Editor's Note: TCL referenced the PS5 Pro in a press conference, although it's not clear whether the company is sharing new data or extrapolating based on past trends.
The PS5 launched a little over two years ago but Sony’s latest gaming console still remains virtually impossible to find. But even with PS5 restocks in limited supply, rumors concerning a potential PS5 Pro have begun to spring up thanks to YouTubers like Moore’s Law is Dead (opens in new tab) and RedGamingTech (opens in new tab). This mid-gen refresh system will supposedly release either in 2023 or 2024 and have stronger ray tracing performance and target 8K gaming. Honestly, I find this whole discussion frustrating, even if it’s all based on unsubstantiated rumors.
Back when the current console generation began in 2019, I thought the PS5 Pro was an inevitability. After all, the PS4 got a mid-gen refresh with the PS4 Pro three years after it launched. I figured Sony would do the same with PS5. My stance has changed in light of what the world has endured for the past two years. Now, I think the idea of a PS5 Pro is foolish, to say the least.
You still can’t find a PS5
As I said above, getting one’s hands on the PS5 is a Herculean task. Granted, it’s not as daunting as trying to find Nvidia RTX or AMD GPUs at standard prices, but you still can’t walk into your favorite retail store and pick up a PS5 off the shelf. I don’t see the point of releasing new hardware when the current stock is virtually unavailable. This is the same reason why I can’t get excited about Nvidia’s RTX 40 series graphics cards.
Some projections say the global chip shortage will ease up around 2023, which would align with the PS5 Pro’s rumored launch. If this happens, it’s possible that Sony will finally be able to manufacture enough standard PS5s. That would put people in an awkward position, however. Do they get the PS5 they’ve been waiting years for, or do they get the PS5 Pro instead?
New products are only exciting if you’ve had the current model for some time. It’s hard to drum up much enthusiasm for a PS5 Pro when you can’t even get a regular PS5.
The PS5 is plenty powerful
One of the complaints many gamers had with the PS4 (and Xbox One) was that it seemed underpowered at launch. There were only a handful of games that could simultaneously run at 1080p resolution and at 60 frames per second. At best, titles ran at 1080p and 30fps.
The PS4 Pro dropped in 2016, right when 4K televisions began to grow in popularity. Games like Horizon Zero Dawn were able to run at higher resolutions and with HDR enabled. It was, at least in 2017, a showcase title for the PS4 Pro. Many other games also took advantage of the PS4 Pro’s boosted processing power and ran at higher frame rates.
Games performed better on PS4 Pro, but will this be the case with the PS5 Pro? Unlike its predecessor, the PS5 was, at the time of launch, powerful enough to rival or outmatch certain gaming PC builds. My previous PC with its GTX 1080 GPU obliterated the PS4 but was outclassed by the PS5. And though I’ve since upgraded to a PC with an RTX 3080 Ti graphics card, the PS5 is still my main gaming platform since it’s capable of running most games at 60fps and at 2K resolution. The PS5 may not feel like a next-gen system right now, but it’s still the best gaming console I’ve ever owned in terms of specs and power.
What can a PS5 Pro offer that the PS5 can’t?
Identifying the PS4’s performance issues wasn't hard, but the same isn't true for the PS5. The system isn’t perfect but it’s hard to come up with ideas for how Sony can improve it with the PS5 Pro.
Perhaps this system can have better ray-tracing capabilities and more games that run at both 4K and 60 fps. I appreciate that we have fidelity (high resolution) and performance (high fps) options for PS5 games, but it’d be nice to have both. Even some high-end PCs struggle with consistent 4K/60, so I’m not sure if the PS5 Pro would be able to deliver that – but it would be impressive for sure.
With regard to ray-tracing, I’d also love to see the option become ubiquitous. Some people think ray-tracing is a gimmick, but I’m enamored with it thanks to games like Spider-Man: Miles Morales and Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart on PS5 and Doom Eternal and Cyberpunk 2077 on PC. But as much as I love ray tracing, I don’t think that’s enough to justify the existence of a PS5 Pro.
How much will PS5 Pro cost?
Improved ray tracing and true 4K/60 would make the PS5 Pro feel “next-gen,” but those capabilities won’t come cheap. Rumors say a PS5 Pro may cost between $600 and $700. Aside from the original PS3, Sony has never released a (successful) console over $500, so this would be a first for the company. I doubt a system priced so high will go over well with gamers, if history is anything to go by.
The 3DO and Neo-Geo cost $699 and $649 (respectively) didn’t catch on due in no small part to their high costs. Even if the PS5 Pro has a stellar lineup with a ton of PS5 exclusives you can’t play on PS4, $700 is a lot for a gaming console. You can argue that people pay higher prices for smartphones, but phones are a vital necessity for everyday life whereas a console is a luxury item. There’s also the fact you can lease a phone. The Xbox All Access program effectively lets you lease an Xbox Series X but Sony currently doesn’t offer something similar. Unless people are willing to plunk down a full $600/$700, I don’t see how PS5 Pro can get away with such high pricing.
We don’t need a PS5 Pro
The wheels of capitalism must continue turning, so it’s more than likely we’ll see some form of upgraded PS5. A PS5 slim will most certainly see the light of day since every single PlayStation ever released eventually got a thinner model. And let’s be honest, if any console needs a slimmer variant, it’s the PS5.
But even though the PS5 Pro will likely happen, I still think it’s a bad idea. If this console generation had proceeded as normal, then I wouldn’t be against the idea. Hell, I’d probably be clamoring for the system. But considering the PS5 restock issues and the lack of true current-gen exclusives, I think it would be best for Sony to just release a slim PS5 and forget about a PS5 Pro. It’s not necessary.