(Pocket-lint) - Sony is soon to release PlayStation 4 system software 4.50, which will add several new features for all PS4 owners. However, there's one of particular interest to gamers with a PS4 Pro as it can potentially improve all games on your shelf, not just those optimised for the more powerful console.
PS4 Pro boost mode allows games to make use of the extra processing power of the 4K-enabled Pro machine, both in CPU and GPU terms. That's not just the games that developers have added extra resolution, HDR or other improved features to, but a majority of PS4 games, save for those released in the very early days.
Some others might not benefit much or at all, for reasons we'll explain below, but a vast number have the potential of looking better on a PS4 Pro than a standard PS4.
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What is PS4 Pro boost mode?
After the PS4 system software 4.50 is downloaded, a new option will appear in the settings of a PS4 Pro. The boost mode will be activated through clicking on a tick box.
It effectively tells the PS4 Pro to utilise its extra processing power for any game, which can result in some staggering graphical improvements - as found by Eurogamer and the games tech specialist, Digital Foundry.
After enacting boost mode on the beta version of the new system software, it ran tests on many games and discovered that frame rates were often dramatically improved. Games that struggled to reach 60 frames per second on a standard PS4, maintained a constant, maxed-out frame rate on the PS4 Pro in boost mode. This was especially true of games that pushed the GPU to the limits, such as driving sims like Project Cars, Assetto Corsa and F1 2016.
Other games that promised a stable 30fps but struggled to keep to that in intensive, packed scenes, such as Assassin's Creed Unity, happily did so in boost mode.
It doesn't work on games locked to a certain frame rate, such as 30fps, but any that usually have variable rates are said to benefit.
The overall boost to frame rates is said to be up to 38 per cent.
Does PS4 Pro boost mode improve anything else?
Although this is yet to be fully tested, Sony claims that the processing boost could also improve load times for games: "Depending on the game, the increased CPU speed may also result in shorter load times," the company said.
Can I turn PS4 Pro boost mode off?
If you find boost mode to be producing anomalies with your games, or you want to conserve power (as using the extra CPU and GPU capabilities use more energy than not) you can also turn boost mode off. Just untick the option in settings.
When will PS4 system software 4.50 and PS4 Pro boost mode be released?
Sony released the beta version of PS4 system software 4.50 on 3 February 2017 to those on the beta programme. It plans to release more details on the full consumer roll out in the "coming weeks".
We'll update you when we find out more.
What other new features are planned for PS4 system software update 4.50?
As well as PS4 Pro boost mode, the beta version of system software 4.50 has a few additional new features.
For starters, the much requested ability to add support for an external hard drive is coming. What's more, you will be able to add a HDD up to 8TB in size. The Xbox One has had a similar feature for years and it's an easier way to increase storage than swapping out the internal drive.
You'll get the ability to change the background on the menu system with screengrabs or wallpapers. And there will be support for 3D Blu-rays in PSVR. You can watch 3D movies when wearing the headset. Nice.
We'll update this piece when we get more information, specifically about the games that get the biggest bumps from PS4 Pro boost mode. Keep checking back.