The battle of the consoles continues between PlayStation and Xbox — this time between the PlayStation 4 Pro and the upcoming Xbox Project Scorpio.
Both systems allow you to play optimized games at 4K and HDR, but according to Digital Foundry, Microsoft is looking to raise the stakes by offering "true 4K" along with other bells and whistles. As we get closer to Project Scorpio's fall 2017 launch, here's what we know so far about how its stacks up to the competition.
|Project Scorpio||PlayStation 4 Pro|
|CPU||8 Custom Jaguar x86 cores clocked at 2.3Ghz ||8 Jaguar cores clocked at 2.1GHz|
|GPU||40 customized compute units at 1172MHz ||36 improved GNC compute units at 911MHz|
|Memory||12GB GDDR5||8GB GDDR5|
|Optical Drive||4K UHD Blu-ray||Blu-ray|
First things first, just how powerful is Project Scorpio? Plenty. Microsoft is claiming that Scorpio has 4.5 times the muscle as the original Xbox One. Microsoft has tapped AMD once again to create a custom processor with eight custom "Jaguar-evolved cores." The PS4 Pro, PS4, Xbox One and Xbox One S also use AMD CPUs and GPUs.
Project Scorpio has plenty of muscle to spare with 40 GPU compute units, 12GB of memory and 326GB/s of memory bandwidth. Compare that to the Pro's 36 CUs, 8GB of VRAM and 218GBB/s. Microsoft has also baked in a bunch of other improvements for faster loading speeds and more efficient bandwidth usage. Long story short, a new king is coming to town and for now its name is Project Scorpio.
The biggest draw about either system is their ability to run games at 4K (3840 x 2160) resolution. The PS4 Pro uses several different upscaling techniques, such as checkerboard rendering, which essentially changes the shape of the pixel to create a sharper, more complete images that's close to native 4K. Other developers have taken advantage of the PS4 Pro's more powerful specs to create prettier, but not necessarily 2160p images.
Xbox is giving developers freedom to use whatever techniques they want to reach 4K. But based on the system's spec, it's powerful enough to render games in native 4K at 60 frames per second with enough left over to throw some HDR in the mix.
Microsoft showed off Scorpio playing a Forza demo at 4K which only used 65 percent of the console's power. So for right now, it seems that Project Scorpio is the world's first true 4K console and could potentially make games look a little bit better than PS4 Pro does. But ultimately, each game's resolution and framereate is up to the developers.
MORE: Xbox Project Scorpio: Everything We Know So Far
Games and VR
Xbox has been mum on exactly what games are launching with Project Scorpio, with Middle-Earth: Shadow of War being the only confirmed game to be optimized for the system. Scorpio will play all of your existing Xbox One games including Gears of War 4 and Halo 5, but its unclear which ones will get a performance boost. We'll have to wait until E3 2017 in June for a more complete lineup, but I'm hoping for Xbox's sake that the company makes a concerted effort to get more exclusive titles in its stables.
PlayStation currently offers the best lineup of exclusives, including excellent and visually stunning games such as Horizon: Zero Dawn and Uncharted 4. Also, dozens of older titles such as The Last of Us: Remastered, Rise of the Tomb Raider and the Infamous series have gotten a Pro-friendly patch.
Sony's PlayStation VR is currently the only way to experience virtual reality on a console, and if Scorpio doesn't support Oculus Rift, HTC Vive or Microsoft's own headsets, that's going to leave a gaping hole that PlayStation can potentially exploit. However, Microsoft has confirmed to GameSpot that VR will be part of the picture for the new console.
Similar to the PS4 Pro, all of your older Xbox One games will play on Scorpio with slight enhancements, such as faster load times and more consistent framerates. However, unless the title's developer has created a Scorpio patch, it won't run higher than its original resolution. Games that use dynamic resolution scaling, which allows a game to scale down an image on the fly in favor of consistent performance will now be able to run at maximum resolution.
Like the Xbox One, Scorpio will also work with the 300-plus Xbox 360 games that are backwards compatible. If you want to play PS3 games on a PS4 Pro, you'll need to subscribe to PlayStation Now, which streams over 450 titles for a monthly fee.
What's the point of hitting that sweet, sweet combo or climbing to the top of that treacherous digital mountain if no one's there to see it — especially if it's in 4K? Both the PS4 Pro and Project Scorpio can take screenshots in 4K. However, only Project Scorpio will let you capture video in 4K and at 60Hz no less. Scorpio's GameDVR will even work on lower-res titles, using a bit of upscaling for an even prettier picture.
Game DVR will also offer retroactive screen capture, which will allow players to scroll through their captures frame by frame. That way, they can get the best image possible to show off their epic skills.
Offering true 4K gaming, beastly specs and a series of intriguing new features, Project Scorpio is a serious step forward for consoles in general. If it can live up to the hype, Scorpio could potentially narrow the gap between console and PC gaming.
However, no matter how good the hardware seems, it's only as successful as the software. And one Forza demo does not a kingslayer system make. Something that was also absent from this initial deep dive into Project Scorpio was VR. Microsoft has already proved that it can build the most powerful console ever; now it's time to prove that it can deliver the best games as well.