Or more to the point, what didn’t we learn?
We should have guessed really. Digital Foundry are great at technical analysis but they were never going to be the font by which many of our burning Scorpio questions were answered. We still don’t know even pretty basic stuff like price, actual name (presumably Scorpio will not be taken forward as the name of the commercially available product) , potential launch titles or perhaps most importantly: release date!
Minor frustrations aside; after all E3 is less than 10 weeks away, this was actually a pretty shrewd move by Microsoft. Phil Spencer has been quietly repairing the damage done to the Xbox brand since his appointment in March 2014. Inviting one of the gaming press industry’s most respected publications to come and essentially verify some of the claims made about Scorpio’s specifications speaks to the confidence that Microsoft has in its product, presumably still more than 6 months from launch.
So what of the nitty gritty technical specs then?
|Project Scorpio||Xbox One||PS4 Pro|
|CPU||Eight custom x86 cores clocked at 2.3GHz||Eight custom Jaguar cores clocked at 1.75GHz||Eight Jaguar cores clocked at 2.1GHz|
|GPU||40 customised compute units at 1172MHz||12 GCN compute units at 853MHz (Xbox One S: 914MHz)||36 improved GCN compute units at 911MHz|
|Memory||12GB GDDR5||8GB DDR3/32MB ESRAM||8GB GDDR5|
|Memory Bandwidth||326GB/s||DDR3: 68GB/s, ESRAM at max 204GB/s (Xbox One S: 219GB/s)||218GB/s|
|Hard Drive||1TB 2.5-inch||500GB/1TB/2TB 2.5-inch||1TB 2.5-inch|
|Optical Drive||4K UHD Blu-ray||Blu-ray (Xbox One S: 4K UHD)||Blu-ray|
Apart from the completely customised GPU pretty much all of this spec was correctly guessed months ago. So what does it actually mean for us?
Early evidence suggests that the Scorpio is going to give some of the current best PC video games graphics cards a run for their money. The Forza 6 engine was put through it’s paces at 4k60 and came through with nary a dropped frame at equivalent to ultra settings on the PC. This is just one game running on one engine so there is much still to see, but the signs are good. The Nvidia 1060/ 1070/ 1080 cards were all put through similar tests. Only the near top of the range Nvidia 1080 could compete with the Scorpio frame for frame. A cursory Google search on the price of one of these cards has costs starting at around the £500 mark. If Microsoft can get beneath the $500/ £500 mark for the console as a whole then they really could be onto something.
Reservations on my side are ones that apply to the industry as a whole. In our constant reach for prettier graphics with better frame rates are modern games losing the will to come up with truly unique or at least surprising features? AI in games hasn’t really progressed in years for example. Shouldn’t we be asking our game developers to push the boundaries in more than just graphics?
Xbox One Games
The Xbox One has always been at a disadvantage compared the PS4 technology wise. Games that run at native 1080p on PS4 often have to be upscaled from 900p to get the game running smoothly on Xbox One hardware. That should be a thing of the past with Scorpio. The CPU architecture of the Scorpion is said to be a full 30% faster than the Xbox One and that means 1080p, 60 frames per second – where the game’s design allows of course.
Microsoft has been clever here too. Recognising that not everyone that wants a Scorpio will be upgrading from their HD screen any time soon, games that output at 4K are downsampled at a system level to give the best possible experience for regular high definition users.
Xbox 360 Games
Microsoft have been much lauded for their inclusive stance on Xbox 360 games. Many lapsed 360 gamers were upset with Microsoft’s all-media approach to their next console at its unveiling and a good number of these bought PS4 consoles as a result. Giving old customers a way to play a huge number of their 360 games without mucking around with cables was a way of enticing people back. The good news is that this has not been forgotten with Scorpio. Xbox 360 games should run without a hitch, and in many cases, significantly better than they would on your Xbox One.
So, really that just leaves us waiting for E3. Price is going to be absolutely key. Microsoft has already been making noises about a premium price point but I’ve got a feeling they know that £500/ $500 is a red line. The original PS3 launched costing more than that and we all know what happened there. But, there are other questions. What does the bloody thing look like?! What is Microsoft’s plans with regard VR? I could go on.
Keep an eye on XboxSector in the next few weeks as I’ll be asking our writers to put their reputations on the line and make a few E3 predictions. And of course if there’s any more Scorpio news in the mean time, you’ll find it right here.
Will you be picking up a Scorpio this year? Or do you hate the idea of the end of traditional console cycles? Let us know in the comments below.