PS5 vs PS4 Pro: should you upgrade?

PS5 vs PS4 Pro
(Image credit: Future)

The PS5 vs PS4 Pro is an interesting comparison to investigate, especially since many are quick to assume that the current generation console is unmatched. There are many notable features of the PS4 Pro that might make it worth considering in today's digital world if you want to upgrade your existing setup.

Comparisons between the two systems highly some drastic differences, which makes sense with them being a generation apart. The PS5 is by far Sony’s most powerful console to date, but that’s not to say that the PS4 Pro no longer delivers an enjoyable experience. The Pro still maintains stellar performance with meaningful upgrades over the base model PS4. In addition, there are enough cross-generation games available to make the most of it.

We’ve compared both consoles to mark the apparent differences between the pair since it can be a bit blurry for less seasoned buyers, and it’s a worthwhile discussion to have if you’re looking at updating your current setup.

PS5 vs PS4 Pro price

PS5 vs PS4 Pro: PS4 DualShock controller

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Sony's top-tier PS5 initially costs $499.99 / £449.99 / AU$749.95, while the PlayStation 5 Digital Edition (identical, except no disc drive) came in at $399.99 / £349.99 / AU$599.95. However, we've seen the PS5 get a price hike with Sony blaming this on soaring inflation. The US price remains unaffected but that's changed to £479.99 / €549.99 / AU$799.95 for the PS5, and £389.99 / €449.99 / $649.95 for the digital edition. 

The PS5 at launch 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-generation upgrade.

You can sometimes find better PS4 Pro deals during sales – it plunged to just £299 in the 2020 Black Friday PS4 sales when bundled with Death Stranding – but now that it’s been discontinued, you’re very unlikely to see this happen again. Most retailers no longer stock new models.

If your heart is set on a PS4 Pro, getting it preowned could present good value (though there have been price hikes even in that area, thanks to repercussions of the global semiconductor crisis). But if you're really looking for your console to be brand new, the PS5 and its all-digital counterpart are backward compatible. Sure, not every PS4 game is compatible with PS5, though the incompatible games list is, frankly, tiny.

As such, while they’re more expensive, they're probably the better value option in the long run.

PS5 vs PS4 Pro specs

Marvel's Spider-Man, the back of Spider-Man's suit

(Image credit: Sony Interactive Entertainment)

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 ray tracing, a graphically intense visual technique. Found in some of the prettiest PC games around, like Control, Metro Exodus, and Battlefield 5, ray tracing is an innovative way to render light and shadows realistically. But since every 'ray' of light has its own simulated source, only now has the power required been viable in consoles. 

In other words, ray tracing will make games like God of War: Ragnarok appear more realistic than ever before. There's word of 8K support too, and we’ve already seen this (sort of) supported in The Touryst, though Sony only lets you see it in 4K, so it's not quite there yet.

But when it comes to choosing between the 4K vs 8K consoles, know that 8K won't be a mainstream prospect for several years. In fact, the option to select 8K on the PS5 doesn't actually exist yet, it’s being added via a firmware update at an unknown stage 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. Although the SSD in the PS5 is only 825GB (with only 667.2GB available) - you can upgrade this SSD storage internally - it's a welcome change over the slow, mechanical drives of old. 

Meanwhile, the PS4 Pro is still held back by its aging HDD. While the PS4's UI design felt seamless, letting you pick up a game where you left off from standby, you'll eventually be envious of the PS5's lack of loading screens. Even if you upgrade the PS4 Pro with an SSD, it won't 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. In fact, Sony never released an all-digital option for the entire PS4 family.

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, though Sony also added 3D audio support for TV speakers on the PS5 and PS5 Digital Edition last September.

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 even then you're usually capped to 30fps. So, it's an improvement but still has compromises.

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: The PS5 family of consoles and accessories

(Image credit: Sony)

When the PS5 design was revealed it proved divisive. Even on the TechRadar team, there were those who loved the PS5 design it and those that hated the PS5 design . This is partly because it's such a departure from Sony's usual approach, with its two-tone color scheme and its curved futuristic shape. However, Sony has since released colored PS5 covers with 5 different options.

The PS5 is also the biggest console Sony has ever made. The PS4 Pro, on the other hand, looks more like a traditional console and 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. The PS4 Pro, meanwhile, can kick up a fuss when playing certain games, and it's also guilty of spitting out significant heat. 

PS5 vs PS4 Pro games

God of War Ragnarok's Kratos looking sadly at a pouch

(Image credit: Sony)

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, The Last of Us 2, The Last Guardian, and Marvel's Spider-Man are exclusive to Sony's box, alongside 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 games like GTA 5, Madden 21, and Destiny 2 have received big PS5 overhauls too. Better still, Sony's new PS Plus subscriber perk, PlayStation Plus Collection, offers PS5 owners free access to 19 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 subscribed to the service. 

It's something that the PS4 Pro, even with a PS Plus subscription, can't match. On top of that, the PS5 has a number of new-gen exclusives. While Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales and Horizon Forbidden West are also available on PS4 Pro, Final Fantasy 16 is PS5 only. This will only continue as time goes on, so if you're all about accessing the latest and greatest, the PS5 has the lead on that front.

It's also worth noting that some new-gen games are more expensive, we’ve seen a price increase of $10 (£10) more on standard editions of big releases when compared to Xbox One and PS4 counterparts. That pushes games up to $70 (£70) and that’s occurred across multiple publishers, meaning PS5 games will likely cost you more.

PS5 vs PS4 Pro verdict

PS5 vs PS4 Pro: PS4 Pro with DualShock controller

(Image credit: TechRadar)

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

If you've been waiting this long to buy your first PS4, you’re probably better off going straight to the PS5 for future-proofing purposes. That said, upgrading from a Pro is another matter and a tougher dilemma. The Pro already supports 4K for many games at decent performance, and you'll need deep pockets for a 4K TV with HDMI 2.1 support to fully benefit from the PS5's power and higher frame rates. 

If you've recently picked up a PS5, make sure to have a browse of our best PS5 games list for top recommendations on what to add to your collection first.

Adam Vjestica

Adam was formerly TRG's Hardware Editor. A law graduate with an exceptional track record in content creation and online engagement, Adam has penned scintillating copy for various technology sites and also established his very own award-nominated video games website. He’s previously worked at Nintendo of Europe as a Content Marketing Editor and once played Halo 5: Guardians for over 51 hours for charity. He is now an editor at The Shortcut.

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