Remember the glory days of video game consoles, where purchasing a machine would sort you out for a good seven years?
The tech-savvy PC crowd had raw processing power in their favour, but what use is that when your rig is constantly being one-upped by rapidly advancing technology, teasing you to upgrade again and again. Consoles were simple, and that’s why they were so appealing.
Those days are over my friend.
Last year saw the release of the PS4 Pro, just three years after the original PS4 first hit stores. A 4K-ready beast, it promised a sizeable visual upgrade for your games if you had a TV that could facilitate it. Aside from the graphical superiority the Pro is pretty much the same machine as its predecessor, but suddenly PlayStation fans are faced with a PC-like dilemma halfway through a traditional console lifespan. Stick or upgrade?
Fast forward about five months, and Microsoft has finally lifted the lid on the power under the hood of its next Xbox, currently titled Project Scorpio, which is both exciting and even more threatening to your precious bank balance.
The computing giant weren’t about making grand statements when they first announced the souped up Xbox One last summer, but until a recent interview with Eurogamer’s Digital Foundry the precise details had been kept under wraps.
We’ll level with you here: tech-speak tends to fly straight over our heads, but there are some pretty big headlines here.
Its custom CPU and six teraflops of raw horsepower make Scorpio the console to beat from a specs standpoint (TechCrunch note that it’s 4.5 times more powerful than the standard Xbox One, and 1.4 times more powerful than its rival the PS4 Pro). To really utilise it you’ll obviously want a decent 4K TV in your living room, but Microsoft claim the machine will be able to make your old Xbox games perform better, and that includes the Xbox 360 library.
Digital Foundry saw a Forza Motorsport demo effortlessly running in native 4K at a silky-smooth 60 frames-per-second, and it still had a fair bit of power to boot.
Of course none of this guarantees an irresistible console. The Xbox One is lagging some way behind Sony’s machine in both sales and software quality, cancelling high-profile exclusives such as Scalebound and Fable Legends in the past year. People want to know that the games will match the grunt.
There’s also no word on an exact release date yet (it’s definitely coming this year), or a price – likely to be the sticking point for most consumers. A console as beefed up as this one is very unlikely to come in at less than the £350 the PS4 Pro is currently going for on Amazon. The big question is, will it cost much more?
Still, it seems the American company is taking this machine very seriously, keen to make up for the Xbox One’s botched launch. “The numbers, as impressive as they are, don't fully represent what the final product aims to deliver,” wrote Digital Foundry. “Nor can the number of compute units and teraflops represent the passion the Xbox team has injected into this project. Microsoft has a point to prove. It's not just about performance, it's about pushing the quality of console design to a new level - in all areas.”
[Specs table from Digital Foundry]