Ask LH: Do I Need To Buy My Son A PlayStation 4 Pro?

Dear Lifehacker, my 15-year old son is bugging me to buy him a PlayStation 4 Pro console for his birthday – he’s even willing to put half the money towards it. The thing is, he already owns a PlayStation 4 which still works fine. Is this upgrade necessary to play future PlayStation games or will it just be a waste of money? Thanks, non-gamer parent

Dear NGP,

Two questions:

  1. Is your son interested in the PlayStation VR virtual-reality headset?
  2. Do you own or plan to buy a 4K HDR television?

If the answer to either of these questions is “no” you can hold off on buying a PlayStation 4 Pro for now. While we wouldn’t call it “a waste of money”, the fruits of the upgrade are only readily apparent in the above situations.

The PlayStation 4 Pro is being marketed as a “super-charged” PS4. If Sony can be believed, it comes with double the GPU power of a standard PlayStation 4 – but that doesn’t mean it’s twice as good.

The PS4 Pro is not a next-generation console. It won’t even be receiving any exclusive games – anything released for the PS4 Pro will still work fine on the original PS4. Rather, the graphical enhancements are provided through a software patch that you need to download after purchasing a compatible PS4 game. (You can see some examples here.)

The Pro’s main claim to fame are higher frame rates (which translates to faster and more realistic animations) and the ability to play 4K video games. Oddly however, it doesn’t come with a 4K Blu-ray player like the Xbox One S, which means you can’t play store-bought 4K discs in the console. Tch.

As mentioned, the extra frames per second that PS4 Pro brings to the table are only essential for PlayStation VR games – otherwise, the average console gamer probably won’t notice the difference. Likewise, the boost in clarity and colours will be largely lost if you don’t have a 4K TV with HDR functionality.

If I were you, I’d buy my son some new PlayStation 4 games instead – starting with Horizon Zero Dawn. It’s ace.


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