In an in-depth article posted to Gamasutra this week, lots is being revealed about Microsoft’s upcoming Xbox One Scorpio – a high-performance competitor to Sony’s PlayStation 4 Pro. With these details, we get to see what the dev kit looks like (physically and specs-wise), and get confirmation on certain features.
Sharing common goals with PS4 Pro, Scorpio is designed to give Xbox fans not just better graphical detail in their games, but better performance, to boot. The PS4 Pro’s 4.2 TFLOPS performance is admirable, but it falls short of Scorpio’s 6 TFLOPS, driven by a GPU most comparable to AMD’s Radeon RX 480, which is spec’d at 5.8 TFLOPS peak.
With this performance, Scorpio would become the first game console in ages (if at all) that can actually compete against a mid-range PC, and while the big focus is (unnecessarily, to me) on 4K, an RX 480 class card is able to deliver fantastic 1080p performance, and moderate 1440p performance (based on our testing). To achieve 4K resolution, it means graphical fidelity is going to have to drop, and likely also performance, which is the same kind of situation the PS4 Pro deals with.
The 12 TFLOPS GeForce GTX 1080 Ti we looked at a couple of weeks ago becomes the first realistic “4K card” we’ve ever tested, so I don’t have a ton of confidence for smooth 4K gaming on Scorpio, even with its hardware that’s nearly 4x as powerful as the original Scorpio. This wish will never be granted, but I do hope developers prioritize the framerate on Scorpio – the power is there, and framerate matters.
Getting back on track, one of the coolest reveals in Gamasutra‘s article is that Scorpio will be able to support AMD’s FreeSync technology. There’s both an upside and downside to that: FreeSync is mostly found in computer monitors, so that won’t help those with non-FreeSync televisions. But, the situation could improve over time, as more and more companies adopt it. With FreeSync, the graphics card controls how the frames are sent to the display, reducing visible tearing. With it, the trick of using motion blur to smooth a game out wouldn’t be important.
Interestingly, the Scorpio dev kit offers better hardware than the retail unit, scoring an extra 600 GFLOPS of processing power, twice the amount of VRAM (24GB GDDR5), a larger power supply (330W vs. 245W), and perhaps the best part: a 1TB solid-state drive.
For those willing to shell out the cash to upgrade, Scorpio looks to be about as amazing as a console upgrade could be. But, there’s one little piece of information that makes the allure even greater: unlike with the PS4 Pro, where developers need to specifically code their game to take advantage of the hardware (unless the Boost Mode miraculously works), Scorpio will improve all games without the developer having to worry about it. No post-launch patches will be needed. If a game was coded to standard, its performance should improve on Scorpio. Microsoft deserves a big kudos for that design.