Sat. May 18th, 2024



Key Takeaways

  • PS5 Pro may address current-gen game resolution sacrifices for more complex graphics.
  • Frame rates are dropping below 60fps, so a possible PS5 Pro could improve image quality.
  • PS5 Pro could bring usable ray tracing to consoles and enhance image quality with new upscaling technology.


The PS5 Pro is an (unofficially) expected mid-generation refresh for the popular PlayStation 5, but many gamers who already own a PS5 are dubious on why such an upgrade is even necessary,

While the PS5 Pro is, as of this writing, not officially acknowledged, credible leaks make it a seeming certainty. Still, whether the rumors are true, partially true, or completely made up, the need for a PS5 Pro remains unchanged, and here’s why.


4K Remains Elusive on Consoles

When the PS4 Pro was released, it was an answer to the rising popularity of 4K televisions, since the base PlayStation 4 targeted 1080p TVs. However, in practice, rendering games at 4K usually proved too much, which is why the PS4 Pro included a hardware-accelerated upscaling technology called “checkerboard” rendering.


With the launch of the PlayStation 5, hitting native 4K in older games meant for the PS4 was relatively simple, given how many times more powerful the PS5 is compared to its predecessor. However, with games developed just for the PS5, developers have begun consistently sacrificing resolution to push more complex graphical features, and already 30fps is becoming the only viable option in some games.

What a PS5 Pro can do is take a game designed for the base PS5, and make its image sharper, more fluid or, if we’re lucky, both. This is one advantage of a two-tier system, since if the purported PS5 Pro was the base model, developers would simply turn up the eye candy until we’re on 1080p 30fps again.

Frame Rates Are Dropping

Speaking of 30fps, the PS5 was marketed for its ability to push games to 120fps, perfect for owners of 120Hz TVs and monitors. However, those games have been few and far between. In fact, the main advantage of having a 120Hz TV is that you can play games like Horizon Forbidden West at 40fps, since 40fps divides evenly into 120, whereas it would stutter on a 60Hz display thanks to uneven frame-doubling.


As I just mentioned, even 60fps support is becoming scarce in current-generation games, and when 60fps is available, the image quality is so blurry that it can hardly be recommended. If a PS5 game is limited to under 60fps because of its CPU, then a PS5 Pro will likely see no benefit to frame rates, given that the CPU is unlikely to be much faster based on the leaked specs. However, if a game is running at 60fps on the base PS5 at an unusable image quality level, a PS5 Pro might make 60fps modes tolerable again.

Ray Tracing Was DOA on the Base PS5

Both the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series consoles were developed years in advance of their release, which makes sense. However, shortly before the PS5 debuted, NVIDIA revealed its RTX series of GPUs, which allow for real-time hardware-accelerated ray tracing. A generational leap in graphical technology that makes games like Cyberpunk 2077 look light years apart on PC compared to consoles. While all current-generation consoles have some support for hardware ray tracing, it was somewhat of an afterthought with weak performance.


This is why ray tracing in console games is so limited, usually just offering ray-traced shadows, or reflections at a fraction of the main game’s resolution. The PS5 Pro offers an opportunity to bring usable levels of ray tracing performance to consoles, now that AMD (who makes both PS5 and Xbox Series GPUs) has gained some ground against NVIDIA in this area.

Ray tracing, when implemented well, can have a transformative effect on the look of a game, and would be a key selling point for a PS5 Pro.

Better Upscaling Tech Is Needed

Ray tracing wasn’t the only rug that NVIDIA pulled from under AMD’s feet with the launch of their RTX cards. The introduction of DLSS or Deep Learning Super Sampling has been a game changer, Using machine learning hardware on RTX cards and algorithms trained on NVIDIA’s super computers, a game can be upscaled from a lower resolution to a much higher resolution without any apparent loss in detail. While DLSS had a rough start, it’s now so good that in some cases it’s comparable to or even superior to native resolution rendering.


Consoles use AMD’s software-based, hand-tuned FSR (FidelityFX Super Resolution) technology which has numerous image quality problems, and often spoils the presentation of current-generation console games.

The leaked PS5 Pro specifications seem to indicate a custom AI-accelerated image upscaling technology will be part of the new console’s abilities and the importance of this can’t be understated. If this feature is anywhere near as robust as DLSS, it would mean a dramatic improvement in image quality on 4K TVs, while internal rendering resolutions could be trimmed even further for more performance.


While you may personally be entirely happy with your PS5 and how games look and play, it’s clear that there are several easy wins that a PS5 Pro could bring to the table that would offer a tangible improvement for players. Whether these materialize remains to be seen, but there’s definitely room at the top for something better.



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By John P.

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