What A PS5 Pro Can Offer – And What It Can’t

It’s all but confirmed that Sony are working on a mid-generation refresh to their current PlayStation 5 lineup. A video by YouTube channel Moore’s Law Is Dead showed documentation that outlined the alleged specs of the console. This leak was then corroborated by Tom Henderson at Insider Gaming, whose sources confirmed the specs. The leaked documents confirm that this alleged PS5 Pro will have the following features, per Tom Henderson:

  • Rendering 45% faster than PS5
  • 2-3x Ray-tracing (x4 in some cases)
  • 33.5 Teraflops
  • PSSR (PlayStation Spectral Super Resolution Upscaling) upscaling/antialiasing solution
  • Support for resolutions up to 8K is planned for future SDK version
  • Custom machine learning architecture
  • AI Accelerator, supporting 300 TOPS of 8 bit computation / 67 TFLOPS of 16-bit floating point

All of these leaks, combined with the fact that Microsoft are actively not pursuing a similar tactic of a mid-generation refresh with head of Xbox Phil Spencer telling IGN that, “We’re at the end of the beginning,” has many questioning the necessity of a PlayStation 5 Pro. Nevertheless, there are those that have yet to buy into Sony’s current generation of consoles for whom a PS5 Pro could be an exciting proposition. Speaking as one of those people, and someone who is currently playing through Horizon Forbidden West on PC on settings that are effectively the PS5 equivalent of combining the higher frames of “Performance” mode, with the fidelity of “Quality” mode, I can completely understand the allure of a PS5 Pro in the current landscape of triple-A gaming. A landscape that at the onset of its current generation promised, like many times before, to have games run at the elusive 4K resolution at 60 frames per second.

But, as always, those promises were either only partially kept, or outright broken. Which is why it’s important to take these specs and what they’ll be able to achieve with some cynicism, so let’s dive into some of what Sony’s alleged PS5 Pro will be able to do, and a couple of what it most certainly will not. 

PS5 & PS4 Pro
Is more power really necessary?

Can: A “No Compromises” Mode For Many (but not all) Games

Choices, most of the time, are a good thing. However, when each choice comes at the cost of a feature that exists on another, then those choices become frustrating to decide between. This has been the reality for current generation console players. To have to choose between a “Performance” mode that gives us 60 frames per second at the cost of visual fidelity, or a “Quality” mode that gives us the best visuals at the cost of a botched framerate. With the leaked documentation suggesting the PS5 Pro will receive a considerable upgrade to the GPU, boasting a custom AMD chip based on the RDNA 3 architecture that will supposedly run at 33.7 TeraFLOPS–nearly three times that of the base PS5–we could finally see games run in a “no compromises” mode that melds both fidelity and high frame-rates. This would be a very welcomed feature, though how many triple-A games – third party especially – would actually update their games to offer said mode, would be interesting to see.

Understand that although this supposed GPU upgrade is impressive, what isn’t impressive is the lack of upgrade to the CPU, which will be essentially the same as the base PS5. Seeing as there are many games that are more CPU-intensive, some developers may still be constricted by the hardware and unable to offer an update to their game that allows for it to be fully playable on this new mode. We’ll have to wait and see how the console will fare when it is eventually released, but know that outside of first-party Sony titles, some triple-A titles may still be left out due to CPU constraints.

Can’t: 8K Gaming

It should go without saying that the PS5 will not be able to run games natively at an 8K resolution. Irrespective of the ludicrous advertising Sony touted on the PS5 retail box that has an “8K” sticker slapped on to it, understand neither the base PS5 nor the PS5 Pro are or will be able to play games natively at 8K. Sure, the HDMI 2.1 slot in the consoles technically supports an output to 8K monitors, but the base PS5 caps its native rendering for games to 4K. Even if the PS5 Pro increases that cap to 8K, no triple-A game released in the past five years, let alone upcoming ones, would be able to render natively at 8K while not looking like a slideshow on the Pro console. Frankly, this is a non-issue as the adoption rate of 8K monitors and TVs are still incredibly low, and we’ll likely be adopting AR/VR headsets quicker than we’re adopting 8K screens.

ps58k large
“8K” gaming is here! But it’s really 1080p…sometimes not even that. Image: FLATPANELSHD

Can: Better/More Ray-Tracing

It wasn’t long ago that I was on the side of gamers who didn’t understand the hoopla around ray-tracing. That is, until I played both Cyberpunk 2077 and Alan Wake II with all of the path-tracing features turned on. Safe to say, I’ve become quite the fan of the “groundedness” both ray and path tracing bring to the visual quality of games. They’re features that have been sorely missed on the console side of things, where even when RT features exist, they do so in ways that don’t really allow the technology to shine; like applying them only to shadows, for instance. It’s here where that upgraded GPU for the PS5 Pro will surely be of benefit, allowing developers to bring a larger swathe of ray-tracing features to their game. My hope is that not only will future titles have many of these features available for the Pro, but that older titles get updated to include them as well. We’ll have to see just how capable the console is, and whether features like full path-tracing is viable, but even getting proper ray-traced lighting would be a welcomed addition. 

Can’t: 60fps On GTA VI 

Grand Theft Auto VI will undoubtedly be the biggest thing in gaming since…well, Grand Theft Auto V. Rockstar has often set the bar for open-world gaming, in many ways defining what each console generation is capable of. It’s no surprise, then, that their sixth entry into their long-running GTA series is much anticipated, to say the least. With this leak of a PS5 Pro, some are wondering whether the console would be able to run GTA VI at 60fps. Unfortunately, given Rockstar’s history, it’s unlikely we’ll be seeing 60fps for the game on even the PS5 Pro. Digital Foundry’s Richard Leadbetter essentially said as much in one of their recent episodes, saying:

You are going to see different and vastly improved graphical representations on the PS5 Pro by virtue of the fact that it has a much bigger GPU and machine-based upscaling. Those are two really good things. But when your CPU is just 10% faster, you’re not going to be seeing huge benefits to games that are CPU limited…GTA 6, assuming it’s a 30FPS game like all of its predecessors in the console space, let’s be fair…It’s not going to have a huge amount of difference other than possibly improving stability and the frame rate target.

gta6 1
A new GTA at 30fps? Fine, I’ll take it.

All of this, of course, is still just speculation. We’ll have to wait until official word comes from Sony to see what exactly this PS5 Pro will end up being. If all of these leaks are true, however, then at the very least those that have yet to jump into the current gen of PlayStation can be excited in knowing that they now have an option for a console that could potentially play some first party games with all the bells and whistles turned on, while doing so at a glorious 60 frames per second. 

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments