With Sony’s unveiling of the PS4 Pro we now have all the information we need on the two upgraded versions of the PS4.
The PS4 Pro (also known as the PS4 Neo and PS4.5) is the real showstopper here, we’re used to Sony and Microsoft releasing slimmed-down versions of their console. It’s a nice and easy way for them to boost revenue.
The PS4 Pro, on the other hand, offers tangible upgrades that will improve the gaming experience. Firstly, here’s the specs:
- Main processor: Custom-chip single 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
- Mass: Approx. 3.3 kg
- BD/DVD Drive: 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 temp: 5ºC – 35ºC
- AV Output: HDMI out port (supports 4K/HDR) DIGITAL OUT (OPTICAL) port
For those of you that aren’t familiar with the apparent jumble of letters and numbers after the categories, let me break it down for you. It’s huge. The PS4 Pro is almost 10% bigger in width and depth. It’s also approximately half a kilogram bigger. That’s a 21% increase on the original.
It’s important to remember that there is a reason why it’s much bigger than its predecessor, it’s a lot more powerful. The Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) is over twice as powerful, which will contribute towards better frame rate, and therefore, smoother gameplay in the more demanding games on offer. It also allows game designers to offer a more detailed gaming experience without the fear of it not being utilised.
Sony has double the storage size from 500GB to 1TB. The 8 “Jaguar” cores now run at a reported 2.1 Ghz per core, as opposed to the previous 1.6 Ghz. Whilst the 8GB memory might look the same, they have knocked up the transfer rate from 176 GB/sec to 218 GB/sec.
So what does all of this processing power really mean? Unless you have a 4k TV, not all too much at the minute. The main purpose of the PS4 Pro is to allow players to display the game at acceptable rates on 4K and VR (when it finally comes out!) displays.
There are two things you need to know before considering purchasing a PS4 Pro. Firstly, VR will work on the standard PS4. Every test and preview, to date, has been carried out on the standard model. Now I’m not saying the new model won’t offer a better experience, because it undoubtedly will, but just remember that VR is not exclusive to the PS4 Pro. Secondly, whilst the PS4 Pro is built to be 4k compatible, and will offer 4k content from Netflix, it doesn’t include an Ultra HD Blu-ray player.
The omission of an Ultra HD Blu-ray player is perplexing to me, to say the least. Why include all the necessary graphics and then leave out a key component? Especially when you consider that the Xbox One S has one.
Now I’d love to write about all the changes that Sony has made in the PS4 Slim, in comparison to the standard PS4, but unfortunately there are hardly any worth talking about.
The PS4 Slim, as you might imagine, is definitely slimmer that its predecessor. Its dimensions are 26.5cm x 26.5cm x 3.8cm in comparison to the original PS4’s 27.5cm x 30cm x 5.3cm. This gives the console a sleeker, streamlined look. It is also 16% lighter than the original, which is considerable given it is roughly the same unit.
It comes with an updated DualShock 4 controller, as standard. There is a 1TB storage option, yet this does come with a £50 increase to its price (US price increase has yet to be announced).
The wireless improvements mean the PS4 Slim, as well as the PS4 Pro, are now able to support 5GB IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac. Alongside this, the Slim is a quieter, cooler and more power-saving unit. Initial tests suggest the power usage is up to 40% less than the standard model, a real plus for those conscious of their electricity bills.
Sony has decided to remove the optical drive from the rear which is a real nuisance for those of us who want to use a non-Sony headset. Just like when Microsoft did it, there will no doubt be workarounds by the manufacturers to ensure we can continue to use their products, but it is frustrating, to say the least.
The overriding emotion when reviewing these products was disappointment. Please understand, I love the PlayStation brand and the PS4. I was just hoping for so much more when the initial leaks first surfaced for these two.
The PS4 Slim’s main competitor is the Xbox One S. With the One S, Microsoft made significant changes to the hardware which gave us a real reason to consider the upgrade. In the Slim, Sony hasn’t done the same. There is the argument that it is designed for people who don’t yet own a console, or whose PS4 is on its last legs but I think it’s a weak argument. If you don’t own a console, and therefore are not influenced by the partisan ties that separate most Xbox and PlayStation users, on a point for point comparison Xbox will, more often than not, come out the winner. They will capture the majority of users looking to replace their tired PS4s, but wouldn’t they have done that anyway? It hardly seems worthwhile releasing an updated console.
The PS4 Pro is a different story. They have come so close to creating a real reason for people to consider upgrading here. The increased CPU, GPU, HDD, among other things, definitely do excite me. But they have given us a reason to think in the lack of an Ultra HD Blu-ray player. Especially when the much cheaper Xbox One S has one. Would I realistically use an Ultra HD Blu-ray player? Me personally, probably not. But I would like the option to, as I am sure a significant percentage of potential buyers would.
The PS4 Pro is set for release on 10th November 2016. Prices will be $399 (£349).
The PS4 Slim is now available for purchase. Prices are $299 (£259).