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

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.

Cheers Lifehacker

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    • I wager most people get the pro for bragging rights only. The same reason they get a 4K television, which are still mostly pointless and underutilized with a severe lack of available of true 4K content. Games still don’t utilize true 1080. But, gotta keep up with those Jones’s. . .

  • As someone whose parents thought everything I wanted was a waste of money I say lighten up. I mean if half a PS4 Pro is what you’ve budgeted for this present, do you really care where that money goes? If it’s a new bike, a PS4 Pro or pogs the goal is to give a gift.
    Worst case scenario is that he doesn’t enjoy it, realises that he wasted all his money AND his gift, and learns a lesson about hype. More realistically it’ll be fun in a way that you don’t understand and that’s fine.

  • DO NOT buy him the pro, explain to him that the upgrade is marginal. Ask him if he’d rather have 6-7 more games instead.

    Unless the game(s) he plays are stated to utilise the pro’s new hardware they will run exactly the same as the vanilla counterpart. Wait 2-3 years and upgrade then.

    tl;dr ask him why he wants it because he might be unaware as to how marginal an upgrade it is for most games at the moment.

  • If he has half the money already, AND he has an original PS4, tell him to just sell his original PS4. That should cover the other half.

  • What others have said, I say get him to sell the PS4 (eBay, gumtree, cashconverters, etc) and make him do the work and see how little it’s worth to teach him the value of things. Use his 1/2 and what he got for the PS4 and you pay the difference. The when he realises the PS4 pro wasn’t worth all that effort he’d have learnt a life lesson. Win win 🙂

    Don’t just get him new games, they will all have those “works better on PS4 pro” stickers on them and he’ll just hate playing them on his lowly PS4 and he’ll always wonder what it could have been like.

  • Buy him a 2 TB hard drive to upgrade his existing PS4 and a PSN gift card so he can have all his games on the hard drive.

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