For a start, you’re asking the right question (rather than, say, “should I buy an Xbox”). The PlayStation 4 Pro is an upgraded version of the standard model, but it’s not always obvious what you get for your extra money. So, let’s weigh up and the pros and cons so you can make a more informed choice.
So what’s so good about the PlayStation 4 Pro?
With additional processor and graphics clout, it can run games at higher resolutions and/or higher frame rates. In fact, the Pro can, for some games, run them at a 4K resolution. However, you will need to look out for games that are shown as “PS4 Pro Enhanced”. Oddly, Sony doesn’t have a way of highlighting these in the PS Store, although Wikipedia has a page listing them. The extra graphics punch is also beneficial if you’re using PlayStation VR.
For the technically minded, the CPU gets an upgrade from 1.6GHz to 2.1GHz. The GPU goes from 1.84 to 4.2 teraflops.
But graphical grunt is not all the Pro is good for – it also has a SATA 3 internal connection, which means you can use faster drives, particularly SSDs. It also has an optical port, which some headphones and sound bars may need for audio output. Less exciting for most, it has an extra USB port as well.
What’s not so good?
Well, it’s more expensive. A standard PlayStation 4, not part of any bundle, currently costs a smidge under £250 at Amazon for the 500GB model. The PlayStation Pro is currently £350 (albeit with a larger 1TB hard drive).
It’s also larger. The PlayStation 4 measures 275 x 53 x 305mm, whereas the Pro is 295 x 55 x 327mm. That equates to about 20% of additional bulk, not that I suspect anybody has been put off a console by its actual dimensions. Needless to say, it’s a lot heavier too.
So, should I opt for a PlayStation 4 or PlayStation 4 Pro?
The most obvious situations are if you’re pairing your console with a 4K screen or are using PlayStation VR, both of which will hugely benefit from the more powerful device.
However, even if you’re running on a humble HD screen, there are still benefits to the Pro which may be worth that £100 difference. For those, like me, who require an optical port for their headphones, the removal of it from the standard PlayStation 4 means that the Pro really is the only way to go. Additionally, installing a hybrid hard drive, or even an SSD, vastly slashes load times and you’ll really only see the benefit with the SATA 3 connector in the Pro.
But, and this is important, not having a 4K screen doesn’t mean you won’t get any graphical benefit – expect to see improved frame rates and resolution regardless (many games don’t run at full HD resolution on the standard PS4).
Right now, I have the standard PlayStation 4 (although the previous model, replete with optical port). If it died tomorrow, despite having only a HD screen, I’d go for the Pro as it will add features that I need. If you read my article on the best hard drive to add to a PlayStation 4 then you’ll know too that the first thing you should then do is replace the standard drive. A 2TB SSD is going to set you back way too much money, so stick with a SATA 3 connected hybrid drive. Load times will tumble, my headphones will still work and frame rates will improve – surely, that’s worth an extra £100, isn’t it?