It could be worth upgrading to the PlayStation 4 Pro even without a 4K TV

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Perhaps you watched the reveal of the PlayStation 4 Pro last night, perhaps you didn’t. Aside from Mark Cerny’s hypnotically cool and calm voice, it was a little underwhelming – especially watched from a 1080p YouTube stream on the other side of the planet; hardly the best way to see 4K output, or the much touted High Dynamic Range imaging.

From the comfort of my laptop, the whole reveal was muted and dull and entirely underwhelming. There’s very little that I saw from the stream that convinced me that I need to shell out the $399 or, locally, the R6500 (guesstimated) necessary to upgrade. The new console is roughly twice as powerful as the existing PlayStation 4, but its features seem squarely aimed at those with new-fangled UHD screens, something I’m not fortunate or fiscally-endowed enough to own. The PS4 Pro is a nice upgrade, but it practically demands a display upgrade too.

What impetus is there for me, a 1080p screen toting consumer to upgrade to the new PlayStation 4 Pro? What I expected, but saw nothing of during the stream was any emphasis on how existing and future games running on the PlayStation 4 Pro would have better frame rates. Being able to play Bloodborne or The Witcher 3 at a solid 60fps on the PS4 would be enticing.

The only thing from the stream that made me even consider upgrading was that PlayStation VR would be a better experience on the new console. But here’s something else that’s making me question my previously steadfast decision to give the PS4 Pro a skip; it supports supersampling.

Speaking in a stream after the conference Guerrilla Games Art Director Jan-Bart Van Beek, Insomniac Games Co-Founder Brian Hastings and Naughty Dog Lead Programmer Christian Gyrling explained some of the many advantages of the PS4 Pro, and one stuck out for me as a 1080p screen owner. According to Van Beek, The PlayStation 4 supports supersampling. For many of you PC gamers, supersampling is nothing especially new. Nvidia’s supported their own “Dynamic Super Resolution” for years. While AMD has its “Virtual Super Resolution.”

In effect, what this means is that the game will be rendered internally at a higher resolution, and then downscaled to fit your display. What that means, is that you’ll have a much crisper output, less aliasing and jaggies, and much less shimmer. It won’t quite have the impact that 4K would have, but it will make your games look better on your existing screens. On top of that, you will experience better, more stable frame rates in both 30 and 60 fps games on the pro.

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The system will detect your display through HDMI, and adjust game output to match. Eurogamer’s Digital Foundry discusses it in their excellent break down of the PS4 Pro.

“However, game-makers also have the opportunity to prepare different presentations depending on the screen attached. So if you have a 1080p display, you might see more lush visuals, whereas if you have a 4K display on tap, you may get a resolution boost.“

Has the PS4 Pro enticed you, or are you content with what you have right now?

Last Updated: September 8, 2016

Geoffrey Tim

Editor. I'm old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time - they were capable of being masterpieces. I'm here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

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