Which PlayStation 4 should I buy?
Anyone looking to buy a PlayStation for family now have three options that look very similar. You've got the original PlayStation 4, the new slimmer PlayStation 4 with the exact same branding on the box as the original, and the new PlayStation 4 Pro. Do they all offer similar experiences? Is there a downside to buying the original over the slim? There are a lot of unanswered questions here.
It's confusing by anyone's standards, so your best bet is to know what you need before you head into the store.
What's the difference?
Sony has a history of releasing a "slim" version of the PlayStation a couple of years after its initial release. In the past, those consoles have been labeled a little differently at launch to make it easier to tell the new version apart from the old one. These slimmer versions typically offer more a physical difference than a functionality difference, and this year is no different. The significant feature and performance difference comes with the PlayStation 4 Pro, and even then the difference isn't huge unless you own a 4K television with HDR support.Category PlayStation 4 (2013) PlayStation 4 (2016) PlayStation 4 Pro Price $349 $299 $399 Dimensions 10.83in x 12.01in x 2.08in 10.43in x 11.34in x 1.54in 11.61in x 12.87in x 2.17in CPU AMD Jaguar 8-core (x86-64) AMD Jaguar 8-core (x86-64) AMD Jaguar 8-core (x86-64) GPU AMD Radeon (1.84 TFLOP) AMD Radeon (1.84 TFLOP) AMD Radeon (4.2 TFLOP) Storage 500GB / 1TB 500GB / 1TB 1TB Optical out Yes No Yes AV out AV/HDMI 1.4 HDMI 1.4 HDMI 2.0 Power consumption 250w max 165w max 310w max 4K Streaming No No Yes USB USB 3.0 (x2) USB 3.0 (x2 ) USB 3.0 (x3) PSVR support Yes Yes Yes (Enhanced)
The biggest functional difference between the original PS4 and the new slimmer PS4 is power consumption. Sony claims the new PS4 has a max power draw of 165 watts, which sounds impressive next to the original 250w max of the first PS4 until you see most benchmarks. The original PlayStation 4 had an average power draw of 150w during its heaviest gameplay sessions, and never pushed anywhere near that 250w max. It is slightly smaller though, so there's that.
PlayStation VR performance is something altogether different.
As you can see, Sony is using the same CPU and a GPU that's a little more than twice the performance in the new PlayStation 4 Pro. There's also an updated version of the HDMI standard in the PS4 Pro, but there's no immediate difference in performance out of the box for video output. Games that struggled in the past to maintain 30fps or 60fps on a standard PlayStation 4 will be able to offer a more consistent experience with the PlayStation 4 Pro through its "boost mode" feature. This basically means games that appear a to stutter a little on a normal PS4 will look and play smoother on a PS4 Pro.
PlayStation 4 Pro also offers 4K video streaming and enhanced graphics on supported titles. Game developers will have the option to offer higher quality graphics to PlayStation 4 Pro gamers, which will be clearly labeled with PS4 Pro Enhanced on the box. Not only are most new PlayStation games being made to support this Enhanced ability, many of the more popular games from the past year are releasing updates to look better through the more capable console.
PlayStation VR performance is something altogether different. PlayStation 4 Pro was built to better support PlayStation VR (You know, Project Morpheus and PlayStation Neo kinda go together and all that) but even here the differences is subtle. Games available now look slightly better on the Pro, but game developers over time will use that added power to create more compelling VR experiences and that's going to be a much bigger deal.
Which should I buy?
Now that you know everything you need to know about the differences between these consoles, lets break it down!
- PlayStation 4 — This is the PS4 most likely to be available at a considerable discount, or in a bundle with extra controllers and free games. If you're gaming on a budget, this is where you start.
- Slim PlayStation 4 — This is the PS4 you will see the most of on shelves this year, and it's the nicer looking of the three. If you care about that sort of thing, or you're just rushing in to grab a PS4 and nothing else, this is the version you want.
- PlayStation 4 Pro — If you own a 4K television, or you're interested in the best possible gaming experience from your PlayStation, this is the console for you.