PS5 vs PS4 Pro: will it be worth the upgrade?

PS5 vs PS4 Pro: which should you buy? As the PS5 launch date approaches, there's still the current mid-gen refresh, the PS4 Pro, to consider.

This beefed-up PlayStation 4 released in 2016 and represents a decent chunk of the 100 million PS4s sold this generation. Plenty of base PS4 owners upgraded to the Pro for the 4K-ready horsepower, and it remains the best way to play exclusives like God of War, Uncharted 4, and Horizon: Zero Dawn.

But now we're coming to the end of this generation, and the PS4 Pro vs PS5 dilemma is a worthy question. So, here's a breakdown of what we know about the two consoles so far, including their prices (or rumored prices), specs, and flagship games, to help you weigh up whether it'll be worth upgrading from the PS4 Pro to the PlayStation 5.

UPDATE: The hour is, finally, almost upon us. Sony has scheduled in a PS5 games reveal event for June 11 at 9PM BST/ 4PM ET / 1PM PT. Could this be the moment we not only get to see some PS5 games, but also a glimpse at the console itself, it's price and the PS5 release date?

PS5 vs PS4 Pro price

PS5 vs PS4 Pro

The most difficult thing about weighing up the PS5 price is that even Sony doesn't know it yet. That said, there are some ideas out there. 

It looks like the PS5 price won't be as bad as you think. PSErebus, who correctly estimated The Last of Us 2 release date, claimed in November 2019 that the PS5's RRP would be $499 (about £380 and AUS$745). And, while Sony admitting it didn't know the price of its upcoming box in February 2020 somewhat undermines the leak, this certainly wouldn't be a bad price considering the power of its rumored components.

The leak puts the PS5 price at $100 more than the PS4 Pro launch cost of $399 (£349, AU$559), but Amazon currently lists the Pro for around $320, £300 and AU$484 in the US, UK, and Australia, respectively.

That said, you can still do better than that. The PS4 Pro plunged to just £299 in the Black Friday PS4 sales when bundled with Death Stranding. Either way, the PS4 Pro is highly likely to be the cheaper option, and its price will tumble even more once its big brother releases later this year.

PS4 Pro vs PS5 specs

PS5 vs PS4 Pro

There's still plenty to find out about the PS5's internals, but here's what we know so far:

  • 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: Temptest 3D

One of the highlights is the AMD GPU and CPU pairing. We've now learned officially that these will be a combination of eight Zen 2 CPU cores running at 3.5GHz and 36 compute units running at 2.23GHz to handle the graphics. The GPU will be capable of 10.28 TFLOPs. 

PS5 lead system architect Mark Cerny has also confirmed to Wired that the new hardware is capable of ray tracing. Seen in some of the prettiest PC games around, like Control, Metro Exodus, and Battlefield V, ray tracing is an innovative means of rendering light and shadows.

But since every 'ray' of light has its own simulated source, only now has the power required been viable in a console. In other words, ray tracing is going to make the rumored God of War 2 and Horizon: Zero Dawn 2 look properly next-gen.

And if that wasn't treat enough for your corneas, there's word of 8K support, too. But when it comes to whether you should choose between the 4K vs 8K consoles, know that 8K won't be a mainstream prospect for some years yet.

ps5 ray tracing PS5 vs PS4 Pro

Excellent news for PlayStation players is the PS5's solid state drive (SSD) – a long overdue upgrade that PC players have enjoyed for years. Games are claimed to load 19-times faster. And, although the SSD coming in the PS5 is only 825GB, Cerny noted that the faster speeds of the SSD mean developers won't need to duplicate data onto multiple parts games' files, thereby cutting down on wasted space. 

Meanwhile, the PS4 Pro is still held back by its ageing mechanical HDD. While the PS4's UI design felt seamless as you could easily pick up a game where you left off from standby or after visiting other apps, you'll eventually be envious of the few loading screens PS5 players will be enjoying. Even if you upgrade the PS4 Pro with an SSD, it won't be able to offer the same bandwidth available in the PS5. The Pro also doesn't have the 4K Blu Ray player that the PS5 will.

Cerny also made clear to Wired that the PS5's audio will reach a new “gold standard” thanks to its upgraded audio engine. Sony is using the Tempest 3D audio tech to power the sound experience. It will be capable of handling hundreds of sound sources for impressive spatial audio, so you're going to want to invest in the very best gaming headsets. Cerny did mention that Sony is working on virtual surround sound for speakers as well, though.

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 only then at 30fps. 

Naturally expect the PS5 to be a healthy power jump over the Pro, but if you're all about the best graphics, don't want a PC, and are platform agnostic, it's worth considering the most powerful console on the market today, the Xbox One X.

PS5 vs PS4 Pro games

ps5 or ps4 pro

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 Guardian, and Marvel's Spider-Man are exclusive to Sony's box, along with other killer multi-platform experiences like Red Dead Redemption 2 and Control.

However, we still don't know much about the PS5 launch lineup. There's not much to get players excited yet, so it might be worth holding fire until there's something that really excites you. Here's what's confirmed (so far):

That said, PS5 backwards compatibility with the PS4 has been confirmed for the upcoming console. This means those that skip a generation won't miss out: it looks like you'll be able to play most PS4 games on the new box, since they're based on a similar architecture to the PS5. Sony has even said the PS5 will launch with support for most of the top 100 PS4 games. 

PS5 vs PS4 Pro verdict

PS5 vs PS4 Pro

While there's still plenty more to learn about the PlayStation 5 – the price being arguably the most crucial point – there's little reason to buy a PS4 Pro right now. Not only will the PS5 be the more powerful, faster box, but Sony's efforts to enable backwards compatibility means that even if you buy a PS5, it's likely you won't miss out on the PS4's finest experiences, and probably those older than that, too.

If you've been waiting this long to buy your first PS4, you might as well do so a little longer and either skip a generation and buy a PS5, or take advantage of an even cheaper PS4 Pro once the newer console launches.

That said, upgrading from a Pro is a tougher dilemma. The Pro already supports native 4K for many games at decent performance, and you'll need deep pockets for an 8K TV to fully benefit from the PS5's power. And that's only when 8K gaming is fully supported. As ever, early adopters pay a premium, so it's worth waiting for the next-gen exclusive you really can't do without.

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