Can PS4 Upscale Games to 4K Resolution?

Can PS4 Upscale Games to 4K Resolution?

The PlayStation 4 is capable of many things and even lets you game on your 4K TV with an upscaled resolution. The catch is that PS4 is technically doing something far better than upscaling your resolution.

Many of you like me already own a 4K capable TV, but the problem is that there is a shortage of 4K devices that can output and use all that pixel real estate.

Enter the upscaling era, the ability to scale a low res input to fill the entire screen. Indeed a godsend, but does the PlayStation 4 use this tech, or are we stuck with gaming with large black borders.

The original PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 4 Slim do not support upscaling, but if you own a 4K TV, the upscaling is handled by the TV itself.

PlayStation 4 Pro, on the other hand, supports a technology far superior to upscaling, called checkerboard rendering and the resulting differences are outstanding.

1. Upscaling in PlayStation 4

Even though the original PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 4 Slim do not support upscaling or native 4K, it doesn’t pose much of a problem because your 4K TV already handles upscaling content to 4K by default. So the PS4 need not provide the upscaled content as it is all handled by the TV itself.

On 4K TVs, upscaling is handled by the TV itself, and the PS4 need not provide the upscaled content. However, some TVs perform the job of upscaling better than other TVs.

Can The PS4 Upscale Games to 4K Resolution?
PlayStation 4 | Source: PlayStation

Sony TVs, in particular, have better upscaling reproduction as compared to other brands. A better-upscalled image looks better in 4K than a sub-par reproduction.

PlayStation 4 Pro utilizes a different approach than upscaling, which, when compared to upscaling, leaves it in the dust.

2. PlayStation 4 Pro: More Than Just Upscaling

PlayStation 4 Pro, along with streaming native 4K, trumps upscaling by using checkerboard rendering which produces, even better results than upscaling.

Upscaling is not something new, and even though it can produce graphics for higher-res displays, it’s nowhere near native resolution. There is a better alternative, though, checkerboard rendering, which makes accurate 4K images and is specifically designed to produce a better higher-res output without straining the CPU and GPU.

Still, there is nothing like native 4K. There are some games that support native 4K, but they are a tiny minority in the PS library. Games with Native 4K:

  • Kingdom Hearts 1.5 + 2.5 HD Remix
  • Pyre
  • Resogun
  • Rocket League

3. Sounds Good in Theory, But Does it Work?

Indeed it does. Sony’s take on improving upscaling in PS4 Pro produces excellent results. The difference between simple upscaling by your 4K TV and the enhanced checkerboard rendering used by the PS4 Pro is day and night. Here see for yourself:

Rise of the Tomb Raider | 4K PS4 Pro Enhancement Gameplay | PS4 Pro

In real life, though, checkerboard rendering looks quite indistinguishable from native 4K, thanks to Sony’s new tech and implementation of the ID buffers and geometrical rendering. The PS4 can and will trick you and your friends into thinking that the checkerboard rendered content is native 4K. Trust me, the exact thing happened to me.

4. How About the Xbox, Does Xbox Support Upscaling?

There is good news for Xbox One S and X owners, as they support inbuilt upscaling and don’t have to rely on sub-par upscaling of the TV to produce an upscaled image. Xbox One X especially is a powerful beast, so much so that Rockstart got RDR2 to run on native 4K on it!

The Xbox One S and Xbox One X both support upscaling by default, and many users have reported that the results are indeed miles ahead of the 1080p content.

Do note, upscaling is not configurable by the user, it is ingrained deep in the system. 

5. About PlayStation

PlayStation is the gaming console brand from Sony, which is on its 5th iteration with the recent launch of PlayStation 5. Envisioned by Ken Kutaragi, the ‘father of PlayStation,’ the first PS console was released in Japan in 1994 with a worldwide release in the following year.

PlayStation is a head-on rival of Microsoft’s Xbox series and offers great exclusive titles which are one of its main USP. The latest release, PS5, has made large improvements over the last generation in hardware and core technologies.