 65” Samsung KS8000 which is a 4K television with HDR. After transferring all of my files from my old Playstation 4 to the Playstation 4 Pro, a herculean task that took fourteen plus hours over Ethernet to accomplish, I was ready to try out some of the games with Playstation 4 Pro patches pre-release. That limited the scope of testing to a handful of games, although the full launch list of games receiving the Playstation 4 Pro patch is quite extensive.

For my testing I kept my launch Playstation 4 hooked up to the same television as the Playstation 4 Pro. I had each of the games on both consoles and would switch back and forth to them while playing. The following sections below are on some of my initial thoughts of the difference in versions.

Battlefield 1 & FIFA 17

Why group these two together? They’re both running on the Frostbite engine and are the two best examples of substantial improvements between the Playstation 4 version and the Playstation 4 Pro versions. The big difference in both of these games is the color pop. For FIFA 17, that meant that the grass was more vibrant and player’s jerseys seemed to pop out of the screen. For Battlefield 1, it emphasized even more the dreariness of certain levels and the grandeur of others. I never had any major slowdowns in the Playstation 4 version of the game but the Playstation 4 Pro version ran just slightly smoother.

Infamous: Second Son

It’s been a couple of years since I played Infamous: Second Son and I’m still impressed at how great that game looks on the original Playstation 4. With the latest patch adding 4K and HDR support, the game continues to look great. The particle and lighting effects for Delsin Rowe’s powers were really impressive. Otherwise there wasn’t any major noticeable difference between the versions.

NBA 2K17

Right before I was about to hit the submit button on my review of the Playstation 4 Pro a patch for NBA 2K17 came out with the Playstation 4 Pro support. The game has 4K and HDR support but, quite frankly, of all the games I tested, this was the hardest game to see the difference. Colors didn’t pop any more or less than they did in the Playstation 4 version of the game. In fact, if anything, my short time with NBA 2K17's upgraded graphics did more to show the age of NBA 2K17’s engine then it did show off the new Playstation 4 Pro horsepower.

The Last of Us: Remastered

I thought about leaving this off the review for the Playstation 4 Pro, as this wasn’t the biggest upgrade, but it still seems like quite the feat to see this former Playstation 3 game shine in 4K. The big thing here was both polygon push and color improvements. The game just shined brighter on the Playstation 4 Pro. It’s one of those games that I’m sort of surprised that Sony put resources to upgrade it to the Playstation 4 Pro, but having played a couple of levels I’m quite glad they did.

Wrap Up

As mentioned before this is only a small subset of all of the games that will have patches for the Playstation 4 Pro when it is released on November 10th. Games like Uncharted 4 and Rise of the Tomb Raider did not have their Playstation 4 Pro patches ready to go for this early review. With that being said I was able to test enough games to feel confident in what the Playstation 4 Pro is and wants to be. It’s a marginal step forward into the world of 4K video games. These are not games built for 4K but games that have seen a varying degree of improvements to make use of the added horsepower of the Playstation 4 Pro. By far the most impressive so far are FIFA 17 and Battlefield 1. Both games are gorgeous with the Playstation 4 but with the Playstation 4 Pro you start to see where games could go using the console.

The Playstation 4 Pro is not without its faults. If you were one of the early adopters of the Playstation VR, you will not be able to have your Playstation VR break-out box hooked up and take advantage of HDR. In order for the Playstation 4 Pro to do 4K HDR, you will need the HDMI cord to go directly to the television. I’m not sure of the technical reasons for this, but the practical ramifications of this are a big annoyance. The other glaring miss for the Playstation 4 Pro is the lack of a 4K Blu-ray drive. Unlike the Xbox One S, the Playstation 4 Pro supports a normal blu-ray drive, something that may put off those looking to show off 4K movies. There also haven't been any speed improvements in the menu's or in the storefront. Just like the current Playstation 4, the store can chug at times.

At the end of the day there is only a small segment of the market that’s going to have a television capable of getting the most out of the Playstation 4 Pro. There will be slight improvements for those with a 1080p screen, but the big substantial differences will only be seen with one of these new TV’s. And that’s really what it comes down to.

If you have a 4K set capable of HDR then getting a Playstation 4 Pro will make a lot of your current Playstation 4 games shine bright. If you don’t have a 4K TV yet, this console isn’t a big enough reason to rush out and buy one. Even games like Battlefield 1 and FIFA 17 although beautiful in 4K still look incredible in 1080p. It will be up to Sony to push both first and third party developers to build games from the ground up to take advantage of the Playstation 4 Pro capabilities, only then will we see the power of this upgraded console truly impress.

The owner and editor-in-chief of Darkstation.com. I've been apart of the website since 2002 and purchased the website in 2010. Owning and running Darkstation is a dream come true. I love video games and I love writing and talking about them even more.