September 14th, 2016 at 6:17 pm
|Tagged With: Console Hub, news, next gen, playstation, playstation 4, Playstation 4 Neo, Playstation 4 Pro, playstation 4.5, playstation 4K, PS4, PS4 Neo, PS4 Pro, Recommended, scea, SCEE, sony|
Well, as expected, Sony officially revealed the long-teased PS4 Neo console – officially named the PlayStation 4 Pro – during a PlayStation Meeting Press Event. We have the low down on everything you need to know about the console, as well as some key pieces of information about the device which only surfaced following the reveal.
Getting down to brass tacks: the specs
Starting with the CPU, the PlayStation 4 Pro boasts a custom 8-core “Jaguar” AMD CPU which is identical in architecture to the original PS4 CPU, however, the clock speed has been increased to 2.1GHz from the 1.6GHz clock speed featured in the original PlayStation 4 console, giving an increase of just over 31% in clock speed. The processor is believed to have otherwise remained unchanged in technical specification.
Coming to the graphical performance of the PS4 Pro: this is where we see the biggest jump in technical power. The PS4 Pro features a GPU with thirty-six GCN cores, in contrast to the original PS4’s eighteen cores. In addition, the clock speed of said cores have been increased from 800MHz to 911MHz, resulting in a GPU capable of 4.2 TFLOPS of single precision floating point arithmetic (a standard metric measuring the power of GPUs). Once again, the architecture remains unchanged when compared to the original PS4, which is the reason why games will function on both models without any developer intervention or complex system software workarounds by Sony.
Another upgrade to the console comes in the form of RAM; the PS4 Pro features the same 8GB of GDDR5 as the original PS4, however, this now runs at a higher clock speed of 6.8GHz, presenting a 24% bandwidth increase over the original 5.5GHz.
Other additions to the console include 5GHz Wireless capability, HDMI 2.0b standard output port with HDCP 2.2 compliance, Bluetooth v4.0 and the H.265 video codec capable of supporting 4K video playback. Overall, these technical changes make the PS4 significantly more powerful than the original model.
What does the PS4 Pro look like?
Like a triple-decker PS4! Sony have chosen a very strange design indeed, take a look for yourself below:
But wait… what about the price?
You will likely be pleased by the pricing of the PlayStation 4 Pro, which will retail at the same price of the original PlayStation 4 at launch: that’s €399/$399/£349. This represents very good value in the price to performance ratio, however, it remains to be seen whether the console will be used to its full potential by developers.
Is my original PS4 going to become a useless brick?
No need to worry if you aren’t interested in the PS4 Pro: your original PlayStation 4 will work perfectly with all games released during the entire of the PlayStation 4 life-cycle. The new PS4 Pro is intended to sit alongside the standard specification PlayStation 4 to offer something a little extra to those who own and wish to use a 4K television. Sony have confirmed that PlayStation Pro 4 exclusive titles will not be permitted; in other words, the PS4 Pro’s increased power may only be used to improve the graphical performance of each game.
Have we finally reached the age of 4K gaming becoming affordable?
Well… not really! Even with the impressive technical boost, the PS4 Pro is not capable of rendering high quality 4K games at stable frame rates. The only systems which are currently capable of doing this are high-end PC builds which cost well over $1000/€1000. The PS4 Pro will, however, be outputting games in 4K. Let’s take a look at how the console is going to do this.
Firstly, 4K refers only to the resolution of an image. Technically, this resolution is 3840×2160, referring the the number of pixels horizontally and vertically appearing in the image respectively. There are sometimes small variations on this resolution due to aspect ratio differences which are still referred to as 4K, however, they will be similar to the official technical resolution.
One thing that 4K doesn’t do is tell you what the quality of the image is going to be. I could make a black square in Microsoft Paint in the resolution 3840×2160 and call it 4K, however, this wouldn’t look in any way spectacular on an expensive TV. Keeping it simple, the key issue with 4K game rendering is the ability of the GPU to render a high-quality image at a resolution of 3840×2160. Rendering at a higher resolution taxes the GPU more intensely as it has to generate exactly four times the number of pixels than 1080p while maintaining the image quality.
Developers for the PS4 Pro, however, are not using their engines to render at native 4K with full detail, as the console just is not powerful enough. However, it seems that they are not simply upscaling the image either! Upscaling is the process of converting an image at a certain resolution to a larger resolution. For example, if you own a 4K television and you watch something which is outputting at 1080p, your television is upscaling the image to 4K to display on your screen. A very simple way of upscaling from 1080p to 4K is to make every single pixel at 1080p a square of four pixels, however, this delivers the exact same amount of detail as the 1080p image did and wouldn’t look any different. In reality, many TVs have more sophisticated tools which use tricks to improve the quality of the upscale.
It is likely the PS4 Pro will approach 4K with some interesting ideas, perhaps finding ways to increase the quality of the image in certain places and compress detail in other areas in order to reduce the pressure on the GPU. Most importantly, however, is that the PS4 Pro will now be more than capable of running all games at 60 FPS (frames per second) at at least 1080p resolution, something which has plagued both the PS4 and Xbox One since their launches. Overall, the PS4 Pro should deliver significant performance and graphical improvements for a modest price, however, I would wait and see how the games turn out before buying!
Speaking of games, what is the launch lineup of PS4 Pro enhanced titles?
We’ve rounded up some trailers for PS4 Pro enhanced titles on the way in the near future below!
Horizon Zero Dawn
Mass Effect Andromeda
Rise of the Tomb Raider
Watch Dogs 2
PS4 Pro 4K Sizzle Reel
When is it out?
The PlayStation 4 Pro launches surprisingly soon: coming worldwide on November 10th 2016!
Is the PS4 Pro a good choice for my 4K home-media device?
Em, that depends! If all of your 4K content comes via streaming or digital files then yes, the Playstation 4 Pro would be a good choice. However, Sony have made the bizarre decision not to include a 4K Blu-Ray drive in the PS4 Pro, much to the dismay of many potential buyers. This is an incredible oversight by Sony as even the newly launched Xbox One Slim features a 4K Blu-Ray drive. Hence, if you plan to watch 4K Blu-Rays (the highest quality form of 4K content), then the Playstation 4 Pro will not be suitable as your 4K home-media device.
We will keep you up to date with more news on the PS4 Pro and supported titles as it comes!