The PS4 Neo, or PS4.5 or PS4K, is a strange mid-cycle boost that’s been creating quite a fuss around the gaming world. Well, I don’t know if “fuss” is the right word, but either way, it’s been quite an interesting strategy by Sony to throw in this upgrade. These past few years, it’s been quite evident, that the PS4 has better of the two consoles, at least sales wise – having said that, with the introduction of the PS4 Neo, the question on most people’s mind; is it worth the upgrade?
Firstly, let’s look at everything we know so far about the PS4 Neo.
The Neo will feature a superior clock speed to the PS4 (2.1 GHz vs 1.6 Ghz), as well as an improved GPU. The current PS4 features an AMD GCN with 18 compute units running at 800MHz, but the PS4 Neo is expected to have 36 compute units running at a faster 911MHz clock speed. That’s nearly double the power, at least on paper. In addition, the Neo also gets a boost with faster RAM, and will ship with 8GB of GDDR5 memory, boosting it to 218GB/s vs 176GB/s, which is roughly around 25% faster than the current PS4.
Now all these numbers are great – the real intent of the PS4 Neo is to provide 4K support and VR Support with it’s upcoming VR headset. In addition the goal is to ensure smooth 1080p at 60 FPS. Now, Sony does have a few ground rules for it’s developers as well – by ensuring that they don’t bring out Neo only games. This is to ensure there’s no self cannibalization. They’ve also told developers that the games must run on the PS4 and PS4 NEO, but can have an upgraded or enhanced option on the PS4 Neo. There are tons of other little guidelines and governance that Sony has thrown in to ensure the PS4 still remains relevant.
Is it worth the Upgrade?
Honestly, it depends, on a lot of factors. One thing we don’t have full clarity on is the pricing of the PS4 Neo. How much more expensive is it going to be. It would be great to price it a tad higher than the current PS4 to ensure that Sony affirms itself as the dominant player of this generation.
Then comes the question of how much more powerful is the console in the real world? Sure on paper we’re talking 2x graphics power, but we know all too well, that it doesn’t necessarily translate into real world scenarios. Can we expect existing games to play a little better? Less frame rate drops and tearing will be a BIG plus to get this console – then again, how much better are we talking about?
Is 4K really important to you? This will be another factor to consider. I’ve never been a big fan of 4K gaming, not that I’ve seen tons of them or played a lot of 4K games – but from what little I’ve seen, it’s the smoothness of the gameplay that’s more important to me rather than the visual eye candy. Not saying that it doesn’t matter – it does – but the trade-off is going to vary from player to player. If you have a 4K TV, why would you NOT take advantage of a console that can give you the best experience on your TV? but if you have a full HD TV – this may not be all that it’s cracked up to be.
Now tying it all in together is going to be tricky for Sony as well as for consumers who are on the fence on this. The biggest gating factor is the governance that Sony has in place that the PS4 Neo can’t essentially do anything different from the PS4 for games. So the only real benefit we see is probably smoother frame rates at 1080p, and maybe slightly faster load times. Platform parity is what is going to limit the real potential of the PS4 Neo.
So the bottom line here – the upgrade seems a little out there to appeal to gamers who’d want to game in 4K – which isn’t a bad thing at all. Platform parity is going to ensure you don’t miss out on anything special content wise. Overall, the PS4 Neo, doesn’t seem like a very appealing option to me. If you’re quite happy with your PS4 console at this point, I’d stick with it. If you must have 4K and VR gaming, it’s a worthy upgrade – if you’re on the fence on the PlayStation, the PS4 Neo is something to consider once the price is out.