VG Tribune

PS4 Pro – Underpowered Trash

September 7, 2016 / 7:24 PM

By: Poorna Shankar

Let’s cut straight to the chase. The recently announced PS4 Pro is underpowered trash.

Now that I’ve lost roughly half of you (the fanboys, I suspect), for the remaining fifty percent who actually care about making intelligent purchasing decisions, stick around.

Let’s get some facts out of the way. The PS4 Pro (henceforth, the “Pro”), formerly the PS4 Neo, will release on November 10 for three hundred and ninety nine US dollars, or $399 if you’re boring. Hard specifications were omitted from the press conference with Mark Cerny, simply mentioning that the Pro has more than double the GPU power compared to the PS4. These specifications were then later released by Sony – well after the main conference when it commanded the audience and attention with which to state such information. What this means is that many consumers simply don’t know the hard specs of the Pro, leading them to fill in the gaps themselves, opening the door for misinformation to take root and spread.

I suspect Sony deliberately kept the specs vague to withhold information from the consumer, perfectly content with letting consumers assume that if they mention “4K” enough in their briefing, consumers will believe the PS4 Pro can actually game in 4K. I find that insulting, misleading, and genuinely disgusting.

Since I’m not one for misinformation, here are the confirmed specs, via Venture Beat. The final package will contain the PS4 Pro itself, a DualShock 4, monaural headset, power cord, HDMI cable, and a USB cable:

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

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Image via Sony

4K UHD Blu-Ray?

There are some crucial items to be called out here. First, note the absence of a 4K UHD Blu-ray player. This perhaps seems to be the most egregious omission for a console touting 4K gaming and 4K content, especially when its competition, the Xbox One S, has a 4K UHD Blu-ray player – and it’s the less powerful, less expensive of the two. So all that chest thumping Sony did about “4K ra ra! Pixels! Detail! Ra Ra!” – all of that is useless and meaningless without the ability to natively play 4K UHD Blu-rays.

Upscaling

Second, and perhaps more importantly, during the conference, Mark Cerny did not once confirm native 4K gaming. He spent his time onstage talking about advances in rendering techniques, including temporal anti-aliasing algorithms used to achieve a 4K resolution. For most consumers, they hear this and think, “Oh cool! This next gen console can do 4K!”

It absolutely critical to understand that Mark Cerny is not talking about native 4K gaming. He is instead talking about upscaling. In layman’s terms, upscaling means taking a lower resolution image and scaling it up to fit onto a larger resolution display.

It is absolutely crucial to understand that the quality of that image is not scaling linearly with the increase in pixel count. You can’t magically make a 1080p image as crisp as, and contain the same number of pixels as, a native 4K image. Upscaling is something the PS4 and Xbox One already do today to render out to native 1080p TVs.

In fact, Star Wars Battlefront is a perfect example of such upscaling. The Xbox One outputs a 720p image, while the PS4 outputs a 900p image. These images are then upscaled to display on your native 1080p display. Compare the same screenshot from an Xbox One and a PS4 to a screenshot of the game running at native 1080p on PC, and you will see that the PS4 screenshot is blurrier than the native 1080p PC screenshot, with the Xbox One screenshot blurrier still.

In short, upscaling is not the same as native. Upscaling is used because these current consoles are so damn underpowered that they simply cannot hit the standard resolution for high definition – a standard which PCs have been hitting and powering past for years and years.

With Mark Cerny praising such upscaling techniques, he is all but admitting that his precious new console is underpowered and cannot hit native 4K resolution.

No Power

Third, note the power of the GPU and CPU. Let’s look at the GPU first. Sony is claiming a 4.2 TFLOP GPU, and while they don’t call out the clocks of the CPU, we can safely assume that it’s merely an overclocked version of the current PS4 CPU. However, don’t expect PC-level clocks here. I fully expect a 2.0-2.1 GHz clock speed – a woefully underpowered CPU.

As a brief aside, recall that Microsoft explicitly called out that Scorpio will have 6 TFLOPs of GPU power. Yes, it’s not releasing until next year, but that does not change the fact that the PS4 Pro is objectively underpowered compared to its competition.

Remember, Sony touted 4K throughout the entirety of the conference. However, here is some harsh truth for you all. A 4.2 TFLOP GPU paired with a 2.1 GHz CPU is simply not enough to game in 4K at 60 frames per second – an acceptable framerate one expects from a so-called “next gen” console. In other words, simply doubling the GPU power and slightly overclocked a severely underpowered CPU is simply not enough to output 4 times the pixels at double the framerate.

The GTX 980 – a two year old GPU – is rated at 4.9 TFLOPs. That GPU cannot output modern games at native 4K with acceptable framerate – and that’s when it’s paired with an i7 3770k, an extremely popular and powerful CPU. I know this because I had a PC with these exact specs. A GTX 980 and an i7 3770k is power consoles will never have, and that power simply wasn’t enough for 4K gaming at acceptable framerate. How the hell does Sony think they can achieve 4K gaming with objectively worse hardware?

30 Frames Per Second

For all the chest thumping Sony did regarding 4K gaming, they barely – if ever – mentioned gaming in higher framerates. In their blog post, they state, “All games will run in 1080p resolution, and some will even run in a higher or more stable framerate.” It must be called out that this blog was published well after the actual conference itself, meaning the blog post did not command the same audience and attention at the conference itself…meaning perhaps not as many consumers were privy to this information.

All of the demos shown, barring Call of Duty, were running in the same unacceptable 30 frames per second (fps). Let’s get this out of the way – 30fps is shit. A game at 30fps is objectively worse than the same game at 60fps. Framerate directly impacts gameplay. If you think otherwise, you’re simply wrong.

Instead of pushing for better graphics and better framerates at 1080p – a resolution the PS4 and Xbox One fail to hit game after game – Sony is hell bent on chasing 4K, that too, upscaled 4K. We have just discussed above how 4K is an entirely unrealistic goal for the Pro. The hardware simply isn’t good enough. We can objectively measure this.

Sony seems content with utterly subpar and unacceptable 30fps gaming.

Underpowered Trash

This merely enforces a fundamental problem with consoles – compromise. They can either do graphics, or resolution, or framerate. Most of the time, they can’t do any of those three.

The PS4 Pro is simply more of the same. Instead of shaping the future, Sony is dredging up past hardware and then attaching an anchor to them, slowing down the industry and forcing compromise.

Sony isn’t offering anything new. Absolutely nothing showcased was new, nor was it innovative.

Everything Sony touted on stage – everything they touted – is possible and better on PC.

Sony claims that the PS4 Pro is for gamers who want to be at the “forefront of innovation.” If they truly believed that, they’d tell you to forget consoles.

Forget these underpowered pieces of trash that charge you to play a game you already paid for. Forget these underpowered pieces of trash whose online services consistently go down. Forget these underpowered pieces of trash that can’t even game in modern resolutions and framerates.

Forget consoles. Do what Matt Williams, Co-Editor in Chief here at VG Tribune, did. Build a PC.

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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5 Comments

    • Shank

      I wish I could type a “clap” emoji.

      • Tanner

        👏 It’s not that hard.

        • Shank

          You, sir, are a gentleman and scholar.

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