VG Tribune

Is PS4 Pro Good Value For Its Price?

September 9, 2016 / 7:00 AM

By: Poorna Shankar

 

On Wednesday, I absolutely ripped the PS4 Pro to shreds, calling it underpowered trash. I did that because that’s exactly what it is. I have been called “arrogant” and a “PC elitist” since then – neither are titles I deny. I specifically discussed its technical specifications, Sony’s horrendous messaging, and just why the PS4 Pro is not at the “forefront of innovation.” What I deliberately did not discuss was the financial viability, rather, the value play.

Allow me to explain. Since the beginning of time, the argument in favor of consoles (and against PCs) has been that one cannot build a similarly spec’d PC for the price of a console. And for the longest time, this remained true. However, in recent years, prices of PC components have dropped dramatically, culminating in products from both AMD and Nvidia which provide insane power for their price. In other words, the value proposition on PC components has never been higher. You can build PCs today for really not much more than the price of the Xbox One or PS4.

As I mentioned in my previous PS4 Pro article, I’m not one for misinformation. Therefore, what I would like to do here is ask (and hopefully answer) the question: Is the PS4 Pro good value for its price? In order to answer this question, I will attempt to price out a PC with similarly powered components.

Please note, consoles use highly customized components of existing PC hardware, therefore finding exact matches has proven to be impossible when I was conducting research for this article. It is critical to call out that the components I have listed in my build are actually more powerful than the components in the PS4 Pro. Similarly, since AMD is once again providing the silicon for this console, I primarily stuck with AMD products as best I could.

Previous rumors had stated a 36 CU GPU, however, those are not the official specs provided by Sony. The facts right now only provide the TFLOP figure, so that’s what we’ll go with. However, this is in part a thought experiment, so I will also provide a second build focused on the CU count provided by PS Neo rumors.

Additionally, please note I will be excluding the following items from my PC build:

  • Monitor – Consoles hook up to your TV. There is nothing stopping you from hooking up a PC to your TV.
  • Keyboard/Mouse – Primary console input is through a controller, which I have included in my build. Additionally, chances are you already have a keyboard/mouse laying around somewhere.
  • Optical drive – PC games are primarily digital, therefore you’ll be downloading games using digital storefronts like Steam. Additionally, you can boot Windows using a USB thumb drive.

For now, let’s look at the confirmed PS4 Pro specs:

  • Main processor: Custom-chip single processor
  • CPU: x86-64 AMD “Jaguar” with 8 cores
  • GPU: 4.2 TFLOPS; AMD Radeon-based graphics engine
  • Memory: GDDR5 8GB
  • Storage: 1TB hard-disk drive
  • Dimensions: 295mm X 55mm X 327mm
  • Mass: 3.3Kg
  • Optical drive: Blu-ray 6-speed, DVD 8-speed
  • HDMI output
  • Optical digital output
  • 3 USB 3.1 ports
  • 1 Aux port
  • Ethernet port
  • IEEE 802.11 A/B/G/N/Ac Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • Power supply: AC 100V, 50/60Hz
  • Max power consumption: 310W
  • Price: $399 (Or, three hundred and ninety nine US dollars. No, that won’t get old)

ps4_7000_02-930x620

I mentioned two PC builds. Here they are, along with the reasoning behind each.

Build 1 – RX 470 – TFLOP Focused

The link to this build can be found here. At the time of this writing, the cost of this build is $588.79.

As I mentioned above, exactly matching the specs of a console is quite difficult, given the customization AMD had performed to the silicon. The best we can do is come close. Therefore, this build is based off of the official throughput figure Sony provides for their GPU, since Sony fails to mention a CU (compute unit) figure for the GPU they are using. This means we can’t know for sure exactly what current AMD GPU Sony is using in their PS4 Pro.

With that in mind, the closest I came to the stated 4.2 TFLOPS was AMD’s RX 470. This is a genuinely awesome little card, and once overclocked, and compete with the RX 480. The TFLOP figure for this card has a spread from 3.8 TFLOPS to 4.9 TFLOPS. For transparency, here’s how you calculate throughput, commonly shown in TFLOPS:

TFLOPS = (Clock Speed in MHz * 2 * Cores) / 1M

With this in hand, we can reverse engineer the formula to guesstimate the core clocks necessary for the 470 to achieve the desired 4.2 TFLOPS:

Clock Speed in MHz = (4.2 * 1M) / (2 * 2048) = ~1,025 MHz

What this means is that, in this scenario, the RX 470 would actually have to be overclocked from its base clock of 926 MHz to match the TFLOP figure Sony provided for the PS4 Pro. Now, this article is not meant to speculate what GPU Sony is using in the PS4 Pro, rather, it’s meant to see whether or not we can build a PC to match the specs of the PS4 Pro to determine if the console is a good value.

With that in mind, this build is definitely viable. However, what if we were to price out a PC build based on the rumored PS4 Pro specs with respect to CUs?

Build 2 – RX 480 – CU Focused

This is the pricier of the two builds, yet nevertheless is meant to accomplish the same goal. The link for this build is here. Specs for this build are below, with cost as of this writing totaling $622.79.

AMD’s RX 480 has the requisite 36 CU per the rumors surrounding the PS4 Pro prior to launch. In order to hit that official 4.2 TFLOP spec, the RX 480 would actually have to be underclocked to roughly 911 MHz. In my opinion, this is the GPU being utilized in the PS4 Pro. However, again, this article is not meant to speculate the exact hardware inside the PS4 Pro.

We are trying to answer whether or not the PS4 Pro is a good value.

The Real And Necessary Cost of PS Plus

You’ll note that I haven’t mentioned the very real and necessary cost of a PS Plus subscription. However, this is a stark reality of modern console gaming. In order to play online with the games you already bought, you must pay a fee to Microsoft or Sony. You pay for services which are quite frankly, unstable and unreliable.

This means that in a game like Call of Duty, you literally cannot play half the game without shelling out for PS Plus. And if PS Plus goes down, tough luck. You cannot play half the game. What’s worse, when PS Plus/Xbox Live goes down, you are literally paying for that down time. It’s that simple.

So, with the cost of PS Plus, the total viable price for PS4 Pro comes out to $460. However, even with this added (necessary) cost, the PCs I’ve painstakingly priced out here are still more expensive…at least with their up front cost.

…But In The Long Run

Here is where we can begin to draw conclusions based on real numbers, real money, real facts. The argument from console gamers has been that the upfront cost for consoles is less than that of a similarly priced PC. The counterargument from PC gamers is that, while the upfront cost for PCs may be higher, they’re actually cheaper in the long run.

The PC gamer’s argument stems from the very real fact that on PC, you don’t need to pay a subscription fee to play games online. That right there is a potential $60/year savings. Additionally, games on PC are consistently cheaper than the same games on console, due to the fact that PC has multiple storefronts. Multiple storefronts mean competition, and competition drives prices lower, ultimately benefiting the consumer.

Is The PS4 Pro Good Value For Its Price?

So, back to the question at hand. Is the PS4 Pro good value for its price? The actual answer is two-fold.

In the short term, that is, when speaking directly to upfront costs, yes, the PS4 Pro is a good value. My research shows that, at the time of this writing, we simply cannot achieve price parity when building a PC with similar performance to the PS4 Pro.

In the long term – the perspective I consider more important not just for the consumer, but for the industry at large – no, the PS4 Pro is not good value. By year two with my RX 470 build, I would have already recouped my money simply by not having to pay an online subscription fee, along with crazy discounts on games. By year three, I’m actually saving money with that PC build.

However, in my experience, console gamers tend to prioritize upfront costs rather than long term costs. So to them, they’ll see the PS4 Pro as good value. To those of us who value the long term, PC gaming simply can’t be beat.

If you have PC builds that are actually cheaper than the ones I listed here but still match the specs of the PS4 Pro, please let me know. I believe I’ve done my due diligence and aimed to provide you all with facts, but I’m all for more accurate information if you can provide it.

It is my hope that this has provided some additional clarity and detail to those of you who are interested in buying the PS4 Pro. I personally hope you build a PC – and I am absolutely more than happy to help anyone do so – as the PC does provide objective benefits over console which I’ve outlined in this article.

Sound off on your thoughts below.

 

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About the author /


A highly opinionated avid PC gamer, Poorna blindly panics with his friends in various multiplayer games, much to the detriment of his team. Constantly questioning industry practices and a passion for technological progress drive his love for the video game industry. He pulls no punches and tells it like he sees it.

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