What Can We Expect From Microsoft for the 4K Project Scorpio in 2017?

by on March 5, 2017

Stephan Jukic – March 05, 2017

Without a doubt Microsoft is going to make an increasing amount of publicity noise about the power and features of their Project Scorpio native 4K gaming console in the weeks and days leading up to its expected 2017 Holiday release. Importantly, the company will also certainly make the Scorpio into the centerpiece of the major push into 4K gaming that they’ve publicly declared themselves to be aiming for in this year and beyond.

The big question however is, Will the supposed 4K prowess of the Scorpio live up to its hype?

This is something we ask for a couple of different but equally important reasons. The first of these is the strong speculation that the Scorpio, for all its massively beefed up specs in comparison to 2016 consoles like the Xbox One S and the PlayStation 4 Pro, won’t really have the chops for robust, fluid native 4K gaming.

The second reason is that the Scorpio’s 4K chops might not even end up being that important for gamers, particularly if alternatives and “nearly-as-good” pseudo-4K gaming solutions exist side-by-side with the Scorpio. Basically, as analyst Michael Goodman of Strategy Analytics recently told the website We Write Things, ““Can you really tell the difference between playing games in upscaled versus native 4K?”

In other words, the native 4K gaming chops of the Scorpio will more likely be a large piece of marketing hype than a real reason to buy the device for actual 4K gaming. Users who just want a great HDR gameplay experience with upscaled 4K or HDR-enhanced HD games could also easily choose to go for the undoubtedly cheaper Xbox One S or Sony’s own PlayStation 4 Pro and get an experience that’s visually indistinguishable from native 4K gameplay without really close scrutiny.

The PS4 Pro itself does claim to offer native 4K gaming with HDR but as we’ve shown in our previous pieces on this subject, the new Sony console’s processing power for real, fast-paced, high-detail 4K gaming are extremely weak at best.

Going back to our first concern above, a major suspicion of ours is that the Scorpio, despite its hype, will also lack the power needed for effective native 4K gaming. Microsoft is boasting of a 6 teraflop GPU for the Scorpio, along with other still mostly unspecified heavy increases to this console’s power over that of what the PS4 Pro or the Xbox One S can now do.  While it’s still early to tell how some Microsoft games will end up being optimized to flow along smoothly in real native 4K on the Project Scorpio when it’s released, we can safely say that right now as things stand, 6 teraflops is just above the minimum needed for even half-decent 4K gaming at modestly smooth frame rates.

We know this from PC GPUs like NVIDIA’S GTX line of 2016 cards and AMD’s major 2016 graphics units. Among all of them, only a couple can really handle native 4K UHD at decently high detail levels and very smooth frame rates. These, such as the GTX 1080 or new 2016 Titan X all offer far more than 6 teraflops, with the GTX 1080 delivering 9. GPUs which work at 6 or slightly more TFLOPs, like the GTX 1070 and the 2015 Titan X just barely sit at the border of being 4K-friendly. The Scorpio will also have to handle HDR in those 4K games and while adding in high dynamic range doesn’t affect processing requirements nearly as heavily as resolution, it does add to the level of detail present in a given 4K game.

The Project Scorpio console delivers much less TFLOPS than ideal 4K GPUs like the Nvidia GTX 1080

The Project Scorpio console delivers much less TFLOPS than ideal 4K GPUs like the Nvidia GTX 1080

Thus, we can probably expect more than a bit of hemming and hawing or hedging from Microsoft around the console’s release date about what the Scorpio is really best for. We expect the company to play up the Scorpio’s HDR, checkerboard rendering and 4K upscaling prowess if it turns out that native 4K gameplay is weak on the device. Again though, in all honesty, the visual difference between upscaled 4K gaming with HDR and native 4K gaming with HDR will be small enough for most users to love the visuals in either one just fine. This will particularly apply to gaming on smaller 4K TVs and displays.

And while there’s no doubt that the Project Scorpio console will be much more powerful than its Sony PS4 Pro rival or Microsoft’s own Xbox One S, Microsoft is pursuing other additional angles to make their device even more appealing. One of the biggest is the Xbox Games Pass that will be launching soon. This new subscriber program will give its users and owners of Xbox devices unlimited access to over 100 games that even come with backwards compatibility for the Xbox One and Xbox 360 consoles. Total price of this package: just around $10 per month and it includes access to best-selling, popular games like Halo 5: Guardians, Payday 2, Gears of War: Ultimate Edition, Mad Max, Terraria and NBA2K 16.


Games Pass is also designed to allow full downloads of games to compatible Xbox consoles, meaning that customers won’t have to worry about internet bandwidth or streaming issues even as 4K gaming expands with the release of the Scorpio.

The bottom line for the Xbox Project Scorpio is that it might surprise us with still unknown new specs enhancements for native 4K HDR gameplay but we suspect that the reality will be a wickedly strong HDR gaming console for superb upscaled gaming and HD gameplay but with little traction for native UHD.

In related news, the PR and Social manager of Xbox Spain, Juan Carlos Gonzalez has revealed recently that there will be a launch of several new games which are designed to be optimized for whatever new hardware the Scorpio comes built with. According to Gonzalez, the games will have “respective benefits of the new hardware.” This is still an informal announcement from a Microsoft representative but it slightly concretes the whole concept of a new gaming experience with this console.

Questions about the possible price of the Scorpio are however being completely evaded. Asked about this, the Xbox Spain rep simply stated that:

“We still do not have information we can share about the Project Scorpio price. What I can say is that there will be several launching games for the game console, with the respective benefits of the new hardware.”

We’ll probably have more details on this after E3 later in 2017.

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  • Billy
    March 6, 2017 at 11:15 am

    First your wrong anyone that has used 4K for any gaming can see the difference in 4K and checkerboarding upscaling and anyone at all can see the difference between the two side by side, and no they don’t need to scrutinize it at all it is apparent, just like any gamers can tell the difference if a game runs at 30fps and 60fps, just like any gamer without eye problems can see anything more than 10% loss in frame rates. Even the Pro knows the difference or they would not be trying to run [email protected] on a few games even though the drop frames like crazy.

    Also as for the chip set that Project Scorpio will use with out a doubt it will be from AMD however during the announcement and demo of Ryzen the talked about Xbox support thanking them and about Project Scorpio, this alone is not enough to guarantee that Scorpio will use a variation of Ryzen and Vega chips but with the comment from Xbox responding to a question regarding why they are waiting to release till this year, Xbox commented that the tech would not be available until the end of the first quarter this year, the new Ryzen chips are have not released until this month, which is the end of the first quarter. Both comments almost guarantee that a variation of Ryzen will be used.

    As to the Power is 6tf enough, if we go to PC (even though PC and Console architectures are different) knowing that historically PC use more power to run a game at the same res than a console would use then we can see the answer. Consoles use less power to run the same res for several reasons,
    First Console’s Operating Systems use less to run even the UWP (Universal Windows Platform) of Xbox One uses less to run then the full version of Windows10.
    Second there are more background apps that run on PCs than on Consoles
    Third Games can be optimized to run on consoles based on the hardware, this can not be done on PC because of the hundreds of thousands of hardware combinations there are.
    This is just the three major reason why a Console can run a game at the same res as a PC but use less power on Consoles. Anyway a 6tf PC running at 256gbs (less than the 320gbs promised by Xbox for Scorpio) can run [email protected] locked with out frame rate issues.
    Now as to why Xbox has not released the specs my guess would be they are still trying to finalized the specs and in the past specs have not been given until or just after the release date is given and preorders are taken. As to benefits of having a, well boosted Xbox One because that is what it is, how can I put this what are the benefits of the elite controller? Dose ever gamer need an elite controller, NO they don’t but it is there for gamers who want something more, this is basically how Phil Spencer has explained it, he did say that he expects to sell more Xbox One S Consoles than Project Scorpio consoles because “Project Scorpio is for the gamer that speeds most his time and money on gaming” this I can understand because I keep up with current consoles buying the new ones, I know hardware and software used for gaming, I learn about new hardware and read every real news article I can find, to say it simply I love gaming always have and have done so for 35+ years. If you want more out of gaming then products like the Pro and Project Scorpio is for you and if you want real 4K, real speed, and high fidelity VR then the Pro is pushed out of that equation for now. I say for now because the Pro’s system could be pushed higher than 4.2tf though with the ram it has it would start to bottle neck fast but it is capable of more than it is running now however to get more they would have to sacrifice in other areas. The VR could use an upgrade as well (and no it dose not need the Pro to run) but the VR is basically one step above phone VR systems one screen, wired and uses the PS Eye which limits your ability to move turn and look, something that VR is known for, if you wanted limited view you could just get a big screen and sit in fount of it. I don’t want anyone to misunderstand me, the Pro is a great console I have one, but it was put together to fast just as the Xbox One was, however it opened the door for Xbox to do more, without it being as much as a surprise. When the PS4 and Xbox One released gamers where like the Pro is more powerful and that was their only real argument, they where right. The hardware in the PS4 used gddr5 ram and the Xbox One used gddr3 ram with eSRam to boost it close to the gddr5 abilities, this was a big mistake for Xbox because eSRam is meant to boost a system and only works as a boost not as a part that is needed to run which is how the Xbox One runs. Then PS bragged they had built a console that could do 4K and would use a new upscaling tech that would be almost as good as 4K (note even those at PS acknowledged the difference) however PS failed with the Pro in that regard. The Pro has a few games that run in [email protected] one a basic Pinball type game (that drops frames) then they have Skyrim made before 2011, drops frames, loads in open areas, and with mods, if you can get it work, barely functions.
    So as with all consoles they watch what works and what dose not, then they improve on that. So much is still not known about the new console, how will it be designed, what are the actual specs, how will the out of the box thinking that Xbox dose each time effect the new console (examples of their out of the box thinking only on Xbox One, 8gb of ssd which is there for any app any game even the OS can use, then you have eSRam though it is meant only as a boost Xbox was the first to use it as a primary RAM function). Often Consoles are sold for at or below manufacturing cost will Scorpio follow this, or will it cost more because it is not meant for gamers average gamers but instead for those who want more. Time will tell, but I believe Scorpio will do great things just as the Pro did great things, Scorpio will open the door for PS to make a better system sooner than, rather than later, it also gives them cause to improve their VR, though the games they have been doing is a good start. So Xbox fan or PS fan (not fanboys I hate the term and the single minded stubbornness that comes with it) should hope it does good becuses the better a competitor dose the better our preferred system will do.


  • Eugene 86
    March 6, 2017 at 12:37 pm

    I’m ready for shine 4k


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