While it might seem that the PS5 launched very recently, it’s actually to be almost 3 years old in a few months’ time. And keeping in line with the last generation of consoles, Sony seems to be gearing up for a mid-generation refresh of the PS5 as well. Reputed journalist and gaming insider Tom Henderson recently reported that production for the same is underway and first-party developers will be receiving prototype development kits in a couple of months’ time.
While there’s a ton of buzz around whether we actually need a PS5 Pro at this moment or not, we’d like to turn our gaze towards the technical specifics of this rumored console – and what it needs to bring to the table in order to be a viable upgrade to the base PS5. Before starting out, it’s important to note that all of this information is going to be speculation and shouldn’t be mistaken for concrete facts, so keep your expectations in check accordingly.
Starting off with the CPU, the underlying processing chip has proven to be one of the biggest upgrades when comparing Sony’s latest machine to the PS4, and the Zen 2-based custom chip boasts some impressive single-core performance that’s yet to be utilized to its fullest potential. As such, Sony might not need to take yet another big leap in CPU performance for the PS5 Pro – but we are expecting some marginal improvements over the base machine nevertheless. So, we would most likely get an upgraded Zen 2 chip that can operate on higher base frequencies like 4.5 GHz, and one that is also able to sustain its boost clocks for longer periods of time.
There are speculations that we might get a bump to Zen 4 architecture with the PS5 Pro, but that seems unlikely since Sony didn’t change the underlying chip architecture when it released the PS4 Pro last generation. Furthermore, the Zen 4 architecture was only released in 2022 while plans for a potential PS5 Pro would already have been set in stone sometime prior to that – so there’s that to consider as well.
Coming over to the graphics side of things, the base PS5 packs some serious graphical grunt thanks to its 10 TFLOP RDNA 2-based GPU. Games like Horizon Forbidden West have made good use of this power to deliver visuals that truly feel next-gen, but the GPU has proven to be insufficient when it comes to running games like Ragnarok at 60fps whilst in native 4K. We are expecting that the PS5 Pro will be able to address those issues, and reports suggest that the upcoming machine will feature 30 Work Group Processors which is a substantial upgrade over the 16 Work Group Processors of the base PS5.
Judging by these numbers, the PS5 Pro will probably feature a GPU that has around 20 TFLOPs of compute power. For context, the PS4 Pro had more than double the graphical grunt of the base PS4 – so our speculations seem to line up pretty closely with what Sony did in the past. As for the architecture, it’s likely that Sony will stick to RDNA 2 for the same reasons as the CPU, but instead pack in more CU (Compute Units) or increase memory clocks to achieve the aforementioned power levels. Hopefully, this is something that will help first-party releases achieve much better performance results at native 4K, or even push certain games beyond that threshold.
Ray-traced reflections continue to be one of the most important rendering techniques in modern AAA releases, and while the PS5 does support hardware-accelerated ray-tracing – there is definitely a lot of room for improvement that we wish to see with the Pro refresh. Games such as the likes of Gran Turismo 7 aren’t able to handle ray tracing during gameplay, which is a shame because the game looks so much better in the Scapes mode with ray tracing turned on. In keeping with our prior assumption of an RDNA 2-based GPU, it’s unlikely that we will get exponentially better results in the ray tracing department – but we are expecting that the new chip will have more RT cores than the base model which should help achieve even higher fidelity levels when it comes to lighting and reflections, and hopefully help upcoming AAA games to achieve higher quality ray tracing.
AI-aided upscaling is yet another technique that’s gaining a lot of traction in the PC gaming landscape, and fans have the option to choose from a buffet of implementations including but not limited to Nvidia’s DLSS 3.0, AMD’s FSR 3.0, and Intel’s XeSS. Considering the fact that the new console will feature an AMD chip, it’s likely that we will only see support for FSR upscaling – but if the new machine were to have a dedicated AI engine to help with upscaling, we can expect to see much better results which will help games reach higher resolutions without compromising on the frame-rate or visual fidelity.
Switching gears over to memory, the PS5 has 16 GB of high-speed GDDR5 memory that’s dynamically shared between the CPU and the GPU. One might be forgiven to think that 16 GB of RAM is more than enough for modern games, but even a cross-gen game like Cyberpunk 2077 can easily gobble up 16 GB whilst trying to run at 4K 60fps on a gaming PC. As such, the PS5 Pro would most likely feature some form of upgrade to the memory as well.
It could be in the form of bumping the memory bandwidth by a certain margin as was the case with the PS4 Pro, or it could just have a bigger amount of memory on the board itself. We are placing our bets on the latter since that seems much more feasible in terms of the current demands of modern titles, and we are expecting it to have 24 GB of GDDR6 RAM. That said, we wouldn’t be surprised if Sony ends up retreading familiar ground and bumps memory bandwidth instead.
Finally, there’s the topic of storage. With current-gen games frequently occupying more than 100 GB of storage, even the 825 GB SSD on the PS5 is starting to feel a bit too restrictive. As such, having a bigger system storage should be one of the biggest priorities for a PS5 Pro – and we are expecting it to launch with2 TB of storage along with the same expansion options as the base PS5. Load times haven’t been much of an issue this generation thanks to the SSD’s PCI e 4.0 nature, so we aren’t expecting any other upgrades apart from the storage capacity.
Sony’s philosophy with the mid-cycle refresh has been to provide customers with an iterative upgrade over the base hardware, and if we go by our speculated hardware – the PS5 Pro will be a machine that will be able to handle true 4K at 60 fps for almost anything that you throw at it.
And coming to the topic of pricing, the PS4 Pro launched at $399 at a time when the PS4 Slim was available at $299. As such, the PS5 Pro would most likely charge a premium over the base model. The issue is that Sony is currently offering two SKUs (a higher-priced physical version and a lower-priced digital edition), so it remains to be seen which of these consoles will act as the baseline for the PS5 Pro’s price premium.
Back in September of 2022, it was reported that Sony is working on a new PS5 model that comes with a detachable disc drive. And if that is to be believed, it would make little sense to include the disc drive on the new console and risk bumping the price to an even higher degree when you can cut on the price and sell hardware add-on separately. As such, you can expect the PS5 Pro to retail at $499, and Sony might announce a price cut for the base PS5 around next year to help give both SKUs distinct price propositions. However, Sony may not opt for that and it may very well go all out with a 599 USD premium console. It will be interesting to see how this pans out given that history hasn’t been exactly kind to that kind of console pricing. Ahem…the PlayStation 3 comes to mind.
It is important to reiterate that everything is speculation at this point, and the PS5 Pro might end up being entirely different from our speculations. Some are expecting to be an 8K gaming monster of sorts, though that seems highly unlikely from a technical and a business perspective. Either way, fans will have to wait for at least another year before they get their hands on this shiny piece of hardware – and we’re definitely excited to see what the Japanese gaming giant has in store for the future.