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DF Weekly: Is GTA 6 at 60fps really out of the question for PS5 Pro?

Speaking as a journalist, it feels somewhat odd to see things you say become news stories, but it sometimes happens owing to Digital Foundry’s profile. So it was last week, when the big takeaway – for many – from our PS5 Pro specs reaction was our contention that Grand Theft Auto 6 on the new machine would likely not run at 60 frames per second. Of course, there are caveats to that particular statement, and we spend some time in DF Direct Weekly #155 discussing it.

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The whole PS5 Pro/GTA 6 discussion began when the mooted release date for the new Sony machine seemed to position it as the most performant hardware on the market for running Rockstar’s next generation blockbuster. Assuming PS5 Pro arrives later on this year, it’s an entirely logical supposition, bearing in mind that Rockstar’s current release date sees the game arriving in 2025. Rockstar may elect not support PS5 Pro, but the balance of probabilities suggests it will.

From there, the question moves onto how the enhanced console is improved over the standard one: what it was designed for, what specifications it has, and how the extra resources may be used in an open-world game like GTA 6. And here’s where we can make some fairly confident predictions, because even more so than PS4 Pro and Xbox One X before it, PS5 Pro has what you might describe as a somewhat lop-sided balance between CPU and GPU enhancements.

However, before we go any further, there’s one gigantic caveat: the first Grand Theft Auto 6 trailer launched as a 30 frames per second video. All prior GTA console titles going back to the first 3D offering, Grand Theft Auto 3, have targeted 30fps (and often fall short, depending on load). The Red Dead Redemption titles have also run at 30fps on their original host platforms. However, until Rockstar says so, the chance of a 60fps mode in GTA 6 cannot be ruled out.

DF Direct Weekly #155: Marvel 1943, Big FSR 3.1 Upgrades, FF7 Rebirth Perf Mode Patch, PSVR2 on PC!


DF Direct Weekly #155 is embedded here for your viewing enjoyment.
  • 0:00:00 Introduction
  • 0:00:44 News 01: Marvel 1943: Rise of Hydra stuns in debut trailer
  • 0:18:56 News 02: AMD announces FSR 3.1
  • 0:30:52 News 03: Latest PS VR2 update enables PC access
  • 0:40:37 News 04: Could GTA 6 hit 60 FPS on PS5 Pro?
  • 0:57:46 News 05: Covert Protocol demo shows off AI characters
  • 1:10:17 News 06: Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth gets new graphics options
  • 1:16:05 Supporter Q1: What should Microsoft and Sony do to differentiate their next-gen hardware?
  • 1:36:44 Supporter Q2: Why isn’t Microsoft making more out of their consoles’ machine learning capabilities?
  • 1:43:09 Supporter Q3: Should Sony invest in frame generation? Does PSSR suggest a lack of faith in AMD’s upscaling tech?
  • 1:49:24 Supporter Q4: Could backwards compatibility actually hold back Switch 2?

Therefore, it stands to reason that if the new game does have a 60fps mode on existing consoles, it follows that GTA 6 will also have it on PS5 Pro – and it may deliver a more stable 60fps, by virtue of both its faster CPU and GPU. However, and this is the point we are making, if the consoles are running at 30fps, as seen in the trailer, the chances of the game having a 60fps mode on PS5 Pro are remote.

Dense open-world titles require a lot of GPU power to render them, but crucially, they also require a good degree of CPU throughput. The task of the CPU is to simulate the entire world and everything in it. The CPU runs the AI for all of the NPCs and the animation of those characters. In-game physics are also taken care of by the CPU. Based on what we know of the capabilities of the consoles as well as the simulation on display in the trailer, it’s hard to believe that there’s CPU headroom available to double performance. Remember: PS5 Pro’s CPU clocks are just 10 percent higher than the standard model’s.

We’re not ruling out that some base PS5 games may run at 30fps while Pro runs at 60fps, but this would require the title in question to be heavily limited by the GPU alone, not the CPU. Game makers typically look to exploit both CPU and GPU, and with PS4 Pro and Xbox One X, we saw what happened when ‘performance’ modes were added that simply unlocked the frame-rate: GPU throughput was there to add to the frame-rate, but all it did was to take you into a 40fps no man’s land as the game rapidly encountered harsh CPU limits.


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However, caveats apart, assuming 60 frames per second is off the table, what should we expect from the PlayStation 5 Pro version of the game? This all depends on the extent to which Rockstar uses its features, of course. From the CPU perspective, an extra 10 percent of performance may mean that simulation-based bottlenecks under GTA 6’s target frame-rate will be less keenly felt that they would be on the base PS5.

In our reaction video to the initial trailer, we noted strong evidence of global illumination based on ray tracing. Rockstar could tap into the much stronger RT performance in PS5 Pro and either increase precision, add extra features or even both. Extra GPU horsepower is available, with Sony noting a basic 45 percent improvement in performance – meaning higher rendering resolution, a stronger lock to target frame-rate, or improvement in quality to any graphics features Rockstar cares to target.

However, we would hope to see the developer targeting PSSR – Sony’s take on machine learning based upscaling, its answer to Nvidia’s excellent DLSS. This would provide much better image quality boosts compared to software-based upscaling used on the base PlayStation 5 and could conceivably even run at lower resolutions than the standard machine and still present in a more detailed manner. From there, the GPU performance could be used to enhance pixel quality rather than pixel quantity.

Grand Theft Auto 5’s Ray Traced Reflections Upgrade Tested on PS5 and Xbox Series X


GTA 5’s upgrade for PS5 and Xbox Series X is interesting – but ultimately we’re looking at current-gen enhancements to a game first designed for Xbox 360 and PS3. Just because GTA 5 has a 60fps performance mode, there are no guarantees that GTA 6 will.

With all of this in mind, the takeaways are fairly straightforward then: at the very least, PS5 Pro will do what PS4 Pro did – improve image quality via improved resolutions and potentially offer a closer lock to the target frame-rate. If the game does not hit a native 4K, the machine learning silicon should at least give a very close representation of how a full 3840×2160 resolution should present, assuming Rockstar uses it. And if the standard PS5 features RT support, the fundamental building blocks required for it (such as BVH structures to trace against) can be repurposed for more or better RT effects.

However, assuming that the game is targeting 30fps, the extra performance simply isn’t there to run the game’s simulation systems at twice the speed to hit 60fps – which calls into question who this machine is targeted at and the expectations of that audience. PS5 Pro can take existing PS5 games running at 60fps and make them look much better – and this will address one of the fundamental concerns we’ve had with current-gen console games: performance modes with really dodgy image quality. Frame generation techniques could even be used to make those 60fps modes present nicely on 120Hz displays (sorry, but 30fps to 60fps is unlikely, owing to latency and artefacting challenges).

However, I’m not sure PS5 Pro has the specs to dissuade users looking to buy another console instead of a more powerful PC. In a world where a Ryzen 7 5800X3D offers over double the performance of a console CPU for under £270/$280 and when even a more budget-minded Core i5 12400F or Ryzen 5 7600 are a lot faster, there are cost-effective ways to get that CPU boost that Sony is unwilling or unable to deliver. Ultimately, it’s going to be down to Sony to make the case for PS5 Pro when it chooses to do so and we’ll go from there.

Going back to the original point though, assuming there are no delays, PlayStation 5 Pro will indeed be the most powerful hardware out there to run GTA 6 – and I’d hope Rockstar will make use of its capabilities. And while a PC may be more powerful, that won’t help in a world where we have no idea when Rockstar may release a PC port.

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