For the 4K/HDR TV owner, the PS4 Pro’s benefits speak for themselves. It offers high-resolution gameplay at higher framerates that you will notice and appreciate.
However, for non-4K TV owners, especially those who don’t think they’ll end up with a PlayStation VR, the benefits are a bit murkier. Sure, you’ll still get a nice bump in framerates and better textures in 30-45 games. However, by and large the difference you’ll see is negligible. The PS4 Pro is just a souped-up PS4 after all.
We feel a slight twinge of compunction when we say “It’s just a PS4,” as that implies that the system Sony made isn’t an already wonderful piece of technology. But because the original was so wonderful, we set the bar higher for PS4 Pro – a bar that I don’t feel like is totally met for the majority of gamers out there. The lack of a UHD Blu-ray player hurts the value of the system, and while we appreciate 4K/HDR capabilities on a select few titles, the system doesn’t scream “this is a must-buy” to us.
If someone asked us to summarize our opinions on the PS4 Pro in one sentence, we’d say: How much you’ll appreciate the console and its capabilities comes down to your TV.
4K resolution gaming, obviously. If you have the equipment, some of your favorite titles are going to look absolutely incredible on the PlayStation 4 Pro. Add to that High Dynamic Range capabilities (again, if your TV has it) and you have one of the best visual experiences on any console, bar none.
I also appreciated the two minor tweaks to the inside of the console itself – the larger 1TB hard drive and upgraded 802.11ac Wi-Fi antenna. Games are not only downloaded faster on this system but, thanks to an extra 500GB of storage, you won’t have to make the decision which games to keep and which ones you need to uninstall to clear up some room.
If I ever find myself in a conversation with a Sony engineer, the first thing I’m going to ask about is the PS4 Pro’s lack of a 4K UHD Blu-ray player. I’ve tried to avoid the direct comparison to the Xbox One S throughout the review, something that's now even harder to do with the Xbox One X on shelves, but it completely boggles my mind that Microsoft – the company that once thought HD DVD would beat Blu-ray – now offers a 4K Blu-ray player while Sony’s does not.
That said, the growing catalogue of games built to take advantage of the 4K power is increasingly appealing, while a recently-introduced boost mode, giving marginal improvements to all titles on the system overall, is a welcome (if not groundbreaking) addition.
Let’s return to the car analogy to really drive this point home: The PS4 Pro is truly a marvelous piece of machinery. It’s capable of so much and yet, disappointingly, there’s a huge swath of gamers who might not ever get to see it running on all cylinders simply because 4K TV sets show the system at its best.
Sure, the latest model of (insert your favorite car here) might be capable of reaching incredible speeds (read: capable of 4K), but if you’re limited the law to stay under a certain speed (read: using a 1080p TV), then what good is all that speed?
Of course for those of you living in the breakneck world of the future where 4K HDR TVs are widely available, or if you plan on taking full advantage of PlayStation VR when you buy one, then the PS4 Pro is well worth its $399/£349/AU$559 price tag.
But if you're yet to make the jump to 4K or VR, then you might want to hold off on the PS4 Pro for the time being.