While the PlayStation 4 Pro has been out in the wild for two years now, it’s recently undergone some slight hardware refinements that change how loud it is. According to a recent analysis by Digital Foundry, the noise reduction in the latest iteration of the console, currently only available as part of a Red Dead Redemption 2 bundle, makes it significantly quieter than the launch model.
We’re all familiar with big hardware redesigns that happen a few years after a new console launches. In 2016, three years after the original PS4 released, Sony launched the PS4 Slim, a refinement of the original, and the PS4 Pro, a beefier version capable of doing non-native 4K and HDR and improving loading times for some games. Recently, without any fanfare from Sony, the design of the PS4 Pro was tweaked, resulting in the console’s 7100 and 7200 series.
The 7100 series arrived in the form of the translucent anniversary edition PS4 Pro, only 50,000 of which were released worldwide in late August. Then there’s the 7200 series, which arrived in October, according to Digital Foundry, exclusively in the Red Dead Redemption 2 launch PS4 Pro bundles. In its analysis, Digital Foundry discovered that both versions of the console were incrementally quieter, proclaiming the 7200 series a “night and day improvement” over the 7000 launch version.
It all comes down to heat. PS4’s in general run hot. If you have a launch edition, like me, you’ve likely spent an increasing amount of time over the last year afraid it might explode while playing games like Spider-Man and Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. The PS4 Pros, though more powerful, can also be really loud since that extra power consumption is going toward better resolution, colors, and other slight performance boosts. What Digital Foundry discovered with the latest 7200 series is that it actually runs even hotter, because the fans are running more slowly, and thus they make less noise.
Using some of the more graphically intense scenes from God of War as a comparison, they found that the 7200 series ran approximately five degrees hotter than the 7000 launch models. At the same time, the newer PS4 Pro was only registering 44 decibels when measured on top of the console, and 48db when measured directly behind the fan, compared to 50dB and 55dB respectively on the 7000 series. Digital Foundry also pointed out that the 7200 series’ peak power draw didn’t spike like the 7000 version, staying at a near flat 170 watts instead. As a result, there was less of a tendency of the cooling fans to ramp up and down really fast like a helicopter preparing to take off.
Based on Digital Foundry’s investigation, the 7200 series doesn’t accomplish this with any significant changes to the hardware. While the power supply port on the 7200 has been updated, replacing the kettle-style cable port with the figure eight port used on the PS4 Slim, the real difference seems to just be in the cooling fans which are now targeting a higher temperature threshold.
I’m not much of a hardware enthusiast, and don’t often find myself salivating over the number of teraflops in a console’s graphics chip, but small quality of life improvements like noise reduction are something that always catch my attention. A different of five decibels might not sound like a big deal on paper, but as someone who never installed the fans in their gaming PC just right and has had to, on more than one occasion, raise their voice to talk over a raging PS4, it’s the kind of thing that would make me prioritize hunting for the 7200 series rather than settling for an older PS4 Pro.
Unfortunately, it’s not yet clear when people will be able to get their hands on them outside of the existing Red Dead Redemption 2 bundles. With the holiday season quickly approaching, it’s possible Sony will start shipping them on their own. The company did not immediately respond to a request by Kotaku for comment on the matter. If you are in the market for a new PS4 Pro though, be sure to keep the series number in mind.