PS4 Neo: What we know about the next PlayStation upgrade

Sony will officially unveil an upgraded PlayStation 4 at an event in September. Here's everything we know so far.

Justin Jaffe Managing editor
Justin Jaffe is the Managing Editor for CNET Money. He has more than 20 years of experience publishing books, articles and research on finance and technology for Wired, IDC and others. He is the coauthor of Uninvested (Random House, 2015), which reveals how financial services companies take advantage of customers -- and how to protect yourself. He graduated from Skidmore College with a B.A. in English Literature, spent 10 years in San Francisco and now lives in Portland, Maine.
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Justin Jaffe
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After confirming its existence and little else just prior to E3, in August Sony announced that it will officially unveil an upgraded PlayStation 4 at an event in September. Sony has confirmed that an event -- ostensibly, though not yet officially, the introduction of the next Playstation -- will take place in New York on Wednesday, September 7. The company has said that it will be live-streamed.

Note that the debut of this new, higher-end, mid-cycle console -- being referred to variously as the PS Neo, PS4k, and PS4.5 -- will be separate and distinct from the PlayStation VR, Sony's virtual reality headset, which is also scheduled to debut in the fall of 2016. (And you will need a PS4 to use PlayStation VR.)

There have been reports that the system could hit store shelves before the end of the year, though no official retail date has been announced. With rumors continually bubbling to the surface about these quasi-next generation consoles from Nintendo, Microsoft, and others, we'll be keeping track of those related to the forthcoming PlayStation below.

Editors' note: This story was originally posted on May 8, 2016, and last updated on August 10, 2016.

Under the hood

This new version of the PlayStation will come equipped with "enhanced graphics and power," including support for PlayStation VR, 4K graphics for games and even support for the brand new Ultra HD 4K Blu-ray disc format. In addition, Sony will continue production of the existing PlayStation, making the new console an addition to the portfolio rather than a pure, next-generation replacement; Sony Interactive CEO Andrew House told the Financial Times that "it is intended to sit alongside and complement the standard PS4."

According to a thoughtful analysis published by Eurogamer, it may support current and next-generation ultra HD media and will integrate "semi-custom versions of AMD's CPU and GPU technology integrated into a single, console-friendly processor."A more specific list of specs published by Giant Bomb referenced eight 2.1GHz AMD Jaguar CPU cores and 8GB of GDDR5.

All PS4 games will be playable on both the existing PS4 and Neo. Sony said it will take a "small but manageable" amount of effort for developers to get games working on both versions of the PS4. Since the announcement of the Playstation Neo and Microsoft Scorpio, a number of publishers have spoken positively about this type of midcycle hardware upgrade.

Ostensibly, the same games would work on both consoles, but would offer better (and presumably higher resolution) graphics on the new model. According to the Giant Bomb report, new PlayStation console would not have its own exclusive games; all games will be required to have the same peripheral support and players will all appear on the same PlayStation Network.

Some have connected the development of the PS4.5 to Sony's interest in selling 4K televisions, and there is supposition that the next PlayStation would support 4K streaming from services like Netflix. Whether that's native support for 4K or an "upconverted" experience is anyone's guess.

It's also possible that the new PlayStation's more muscular graphics could offer a better experience on the upcoming PlayStation VR headset. That would address concerns like those cited by Forbes about the possibility of a "sub-par" VR experience on the existing PS4 platform.

Watch this: Want a PlayStation VR headset? You will after you've played these games


Sony has said that the new PS4 will also cost more than the current model, which starts at $349. After launching the powerful PS3 in the US at $499 (and offering a higher-end, $599 model), Sony has come downmarket in recent years. The PlayStation 4, for example, started at $399 before landing at $349, £299 and AU$480 with an included game. But that affordable price is one reason why the PS4 has outsold the Xbox One by an almost two to one margin. (Microsoft has has since lowered Xbox prices aggressively.)

If the PS4.5 comes out of the gate with super-size specs -- quadrupling its processor speed and upgrading its RAM, as some have suggested -- its price will be significantly higher. But so long as the standard PS4 continues to be available at its current price (or lower) to satisfy value shoppers, Sony may well be able to have its cake and eat it, too.

Scroll down for a reverse-chronological look at the latest rumors.

August 10, 2016

PlayStation Meeting event will be live-streamed, Sony confirms

The new, more powerful PlayStation 4 is expected to be detailed at the event.

August 8, 2016

PS4 Neo being unveiled in early September

We'll reportedly know a lot more about the upgraded PS4 on September 7.

June 10, 2016

CNET: Sony confirms high-end PS4 is coming, but it won't show up at E3

It's official: We won't be seeing the PlayStation Neo at this years E3 convention, but Sony has confirmed that it will support 4K resolution games and even the new Ultra HD 4K Blu-ray disc format. We may see some news about what games and software lineups will come to the Neo.

June 10, 2016

Financial Times: Sony PS4 upgrade to include UltraHD

Sony says that 4K Ultra HD will be a big focus for the new console upgrade.

April 23, 2016

CNET Radar: A new PlayStation is in the works

Sony might introduce another PlayStation, but it's not the PS5?

April 20, 2016

CNET: Sony reportedly unsure if there will ever be a PlayStation 5

Lorne Lanning asked Shuhei Yoshida, "What does the PlayStation 5 look like?" He replied, 'You mean if."

April 20, 2016

GameSpot's The Lobby: All the details on PlayStation Neo

Giant Bomb's Jeff Gerstmann shares the details of PlayStation Neo with the crew of The Lobby at GameSpot. How does Sony keep the PlayStation family of fans together?

April 19, 2016

CNET: All the info on the new PlayStation 4; aka PS4.5, aka PS4K, aka Neo

Sony has confirmed the company is in-fact working on a newer and improved PlayStation 4, currently codenamed Neo. We've got all the details.

April 18, 2016

CNET: Rumoured PlayStation 4 'NEO' upgrades power and aims for 4K

The upgraded console will reportedly run faster than the original, and will come in at $399.

April 1, 2016

GameSpot's The Lobby - Does Sony need a PlayStation 4.5?

GameSpot's Peter Brown, Mike Mahardy, and Danny O'Dwyer discuss Sony's PS4 update and the shortening console life cycle.

March 28, 2016

The Wall Street Journal: Sony Plans New PlayStation for Graphics-Heavy Games

Updated console would be announced before virtual-reality headset.

Sony is planning to sell a more powerful version of its PlayStation 4 machine to handle higher-end game experiences, including virtual reality.