So you just bought Sony’s new PlayStation 4 Pro. Maybe you, like me, were itching to get a new console with a 1TB hard drive and thought, “Why not?” Or perhaps you’re genuinely excited about the prospects of 4K HDR gaming, and have the right living room hardware to make it a reality. Well, there’s good news and there’s bad news.
The good news is that the PS4 is the easiest out-the-box solution to experiencing the kind of boundary-pushing graphical fidelity once reserved for expensive PC rigs. The bad news: it’s still more complicated than the consoles of the past.
To make sure you’re getting the most of the PS4 Pro, you’ll want to check, and probably tweak, a number of settings. So we’ve put together a few tips to get started with the PS4 Pro and ensure you’re enjoying all that glorious 2160p has to offer.
Check the HDR settings on both your PS4 Pro and your TV
One of the key benefits of the PS4 Pro is high dynamic range, which allows the console to output video with a wider range of colors, brighter whites, and darker blacks. It essentially renders in-game light sources with more realism, depth, and clarity, so you won’t have scenes washed out by a bright background sun.
While the PS4 Pro should detect most TV settings and adjust for them, in some cases HDR is not turned on by default. In this case, you have to head over the to “Sound and Screen” section of the settings panel and turn it on, or select “Auto.” Even then, some users are reporting that certain TV models from Samsung and other manufacturers have renamed HDR something wonky like “HDMI UHD Color” in the display settings of the TV itself.
So if turning on HDR from the PS4 Pro settings panel gives you an error, try digging around your TV display settings to see if there’s an HDR option you need to toggle. And if you believe your TV is HDR-ready, but you can’t find a setting, Google the model: the company may use an alternate phrasing for the feature.
Make sure the game you’re playing is PS4 Pro-ready, and check the settings
Not every PS4 Pro-ready game will make use of the system’s upgrades in the same fashion. Some games will get moderate graphical and performance upgrades, while others make use of HDR and full 2160p resolution. For those titles that take advantage of everything the Pro has to offer, you’ll have to head over to the in-game settings to turn them on.
For instance, The Last of Us Remastered will let you play the game at 2160p at 30fps, or you can play the game at 60fps with a slightly lower resolution. It also supports HDR. All of these options are found in the game’s display settings and will not necessarily be turned on by default with the Pro.
Make sure games are updated with their most recent patch
Games like the new Hitman don’t include granular frame rate settings options, but it will by default simply look better on the PS4 Pro through an update that adds a 4K UI and better lighting and surface detailing.
Check out this full list of PS4 Pro-ready titles and ways in which each one will benefit from the extra horsepower. All of them will require an update, so plan accordingly.
Ensure your 4K TV is actually outputting 4K video
This is where it gets really tricky. If you head over to the “Sound and Screen” section of your PS4 Pro’s settings, you can confirm whether the console is pushing 2160p video through your TV. In some cases, you might see the 2160p option greyed out next to the phrase “not supported.”
This could mean any number of things. Of course, you might not actually have a 4K TV, in which case you won’t be able to play games at that resolution. (For certain titles, like Uncharted 4, you’ll still reap the benefits of the Pro because it will downscale a higher resolution image for the game.) But as many users online are reporting, there could be something going wrong with your TV or how the PS4 Pro is interacting with your particular model.
Vizio owners, like myself, have found that a recent PS4 Pro firmware update knocked out support for 4K and HDR on some Vizio models. It’s unclear exactly what’s going on, but in most cases it means that your 4K 60Mhz HDMI port will no longer show anything on the screen, forcing users to plug their Pros into the 30Mhz port. From there, it seems like the TV won’t let the Pro bump up to 2160p.
Some users have success with putting the PS4 Pro into safe mode — this can be achieved by turning the console off and holding the power button until you hear two beeps. From there, you can tinker with key settings like HDCP and display resolution. HDCP is a technology designed for copyright protection, but it also interferes with how a TV can display 4K images. You might have a TV that only has HDCP 1.4 ports, in which case you can restrict that setting option to see if it lets you bump resolution up to 4K.
One last thing, if you’re using the HDMI cable that came with the PS4 Pro, you should be fine. But if you’re using another cable to connect to your TV, or perhaps a second cable to connect a receiver to the TV, you could have an issue with the cable. Not every HDMI cable is the same, and for 4K, you’ll want to have the latest make.
If you still can’t seem to find a solution, the best bet is to wait for Sony. The company is working on hammering out all the weird edge cases and firmware problems causing issues for PS4 Pro owners — at least, that’s what PlayStation Support is telling people. In that sense, it may be best to hold out and wait for a fix that doesn’t involve putting your console into safe mode every five minutes.