PS4 Pro: Revealed Hardware, Software, Direct Feed review
Lead architect Mark Cerny took to the stage to reveal the final specs and benefits the new PS4 Pro will bring to its Playstation brand. Even though this is by no means the complete list it aims to answer as much as I have been able to source and confirm for now.
More info will be made available in a few weeks after Mr Cerny is set to have a further reveal of the GPU features and just what hardware modifications they have customised into the machine in the next few weeks. I have mine bought already and will of course deliver all the information as soon as possible come launch or hopefully sooner as I have contacted Sony for a review device as well.Being left slightly disappointing with the messaging from the event and some of the decisions made but I will get to those in due time.
So onto the facts and the specs:-
As per the leaks and my initial predictions we have the Polaris GPU at the centre of the device now around 2.3x as powerful as the AMD chip powering the launch PS4 and also revealed Slim model which is also housed on the smaller Finfet chip. These all are identical the ones I covered last week in my pre-reveal video.
Sadly the confirmed 2016 launch means that any hopes of a Zen centred CPU are no more ( a missed opportunity in my mind) with the same 8-Jaguar cores sharing slightly faster GDDR5 ram of the same 8GB allocation with an additional 512MiB available to developers when in Go Pro mode, required for the greater frame buffers. The CPU is clocked at a ~30% increase over the base model. It is just over 1/2 kilo heavier than the launch machine at 3.3Kg along with being bigger and using more power, 310W maximum with its internal PSU from a PC like Kettle lead needed for its bigger power draw. A taller and wider machine should facilitate a bigger fan to cool the new beast down. It resembles the cheaper looking slim and rather disappointingly looks less pro than the launch model in my opinion although the PS logo feet on both is a great touch and stops that "show-Stopping" launch model wobble. It does have a rear USB port so much better for charging options along with 2 additional front USB, helpful with the updated Dual-shock USB data feed option and the PSVR breakout box. A rear camera port required for PSVR, HDMI and Optical out and RJ45 socket complete the I/O suite.
Give me games
So what about the games and the features you may ask, oddly UHD-BD is missing from the device and contrary to some rumours or thoughts on this I highly doubt this will be "Patched" in at a later date as the optic strength and focus of the lazer required for the additional layers needed for the new discs would add a minor but higher cost and i seriously doubt Sony payed for that to be added and then removed it for a later addition. In my opinion the single worse choice here, a pro Device designed from its very core to be 4K centric, removing the single best format available to show its benefits is bewildering to me, lack of market adoption or not. Yes it does not need it succeed but there is a huge difference between a 4k Netflix stream and a 4K BD movie, the pixel count is merely part of the conversation. But I digress and aside this omission/mistake that I will cover more in a future video the machine delivers much of the initial promise, which we can look at with the revealed titles.
From my predicted Top 10 list many of them did appear ( 6/10 to be precise) with others also cropping up. In regards to the base PS4 mode the games will be identical and run the same in this mode (but I will confirm when I know more or get hands on) as I covered before, the patented method Sony have used spoofing clock cycles an obvious choice.
With past titles getting patches ( i would assume all in-time for the November 1th launch) to support the new Pro model include Second Son & First Light, TLOU R at a native 4K (or in the case of Second Son as near possible) the only downside is the 4K mode will run at 30fps with the same PS4 extra visual benefits. Even more oddly Shadow of Mordor appeared with a patch allowing a 4K or close boost to the visuals, hardly a revelation of a title but better than nothing.
It is the more modern titles that are the most interesting, Fifa 17, Battlefield 1 and the new Mass Effect Andromeda all receive updates with a Minimum 1080 for all but pushing up towards the 1800P level. These (as covered in my initial video) will use a reconstructed resolution method (Checkerboard) rendering that is created from a 2x2 grid spatially extrapolating to construct a 4x4 image from the surrounding data. This obviously will have varying levels of success and weakness but from footage I have been provided with thus far as you can see on-screen the results are uniformly good. Even though this is a hardware feature and "free" for all it can be tweaked and even bypassed it seems by Developers to use their own methods, the resulting image is one as close to a 4K display as is possible on console hardware with nearly all the benefits at a reduced performance cost. Having viewed this on my 4K TV I can certainly attest to its remarkable results. Sadly none of this footage has HDR enabled which removes the greatest benefit the next shift brings.
As covered the machine will not render Native 4K for many modern titles, but as we have seen with the patches and other less demanding games this will still occur with no upscalling intervention required on select titles. A true 4K device in 2016 at £349 is really very impressive.
We have others in the works also with Elder scrolls online receiving a Pro Patch, the Witness will move to a minimum 1080 image (PS4 is confirmed 900P from developers) and 4xMSAA over 2X with other benefits still in the works.
Other titles also see benefits with Black Ops 3 seeing a free resolution boost along with expected Uncharted 4, FFXV, Watch_Dogs2 along with the gorgeous Horizon:Zero Dawn which also demonstrated the expected HDR modes now available to the machine, along with a base PS4 Firmware patch adding that support which I will cover another time.
HDR is possibly the biggest benefit to the machine and TV's as I covered already in previous videos and in some/many ways adds more to the image than the actual pixel increase, with Horizon looking to run around 1800P natively reconstructed to 4K. You can learn more about HDR with my articles linked here and below. Horizon is not only an eye watering artistic gem it really suits the benefits that HDR brings. Just do not expect this to become the norm by any means but as we have seen with this title and almost certainly the absent GoW, Gears 4 and Forza Horizon 3 it's use adopted faster in AAA titles.
What about the 1080P players?
Talk of other benefits here were light with visual fidelity possibly having a boost at lower resolutions and what should be a more stable framerate. The same Killzone engine with vast updates powers the title but from developer chats at the event the engine simulation, physics etc may be tied to a 30Hz tick rate, meaning an unlocked rate is most likely off the cards. Another title certainly having the best and applauded set of features is the latest Lara game with Rise of the Tomb Raider from the talented Nixxies software delivering bang on target with a 1080 unlocked frame rate mode, 1080/30 balls to the wall Enhanced Visuals mode and finally a 4K/30 reconstructed image mode that may also have some of the EV features included, you can check out my early analysis of the game here thanks to direct feed footage provided by Square Enix. This along with its VR mode and all DLC including Co-op play will help entice players to buy for either machine and offers up the best demo of what the Pro bring for all and more importantly the vast majority of 1080P TV set customers out in the wild. This is something I covered with my last video and is still an area (among others) that Sony needs to clarify and expand on. Using the features like this on the new machine will (Imop) help widen its appeal and adoption and even if these kind of features may not be the standard I would hope Sony entices developers to do this with unlocked rates, extra graphical features along with its HDR benefits will appease and impress much more than the HUGE resource required to push a 4K display. For modern titles the Pro specs would not be enough to manage both from Memory constraints and bandwidth without the customised and patented hardware/software reconstruction methods.
As it stands the machine is a good leap over the base model, I can say with almost 100% certainty that buying one this side of 2016 makes little to no sense unless you have the spare case and OR a 4K TV preferably with HDR included. That said I advise waiting to buy a new TV and the Pro until more titles hit. Horizon, Mass Effect, Days Gone, GoW and Spiderman for starters are all 2017 or later titles and as nice as the new modes and "forward compatibility" patches are the real benefits will come much further down the line. With Frame-rate AND OR visual enhancements being an option for each the best mix of the new machines power. This will expand more as we see a growing number of engines and titles adopting a more GPU centric design, Doom, Uncharted 4 and the just released The Tomorrow Children (video up soon) are a sign of the future, something the Pro will really excel at if the 4K aim is relaxed. Not all titles or studios can or will achieve this but that is on Sony to make that more common and expand the Pro's market by catering to a wider range of upgrades or adopting consumers. I also expect these titles to see a sub 1080 resolution on the base PS4 when this occurs, something I feel is still a fair trade, but this is by no means a fact.
Be sure to check my site and channel regulary for further updates on the Pro and more as I get them and I will be back soon with more analysis of Pro titles and just what other features have been snuck into the new box.