We bought a PlayStation 4 Pro so that our expert could test and evaluate it thoroughly.
The PlayStation 4 has been a huge success for Sony, selling nearly 100 million units since its launch in 2013. This makes it the king of the current generation of consoles, with more players than Xbox One and Nintendo Switch. With age, it’s no surprise that the console needed an upgrade and Sony did it right with the PS4 Pro in 2016. PS4 Pro is an older PS4 model with 4K and HDR graphics. Support thanks to more power under the hood.
So how is Sony’s flagship console holding up now? Browse our review here to see if it’s the right console for you.
Design and ports: few changes, predefined ports
In terms of design, the PS4 Pro borrows much of its overall look from the older PS4 model. It has the same flattened parallelepiped shape and the same matte black textured plastic (without the glossy accents). At first, some people joked that the Pro looked like two PS4s stacked on top of each other. It turns out that this is actually a fairly accurate description.
Compared to the old model, the Pro is a bit bigger and heavier too, which makes sense given the updated interior. An elegant chrome PlayStation logo is printed on the top of the console. We don’t like the overall design as much as the Xbox One X with its simple, clean lines and smaller form factor, but that’s subjective and the console looks good.
The front of the Pro has two small logos (one for Sony, one for PS4), two Superspeed USB 3.1 ports (PSVR compatible), a hard drive, eject and power buttons. This time around Sony ditched capacitive touch buttons for physical ones. While this does a better job of avoiding annoying accidental bumps, the new buttons are a little hard to find / press and we have occasionally searched for them.
The back of the Pro has most of the console ports. In addition to the upgraded power cable, it has an HDMI 2.0a output port to support 4K at 60fps, a Gigabit Ethernet port, digital optical audio, and PlayStation camera ports. Since the Pro needs the extra power to run the more powerful build, the wiring is slightly different, but thankfully it still uses an internal setup that doesn’t require a large rock. There’s no HDMI input option here (like with the Xbox One), but Sony’s PlayStation Vie service fixes the problem.
Although the console itself is a “Pro”, PlayStation doesn’t yet have a proprietary alternative to the Elite-style controller, but this newer model comes with an updated Dual Shock 4 controller that comes with the PS4 Slim. Mostly the same as the original DS4, the newer version has some welcome changes. This time around, the touchpad has a built-in LED bar across the top to help gamers identify their controller faster for local play. The triggers are also slightly lighter. Physical changes aside, the most important thing is that this updated controller can easily switch between Bluetooth and wired mode via USB.
Installation process: simple, but the TV must be compatible
Nowadays, getting PS4 Pro to work is as easy as any other console, but 4K has some special things in mind. Start by connecting the power cable, HDMI and Ethernet if you choose it via Wi-Fi. Now tap the power button on the front of the PlayStation and do the same for the controller. As with previous iterations, PlayStation will walk you through an easy-to-follow setup process, whether you’re a newbie to the game or upgrading from an older PS4. If you’re switching from another PS4, this process is also easy thanks to Sony’s ready-to-use instructions.
Once you’ve completed this initial setup, connected to the Internet, and downloaded the necessary updates, make sure your new 4K gaming rig is properly configured to get the most out of it. For this, you need to make sure you have a 4K TV with HDR capabilities to take advantage of the Pro. That’s where you need to start before you consider buying a Pro, but we’ll cover that in the performance section below.
Once you’ve made sure your TV is compatible, make sure your PlayStation’s HDMI cable is plugged into the correct HDMI 2.0 port capable of 4K 60fps playback. So go to PlayStation settings, then sound and display and see if 4K is set correctly. If not, you may have to google to find the problem. Some TVs may have compatibility issues with the PS4 Pro, but most can be resolved with firmware updates.
However, make sure your TV is updated to the latest software. If your TV also supports HDR, make sure it’s enabled on the console and TV as well. This setting can be found in the TV settings and the same sound card and monitor as your PS4. We did just that for our TCL TV during installation and it was a quick and easy process.
Performance: Improved hardware and graphics, missing multimedia content
With everything ready and to get the most out of this 4K ready console, let’s start with the 1080p capability of this device before moving on to 4K quality. This is an important part because you may want to consider upgrading even without a 4K TV.
If you already have an old PS4 and no 4K TV, upgrading to the Pro version might not be worth it, but it’s not a total waste either. With enhanced power that includes AMD’s custom Jaguar with 4.2 teraflops of performance and 8GB of GDDR5 RAM, the Pro also improves gaming in HD mode. Users will see an increased refresh rate and texture detail, both of which contribute to a smoother and better overall gaming experience. You’ll experience less fatigue and stuttering with the Pro, and it’s also much quieter than previous models. Whether this is enough to justify the Pro for your Full HD gaming needs is up to you.
Software: some unique features
If you’ve used a PS4 before, you’re familiar with the headaches associated with firmware updates and operating systems. However, Sony has done a lot to fix past issues in this area, and the company has added a ton of functionality to the console over its long lifespan. Some of these cool features are locked behind a PS Plus subscription, but it’s largely the same across all three of the biggest gaming consoles in the world today.
PlayStation 4 Pro vs Xbox One X
The Pro’s closest competitor is the Xbox One X. Each of these consoles has 4K UHD gaming, HDR, and a larger 1TB hard drive, but you should know that there are some big differences between them. Many console users are already connected to a particular system, so you probably already have a favorite in mind. If you’re a newbie getting your first console of this generation without loyalty, take a closer look at these key differences.
The first thing you want to know is that the PS4 Pro is significantly cheaper (around $100) than the top-of-the-line Xbox. Pro also has an arguably superior game library, but that’s subjective. What’s clear is that by about 50 percent, the X has slightly more power under the hood than the Pro. For the most part, this is arguably the Xbox’s biggest advantage over the PlayStation when choosing between the two.
Vastly enhanced with PlayStation 4 4K capabilities.
If you’re looking for a PS4 today, the Pro makes the most sense for the price. It may not be suitable for those without 4K TVs, but it may well be the best PlayStation console to date that delivers on its promise of better graphics and performance.