All the rumours in one place.
There’s been much talk of a new and more powerful version of the PS4 being developed by Sony over the last few weeks, supposedly called the PlayStation 4K. Though Sony has yet to make an official announcement, there has been reports of a new console coming from several reliable resources, including The Wall Street Journal, Kotaku and Eurogamer. While information is scarce and purely speculative at this stage, we’ve gathered together what we know in a handy Q&A for you below.
What is PlayStation 4K/4.5/Neo?
According to rumours, PS4 4.5 (also known as PlayStation 4K) is a new version of the PS4 with an upgraded GPU, CPU and memory that can run higher-end gaming experiences with enhanced graphics and power than what the current PS4 system offers.
There are suggestions that the machine may be capable of playing ultra high-definition media and will support some technical aspects of 4K spec gaming, such as high dynamic range and more graphics processing power. However, it won’t be powerful enough to deliver a complete 4K gaming experience.
Why do Sony want to make a new PS4?
It’s unclear at this time since Sony have yet to officially confirm that a new console is in development, but the most common reason being reported is that the more powerful system will help create a more immersive virtual reality experience.
This would make sense given Sony’s move into the virtual reality field with PlayStation VR, which will be released this October. Sony itself has admitted that PlayStation VR, which is powered by the PS4 and an additional breakout box, may be technically inferior to Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, which run on higher-end PCs.
A more powerful PS4 would help close the gap between the VR headsets and create a more immersive experience for gamers. There are also rumours that Sony is trying to appeal to gamers who are willing to pay for an enhanced gaming experience, similar to how PC gamers regularly pay to upgrade their systems.
What are the rumoured specs for the new console?
According to Giant Bomb, several sources have provided documents showing the hardware improvements the new machine, codenamed Neo, will have over the original PS4, According to the report, the new machine will boast a CPU that’s almost a third faster than the PS4’s, with 8 Jaguar Cores operating at 2.1 GHz compared to the PS4’s 1.6 GHz. The number of compute units processed by the AMD GPU will apparently jump to 36 from the current 18 and the clock speed will hit 911 MHz, up from 800. The console is also expected to have an expanded memory bandwith of 8GB/s of GDDR5 operating at 218 GB/s (the PS4 currently runs at 176 GB/s). The base volume of bandwidth will remain unchanged, however, there will be a slight increase in memory budget of 512 MB. Curiously, the report makes no mention of the PlayStation 4K offering any advantages to PlayStation VR, despite rumours swirling online that one of the reasons for the new console’s power is to help boost the VR experience in a way that perhaps the vanilla PS4 can’t.
Will PS4 games work on the PlayStation 4K?
Games will work on both systems, so PS4 games can be played on the new console and vice-versa. The report leaked to Giant Bomb mentioned that developers have been told all new releases must run on the PS4 as well as the PS4K, but that any games released after September will need to have a mandatory ‘Neo mode’ that allows them to take advantage of the new, more powerful hardware. Games running in Neo mode will allegedly have higher and more stable framerates and are expected to support 4K output (upscale).
Will PlayStation 4K gamers have an advantage in online multiplayer?
Not according to the Giant Bomb report, which states that online experiences will be unified and games will run cross-platform, so a gamer running a multiplayer game on PS4 will be in matches against opponents running PlayStation 4K. There will be no competitive advantages for the PS4K owners beyond faster loading times and potentially larger local multiplayer numbers. Special features and exclusive DLC for PlayStation 4K gamers is also expected to be a no-no.
How much will the PlayStation 4K cost me?
The console hasn’t been officially confirmed by Sony yet and so a price has not yet been revealed.
When are we likely to hear more about PlayStation 4K?
Some reports claim the announcement will be made before the launch of PlayStation VR in October. The most likely place for an official announcement is this year’s E3 event, which will take place in June. This is also likely to be the first place we hear any concrete details about the console’s hardware and potential release date.
What are your thoughts about the PlayStation 4K?
Personally, I have mixed feelings about it. I’ve already pre-ordered a PlayStation VR headset after having a surprisingly immersive experience with one at EGX last year and if the new console could boost the potential of a device that I already found highly enjoyable, then I can see the appeal.
However, the Giant Bomb report makes no mention of an improved VR experience and so far the benefits the rumoured console would offer – 4K support, improved graphics and processing power – aren’t of much interest to me. I don’t play online games a lot, I don’t own a 4K television and don’t have an issue with the graphical or processing power of my PS4 – just look at what games like Metal Gear Solid V and Uncharted 4 are achieving in that department for an idea of why I don’t think the PS4 is under performing.
Perhaps it’s curious that my love of the vanilla PlayStation 4 is putting me off the idea of another of buying another PlayStation 4, but that’s because I’m happy enough with my original purchase. Sony are going to need to pull something truly spectacular out of the bag for me to hand over another £400 or so of my hard earned money for a slightly upgraded version of a console I already own, especially when I’m already set to shell out £350 for a VR headset this winter.
My other concern is for development teams. Currently the PS4 is famously easy to code for compared to the PS3 and is the console of choice for indie devs due to its accessibility, Would making it mandatory for devs to include PS4 and Neo optimised versions of the same game in one package make things harder for them, or would it allow them more freedom to realise their ambitions? Would the requirement apply to indie devs and, if so, would it put them off? Could it cause a split within the dev community and fracture the relationship Sony has built with them? I doubt that Sony has marched headlong into this plan without considering such matters but still, they do concern me.
I’ll need to wait for some official information to come from Sony before I start making any real judgements as these are all strictly rumours at this stage – it could turn out Neo is actually the codename for their 2016 Christmas party and there is no new console at all – but for now, personally, the rumours haven’t gripped me hard enough to make my wallet sit up and pay attention.