Sony PlayStation 4 Pro
SONY’S LATEST CONSOLE HAS TWICE THE POWER AND RESOLUTION OF THE ORIGINAL PS4, BUT IS IT WORTH THE UPGRADE? Sony PlayStation 4 Pro
[ STEPHEN LAMBRECHTS ]
OVER THE LAST couple of years we’ve seen impressive advances in graphics technology on the PC gaming scene, with a steady proportion of gamers abandoning consoles in the search for higher resolutions and increased frame rates. And while those two elements certainly aren’t the be-all and end-all to enjoying modern games, they do help. This puts console makers Sony and Microsoft in an awkward position: the market all but demanded the companies release their current consoles well into the 1080p era, but a good few years before the 4K and HDR (highdynamic-range) TV revolution really took off.
Now that 4K has taken off, each company has opted to release newer, souped-up consoles right in the middle of the traditional generational cycle. Microsoft has already launched the 4K-upscaling and HDR capable Xbox One S, with another native-4K console with a whopping 6 teraflops of graphics processing power (currently just dubbed ‘Project Scorpio’), on the way late next year. And in return, Sony has now released the PS4 Pro, an updated console that boasts twice the power and resolution of its regular sibling — but only for games that support it.
Some games, like Rise of the Tomb Raider, allow you to choose how to use that extra horsepower — you can select between a higher frame rate or a 4K resolution. Many other games will simply perform and look better automatically. Unfortunately, knowing exactly which ones can take advantage of those upgraded internals isn’t always clear.
So you could think of the Pro like a 2016 model iPhone; it’s hands-down shinier, faster and prettier than last year’s model. Likewise, the PS4 Pro is truly the best gaming console Sony has ever created. Since it’s capable of playing games in 4K and HDR, sometimes at a higher frame rate, the Pro makes for an excellent all-around entertainment system. That said, it’s certainly a shame that Sony has opted not to include 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray player functionality, as that would have cemented it as the go-to 4K media device over the Xbox One.
While that 4K resolution capability is undoubtedly going to be the Pro’s most attractive benefit, it’s the combination of 4K and HDR that really makes the biggest visual difference. HDR provides a much wider colour gamut, allowing for more realistic colour reproduction, incredible contrast and lighting improvements that instantly make games look more detailed and less hyper-real, putting yet another layer of realism in already gorgeous games.
Ever look at the sky in a game and see the sun peering through the clouds? Normally, the brightness of that scene maxes out, leaving the sun and cloud to be roughly the same colour. With HDR, that sun will pierce through with eye-scorching clarity, achieving whites that burn so bright, you’ll swear you were looking at the real thing. Of course, you’ll need an HDR-capable 4K TV to take advantage of these features.
If you’ve purchased a PS4 already, you’ll need to ask yourself a few questions before considering Sony’s new wares. Do you own a 4K TV or do you plan on buying one sometime in the next few years? Are you going to pick up a PlayStation VR? And how important do you find higher frame rates and extra storage?
The answer to those questions might be: “No,” “No,” and “Not very,” and if that’s the case, then Sony’s high horsepower system definitely isn’t for you. However, if you already own a 4K HDR TV and are sick of playing games at a sub-1080p resolution and low frame rates, the PS4 Pro is certainly worth the upgrade.
SINCE IT’S CAPABLE OF PLAYING GAMES IN 4K AND HDR, SOMETIMES AT A HIGHER FRAME RATE, THE PRO MAKES FOR AN EXCELLENT ALL-ROUND ENTERTAINMENT SYSTEM.