PS4 Pro is a no-brainer for 4K TV, but a PS4 Slim will be more than sufficient if you don’t have one or don’t plan on getting one of those. Both consoles can run all PS4 games, while only a few titles actually benefit from the PS4 Pro’s more powerful hardware in 1080p.
In November 2016, we have had the unique opportunity to see Sony release a revised version of their console that is actually superior to the initial version in terms of hardware and performance: the PlayStation 4 Pro.
But what prompted this?
Two words: 4K TV.
During every past PlayStation generation, Sony would subsequently release a “slim” version of the original console, packing the same tech in a much more compact and power-efficient frame. PlayStation 3 even had two such revisions, the PS3 Slim and the PS3 Super Slim.
A different fate awaited the PlayStation 4. After releasing the PS4 Slim in September 2016, they also released the PS4 Pro the next month as a means of tackling the growing 4K TV market which had pretty much broken into the mainstream by then.
So, what is different about the PS4 Pro and what has remained the same? More importantly, which one should you get?
Let us take a look at the hardware specifications of all three PS4 variants.
|PlayStation 4||PlayStation 4 Slim||PlayStation 4 Pro|
|CPU||AMD Jaguar 8-core|
|AMD Jaguar 8-core|
|AMD Jaguar 8-core|
|GPU||AMD Radeon 1.84 TFLOP||AMD Radeon 1.84 TFLOP||AMD Radeon 4.2 TFLOP|
|Storage||500 GB||500 GB/1 TB||1 TB|
|Connectivity||1x HDMI 1.4|
1x Optical Audio Out
2x USB 3.0
|1x HDMI 1.4|
2x USB 3.1
|1x HDMI 2.0|
1x Optical Audio Out
3x USB 3.1
|Weight||2.8 kg (6.2lbs)||2.1 kg (4.6lbs)||3.3 kg (7.3lbs)|
As you can see, the differences between the original and the slim versions of the PlayStation 4 are mostly aesthetic. The only improvements are that it also comes with a 1TB hard drive, updated technology, and greater power-efficiency.
The story is different with the Pro. Most notably, it has a GPU that is more than twice as powerful as that of the regular and the slim PS4. On top of that, its CPU is overclocked in order to be able to keep the pace with the GPU, it only comes with 1TB storage, adds an additional USB 3.1 port, and has higher power consumption due to the improvements in the CPU and GPU departments.
In terms of performance, the original and the slim PlayStation 4 are identical apart from the Slim’s reduced power draw, but that is hardly relevant for in-game performance.
Pro, on the other hand, has a beefed up GPU so as to be able to take on 4K gaming and those 4K TVs that many people have in their homes now. The Pro, however, does not run games in native 4K. As a matter of fact, it runs games in near-4K resolution and then upscales the picture.
Granted, this does not look as good as native 4K, but the difference is minimal in this case. More importantly, it allows Sony to present a 4K-capable console at quite an affordable price – keep in mind that the cheapest graphics card capable of running games in native 4K at around 30 FPS is the Nvidia GTX 1070 Ti, and that card alone is more expensive than the PS4 Pro.
The original PS4 and the PS4 Slim both had launch prices of $300, while the PS4 Pro had a slightly higher launch price of $400.
Note that we are specifying launch prices not because they have dropped since then but because the original PS4 is no longer being manufactured and you can only get it second-hand. The Slim and Pro prices have remained the same.
How to Pick
In order to determine which version of the PlayStation 4 is the best for you, you should consider the following:
This is a fairly obvious one. Naturally, if you have a 4K TV or 4K monitor, then the Pro is the obvious choice. But is it worth the money on a 1080p display? The short answer is: no. You might have thought that you’d get better graphics or 60 FPS performance with the Pro in a 1080p resolution but that is, unfortunately, not going to happen.
The only visual improvements that the Pro brings to a 1080p screen are supersampling, slightly better effects, and sharper textures. However, those are not even noticeable unless compared side-by-side with the images rendered by the Slim.
As for framerates, the PS4 Pro does give games a small FPS increase via raw power when its boost mode is enabled, but that is still nowhere near 60 FPS. The problem here is that games need to be patched in order to run in 60 FPS, and only the very best optimized games such as Metal Gear Solid V or the Last of Us Remastered can achieve that.
The PlayStation VR is Sony’s own virtual reality headset that launched at a price significantly lower than that of the competing products such as the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift, although the price gap is much narrower today than it was before.
Now, every PlayStation 4 supports PSVR. The only advantage that the Pro brings in this regard is slightly better graphics. Ultimately, it is sort of the same deal as with a 1080p display and the improvements are minuscule.
Truth be told, the $100 price difference in pricing between the Slim and the Pro is negligible for a lot of people. However, the only concrete reason as to why you’d spend that extra cash on the Pro are its 4K gaming and streaming capabilities.
Alternatively, if you’re on an extra-tight budget and want the PS4 as cheap as possible, then it is actually the original 2013 release that might be the best choice. You can find it quite cheap if you want to get a used one.
That said, if you want to plan ahead for a potential upgrade to a 4K display or find the above benefits to be worth those $100, then you should definitely go with the Pro.
On the other hand, if you only have a 1080p display and have no intention of upgrading to 4K, then the $300 PS4 Slim is a better choice.
Alternatively, if you’re on a tight budget and you want to save as much as possible by getting a second-hand PS4, then the original 2013 release might be even better since. They will be cheaper since they are older but will deliver identical performance to the PS4 Slim.
Having said all that, let us make a quick recap.
Get a PlayStation 4 Pro if you have a 4K display or plan on getting one in the near future or if you find the minor improvements in 1080p performance and VR to be worth the extra cash.
Get a PlayStation 4 Slim you have a 1080p display and don’t intend to upgrade to 4K for the foreseeable future.
And in the case that you’re on a very tight budget or only want to get the console temporarily to play a couple of exclusives, then you can get the best deal on a used original PlayStation 4.
So have you made up your mind yet? Let us know in the comments!