Around two years ago, Sony and Microsoft released their new consoles, the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X. These new, powerful pieces of kit replaced not just 2013’s PlayStation 4 and Xbox One but 2016’s PlayStation 4 Pro and 2017’s Xbox One X. Now, gamers are wondering if the PS5 and Series X will get upgraded versions with more powerful hardware, too. In this article, we’ll explain everything you need to know about PS5 Pro and Xbox Series X Pro.
Is PS5 Pro or Series X Pro Coming?
Neither Sony nor Microsoft has formally announced anything, so even the development of a PS5 Pro or upgraded Xbox is speculation at this point. Many pundits and journalists think a mid-generation console refresh is inevitable since both Microsoft and Sony sold one last generation, but this may not be the case.
The PS4 Pro and Xbox Series X were direct responses to the massive and sudden popularity of 4K gaming. After spending so many years watching and playing content in Full HD (or 1080p), gamers were hungry for a new resolution with untold levels of detail and graphical fidelity. Naturally, Sony and Microsoft obliged, beefing up the internals of their consoles and selling them as ‘4K gaming machines.’
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Now, neither the Xbox One X nor PS4 Pro really had the processing power to deliver 4K experiences like those you can have on PS5 or Series X, but they still offered up big jumps in resolution as compared to the 1080p life of PlayStation 4 gamers and the 900p life of Xbox One gamers.
8K is not, at all, a possible resolution for games to target, and even if the hardware to drive 8K gaming existed and was affordable enough to pack into a console, far fewer people have 8K displays now than had 4K displays in 2016. In short, 8K gaming doesn’t make a lot of sense. And without a big new graphical feature or rendering capability, after years of a pandemic, selling an upgraded console is going to be tough.
Nonetheless, more power is more power, and if Sony or Microsoft released a newer, more powerful console, doubtlessly games could (and would) look and perform better on those consoles. And to be fair, nobody’s forcing gamers to buy an upgraded console. Plus, with many not being able to pick up a PS5 or Series X, an upgraded version going for a similar price could be attractive to those who missed out.
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PS5 Pro and Series X Pro Release Date
At the very earliest, we would have to wait a few years from the release of PS5 and Series X before we got new consoles. In the case of PS4 and Xbox One, it took 3 and 4 years respectively for Microsoft and Sony to launch upgraded versions of their flagship consoles. This is a safe timeframe to expect, at the least, for upgraded versions of PS5 and Series X.
So, at the earliest, we could theoretically see a PS5 Pro or a new Xbox in late 2023 or 2024. Anything earlier is unlikely to happen. However, as Nintendo (eventually) gears up to release a new console of its own, new consoles from Sony and Microsoft might make a bit more sense so Nintendo isn’t left alone with the only new, exciting console around. But Nintendo doesn’t usually compete directly with Microsoft and Sony, anyways.
What Could PS5 Pro or Series X Pro Offer Gamers?
As mentioned above, 8K gaming is simply too expensive and requires too much processing power to be a realistic feature of a PS5 Pro or upgraded Xbox. However, there are key areas where both Xbox and PlayStation could be upgraded in terms of hardware.
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Ray-tracing support on next-gen consoles is definitely there right now, but both companies could build in a more robust, dedicated ray-tracing solution. This could allow developers to implement more full-featured ray-tracing effects without having to worry so much about the intense performance cost.
Simply upgrading each console’s CPU to a newer spec, faster-clocked processor would also make way for some meaningful gains. Right now, 60FPS and even 120FPS gaming on these consoles is pretty realistic, but as games get more graphically demanding, these kinds of high framerates are going to be tough, if not outright impossible, to pull off. More CPU headroom would make framerates beyond 30FPS realistic throughout the PS5/Series generation.
More storage space, as in a few more terabytes, would also be a considerable upgrade for many gamers. Games continue to take up more and more space, limiting how many games you can reasonably keep installed at any one time. And with the ultra-fast drives in the PS5 and Series X, offloading games to an external hard drive can feel like defeat.
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This doesn’t hold true for Series X, which already offers this kind of support, but for PS5, hardware-based backward compatibility for older PlayStation games, particularly PS3 games, would be a huge win. Playing PS3 games natively on a PS5 would almost inevitably require bespoke PS3 hardware to be included in PS5, and a PS5 Pro would be a good opportunity to add this functionality.
PS5 Pro/Xbox Series X Pro Price Explained
Neither Microsoft nor Sony would want to sell an upgraded console for the same price as their base console offerings. Ideally, an upgraded console sits alongside the base console as a more premium offering for those who want the best graphics and highest framerates, while the base console remains a more budget-friendly option.
Accordingly, a PS5 Pro or a Series X Pro would have to cost in the neighborhood of $599 to make sense. Anything more would quickly become too expensive, especially as much more would be about the cost of a gaming PC that could outperform even an upgraded PS5 or Series X. Anything lower would likely lose both companies and cut heavily into the sales of the base consoles.
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However, even the $499 base prices of PS5 and Series X are relatively high for gaming consoles. For a long time, we’ve grown accustomed to seeing consoles go for $399 or even less. Significantly jacking up this price, especially as COVID-19 rages on, may be less viable in the current climate, which could contribute to the reason why a mid-generation might not be something we see this generation.