We still consider the PlayStation 4 Pro to be one of the best consoles money can buy, even two years after its launch – especially if you don’t mind paying for premium quality and 4K capabilities.
It’s perhaps not the best though, with Microsoft’s Xbox One X giving it some very stiff competition as the best console currently available (it does pack in significantly more power under the hood).
Here we’ll review everything you need to know about the PlayStation 4 Pro, covering the specs, capabilities, and games of the console, as well as extras like virtual reality. If you want to know how it matches up with the Xbox One X, you’ve come to the right place.
Before the PS4 Pro, all of Sony’s new gaming consoles were a clean break from their predecessors, but with this and the PS4 Slim, we’re talking about smaller steps forward from the original PlayStation 4.
That shows in the games too: the PS4 Pro has the same impressive back catalog of titles as the existing PS4, and all the titles released for the PS4 Pro will continue to work on the original console (and the PS4 Slim).
We’re not talking about a PlayStation 5 then, but there are some significant upgrades over the previous PS4 to mention: the biggest is support for new technologies, such as 4K and HDR, enabling you to use the newest TVs to their full capabilities.
With all that in mind, is the Pro upgrade really worth it? It actually depends on what kind of TV you own, and what kind of console you have at the moment.
- Need a 4K TV to go with your PS4 Pro? Check out the best 4K TVs
It might be easiest to compare the PS4 Pro to a new iPhone model – hands-down shinier, faster and prettier than last year’s version, but it’s not a totally different type of device.
So while there’s no dispute that the PS4 Pro is the best gaming machine Sony has ever put together, with 4K HDR capabilities and higher frame rates, it’s not necessarily worth the upgrade if you have an older PlayStation 4 at home.
Do you own a 4K TV, or will you be buying one soon? What about a PlayStation VR headset? How important do you find higher frame rates and 500GB of extra storage? Your answers to those questions will help you decide if you want to upgrade.
If you don’t yet have a PS4 console, then the PS4 Pro gives you those 4K capabilities (on some titles) and extra power over the PS4 Slim, in return for paying a bit more money. As we’ve said though, the same games work on both consoles.
You should also note that Sony’s system has a few deficiencies in the home entertainment department: particular in not having an Ultra HD Blu-ray player installed. If that’s important to you, you might need to look elsewhere.
The game library on the PS4 is of course very solid, with the likes of PlayStation Vue, PlayStation VR and PlayStation Now emerging since its launch. We’ll talk later about how these systems continue to shape the platform, and help make the PlayStation 4 a fantastic choice for gamers.
We’ll start with the PS4 Pro’s design.
PS4 Pro: design
- Slightly bigger than standard PS4
- Additional 3.1 USB port on the rear
- Upgraded Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
We wouldn’t say the PS4 Pro’s design is a complete copy of the original PS4’s, there are a lot of similarities – the first being the decision to keep the console a flat parallelogram.
When Sony first unveiled the PS4 Pro, there were jokes that the system felt like two PS4s stacked on top of one another, but the second you pull the system from the box that observation becomes less of a joke and more a fair observation.
Compared to the original PS4’s 27.5 x 30 x 5.3 cm package, the PS4 Pro takes up a bit more shelf space at 29.5 x 32.7 x 5.5 cm (W x L x H). It’s both a little wider and a little taller than the original PS4, and a fair bit heavier, too (though unless you carry your console around a lot, that’s unlikely to matter).
The system is encased in a matte black shell, similar to the one used on the PS4 Slim released in September 2016. However, this time around you won’t find rounded corners along the edges – the PlayStation 4 Pro is sharp in every sense of the word.
Another design difference is the silver PlayStation logo that sits in the center of the top surface, adding a nice touch of elegance. The PS4 Pro also uses a bulkier female connector on its power cable to draw more power, instead of the generic two-prong cable Sony has traditionally supplied with every PS4.
On the front of the console, you might notice that there are no touch-capacitive buttons: Sony has decided to ditch the accident-prone pads for more traditional plastic buttons, but they do the job just the same.
Next, let’s talk inputs and outputs. You’ve got two Superspeed USB 3.1 ports on the front of the PS4 Pro and one on the back, used for syncing and charging controllers, as well as connecting your brand new PlayStation VR, should you buy one. HDMI 2.0a, Ethernet, optical audio and PlayStation Camera ports line up along the back next to the power connector.
You won’t find an HDMI input port here like you would on the Xbox One, but Sony’s workaround to its cable conundrum, PlayStation Vue, is an arguably effective one.
One final point here: while the exterior is nice, Sony has spent more time working on the inside of the console. Inside is a larger 1TB hard drive, which is 500GB more than you’ll find on the original PS4 or the base model of the PS4 Slim. There’s also an improved Wi-Fi antenna that uses dual-band 802.11ac wireless and Bluetooth 4.0 instead of 802.11 b/g/n and Bluetooth 2.1.
While the swapping out of a Wi-Fi antenna may not seem like a big deal, it helps the PS4 Pro download games faster: a 160MB game (Pac-Man 256) downloaded in under a minute on a 15Mbps connection, something that should have always been the case but wasn’t on the original PS4.
PS4 Pro: controller
- Minor changes made
- Can be used in wired or wireless modes
- Light bar added to the front
A new system needs a new controller, and Sony obliges here – the controller that ships with the new PS4 Pro is the same one that will also ship with all PlayStation 4 Slim systems going forward.
It is, essentially, a very small iteration on the DualShock 4 you’ve probably been using for years. There’s now a light bar built into the touchpad – a nice feature when you don’t want to turn the controller over in your hand to find out what player you are – but more importantly the triggers have been tweaked and it feels a bit lighter in the hand.
Plus, as we pointed out in the PlayStation 4 Slim review, the controller can also switch seamlessly between Bluetooth and wired mode when it’s connected to the system via USB cable. While that might not sound like a huge addition, for a pro gamer it can mean the difference between a win (and a pot of esports prize money) or a loss.