Ladies and gentlemen, after all the hype, anticipation, and online forums shouting in protest against changing how console cycles work, it has arrived: the PS4 Pro.
Maybe you’re looking for a last minute far too expensive Christmas gift, or perhaps eyeing a Boxing Day shopping spree with leftover holiday cash. Maybe you already know you are getting one for Christmas and are curious.
Let’s take a look at some first impressions, shall we?
In my clearly infinite wisdom, I went ahead and did exactly what most people recommended against – I upgraded from a PS4 to a Pro. I can tell you right now I was swayed by 1/4 geeky desire, 2/4 morbid curiousity, and a final 1/4 hunger. I don’t know what hunger had to do with it, but all my decisions are at least 25% sandwich-based.
First up, the new PS4 model sacrifices some portability for power. While still rather small, the Pro variant is a decent bit larger and significantly heavier than its less professional little brother. It also sacrifices the sleek finish, sporting a rounder look with tactile buttons instead of the classy “awkwardly put your finger somewhere near here” style – not an improvement in my books.
My obvious first reaction was, of course, to rip it open and replace the included 1TB HDD with a solid state since I’m on a personal crusade against traditional storage for reasons that cannot be explained by mortal men. My ingenious plan was to seamlessly swap the SSD in my old PS4 into the Pro. Fortunately, it’s even easier to replace the hard drive than it was on the old version, as now there is a smaller compartment instead of taking off half of the top.
Unfortunately, I un-seamlessly discovered you still need to re-initialize the device despite both PS4s seemingly running the same operating system. If you have data you’d like to keep, you can of course use the transfer system if you still have your old PS4. Me? I opted to start from scratch. This is still a very easy process following the online guide so long as you don’t have any USB drive shenanigans like I had. Long story short: ensure your USB drive actually works before trying to use it.
Now armed with a 480GB SanDisk Ultra II and an aforementioned sandwich, I took the glorious step into (upscaled) 4K gaming. What I found was…well, a little underwhelming so far.
First off, let’s talk load times. With the new SATA3 interface, I had initially expected the Pro to take better advantage of the solid state’s enhanced read/write capabilities. I was disappointed to read reports online that this was not the case, and that disappointment is now complete as the difference in load times between the two PS4s with the same SSD is marginal at best.
But we’re here for the graphics, right? I can tell you from the exact science that is the eye test that the 4K upscale does look very good. In my limited tests, it does seem a step above what the TV itself can do with a 1080p signal, but a step below what my PC can do with a true 2160p signal. It’s certainly not worth the price of admission based on that alone.
Sadly, my Vizio M60-C3 is an older model 4K TV that does not have HDR, so I can’t comment on that. I’ve heard great things, however.
On a personal level, I’m hoping we see the 1080p/higher framerate option on more and more games. I’ve been craving a 1080p/60FPS console experience much more than a semi-4K one. In Battlefield 1 multiplayer, there is a very noticeable increase in frame rate as it can hold 60FPS better than my launch edition PS4…but the Pro has a long way to go to impress in that category as well.
In summation, I’m forced to agree with those that say upgrading from the PS4 to the Pro is not a sound investment…yet. As reality sets in and optimization improves, I’m still hopeful we’ll see marked improvements. For now, while still an upgrade, it’s probably not worth the several hundred dollars difference between buying a new Pro and the money I got for selling the old one to a friend.