PS4 Pro: performance
- Simple, if slow, data transfer process
- Limited benefits for 1080p TV owners
- Looks great on a 4K TV
- Substantial improvements for VR
Once you have your new PS4 Pro hooked up, it's time to turn it on and get it set up, and thankfully setting up the PS4 Pro is lightning-fast. You can cruise through the menus without breaking much of a sweat, inputting the basics like which time zone you're in, your Wi-Fi network ID and password, and which language you'd like to use.
Transferring data from an earlier iteration of the PS4 is relatively straightforward: hook both systems up to the same Wi-Fi network, connect them to one another via an Ethernet cable, and you're good to go. We had about 158GB of data on our old PS4, and that took about an hour to transfer to the PS4 Pro.
We really like how easy Sony has made it to transfer the content from one PS4 to the next – and even though we had to wait nearly an hour and a half, when the process was complete we had everything from our old console set up in exactly the same way on our new machine.
But let's get to the meat and potatoes here: actual performance. As you might know, the PlayStation 4 Pro's biggest draw is that it offers "enhanced performance" for a growing pool of your favorite titles – including all games released on PlayStation VR – as well as 4K HDR streaming from Netflix.
Increasingly, games built for the PlayStation platform in the future will be taking advantage of the enhanced processing power as soon as they've been released.
Enhanced performance can manifest itself in different ways – one way might be that games will play at 4K resolution at 30 frames per second; another might be more detailed textures, or even the option to choose a higher frame rate at 1080p resolution. It's up to developers to choose how they want their games to take advantage of the upgraded processing power of the Pro in a feature Sony calls "Pro Mode."
There are now tons of games that support Pro Mode in some way, shape or form. You can read our top picks in this PlayStation 4 Pro Games roundup, but some highlights of the list include The Last of Us Remastered, The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim Special Edition, Titanfall 2 and Uncharted 4: A Thief's End.
So what can you expect when you pop in some of these games? We've broken down the performance based on what screen you'll be potentially viewing it on.
PS4 Pro performance for 1080p TVs
Let’s start with the 1080p TV owners. Admittedly, the biggest draws to Sony's mid-gen upgrade are 4K and HDR functionality, both of which you'll be missing out on; but you will see a benefit in the frame rates of some of your favorite titles. In Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration, for example, you can expect increased refresh rates that make the action feel a whole lot smoother, while textures get a bit of extra detail as well.
We weren't completely blown away with what the PS4 Pro offers for 1080p TV owners – while extra frame rates are a nice bonus, they're just not enough of an advantage to warrant spending the extra cash. But Sony didn’t design the Pro for 1080p, it was designed for...
PS4 Pro performance for 4K TVs
Here's where the PS4 Pro performance starts to heat up a bit. With a 4K TV in your living room, old games start to take on a whole new light – and that's especially true if your TV is HDR-capable. Games like Infamous: Second Son have been given a facelift to utilize both technologies, making particle effects pop off the screen and contrast ratios spike through the roof.
It's worth making especially clear here however, that the PS4 Pro isn't capable of outputting native 4K for all games – many titles that support 4K Pro Mode have been upscaled to that resolution. That doesn't mean games won't look absolutely incredible on your 4K TV, because they most certainly will, but don't expect as many genuinely rendered pixels as you do on a high-end PC just yet.
PS4 Pro performance for PlayStation VR
But there's one last area that we wanted to cover here, and that's how PS4 Pro enhances the PlayStation VR experience: even right from the consoles announcement, Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO Andrew House was touting the PS4 Pro's ability to enhance PSVR games.
We're happy to report that he's absolutely right – VR games run noticeably better on this machine. PS4 Pro Mode titles feel like they're not only better-looking, with more detailed textures, but they also feel a hair faster in terms of frame rate on the new system as well.
The bottom line? If you're new to the Sony ecosystem and plan on buying a PlayStation VR alongside your console purchase, you should definitely shell out for the PlayStation 4 Pro.
The PlayStation platform, four years on
- Continued growth in services, including PlayStation Now, Spotify and 4K Netflix.
One of the greatest pleasures for a tech journalist is watching a platform blossom from a dawdling little toddler, devoid of any serious content and full of big ideas, to a fleshed out, fully functional battlestation. Four years on, Sony still stands tall as the king of the consoles – even if Microsoft's Xbox One X is gearing up to give it a fight for the ages.
The PlayStation Store full of great content to purchase – with literally everything from super-niche indie darlings on there to big budget titles, movies and music available – and if feels like there's always something new waiting on the horizon too.
Most recently that was PlayStation Now streaming on PC. Before that was PlayStation Vue announcing its expansion to every city in the continental US. Before that, it was Sony dumping its lackluster proprietary music service for a partnership with Spotify. Every month or two brings with it a platform update that will meaningfully change the way you interact with the system – and that's why we feel so comfortable giving it a good recommendation.
Sure, you can find party chats, Twitch integration and apps like YouTube and Amazon on any platform, but Sony seems to always find a few ways to make you feel like you're part of something bigger, and that's true on the PS4 Pro as well.
Sony hasn't skimped when it comes to supporting other territories with video content either. The Australian PlayStation Store is full of most of the major catch-up TV services, including SBS On Demand, ABC iview, 9Now, TenPlay and PLUS7. Foxtel Play is also available, allowing Pay TV subscribers to stream right to their console.
What the Pro adds to the conversation is 4K streaming, with major players including Netflix and Amazon supporting 4K video content on the PS4 Pro.