PS5 vs. PS4 Pro: Which should you buy?

Which console should you buy?

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The PS5 is leagues ahead of its younger sibling, but since it's still hard to find, it's understandable that some people may be interested in the older model. The PS4 Pro can still deliver an impressive gaming experience but its time in the sun has drawn to a close. If you want the best of the best and want to continue playing great new games, the PS5 is for you.

What's the difference?

If you're considering grabbing a PlayStation console, you've got a couple of options to choose from. Sony is still supporting its last-generation system, but a new generation is firmly here, bringing new games, features, and more for anyone that is capable of buying a PlayStation 5. Supply issues remain a thing, but if you have to choose, we'll run you through everything you should know about buying a new system. PS5 vs. PS4 Pro? It's pretty simple. 

The differences between the PS5 and PS4 Pro are much more than cosmetic. Sony ensured that the PS5 had an entirely new architecture to meet today's standards. But, of course, players only expect the best. Therefore, many games will be coming to PS5 that can't run on PS4 Pro due to the sheer power and speed it takes to do so.

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Header Cell - Column 0 PS5PS4 Pro
Price$499 MSRP$399 MSRP
GPU10.28 TFLOPS, 36 CUs @ 2.23 GHz Custom RDNA 24.2 TFLOPS, AMD Radeon
CPU8x Cores @ 3.5GHz Custom Zen 28x cores @ 2.16 GHz Custom Jaguar
Memory bandwidth448GB/s176GB/s
Storage825GB SSD1TB HDD
ControllerDualSenseDualShock 4
Backward compatibilityYesNo
PSVR supportYesYes
Optical drive4K UHD Blu-Ray drive1080p HD Blu-Ray drive
Weight9.9 lbs7.3 lbs
Size15.3 x 4.1 x 10.2 inches12.9 x 2.2 x 11.6 inches

What do these features mean to you?

If you don't understand some of these terms or how they affect your gaming experience, we'll help break down their meaning and importance.

PS5 vs. PS4 Pro: CPU and GPU

PS4 With DualShock On Top

(Image credit: Android Central)

The CPU (central processing unit) and GPU (graphics processing unit) work in tandem to deliver the best games that we all love to play. You can think of them as the brains of the console and determine its power and performance. The GPU creates and renders every image you have seen onscreen, and the CPU performs countless calculations to keep everything running. Bigger numbers in this regard are good because it means they can process information faster and more reliably.

The CPU and GPU work in tandem to deliver the best games possible.

The PS5's specs should eliminate bottlenecks found in previous generations, opening up new ways for developers to create games with more intricate gameplay systems in place.

This added power should also allow the PS5 to potentially render games at 8K resolution and even support 120 FPS, though not necessarily at the same time. For comparison, the PS4 Pro can hit 4K at 60FPS, but it does so infrequently and usually involves upscaling techniques or dynamic resolution. The PS5 should be able to hit this target much more consistently.

New features like ray-tracing are capable on PS5, and more improvements have come in the years following the launch of the PS5. Sony added PS5 VRR support, a feature on newer TV sets that allows games to refresh at uneven framerates. Now, dedicated patches are improving the stability for the list of PS5 games with VRR support

PS5 vs. PS4 Pro: Memory and storage

PS5 SSD GDC Presentation

(Image credit: PlayStation)

Memory dictates how much data the system is currently using can be stored, read, and written at any given time. The PS5 uses 16GB of GDDR6 RAM (random-access memory), a much-increased capacity and bandwidth compared to the RAM found in the PS4 Pro. Everything you see on screen is data that needs to be pulled from your game download to render it. The better your RAM, the more efficient it does this.

The PS5 uses a solid-state drive (SDD) instead of the PS4 Pro's HDD (hard disc drive) for its storage. This is important because an SSD allows for more data to be read faster. An SSD has no moving parts, and data is stored on flash-memory chips. HDDs use moving mechanical parts to read/write information, thus making the process slower. Where the PS4 could load 1GB of data in 20 seconds, the PS5 can load 2GB in .27 seconds (in perfect conditions).

Games need to be rendered at lightning-fast speeds. That's what an SSD does best.

When everything you see on the screen needs to be rendered at lightning-fast speeds, you want an SSD. This will also cut back tremendously on load times, texture pop-in, and latency. It does not, however, affect frame rate or resolution.

Game installation should also work a little differently on the PS5. PlayStation architect Mark Cerny said that PS5 games could be downloaded in configurable blocks. "Rather than treating games like a big block of data," he said, "we're allowing finer-grained access to the data."

This means that players can download parts of a game separately, like its multiplayer and single-player campaigns. If you happen to beat a game's single-player campaign, you can uninstall it while still keeping its multiplayer installed.

PS5 vs PS4 Pro: PSVR support

Playstation VR (PSVR)

(Image credit: Nick Sutrich / Android Central)

Both the PS4 Pro and PS5 support PSVR. Initially, Sony detailed little about what PSVR will look like on PS5 other than stating that current PSVR headsets will work on it. The company is planning on a PSVR 2 headset sometime down the road, but it didn't launch alongside the PS5 in November 2020.

Global Head of R&D for PlayStation Dominic Mallinson indicated that he'd like to see PSVR on PS5 support eye-tracking and be completely wireless. He also said that he expects the resolution to "roughly double in the next set of VR products" with an increased field of view to 120-degrees. The controller should receive a massive overhaul as well.

For those who are unfamiliar with eye-tracking, it's a sensor technology that can track where a person's gaze is focused. This means that the device can track the position and motion of your eyes relative to your head and the screen, ideally reducing eye strain and improving performance and immersion.

Later, Sony shared more information, detailing the specs of the PS VR2, as well as sharing how the controllers are being improved. Dubbed the Sense Controller, these are a huge step up from the Move controllers used with the PS4. 

Sony has also revealed one first-party PS VR2 game. Titled Horizon Call of the Mountain, it's being co-developed by Guerrilla Games and Firesprite as a VR experience in the world of Horizon.

PS5 vs. PS4 Pro: DualSense vs. DualShock 4

Playstation 5 Dualsense Controller

(Image credit: PlayStation)

The DualSense controller is a major upgrade in almost every way compared to the DualShock 4. While it retains its inline symmetrical thumbstick layout, what lies underneath is far more important. The PS5 DualSense controller now supports haptic feedback and adaptive triggers, allowing players to actually feel the tension in actions that they perform, like pulling back a bowstring.

According to Sony:

"First, we're adopting haptic feedback to replace the rumble technology found in controllers since the 5th generation of consoles. With haptics, you truly feel a broader range of feedback, so crashing into a wall in a race car feels much different than making a tackle on the football field. You can even get a sense for a variety of textures when running through fields of grass or plodding through mud. The second innovation is something we call adaptive triggers, which have been incorporated into the trigger buttons (L2/R2). Developers can program the resistance of the triggers so that you feel the tactile sensation of drawing a bow and arrow or accelerating an off-road vehicle through rocky terrain. In combination with the haptics, this can produce a powerful experience that better simulates various actions. Game creators have started to receive early versions of the new controller, and we can't wait to see where their imagination goes with these new features at their disposal."

Sony's big focus next generation is immersion. Everything about the DualSense is meant to immerse you in the gameplay experience like never before. The DualShock 4 certainly wasn't capable of the same.

In addition to these significant features, the DualSense will have USB-C charging, a built-in microphone and Create button, and an improved lightbar. The face buttons also look as if they're much more tactile than those found on the DualShock 4. Overall, the DualSense sports a sleek design that's paired up with some pretty impressive technology.

PS5 vs. PS4 Pro: Exclusive games

Demons Souls PS5 Latria Chapel

(Image credit: Android Central)

Many of Sony's initial slate of first-party games, like Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Horizon Forbidden West, and God of War Ragnarok will release on both PS4 and PS5. But that isn't the case with all of them. There will be games only available on next-gen hardware like the PlayStation 5, and this number is only growing over time.

Games like Demon's Souls, Deathloop, and Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart were released exclusively on the newest hardware and this will continue in the years to come, with more and more exclusive first-party and third-party titles arriving on the PS5.

Already, we know of some more PS5-only games like Marvel's Spider-Man 2 and Marvel's Wolverine. In the years to come, you should expect PS4 support to slowly phase out as developers focus entirely on the PS5 and Xbox Series X/S.

PS5 vs. PS4 Pro: Backward compatibility

Sam and Nathan Drake

Source: Sony (Image credit: Source: Sony)

Backward compatibility is a way for older games to run on newer hardware. An overwhelming majority of the PS4's library — around 4,000 games — is playable on PS5. Many of these games also benefit from PS5 Game Boost, improving their performance and frame rate.

The PS4, including the Pro, has no sort of backward compatibility to speak of. So if you want to play older PS3 or PS2 games that you own, you'd need to re-buy them if they were ported over.

PS5 vs. PS4 Pro: User interface

PS4 User Interface Homescreen

(Image credit: Android Central)

The user interface on the PS5 is much more dynamic than the one found on PS4. Though it doesn't have themes (at least not at launch), the background changes depending on which game you're highlighting on the home screen. For example, if you pull up Spider-Man: Miles Morales, a background of Miles in his iconic suit will appear.

A few notable changes include a redesigned Control Center and the addition of Activity cards and Game Help. Activity cards now pop up when you open up the Control Center, and these allow you to pick certain stages or moments in a game that you want to hop into directly. Game Help is a new PlayStation Plus member perk that provides tips and walkthroughs for specific objectives in games that support it.

PS5 vs PS4 Pro: PlayStation Plus Collection

Playstation Plus Collection

(Image credit: PlayStation)

Sony also introduced PlayStation Plus Collection with the PS5. This is a new benefit for PlayStation Plus members that grants them access to a select number of PlayStation 4 hits. The 17 games currently available for the PlayStation Collection so far include:

  • Batman Arkham Knight
  • Battlefield 1
  • Bloodborne
  • Days Gone
  • Detroit: Become Human
  • Fallout 4
  • Final Fantasy 15
  • God of War
  • Infamous: Second Son
  • Monster Hunter World
  • Mortal Kombat X
  • Ratchet & Clank
  • The Last Guardian
  • The Last of Us: Remastered
  • Uncharted 4
  • Until Dawn
  • Resident Evil 7

PS5 vs. PS4 Pro: Two different PS5 consoles

Ps5 All Digital Edition

Source: PlayStation via YouTube (Image credit: Source: PlayStation via YouTube)

Sony's released a few different PS4s — like the PS4 Slim and PS4 Pro — over the years, but the company has only ever shipped one upon its initial launch. That's set to change with the PS5. Sony unveiled a digital edition of the PS5, which drops the disc drive in addition to the normal PS5.

Other than the absence of a disc drive on the PS5 Digital Edition, Sony CEO Jim Ryan says that both consoles are identical.

"As you saw, there is a small difference in the form factor of the two consoles, Ryan said. "I'm sure you also observed, the basic design aesthetic is consistent between them. So there is that and the fact that the digital edition does not have a disk drive. That is it. Other than that, they are identical products."

The PS5 costs $499, while the PS5 Digital Edition is priced at $399.

PS5 vs. PS4 Pro: Which should you buy?

There is no doubt that between these two consoles, the PS5 is superior in nearly every aspect. With far more advanced technology and the ability to play your old PS4 games, it's an easy choice. Unless the PS4 Pro drops drastically in price, we'd recommend anyone looking for a new console to get the PS5 Digital Edition at the very least. It costs just as much as the PS4 Pro usually, and you're getting a better system. As time goes on, PS5 restocks will become more common, and the console will be easier to get ahold of while the PS4 Pro will be harder and harder to get.

Already, it's borderline impossible to find a brand new PS4 Pro at or under its launch price. So unless you see a truly spectacular deal, don't waste your money. Instead, just keep trying to get a PS5. It may take a long time, but you will eventually grab one.

Jennifer Locke
Games Editor - PlayStation, Android, VR

Jennifer Locke has been playing video games nearly her entire life. You can find her posting pictures of her dog and obsessing over PlayStation and Xbox, Star Wars, and other geeky things.