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PS5 vs PS4 Pro: should you upgrade?

PS5 vs PS4 Pro
(Image credit: Future)

PS5 vs PS4 Pro: it’s a question that’s bound to be on the mind of anyone who owns Sony’s PlayStation 4 Pro now that the PS5 is here.

Not only is the PS5 more powerful – its GPU and CPU are far more capable than those found in  the PS4 Pro – it'll also load games faster than ever before thanks to its internal NVMe SSD. The new DualSense controller is also a game changer, in our opinion. It uses haptic feedback and adaptive triggers to help make games more immersive in ways you never thought possible before. 

The PS5 is an easy recommendation in a side-by-side comparison, but the price of the PS4 Pro makes it a contender, especially when you consider that key PS5 games are also coming to Sony’s last-gen system. There’s still some life left in the aging PlayStation 4 Pro yet.

The PS4 Pro vs PS5 dilemma is going to be one faced by a lot of gamers in the coming months, then, so to help you pick the console that's right for you, we've created a guide with all the essential details about the consoles, including prices, specs and big game releases.

PS5 vs PS4 Pro price

PS5 vs PS4 Pro

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Sony's top-tier PS5 costs $499.99 / £449.99 / AU$749.95, while the PlayStation 5 Digital Edition (identical, except without a disc drive) comes in at $399.99 / £349.99 / AU$599.95. 

Both versions of the console are now available worldwide, as the wait for Sony's next-gen console has finally come to an end. 

The PS5 cost $100 more than the PS4 Pro launch cost of $399 (£349, AU$559) – but that's to be expected. It's a brand new machine using cutting edge technology, whereas the PS4 Pro was built upon the foundations of the existing PS4, and was considered a mid-gen upgrade.

That said, you can often do better than that RRP of the PS4 Pro during sales. The PS4 Pro plunged to just £299 in the Black Friday PS4 sales when bundled with Death Stranding. Either way, the PS4 Pro will definitely be the cheaper option, and its price will tumble even more now the PS5 has hit the shelves. But does it still represent great value, considering the PS5 is backwards compatible?

PS5 vs PS4 Pro specs

PS5 vs PS4 Pro

(Image credit: Insomniac Games)

The PS5 is armed with impressive specs for a console, offering an AMD Zen 2-based CPU and a custom RDNA 2 GPU with over 10.28 TFLOPs of computing power. What that equates is that most games will run at 4K/60, with some games able to achieve 4K/120fps - there's even support for 8K resolution in the future.  

  • GPU: 10.28 TFLOPs, 36 CUs at 2.23GHz (variable frequency) with RDNA 2 architecture
  • CPU: AMD Zen 2-based CPU with 8 cores at 3.5GHz (variable frequency)
  • Memory: 16GB GDDR6, 256-bit interface, 448GB/s bandwidth
  • Storage: Custom 825GB SSD with 5.5GB/s (raw), typical 8-9GB/s (compressed)
  • Expandable storage: NVMe SSD slot, USB HDD support (for PS4 games only)
  • Optical: 4K UHD Blu Ray drive
  • Visuals: Native 4K 120Hz + 8K
  • Audio: Tempest 3D

The PS5 is also capable of the graphically intensive technique known as ray tracing. Found in some of the prettiest PC games around, like Control, Metro Exodus, and Battlefield V, ray tracing is an innovative means of rendering light and shadows realistically.

But since every 'ray' of light has its own simulated source, only now has the power required been viable in a console. In other words, ray tracing is going to make games like Horizon Forbidden West look more realistic than ever before.

And if that wasn't treat enough for your corneas, there's word of 8K support, too. But when it comes to whether you should choose between the 4K vs 8K consoles, know that 8K won't be a mainstream prospect for some years yet. In fact, the option to select 8K on the PS5 doesn't exist yet and will be added via a firmware update in the future. 

ps5 ray tracing PS5 vs PS4 Pro

(Image credit: Microsoft; Remedy)

Ray tracing aside, another huge generational leap the PS5 boasts over the PS4 Pro is its solid state drive (SSD) – a long overdue upgrade that PC players have enjoyed for years. Games can load up to 19-times faster. And, although the SSD in the PS5 is only 825GB (with only 667.2GB available), it's a welcome change over the slow, mechanical drives of old. 

Meanwhile, the PS4 Pro is still held back by its ageing HDD. While the PS4's UI design felt seamless as you could easily pick up a game where you left off from standby or after visiting other apps, you'll eventually be envious of the lack of loading screens PS5 players enjoy. Even if you upgrade the PS4 Pro with an SSD, it won't be able to offer the same bandwidth available in the PS5. 

The PS4 Pro also doesn't have the 4K Blu Ray player that the PS5 thankfully does, nor does it have the option to go disc-drive free like the all-digital PS5 offers.

PS5 also features an entirely new audio engine known as Tempest 3D audio. It's a form of spatial audio, and is capable of handling hundreds of sound sources. You'll want to grab one of the very best gaming headsets to experience it. Support for TV speakers isn't available at launch, but will come later down the line. 

Meanwhile, here are the PS4 Pro's specs:

  • CPU: eight-core x86-64 AMD Jaguar
  • GPU: AMD Radeon with 4.2 teraflops
  • RAM: 8GB GDDR5
  • Storage: 1TB HDD

The refreshed mid-gen model proved a decent jump on the base PS4: it supports 4K streaming from Amazon and Netflix, but native 4K gaming isn't possible on all titles, and only then you're usually capped to 30fps. 

Naturally the PS5 is a healthy power jump over the PS4 Pro, but if you're all about the best graphics, can't get your head around gaming on PC, and are platform agnostic, it's also worth considering the most powerful console on the market today, the Xbox Series X.

PS5 vs PS4 Pro design

PS5 vs PS4 Pro

(Image credit: Sony)

When the PS5 design was revealed it proved divisive. Even on the TechRadar team there were those who loved it and those who hated it. This is partly because the PS5 design is just such a departure from Sony's usual approach with its two-tone color scheme and its curved futuristic shape. 

The PS5 is also the biggest console Sony has ever made, and it even dwarfs the sizable PS4 Pro. The PS4 Pro, on the other hand, looks more like a traditional console and is sits unobtrusively within any entertainment set up. It's slim, light at 3.3 kg and not in the least controversial. The same can't be said about the PlayStation 5.

The PS5's gargantuan size does give it one significant advantage over the PS4 Pro, though: it's practically silent, and produces a minimal amount of heat, too. The PS4 Pro, meanwhile, can kick up a fuss when playing certain games, and it's also guilty of spitting out a lot of heat. 

PS5 vs PS4 Pro games

ps5 vs ps4 pro

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If you buy a PS4 Pro now, we hope you've got some time off sorted: Bloodborne, God of War, Uncharted 4, The Last of Us and its The Last of Us 2, The Last Guardian, and Marvel's Spider-Man are exclusive to Sony's box, along with other killer multi-platform experiences like Red Dead Redemption 2 and Control.

The good news? Nearly all of those games are backward-compatible on PS5. Some, like GTA 5, Madden 21 and Destiny will even get big PS5 overhauls, and will get a free next-gen upgrade. Better still, Sony's new PS Plus subscriber perk, PlayStation Plus Collection, offers PS5 owners free access to 20 of the best-ever PS4 games to download to their new consoles from the get-go, including titles like God of War, Uncharted 4, Ratchet and Clank and Bloodborne, provided they remain subscribers to the service. It's something that the PS4 Pro, even with a PS Plus subscription, can't match. That's a lot of gaming for not a lot of money.

On top of that, the PS5 has a number of games that will be exclusive to next-gen. While Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales and Horizon Forbidden West are also available on PS4 Pro, God of War 2, Demon's Souls and Final Fantasy 16 will be PS5 only. Gran Turismo 7 definitely looks like it will be next-gen only, too, and we know that Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart will also skip PS4. So if you're all about access to the latest and greatest, it's worth noting that the PS5 will have the lead on that front for some games.

What else can you play? Here are some of the PS5 games confirmed (so far):

It's also worth noting that some of the next-gen games will be more expensive. 2K Games announced that NBA 2K21 on PS5 and Xbox Series X will cost $10 more than its PS4 and Xbox One counterparts, bringing the standard version of the game on next-gen consoles up to $70 (or £60). It's not a small price increase and in an interview with GamesIndustry.biz, research company IDG revealed that other publishers are also considering raising the base price of next-gen games, meaning PS5 games will likely cost you more. 

"While the cost of development and publishing have gone up, and pricing in other entertainment verticals has also gone up substantially, next-gen software pricing has not reflected these increases. $59.99 to $69.99 does not even cover these other cost increases completely, but does move it more in the proper direction."

While we don't expect this price hike to affect all PS5 games, it is possible we will see pricing increase for some AAA games and franchises.

PS5 vs PS4 Pro verdict

PS5 vs PS4 Pro

(Image credit: TechRadar)

In all honestly, there's little reason to buy a PS4 Pro right now unless your budget is strict. Not only is the PS5 a more powerful, faster box, but Sony's efforts to enable backwards compatibility means that even if you buy a PS5, you won't miss out on the PS4's finest experiences, and probably those older than that, too. Most also run better than ever before, with games like Ghost of Tsushima now able to run at 60fps on PlayStation 5.

If you've been waiting this long to buy your first PS4, you might as well do so a little longer and either skip a generation and buy a PS5, or take advantage of an even cheaper PS4 Pro once the newer console launches.

That said, upgrading from a Pro is a tougher dilemma. The Pro already supports 4K for many games at decent performance, and you'll need deep pockets for an 4K TV with HDMI 2.1 support to fully benefit from the PS5's power and higher frame rates. As ever, early adopters pay a premium, so it's worth waiting for that next-gen exclusive game you really can't do without.

Not going with Sony at all? Here's how you can buy Xbox Series X and our predictions for the best Xbox Series X bundle deals