Sony PlayStation 4 Pro vs PlayStation 4: Should you upgrade?

Is this half-next-gen enhancement really worth your cash?

Months after the international release, we finally get an official release for India. Thank the good Lord.

The PlayStation 4 Pro really is an upgraded version of the existing console, running the same games and using the same peripherals, but the enhancements can't be ignored. With the Pro, you'll see crisper and more detailed graphics, with 4K resolution support for both games and streaming video.

However, the current PS4 isn't going away: in fact, Sony just introduced a slimmer version that will replace it as the entry-level version. But if you already have the PS4 and you're weighing a Pro upgrade, here's what you need to consider – and what could push you to buy another PS4 this generation.

Yes! Big graphics boost

As we saw in Sony's streamed presentation in November, the PlayStation 4 Pro's upgraded GPU means that PS4 games will look significantly better on the new box, with much more detailing, thanks to the resolution bump and processing power increase.

Game will be upscaled to 4K but you'll still get a much crisper visual experience on the Pro. It might not be considered a whole new console generation, but there are very obvious benefits to the Pro hardware above and beyond what the regular PS4 can handle.

Granted, you'll need a 4K TV to get the most out of the Pro, but even if you have a 1080p set, developers will be able to pack in more detail, better lighting and shadows, and other visual enhancements that show in standard HD as well.

Yes! Stream in 4K

If you do have a 4K TV, then game visuals aren't the only enhancement you should look forward to. The PlayStation 4 Pro will also support 4K video streaming from services like Netflix and YouTube via new apps coming at launch, and Sony says that Netflix will have 600+ hours of 4K content up by the end of 2016.

Weirdly, the PS4 Pro doesn't play 4K Blu-ray discs, which is very surprising considering this is from big Blu-ray backer Sony. It was probably a cost issue, and keeping a 4K disc drive out of the box likely helps keep it fairly affordable. Still, given that the Xbox One S has that support, it's an unexpected oversight here.

No! It's the same games

Let's say you're not insistent on cutting-edge graphics, don't have or want a 4K TV, and just want to play the latest and greatest games at a solid quality level. Fair enough! That probably means that you don't need the PlayStation 4 Pro, then.

Why? Because the two hardware models will run all the same games, whether they're discs or downloads, and it seems like we shouldn't see significant gameplay differences between the way games play on either machine.

Games will probably run smoother on the Pro, but we'd be surprised to see studios pump out games that run poorly on the standard model now that the Pro is coming. After all, 40 million people have the regular PS4, and that number will continue to grow in the years ahead. Leaving those players behind would be a really bad move for any developer.

No! There's HDR for all

One surprising twist that came out of the PlayStation Meeting is that the addition of high dynamic range (HDR) lighting support won't be solely limited to the PlayStation 4 Pro, and it won't just be built into newer PS4 hardware (like the slim console).

In fact, it's already out to each and every PlayStation 4 via a firmware update. So yes, the three-year-old PS4 you bought back at launch will have HDR support in a week - you'll just need the right kind of TV to take advantage of it.

Talk about a slap in the face to Microsoft, which just introduced the Xbox One S with HDR support while the original Xbox One isn't slated to get it. Still, that means that HDR won't be an exclusive perk to the Pro, and you'll still get the benefits on an older PS4.

Yes! VR gets a boost

Sony says that the PlayStation VR will benefit significantly from the PlayStation 4 Pro, allowing games to run at higher and smoother frame rates, as well as with more details packed within their immersive worlds. We've already seen this one in action and its fantastic.  

All of that is super critical for virtual reality. While we expect that PSVR games will look pretty good and run solidly well with the standard PS4, frame rate stability is absolutely crucial to enjoying VR and not getting sick in the process. Boosting the frame rate and enhancing the visual experience will be felt very strongly in VR – perhaps even more so than on your TV.

And it may put the PlayStation VR experience closer to that of the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, both of which require high-end gaming PCs, and make it easier for developers to port over their PC VR games with fewer sacrifices.

YES! SHARE AND STREAM BETTER

If you're big on the PS4's social and streaming functions, then you might see some extra benefit from the PlayStation 4 Pro.

For example, the Share Play feature - which lets you bring an ally into a game like FIFA 17 by streaming a portion of the game you own to his or her PS4 - can now deliver a 1080p experience to the other console, whereas it's limited to 720p on the regular system.

And if you don't like to play without an audience, now you can enhance their viewing experience by streaming gameplay at 1080p resolution running at 60 frames per second to services like Twitch and YouTube. Even still screenshots can be grabbed at full 4K - that's 3840 x 2160 - and flung out into the world.

Many PS4 players probably use these functions sparingly, if at all, but those who really love them could see real value in the Pro upgrade.

Initial verdict: Worth the upgrade?

Your initial reaction to the PlayStation 4 Pro is probably a strong one to follow. Are you a die-hard PlayStation fan who needs to be on the cutting edge? Do you care about 4K? Will you spend months locked inside the PlayStation VR headset? If any of these things apply to you, then it's probably worth trading up to get the Pro.

It's out this February, at a price of ₹38,990, in case price will sway your opinion. In our eyes, that seems like a sweet spot for a system that offers pretty major enhancements over the previous model.

On the other hand, if you play casually, are fine with your 1080p set or aren't yet sold on VR, then the upgrade might not be as important for you. The PlayStation 4 will live on for years and continue receiving great games, regardless of the Pro and how well it does, and there's plenty of awesome gaming ahead for the console.

The Pro is for the super-fans and ultra tech-savvy and if that's not you, then don't sweat it – and certainly don't feel bad about it. This isn't an essential upgrade, but it should be a really fun and worthwhile one for a lot of PlayStation aficionados.