PS4 vs PS4 Pro comparison review

Sony took to the stage at its September 2016 event to announce not only the PlayStation 4 Pro, but also a new, slim PlayStation 4 designed to replace the launch console.

But what are the differences between these two consoles? With the slim PS4 and the PS4 Pro available in the UK, we delve in head first and take a look at what both consoles have to offer, discussing pricing, design, features and specs. Read next: PS4 Pro review

UK pricing and availability

So, let’s first talk about pricing and availability for the slim PlayStation 4 and the PlayStation 4 Pro. Sony replaced the launch PS4 with the new, slimmer PS4 (hence no ‘Slim’ branding, making our lives more difficult) on 15 September 2016.

Pricing wise, it’s not far off what you could pick up a PS4 previously, retailing at £236 in the UK at the time of writing ($299 in the US, €299 in the EU) and is available via Amazon UK.

The high-end PlayStation 4, the PlayStation 4 Pro, began shipping on 10 November 2016 - just in time for Christmas. While many had assumed the console would be much more expensive due to high-end graphics, 4K output and more, Sony shocked the UK market by pricing its 1TB PS4 Pro at only £349. Right now you can get it on Amazon for just £344.

Don't miss: Best PS4 deals

Design and build

So, what are the differences between the standard PS4 and the PS4 Pro, in terms of its design? Both the slimmer PS4 and the PS4 Pro look fairly similar in terms of design, with both stepping away from the angular design of the original PlayStation 4. Instead of pointed corners, Sony has this time provided both consoles with soft, curved edges.

The new PS4 is slimmer than the original PlayStation 4, while the PS4 Pro is slightly larger due to the extra ‘slice’ on the PlayStation sandwich – three tiers, compared to the two-tier slimline PS4. The PS4 Pro measures in at 295 x 55 x 327mm, and weighs a rather hefty 3.3kg while the PS4 slim measures in at a streamlined 265 x 39 x 288mm and weighs over 1kg less at 2.1kg.

As well as ditching the angles for curves, Sony has made several smaller improvements to the design of both the standard PlayStation 4 and the PlayStation 4 Pro.

One such improvement is the use of the PlayStation symbols (Square, Circle, Cross and Triangle) as feet on the bottom of each console. While this isn’t ground-breaking, it’s better looking than standard silicone feet and helps showcase Sony’s attention to detail when designing the consoles.

As well as boasting a refreshed design when compared to the original PS4, the new PS4 and the PS4 Pro will both ship with redesigned DualShock 4 controllers.

While the design of these controllers are essentially the same as the first-gen DualShock 4 controllers, they come with one big change – a mini light bar on the touch-sensitive panel of the controller.

We’re not sure why this is the case, as we imagine it’s too thin to be picked up by the PlayStation Camera when being used in VR, but who knows – we’ll contact Sony for an explanation, and update this article accordingly

Also see: Best Games Deals.

PS4 vs PS4 Pro comparison review: Features and spec

It’s only when you look below the surface of the PS4 and PS4 Pro that you start to see the differences between the consoles.

Sony’s new PS4 was dubbed PS4 Slim prior to launch, and that’s exactly why – for the most part, the internals of the new PS4 are identical to that of the launch PlayStation 4, with the extra benefit of 5GHz Wi-Fi, a common gripe with PlayStation 4 gamers that rely on Wi-Fi for an Internet connection.

With that being said, the PS4 is capable of standard console gaming as well as being able to power Sony’s PlayStation VR headset that launched in October 2016.

The real changes come when looking at the high-end PS4 Pro, which has been introduced as a slightly more expensive alternative for those looking for a more ‘premium’ gaming experience.

The headline features of the PS4 Pro? The biggest improvement when compared to the standard PS4 is the inclusion of 4K gameplay, both from PS4 games and streaming services like Netflix and YouTube, with both designing new PlayStation apps with 4K playback in mind.

This will give 4K TV users the quality they’ve been looking for since the launch of the PS4, as 4K upscaling isn’t nearly as impressive as a native 4K input. Notice we’re mentioning 4K streaming, as funnily enough, the PS4 Pro doesn’t feature a 4K Blu-Ray player. Why? Sony’s Andrew House told The Guardian that “our feeling is that while physical media continues to be a big part of the games business, we see a trend on video towards streaming”.

Along with 4K support, gamers can expect general improvements in terms of graphics. Textures are higher definition than with the standard PS4, and games also experience much higher – and smoother – framerates, one area that consoles have traditionally not been able to compete with when compared to its PC brethren.

It also provides a much higher quality experience on Sony’s PlayStation VR, which we found to be fairly impressive for console-powered VR.

It's worth noting, however, that Digital Foundry claims that certain games run better on the standard PS4 than they do on the Pro variant. According to the publication, The Last of Us, Mantis Burn Racing, Skyrim and Watch Dogs 2 performed better on the original PS4, while games like Deus Ex: Mankind Divided were a mixed bag in terms of performance.

Let's take The Last of Us for example, as the game runs at 60fps on the PS4 but dips down to 54fps on the Pro. This is because the 1800p resolution target is being downsampled to match the 1080p TV and while this provides improved final image quality, it can have a slightly negative impact on performance.

The publication states that the issue isn't game-breaking and that the overall experience remains very good, a statement that we agree with. Sony is investigating the performance issues, and should release a fix in due course. 

However, while the PS4 Pro is the most powerful model of PlayStation, both the standard PS4 and the PS4 Pro feature HDR support, providing those with HDR-enabled TVs improved visuals. The launch PS4 also received HDR support via a software update, so this isn’t a feature unique to a specific console.

Read next: Best games of 2017

Games

So, what about the games? Logic dictates that the PS4 Pro will support more, graphically intense games right? While that is the case, Sony has specifically said that there will be no PS4 Pro exclusives, and that any game that can be played on a Pro can be played on the slimmed down PS4, and even the launch PS4 without any issues.

Gamers can expect many upcoming games to provide a ‘Pro’ mode for PS4 Pro users, along with updates to existing games to bring enhanced graphics, higher framerate or an increased resolution to the high-end console.

While it has been rumoured that consumers may have to pay for ‘Pro’ updates to existing games, Sony has outright said that the company “will not charge consumers for patches”. This was backed up by Jack Sipich, founder of Absinthe Games, who said that developers “are not allowed to charge you for patches or PS4 Pro feature updates”.

But how will gamers know which games feature a ‘Pro’ mode? Much like when a game requires an accessory, games that feature Pro support will display a special “PS4 Pro Enhanced” badge, which can be seen above.

It’ll show up on cases of games, as well as online listings including on Sony’s own PlayStation Store. As mentioned above, owners of the standard PS4 can buy games with this branding without worries about compatibility, as all games are designed to work across all models of PlayStation 4.

Specs

For those that want to know exactly what each console offers, take a look at the specs below.

PS4 'Slim' specs

  • Main processor: Single-chip custom processor
  • CPU: x86-64 AMD Jaguar, 8 cores
  • GPU: 1.84 TERAFLOPS, AMD Radeon-based graphics engine
  • Memory: 8GB GDDR5
  • Storage size: 500GB, 1TB
  • External dimensions: Approx. 265 x 39 x 288mm
  • Mass: Approx. 2.1kg
  • BD/DVD drive: BD x 6 CAV, DVD x 8 CAV
  • Input/Output: 2x USB 3.1 ports, 1x AUX port
  • Networking: Ethernet (10BASE-T, 100BASE-TX, 1000BASE-T), Wi-Fi IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.0
  • Power: AC 100-240V, 50/60Hz
  • Power consumption: Max. 165W
  • Operating temp: 5 ºC – 35ºC
  • AV output: HDMI out port (HDR output supported)

PS4 Pro 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 (width × height × length) (excludes largest projection)
  • Mass: Approx. 3.3kg
  • 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

Read next: Best PS4 games of 2017

Sony PlayStation 4 Pro: Specs

  • Updated design and DualShock 4 controller
  • 4K gaming and streaming
  • Enhanced textures and graphics
  • Higher framerate
  • 1TB HDD
  • Improved PSVR experience
  • Updated design and DualShock 4 controller
  • 4K gaming and streaming
  • Enhanced textures and graphics
  • Higher framerate
  • 1TB HDD
  • Improved PSVR experience

OUR VERDICT

Both the new PS4 and the PS4 Pro offer visual advantages over the angular launch PS4, although that’s where the similarities end. Sony’s PS4 Pro looks to offer an enhanced gaming experience with higher framerates, increased resolution and higher quality textures across a number of games. Considering there’s only £90 difference between the £259 PS4 and £349 PS4 Pro, we’d opt for the Pro model, however it depends on how much you'd use it, and how much you care about improved textures and framerate.