PS4 vs PS4 Pro: The differences explained
With the original launch PS4 Fat model now six years old, it was always inevitable that a smaller, much neater-looking console revision would be released on the market. We eventually got this by way of the PS4 Slim hitting shelves in September 2016, but what history hadn’t taught us to expect was a second hardware iteration aimed towards hardcore players that want to enjoy the best graphics and performance possible on modern consoles. That is until the PS4 Pro arrived on the scene.
Released just a few months after the PS4 Slim in November 2016, the PS4 Pro is a super-charged variation of the UK’s best-selling console that affords players the ability to play games in glorious 4K. It’s been specifically designed and manufactured to boost anyone’s PS4 experience, easily identifiable from the classic PS4 model thanks to its three-tiered chassis design. It still features all the basics, such as a Blu-Ray player, built-in HDR and PSVR compatibility – albeit in a much more powerful package.
There are, however, multiple differences between the two, so we’ve put together this helpful guide to help those looking to upgrade lay the PS4 vs PS4 Pro debate to rest for good. If you’re still playing on the original PS4 Fat model or PS4 Slim, here’s why the PS4 Pro might possibly tempt you into being a part of the 4K revolution.
Here’s a quick glance at the basic specs of the PS4 vs PS4 Pro. We’ve intentionally kept it jargon free so anybody (including none gamers) can easily compare the two consoles side-by-side and see how much better the PS4 Pro is compared to the specs of Ps4 Fat and Slim.
- Max storage capacity: 500GB
- Supports 4K: No
- Power: 1.8 teraflops
- Memory: 8GB
- USB Ports: 2
- Backwards compatibility: No
- Fan noise level: 50 decibels
PS4 Pro specs
- Max storage capacity: 1TB
- Supports 4K: Yes
- Power: 4.2 teraflops
- Memory: 8GB
- USB Ports: 2
- Backwards compatibility: No
- Fan noise level: 50 decibels
The biggest, most important modification made in the leap from standard PS4 to PS4 Pro is obviously the upgraded hardware working under the hood. The PS4 Pro almost doubles the amount of horsepower present in the original “fat” PS4, running at a GPU of 4.2 teraflops compared to the 1.84 teraflops of its 2013 predecessor. This is what’s needed to render games at 4K quality, also bringing with it steadier framerates, quicker load times and HDR (high dynamic range).
Outside of being able to run games at 4K quality, the PS4 Pro also features an extra 1GB of RAM reserved for non-gaming applications. That’s music to ears of any Netflix or Prime addicts out there, as switching between such applications is suddenly made much snappier. It’s also worth noting that since PS4 software update 4.50, a new feature called ‘Boost mode’ that will dramatically increase the performance of some games across all PS4 systems. It won’t reach the heights of 4K, but still results in smoother performance.
We’ve already highlighted that it’s easy to tell the PS4 and PS4 Pro apart visually thanks to the three-tiered design of the latter. Outside of this though is the difference in size, with the dimensions of each being as follows:
- Original PS4: 27.5 x 30.5 x 5.3cm
- PS4 Pro: 29.5 x 32.7 x 5.5cm
The PS4 Pro might appear sleeker and slightly smaller at first glance, but as you can tell it is in fact slightly larger to help account for the extra processing power being done by the hardware under the hood. To put in more digestible terms, the PS4 Pro is 20% larger than the PS4 Fat.
Another small but important design change in the PS4 Pro is how easy it now is to access the console’s fan. Whereas previously you’d need precise tools to get inside, simply slide off the top blowing away any dust with a can of compressed air, and no longer do you need to worry about the risk of your PS4 overheating.
So the PS4 Pro might have the PS4 Fat beat in terms of performance, but this is only really noticeable when comparing the same game being played side-by-side on a 4K and standard 1080p TV. For most people out there a 4K TV setup is still a relatively expensive endeavour, meaning that the graphics will largely look and appear the same regardless of if you have a PS4 Pro, PS4 Fat or PS4 Slim. All three render games in gorgeous 1080p for the most part!
The graphics processor (or GPU) featured under the hood of PS4 Pro is technically twice as powerful as those featured in the other two PS4 family members. However, as already mentioned, you’ll need to have a 4K gaming TV to truly feel the difference, as all PS4 consoles are now HDR ready to make better use of blacks, whites and every colour in between. You’ll get a slightly sharper image on PS4 Pro with a 4K TV, resulting in graphics that are technically better but not by that big of a jump. To see what this difference looks like, take a look at Candyland’s graphics comparison video below:
As already alluded to, graphical differences between the PS4 and PS4 Pro aren’t drastic. But those will a 4K-ready television will be treated to some slight visual flourishes. Smoother performance and quicker load times are the larger impressive leaps made with PS4 Pro.
Both PS4 Slim and PS4 Pro are always available as part of a console bundle, offering players the chance to kickstart their gaming career with at least one blockbuster game right out of the box. Every retailer across the UK is different in terms of the respective PS4 packages they can put together, but there are usually always PS4 bundles released by Sony proper which usually tie-in to the release of a big first-party exclusive game like God of War, Marvel’s Spider-Man, etc.
One major factor to consider when it comes to PS4 bundles, however, is that PS4 Slim bundles will come with a console that either boasts 500GB or 1TB of storage. The only way to pick up a PS4 Pro, by comparison, is with the latter amount. This is because many PS4 Pro optimised games may require a larger install or downloadable update and thus will need the extra space. Of course, either model’s capacity can always be upgraded at a later time – just bear in mind that PS4 Pros always offer you an initial choice.
Every so often PlayStation will team up with a major blockbuster game, celebrating with the design and release of a limited edition PS4 console. However, since the PS4 Fat’s replacement by the PS4 Slim in 2016, you’ll now only see limited editions created for the Slim and PS4 Pro. It’s worth noting that any differences made to these special PS4 consoles is largely external, with the only internal difference being whether it includes 500GB or 1TB of memory.
Some of our favourite limited edition PS4 designs include the 20th anniversary edition, which commemorated 20 years of PlayStation by drenching a PS4 fat in the classic grey of the original PlayStation One. Only 12,300 of them were ever made, making them sorely sought after on the pre-owned market. Most limited edition PS4s, however, aren’t as hard to come by and often feature a design reminiscent of the game they’re bundle with like God of War and Horizon: Zero Dawn. Limited edition PS4 Pro and PS4 Slim consoles are a regular occurrence.
Before we get into the nitty gritty, it’s worth noting that every Dualshock 4 controller (the PS4’s officially licensed gamepad) will work across PS4, PS4 Slim and PS4 Pro. The design is a result of constant iteration throughout generations, beginning with the PlayStation One’s original Dualshock design and ending with what we have today in the Dualshock 4. It’s widely considered the best out-of-the-box gamepad currently out there, feeling comfortable for PS4 players to hold during extended play sessions and offering satisfying feedback with every button input.
The launch Dualshock 4 controller was only available in Jet Black, treating players to a new centre touchpad and rear lightbar that served as the main two new additions over the PS3’s Dualshock 3. The touchpad was used in most titles for quick access to the in-game map, remaining sensitive to specific swipe, stroke and tap inputs. And the lightbar, meanwhile, was a great indicator for your character’s health.
This initial Dualshock 4 received a slight redesign alongside the release of the PS4 Slim in 2016, adding a light strip just above the centre touchpad so this would be even easier to see with just a short glance. This new version has since replaced the launch Dualshock 4, acting as an exceptional video game controller that is rigid, comfortable and available in a wide swathe of attractive colours including Glacier White and Alpine Green.
Of course, the ability to play your PS4 games at eye-widening 4K resolution means that it comes with a slightly higher price point. The standard RRP of a PS4 Pro without a game or subscription will net you around the £400 mark, but that’s not as unreasonable as it seems when you consider that the original 2013 console retailed for £349 when it landed on store shelves.
For just £50 than this original price you can enjoy the latest blockbuster games and PlayStation exclusives in stunning 4K. However, shopping around and finding a good bargain (like the many we compare here at Console Deals) is a good way to offset some of this cost. For instance, it isn’t unusual to find a 1TB PS4 Pro with a new release bundled in for as low as £349 every so often. The PS4 Slim, by comparison, is always significantly lower than the PS4 Pro but it’s without 4K support.
Second hand prices
The price of any PS4 or PS4 Pro setup is dependant on myriad factors. We’ve already highlighted such aspects as memory size, types of edition and possible bundles, but opting to pick up a second-hand PS4 can be one of the most affordable routes to Sony’s gaming platform. The current RRP for both consoles at the time of writing is £349.99 for a 1TB PS4 Pro and £299.99 for a 1TB PS4 Slim. You can, however, reduce this amount by picking up a refurbished console from second-hand retailers like Music Magpie, GAME and CEX.
Virtual reality compatibility
Any PlayStation 4 model is a great choice for players looking to jump into virtual reality – simply because there’s no other platform that currently supports it. This is all thanks to a VR headset technology developed internally sat Sony known as PlayStation VR (or PSVR for short). It connects to your PS4 console via cable, tracking your hand and head movements accurately using a PS4 camera to more realistically bring you closer to the game. There are, however, a few differences in how virtual reality is experienced depending on whether you have a PS4, PS4 Slim or PS4 Pro. As with everything PS4 vs PS4 Pro related, though, these are only slight but may sway your purchase decision.
With additional processing power, PS4 Pro will be capable of rendering PSVR games far quicker. Outside of this, how PSVR games choose to use this extra ‘oomph’ is entirely determined by on a case-by-case basis. Some PSVR games, like Skyrim for instance, might choose to improve the draw distance of in-game environments while new PSVR releases like Blood & Truth may instead emphasise texture detail and make images a lot clearer. Simply put, the results while playing PSVR on a PS4 Pro are noticeable if a bit underwhelming in the long term.
While playing any game on PS4 Pro is sure to have a positive effect, there are a few blockbuster releases that have been specifically designed to take advantage of this extra boost in horsepower. It’s in these games that players can experience the most stunning graphical details like smoother curves, warmer skin tones and more believable environment textures such as grass.
Here’s a brief list of some of the PS4 Pro enhanced titles:
- Marvel’s Spiderman
- Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
- Resident Evil 2
- FIFA 19
- Red Dead Redemption 2
- God of War
If you’re a console player that enjoys getting the very best visuals and performance out of your blockbuster games, then the PS4 Pro is a very tempting prospect. It enhances the graphics to such a degree that even certain experiences are comparable to their PC counterpart, boosting the HDR so that greater detail can be seen in Whites and Blacks, steadying framerates to a smooth degree and upping the resolution to stunning 4K.
Those who are upgrading from either a PS4 Fat or PS4 Slim console will see the biggest change, with PS4 Pro enhanced games looking and feeling more life-like than you would have been able to experience them previously. You do need a 4K-ready TV to take full advantage of the boost in visuals, but such screens are becoming more affordable by the day and a PS4 Pro acts as the perfect accompaniment.