Nov 7th, 2016 publishUpdated   Nov 10th, 2016, 3:32 pm


With the upcoming release of the PS4 Pro, both Sony and Microsoft will have major consoles capable of 4K playback available this holiday season. While that’s a huge breakthrough for console technology, it’s also a confusing point to enter the world of console gaming. Here’s a quick breakdown of what’s available and which consoles support 4K and which don’t.

Which consoles support 4K and HDR gaming?

While both Microsoft and Sony have released slim revisions of their current-generation consoles, only the Xbox One S supports 4K and HDR together. Every PS4 model — be it a standard, slim, or pro — supports HDR.

The PlayStation 4 Slim launched earlier this year, but it’s Sony’s upgraded PlayStation 4 and doesn’t feature any of the features of its larger PS4 Pro cousin, save for the HDR update. The Xbox One S launched earlier this year too and while it’s capable of HDR support, it upscales games to 4K rather than including native 4K support. The Xbox One S also features 4K UHD Blu-Ray playback.

The PlayStation 4 Pro is set to launch on November 10th and it will include 4K gaming content and full HDR support, but currently there are no plans for 4K UHD Blu-Ray playback. Microsoft’s response to this system is Project Scorpio, which is still in the planning stages and won’t be revealed until 2017 with a possible fall 2017 release. It’s rumored to feature 4K gaming, HDR support, and a significant hardware upgrade over the current Xbox One S.

Why you shouldn’t be excited about 4K gaming yet


Since the Xbox One S only upscales 4K content and the PS4 Pro isn’t out yet, there’s not much of a reason to be excited for 4K games unless you’re already on the cusp of this technology and have all the necessary upgrades in your living room. Upgrading to a PS4 Pro won’t magically make your games look better if you’re still gaming on a 1080p screen, even though the PS4 Pro is capable of supersampling. The game may appear a little less blurry, but you won’t get any additional fidelity until you have a 4K HDR-capable display.

Even if you do have a 4K capable screen in your living room, if it’s not HDR10 capable you’re not going to see the full benefit of games that will be designed for this new format. While there are certain games that are being updated to work with new technology, according to a statement from Sony only 2017 games and after will have 4K support built-in. Some of those titles include Horizon Zero Dawn, Days Gone, Detroit, and Spider-Man.

Titles that will be patched to take advantage of these new 4K features include Uncharted 4, The Last of Us, Shadow of Mordor, Rise of the Tomb Raider, Infamous First Light, and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare. While those games have already been released, if you’ve already played through them you have a lot less to look forward to than someone who is new to the Sony ecosystem.

For Xbox gamers, you have even less of a reason to be happy about the future of 4K. Project Scorpio is still at least a year away, though we know Gears of War 4, Forza Horizon 3, Scalebound, and NBA 2K17 will feature support for HDR.

Should I upgrade my TV or my console?


If you’re currently gaming on a 1080p screen and you’re not sure if you should update your television or your console first, the short answer is you’ll see less benefit from PS4 Pro, Xbox One S, or Project Scorpio on a 1080p panel than an actual panel that supports 4K gaming. Therefore, the biggest improvement you can make to your gaming set up is to acquire a 4K TV that features HDR support.