PlayStation 4 Pro Super-Sampling Offers Noticeable Improvements For 1080p Users
The PlayStation 4 5.50 firmware, now undergoing beta testing, is going to introduce, among other things, system level super-sampling. Digital Foundry recently took a good look at the feature, noting how it brings some noticeable improvements for PlayStation 4 Pro users playing at 1080p resolution.
Super-sampling makes the game believe that a 4K screen is connected to the console, downscaling the image to 1080p and producing superior anti-aliasing.
By enabling super-sampling in firmware 5.5, the game believes you have a 4K screen connected and the system takes over from there, downscaling the image and producing beautiful anti-aliasing in the process. The improvement to image quality is clear; jagged edges are smoothed over, more detail can be resolved in some cases, while flickering is also reduced in motion on sub-pixel detail.
Super-sampling, unfortunately, introduces some performance issues for select titles, like for The Last Guardian.
When enabling SSAA on some titles, performance can change - and not for the better. Let's take The Last Guardian for example. It's a game that locks its lower resolution/higher frame-rate option exclusively to the 1080p output, with a less stable, higher resolution mode locked to the 4K mode. So if you use 5.5's super-sampling option in this case, you will get improved image quality, but it comes at the expense of frame-rate - and at its worst, The Last Guardian's frame-rate in 4K mode can drop to 20fps territory. Put simply, given the choice, we'd opt for the 1080p mode.
Digital Foundry also compared the PS4 Pro super-sampling implementation to the Xbox One X's one, and the latter comes out on top for a few reasons. The Xbox One X super-sampling forces developers to offer in-game options for all modes, regardless of the attached display.
After all, the whole concept of having Pro enhancements linked to specific display outputs in the first place is a really bad idea. Microsoft's alternative approach is simple and elegant: the system doesn't tell developers which display is attached to the console. This forces game-makers to offer in-game options for all modes, regardless of whether a 1080p or 4K TV is attached and by extension, 1080p super-sampling is automatically taken care of at the system level. It's the ideal set-up and the one we've advocated since PlayStation 4 Pro launched.
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