A PS5 Pro is coming – but is it really needed?

Sony’s most powerful PlayStation ever practically confirmed, here’s why it matters more than people realize


The PlayStation5 Pro has been rumored for more than 9 months, but leaked information from Sony’s official developer portal has now practically confirmed its specs. It is expected to arrive later this year but… did it have to? (Image: Tamara Bitter, Unsplash)


Rumors have been making the rounds for almost a year – they have been pretty consistent too – but we can now safely assume they are true: Sony has been developing an advanced, technologically superior version of the PlayStation5, codenamed Trinity, that is expected to arrive by the end of this year. It will be called PlayStation5 Pro and it will feature a similar but carefully upgraded hardware architecture, allowing it to deliver a significantly smoother gaming experience than the one currently offered by the PS5.

Tom Henderson broke the news about the PS5 Pro at some point in July 2023 but, at the time, technical details about it were rather scarce. During the months that followed several sources unofficially offered what were thought to be tentative PS5 Pro specs in several occasions, but they all seemed to gradually converge to what YouTuber Moore’s Law Is Dead revealed a few days ago as leaked information from Sony’s official developer portal. That information Henderson himself – whose track record of scoops includes the DualSense Edge controller, the PlayStation Portal and the PS5 Slim – has now confirmed to be accurate, so the PlayStation5 Pro is basically a given at this point.

Here’s what consumers need to know about the upgraded version of the world’s most popular gaming system of its generation. Plus a few answers to obvious questions people may have about it, such as: what is it exactly that this new version promises, why get that instead of a PS5 and… did we really need a PS5 Pro in 2024?

PS5 Pro specs: what’s upgraded, what isn’t

So, first things first, specs: according to Henderson and others, the PlayStation5 Pro will be impressively more powerful when it comes to graphics performance, hitting more than 33 Teraflops of single-precision compute. Although not an apples-to-apples comparison, the current model barely breaks 10 Teraflops. In any case the difference is still huge, as it’s expected that the PS5 Pro will be about 45% faster than the current model when it comes to typical games rendering and anything between 3 and 4 times faster (!) when it comes to raytracing, a modern but demanding lighting technique the PS5 and the Xbox Series X support… barely.

Sony is no stranger to custom hardware for PlayStation products, but this is the first time the company will implement specific blocks for machine learning and AI-assisted functionality. (Image: Sony)


The PS5 Pro needs to be 100% compatible with the PS5 and the PS4, obviously, so certain things had to remain largely the same, namely the CPU and system memory (even if that means that the more powerful GPU won’t be fully utilized). The CPU will be able to operate at a somewhat higher frequency than the current one (around 10%), but it will be of the same AMD Zen2 architecture and most probably based on the same manufacturing process node (6nm). The unified system memory will be around 25% faster, but it will remain at 16GB for the same compatibility reasons. The audio processing subsystem of the PS5 Pro is also 35% faster than the current one. Everything else – storage speed and options, optical drive options etc. – is expected to remain the same.

During the months leading up to the confirmation of these specs, there was talk about some “secret sauce” in the PS5 Pro hardware not present in the current PS5 model – and that actually turned out to be true. This upgraded PS5 will be getting custom silicon designed to accelerate machine learning as part of a new image upscaling and antialiasing system Sony is introducing. It is called PlayStation Spectral Super Resolution (PSSR) and it will work similarly to nVidia’s DLSS and AMD’s FSR, i.e. render a game’s graphics in lower resolutions in order to achieve high frame rates, then upscale the result to higher resolutions with minimal loss in graphics quality.

The hardware-accelerated, AI-assisted upscaling and antialiasing system offered by the PS5 Pro could be a game changer.

Sony had plenty of experience in that area with its own, effective and largely successful, checkerboarding technique utilized by the PS4 Pro in the previous generation. It now seems that the company partnered with AMD in order to leverage AI for an advanced, current solution that supports up to 8K resolution and frame rates of 120 Hz or higher (obviously depending on each individual game). AMD itself publicly announced a few days ago that its own “AI-powered upscaling for games” will be used in new devices this year, so the PS5 Pro may well be the very first one of those. In any case, PSSR will definitely be a PS5 Pro-exclusive feature and a potential game changer (huh) moving forward.

What the PS5 Pro will mean for gamers

That’s all well and good, but what will this upgraded PlayStation5 offer in practical terms? In order to frame this fairly, one must take into account what the PS5 – or the Xbox Series X for that matter – promised back in 2020: modern, detailed video games in 4K at 60 frames per second, which is what the PS4 Pro was too limited to offer consistently and natively (i.e. without employing Sony’s checkerboarding technique) in most circumstances.

Fast forward to today and it’s pretty clear that neither the PS5 or the Xbox Series X really kept that 4K/60 promise. There are lots of AAA games that hover around the 45-50 FPS mark, a lot of games that need to get down to 4K/30 in order to handle the level of graphics detail gamers expect, as well as a number of games forced to decrease their display resolution dynamically below 4K or even 1440p in order to maintain a smooth frame rate. As for 4K/120, which was also promoted as a viable option by both Sony and Microsoft, it’s offered by less than 15 or 20 modern games natively. It’s just how things played out, really, which is hardly ideal in 2024 terms – especially when taking into account that AAA games only get more visually complex year after year.

Alan Wake 2 is a good example of a recent, technologically advanced title the PS5 simply cannot handle at 4K/60, even in Performance Mode. The PS5 Pro will have no trouble achieving that. (Image: Remedy Entertainment)


This is the first problem the PS5 Pro is designed to address: its extra graphics processing power will be more than enough to finally deliver on the 4K/60 and 4K/120 promise the PS5 couldn’t. Interestingly, for this to happen – based on the leaked documentation from Sony’s developer portal, at least – it seems that game creators will not have to do all that much, maybe not even release special patches for their older games: assuming that a current PS5 title does nothing too weird with the system’s hardware, it will just run faster and better on the PS5 Pro, either locking to 60/120 FPS (obviously depending on the game) or raising the range of unlocked FPS beyond 60 to anything between e.g. 90-120 FPS (so VRR can take over in order to offer a much smoother experience overall).

The PS5 Pro will also be able to properly handle raytracing: it was impressive to see that feature offered by $499 devices such as the PS5 or the XSX back in 2020, but – as PC gamers well know – it’s highly demanding in hardware resources, hurting frame rates considerably when activated. Any game running at 60 FPS without RT lighting usually drops down to e.g. 40-35 FPS or lower when “basic” RT is switched on – and “full” raytracing, known as “path tracing” in PC games, is out of the question on consoles. The upgraded PlayStation5 will feature new hardware blocks, believed to be based on AMD’s RDNA4 architecture, specifically designed to help out in that area. Even a 2.5x increase in RT performance would make an huge difference, allowing consumers to enjoy high FPS and raytracing at the same time in many modern games. It is expected that developers will have to offer special patches for older games in order to take advantage of that additional hardware.

Consumers getting a PS5 Pro will be able to enjoy any PS5 game in its best possible form, no matter how complex or demanding.

Last but not least, that PS5 Pro “special sauce” (the hardware acceleration of AI-driven upscaling and antialiasing) will offer both developers and consumers certain options that translate to more flexibility and considerable future-proofing. Game developers will be able to build good-looking titles and have them rendered at very high frame rates with no perceptible loss in display quality or create visually richer, more detailed games at lower resolutions and have them upscaled to smooth frame rates instead. Consumers getting a PS5 Pro will be able to play their current games – assuming those will be properly patched – at higher resolutions and/or frame rates than before, while also knowing that they’ll be enjoying any PS5 game in its best possible form in the future, no matter how complex or demanding it may be.

Did we actually need a PS5 Pro in 2024? It’s… complicated.

According to Henderson, this upgraded PS5 model will be released this year and a tentative September-to-December window does seem possible. It is said that Sony’s own game studios have had access to PS5 Pro development kits since late last year and that other major publishers are gradually getting their hands on theirs (that’s probably how we got confirmation of the system’s specs recently). Nintendo aims for a Q1 2025 release window for the successor to the Switch, so it would make sense for Sony to release the PS5 Pro before that. Plus, any Q4 of any given year serves as a promising launch window for gaming products, since consumer spending is considerably higher during that time.

The question of “when?” is more or less answered, then, but it’s the question of “why?” that’s of more interest to most people. Why? Why get that product in the first place? Did we really need a more powerful PS5 in 2024?

Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is one of only a handful of exclusive PS5 games that actually tried to take advantage of the system’s hardware. It’s no wonder that many feel the PS5 still has a lot more to offer in 2024 and beyond. (Image: Sony)


At first glance, it would probably seem that… no, no we didn’t. Not only is the PlayStation5 barely three and a half years old, but it’s only been a year since Sony announced the product’s “wide, trouble-free availability” after two years of limited stock and scalper hell. It’s only during the last 9 months or so that we are actually starting to get an idea of what Sony’s system is truly capable of. All we had played on the PS5 up until fairly recently were remasters, remakes, multi-platform titles and a very small number of true exclusives – counted on one hand, actually – most of which were not even all that ambitious in audiovisual or gameplay terms. In other words, the PS5’s full potential still feels untapped, so the need for a more powerful version of it feels anything but pressing.

On the other hand, it serves to keep in mind that the PS5 is based on five-year old hardware by now. Video games technology has greatly evolved since 2018 or 2019, new techniques and tools have emerged and gamers have become even more demanding when it comes to audiovisual fidelity. Modern, advanced graphics engines such as Epic’s Unreal Engine 5.x – which is slowly becoming the de facto development platform targeting the PC/PS5/XSX crowd – are asking for more processing power than ever from these systems for best results, so a more capable console makes sense for demanding consumers. High-quality televisions and monitors based on a variety of display technologies are able to take advantage of high frame rates more comfortably than ever nowadays – and they are getting cheaper each year – so a gaming system capable of delivering those frame rates consistently would be quite attractive going forward.

The PS5 Pro seems to be a much more future-proof system than the PS4 Pro ever was.

It’s clear that the PS5 Pro was designed to be something more than the somewhat short-lived mid-generation upgrade the PS4 Pro proved to be: that was supposed to bring basic 4K gaming to the masses during the transition from HDTVs to 4K TV sets, while the PS5 Pro will strive to bring true 4K gaming to anyone interested in getting a high-quality experience out of modern titles without resorting to an expensive PC for that.

During the previous generation only one out of every five PS4 systems sold was a Pro model, but if Sony plays its cards right – i.e. if the upgraded PS5 is priced attractively enough – it could conceivably sell a lot more Pro models for much longer this time around, especially given the absence of interest in 8K gaming long-term.

Will Sony go for the smart play here? Only a few months left to find out.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Kostas Farkonas

Veteran reporter with over 30 years of industry experience in various media, focusing on consumer tech, entertainment and digital culture. No, he will not fix your PC (again).

Veteran reporter with over 30 years of industry experience in various media, focusing on consumer tech, entertainment and digital culture. No, he will not fix your PC (again).

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