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PS4 vs PS5: Should I upgrade? Should I wait?

Should you seek out the new hotness or hang onto your current console? Let's debate the finer points.
December 3, 2021
ps5 logo review
Oliver Cragg / Android Authority

The PlayStation 5 was the arrival of the 2020 holiday season, but there still seems to be a debate on PS4 vs PS5. PlayStation fans who already own a PS4 or a PS4 Pro have been grappling with the tough decision of keeping their current console or upgrading. New buyers who have never owned a PlayStation console have to decide whether the PS5 is worth the extra money or if the PS4 Pro will satisfy their gaming needs.

Whichever console you choose is undoubtedly going to provide you with countless hours of gaming fun. But you have to decide what is more important to you: saving money or splurging on an upgraded gaming experience. Take a look at the significant differences between the consoles to decide which route you want to take.

Check out: Everything you need to know about the Sony PlayStation 5

PS4 vs PS4 Pro vs PS5 specs

Compared to the PS4, the PS4 Pro boasts upgrades in its GPU and CPU and can display in 4K resolution. Both consoles now come with a 1TB HDD, and although there is more memory in the PS4 Pro, it’s not significantly more. The main thing that makes the PS4 Pro $100 more expensive than the PS4 is the upgraded GPU and CPU. Games can run smoother and faster with these upgrades.

Although the PS5 is upgraded from the PS4 Pro in almost every way, the upgrade we’ve enjoyed most is switching from HDD to SSD. The 825GB SSD will have less storage space than the 1TB HDD in both the PS4 and the PS4 Pro. However, developers might make game download sizes smaller and call more from short-term memory to load things.

Because of how quickly worlds can load in games running on the PS5, developers don’t have to build static elements into a large initial download; instead, things can load as you’re going through the game, and you won’t even notice. So although the PS5 has less storage space, players most likely won’t fill up their SSD anytime soon. Or at least they’ll fill it up at the same pace as they would with the 1TB HDD on the PS4 or PS4 Pro.

If you want a more in-depth look at how impressive the PS5 specs are, click here.

PlayStation 5 DualSense Controller Propped Up
C. Scott Brown / Android Authority

PS4 vs PS4 Pro vs PS5 price

Of course, one of the biggest differences between these PlayStation consoles is the price. Right now, you can pick up a PlayStation 4 (1 TB) for $299.99 and a PlayStation 4 Pro (1TB) for $399.99. And while you’ll be hard-pressed actually to find a PS5 right now, the full-sized console will set you back $499.99. Sony’s all-digital model is a bit more reasonable at $399.99, though just as hard to find.

If you’re determined to save money, you can still get a great console with the PS4 Pro and a vast library of games to play.  For $200 less, you could get a PS4 console with upgraded storage space and the same extensive library of games. Of course, Sony’s older consoles are becoming just as hard to find as the PS5.

With that being said, a console is an investment. You don’t pay hundreds of dollars for a new console to play one game on it and then be done. You buy a console to last you for years. So if you own a console for 3-5 years, or maybe even longer, will a $100-200 price difference matter that much to you?

If you can spend the extra money for a PS5, or you can wait until the PS5 drops in price in a year or two, that’s the route I would go.  The PS5 has such drastic hardware changes; your games will run better, look better, and feel better on the PS5. To me, that’s worth the extra $100-200 investment; that, plus the PS5 exclusive games that will release after the PS4 and PS4 Pro are phased out.

PS4 vs PS5 games

The PS4 has a large library of games, with fan favorites like God of War and Horizon Zero Dawn. You can, of course, play all of these games on both the PS4 and the PS4 Pro. Although some of the release titles for the PS5 may also be released for PS4/PS4 Pro, they will eventually be exclusive to the PS5.

Check out: Best upcoming PS5 games – Release dates, latest trailers, and more

Sony doesn’t want to immediately alienate their dedicated PS4/PS4 Pro fan base or those who cannot upgrade to the PS5. Yet, at the end of the day, Sony wants to turn a profit. And the best way for them to do that is to give you an incentive; in other words, if you’re going to play this awesome-looking game, you have to buy our new console.

The great thing about the PS5 is backward compatibility. You will be able to play all of the new games that come out, eventually exclusively, for the PS5 AND almost all of the games that came out for the PS4. If you have already purchased PS4 games and upgrade to the PS5, you can still play them. Or, if you’re buying a PlayStation console for the first time, you can easily add PS4 games to your library and experience them on upgraded hardware.

Related: Is the PS5 backwards compatible with PS2, PS3, and PS4 games?

ps5 with dualsense controller
Sarah Chaney / Android Authority

If I’m a new buyer, should I buy a PS4 Pro or wait for the PS5?

If you are entirely new to the world of PlayStation consoles, I would personally recommend purchasing the PS5 when you can find it. You get a console that comes with all upgraded hardware and an entire backlog of games from the PS4 generation for a few extra hundred dollars.

Even if you don’t see any PS5 games you want to play right now, and all you want to play are PS4 games, it would still be worth purchasing the PS5. There could be PS5 games that come out later down the line that you end up wanting. Plus, many PS4 games will be enhanced for the PS5 with a free downloadable update.

And if you don’t want to or can’t shell out an extra $100, you might consider waiting to purchase the PS5. Historically, the price usually drops a few years after the console’s initial release. Then, you might be able to pay the same amount you would have paid for the PS4 Pro.

It’s also worth mentioning that the PS5 launch caused the PS4 and PS4 Pro price tag to drop slightly. This goes especially for used models, which will flood the market as gamers upgrade. So if you want to save money and don’t plan to buy the PS5 until a bit later in its life, this is another potential route.

If I already own a PS4 or PS4 Pro, should I upgrade to the PS5?

This is more of a tricky situation. If you already own a PS4 or a PS4 Pro, you could sell your current console and offset the price of the PS5. By upgrading, you would get to experience enhanced visuals and faster loading times.

See also: How and where to trade in your PS4 for a PS5

Or, if you didn’t want to spend the money, you could stick with the PS4 or PS4 Pro that you currently have and wait for a PS5 price drop. Plus, this way, you’ll be able to avoid some of the nasty hassles that come with working out console launch kinks.

At least at the beginning of the PS5’s life, most games will be released on both consoles. We don’t know how long Sony will continue to do this for games, but at least for the first few, you can probably snag them for either console. You could plan to hang on to your console until a game comes out on the PS5 that you can’t live without. Then, you could sell your old console and invest in the next-gen.

Wrapping it up

In the battle of PS4 vs PS5, there’s no right option for the time being.

The PS4 and PS4 Pro are not bad consoles by any means — the PS5 is just better. You’ll have a more immersive gaming experience, with ray tracing, haptic feedback on the DualSense controller, a lightning-fast SSD, and so much more. If you can go for the PS5, that would be my recommendation.

But it’s not the end of the world to wait either. Console launches are not always all they’re cracked up to be, so you could avoid that while peacefully gaming on your PS4 or PS4 Pro. And probably save some money while you’re at it.

Next: PS5 and Xbox Series X look great, but you might want to wait to buy one