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Lifewire / Zach Sweat
Beautiful 4K graphics
Improved hardware with more RAM and power
Faster UI, load speeds, and downloads
Lacks Ultra HD Blu-ray player
Enhanced graphics not supported on all games
1 TB hard drive, not SSD
The PlayStation 4 Pro is simply the best PS4 you can buy, but it's still lacking certain key features like UHD Blu-ray and not nearly as powerful as the Xbox One X.
We purchased the PlayStation 4 Pro so our expert reviewer could thoroughly test and assess it. Keep reading for our full product review.
The PlayStation 4 has been a tremendous success for Sony, selling nearly 100 million units since its release in 2013. This makes it the current king of the console generation, with more players than both the Xbox One and Nintendo Switch. With its age, it's no surprise that the console was due for a bit of a refresh, and Sony did just that with the PS4 Pro back in 2016. The PS4 Pro packs quite the punch over the former PS4 model, boasting 4K graphics and HDR support thanks to enhanced power under the hood.
So how does Sony’s top-of-the-line console hold up now? Browse through our review here to see if it’s the right console for you.
Design-wise, the PS4 Pro borrows much of its overall appearance from the older PS4 model. It sports a similar flattened parallelogram shape and same matte black textured plastic (with no gloss accents). Initially, some people joked that the Pro appeared to be two PS4s just stacked atop each other. As it turns out, this is actually a pretty accurate description.
Compared to the old model, the Pro is a bit bigger all around and heavier too, which makes sense given the upgraded internals. The top of the console is stamped with a sleek chrome PlayStation logo. We don’t love the overall design as much as the Xbox One X, with its simple, clean lines and smaller form factor, but this is subjective and the console looks great.
At the front of the Pro, you’ve got two small logos (one for Sony, one for PS4), two Superspeed USB 3.1 ports (compatible with the PSVR), the disc drive, eject, and power button. This time around, Sony ditched the capacitive touch buttons for physical ones. While this is better at preventing annoying accidental bumps, the new buttons are a little awkward to find/press and have left us fumbling around for them at times.
The rear of the Pro features most of the console’s ports. There’s an HDMI 2.0a output port for supporting 4K at 60fps, a gigabit Ethernet port, digital optical audio, and PlayStation Camera ports, in addition to the updated power cable. Since the Pro needs some extra juice to run its beefier build, the cord is a bit different, but thankfully still uses an internal setup that doesn’t require a big brick. There isn’t an option here for HDMI input (like with the Xbox One), but the PlayStation Vue service Sony has introduced as a workaround does solve the issue.
One thing we need to point out as a downside (as we also did with the Xbox One X) is that the Pro still uses a regular HDD rather than an SSD.
While the console itself is “Pro” there is still no first-party option for an Elite-like controller on the PlayStation, but this newer model does come with the updated DualShock 4 controller that shipped with the PS4 Slim. Mostly the same as the original DS4, the newer version has a few welcome changes. This time around, there’s an LED bar embedded in the touchpad near the top, allowing players to more quickly identify their controller for local play. The triggers have also been slightly adjusted to feel lighter. Aside from physical changes, the most significant is that this updated controller can easily transition from Bluetooth to wired mode via USB.
Setting up the PS4 Pro is about as easy as any other console these days, but there are some specific things you need to consider with 4K in mind. To begin, plug in the power cable, HDMI and Ethernet if you opt for that over Wi-Fi. Now tap the power button on the front of your PlayStation and do the same for the controller. Much like previous iterations, the PlayStation does a solid job of running you through an easy-to-follow setup process whether you’re a complete newcomer or upgrading from an older PS4. If you’re transferring over from a different PS4, that process is also a breeze thanks to Sony’s baked-in walkthrough.
It might not be for those without 4K TVs, but it’s undoubtedly the best PlayStation console to date.
Once you’ve completed this initial setup, connected to the internet, and downloaded any necessary updates, you need to ensure your fancy new 4K-gaming device is set up correctly to get the most out of it. For this, you need to make sure you’ve got a 4K TV with HDR capabilities to take advantage of the Pro. You should start there before you ever consider purchasing a Pro, but we’ll touch on that in the performance section below.
Once you have confirmed your TV is compatible, make sure that your PlayStation’s HDMI cable is plugged into the proper HDMI 2.0 port that is capable of handling 4K at 60fps. Next, go into the settings on your PlayStation, then sound and screen, and you’ll see here if 4K is correctly set up. If not, you may need to do some googling to source the issue. It’s possible that some TVs will run into compatibility issues with the PS4 Pro, but most can be solved with firmware updates.
That said, make sure your TV is up-to-date with the latest software. Assuming your TV also supports HDR, you want to also ensure it’s enabled on the console and TV. This setting is found both on your TV’s settings and the same sound and screen tab of your PS4. We did just this for our TCL TV during setup, finding it to be a quick and easy process.
Take a peek at some of the best 4K gaming TVs.
With everything set up and in order to get the most from this 4K-ready console, let’s start with this device’s 1080p operation before moving into 4K. This is an important section because you might want to consider the upgrade even without a 4K TV.
If you’ve got an old PS4 already and no 4K TV, the jump to the Pro might not be worth it, but it isn’t completely lost on you either. Thanks to the souped-up power, packing an AMD custom Jaguar with 4.2 teraflops of performance and 8GB of GDDR5 RAM, the Pro also improves HD gaming. Users will see a bump in refresh rates and texture detail, which both add up to a smoother and better gaming experience as a whole. You’ll experience less strain and stutters with the Pro, and it’s also much quieter than previous models. Whether that’s enough to justify the Pro for your Full HD gaming needs is up to you to decide.
The PS4 Pro packs quite the punch over the former PS4 model, boasting 4K graphics and HDR support thanks to enhanced power under the hood.
As for those who have the TV necessary to utilize the full potential of this top-tier PlayStation, you’re in for quite the treat. Not every single game in the PS4’s catalog is enhanced or taking advantage of the boosted power (what Sony has dubbed “Pro Mode”), but the lineup is growing all the time and now encapsulates most first-party games and bigger third-party titles, as well as all PSVR games. When playing titles like these, the Pro truly shines. We tested a range of titles from first-party games like God of War and Spider-Man, to third-party greats like Apex Legends.
God of War is undoubtedly a gorgeous game that offers a breathtaking single-player experience. On the PS4 Pro, it is simply stunning. Thanks to the Pro Mode’s enhancements, God of War utilizes 4K UHD resolution, HDR lighting, and particle effects that are significantly improved over the standard HD experience. The frame rates are also higher and more consistent, giving us smoother gameplay with less immersion-breaking distractions. With an HDR-capable TV, we were really impressed with the deep blacks and bright highlights the game can now offer, and the difference is indeed very noticeable when compared to Full HD resolution side-by-side.
We should quickly note that while some games are capable of hitting native 4K, not all games are. Many of the titles that support the Pro Mode are instead upscaled to 4K resolution. This means it isn’t quite a true 4K resolution and will be rendering fewer pixels. It still looks solid, much more than 1080p, but it won’t come close to something like a really high-end gaming PC (which is obviously also much more expensive).
One thing we need to point out as a downside (as we also did with the Xbox One X) is that the Pro still uses a regular HDD rather than an SSD. While it is 1 TB, double the size of the old console, it’s still far more sluggish than the performance you’d see with an SSD. We’d have honestly preferred to see a smaller SSD instead of the larger HDD. It’s not a deal-breaker, but something to consider. We will note however that the UI and boot times seem slightly better on the Pro, so that’s nice to see here as well.
The Pro should also be a touch quicker in the Wi-Fi department, thanks to the improved antenna. This antenna uses dual-band 802.11ac wireless and Bluetooth 4.0 instead of 802.11 b/g/n and Bluetooth 2.1—equating out to faster download speeds and more stable connections online.
While the PlayStation isn’t exactly described as an all-in-one home media entertainment system like the Xbox One, it does allow for 4K streaming on apps like Netflix. This further improves its functionality for potential buyers. Sadly, Sony has dropped the Blu-ray player and no longer supports UHD media in that format. This is another advantage the Xbox One X has over the Pro, but it may not matter to some. All said and done, the Pro is a significant jump over its predecessors and offers a big jump in the performance department across the board.
If you’ve used a PS4 in the past, you’re familiar with the headaches associated with the firmware updates and operating system. However, Sony has done a lot to address the earlier issues in this area, and the company has added a huge swath of features to the console during its extensive lifespan. Some of these cool features are locked behind the PS Plus subscription, but that’s largely the same for all of the big three gaming consoles in today’s world.
One such feature is Share Play. This is a unique addition to the PS4 system and allows you to share both captures of gameplay with friends and even let them try it out. For example, if you’re stuck on a difficult section, you can let a friend take control for an hour and let them have a go at it. Beyond this, Share Play also allows for local multiplayer games. The service is not perfect by any means, suffering a bit from typical streaming issues like latency, but it solves the rising issue of the limited local split-screen games on the current generation of consoles. There’s also Remote Play, which allows you to play PS4 games on both Windows and Mac. The Pro handles this service even better than past consoles, allowing for 1080p resolutions (but no 4K) on your computer.
The PlayStation Store is perhaps the best around if you’re strictly a console user (since the Xbox does allow for some cool cross-platform games via Play Anywhere), given the massive amount of first-party exclusives, third-party titles and indie games. It also allows for purchasing movies, TV shows (including access to local channels) and even music in one convenient platform. Despite the operating system frequently undergoing changes that require you to relearn things a bit every few months, it does prove that Sony is addressing issues and rolling out consistent new features and upgrades. The PS4 Pro gets all of these and they typically get an upgrade since the console can handle more.
This 4K gaming behemoth might sound great so far, but let’s dig into the price before you jump the gun. Surprisingly, the PS4 Pro is pretty darn affordable given its hardware. Typically you’ll find the console around the $400 mark, but it does frequently go down to $350 (and can be had for even less if you’re a thorough deal finder). Given that the complete package you get with the Pro and considering the PS4 Slim is already usually $300, the Pro makes a lot of sense for the price.
Surprisingly, the PS4 Pro is pretty darn affordable given its hardware.
We’d be confident saying that the Pro is a no-brainer for those with 4K TVs, those who are just now getting their first PS4/console and those who have an unlimited budget. If you’ve already got a regular PS4 and no 4K TV, it might not be the right choice for you, though you also get some perks with it.
The Pro’s largest competitor is going to be the Xbox One X. Each of these consoles boasts 4K UHD gaming, HDR, and a larger 1TB hard drive, but you should know there are some big differences. Many console users are already devoted to a particular system, so you likely already have a favorite in mind. That being said, if you’re a newbie getting your first console this generation with no loyalties, carefully look into these key differences.
The first thing you’ll want to know is that the PS4 Pro is definitely less expensive (by roughly $100) than the top-of-the-line Xbox. The Pro also has an arguably superior library of games, but that is subjective. What's clear is the X packs quite a bit more power under the hood than the Pro by about 50 percent. For most, this is perhaps the biggest upside of the Xbox over the PlayStation when picking between the two.
We tested the two premier consoles side-by-side playing the same titles to compare, and while the Pro looks awesome, the One X is better, sharper, and quieter across the board. Sadly, Sony also decided to dump the Blu-ray player on the PS4, so that’s another advantage of the One X. It’s up to you to decide what is more important here.
Take a peek at some of the other best gaming consoles you can buy.
A significantly improved PlayStation 4 with 4K capabilities.
If you’re purchasing a PS4 today, the Pro is the one that makes the most sense for the price. It might not be for those without 4K TVs, but it’s undoubtedly the best PlayStation console to date, delivering on its promises of improved graphics and performance.
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