OK, Microsoft laid bare their new console through Eurogamer’s Digital Foundry. That’s a link, so follow it and catch up on the story if you haven’t checked it because I copy and paste for no man.

We knew the tech reveal was coming, and the gameondaily team were abuzz with excitement and typing errors yesterday when discussing just what they expected to see from Microsoft. Those guys are still processing the information (I think Gaz is laying out loads of gloves so he can count the fingers to see if “1172MHz” is a big number…. Gaz, just stick with 6Tflops man!), so it falls to me to give a guttural, emotional reaction in the heat of the moment. *I reserve the right to change my opinion after I’ve spent some more time considering the facts.

Microsoft have essentially been shopping at the same store as Sony, but they have seemingly thoroughly out-engineered their console rival.

Honest Phil.

Honest Phil.

As it turns out Microsoft have been pretty honest from the get-go regarding Scorpio. The hardware has been shrouded in mystery, but actually all the headline numbers and specs that were revealed way back at E3 last year were totally on point. From the Teraflops and memory bandwidth, right through to their native 4k target.

The central thing that jumps out at me in this reveal is that all of the core hardware is already familiar. The CPU uses further customised Jaguar cores, the GPU component is based on AMD’s Polaris, the memory modules are GDDR5, and the ZPU is…. not a real thing. Just checking you’re still with me. So there is no Vega, no Ryzen, no HBM, or any other terms you’ll hear the PC building crowd enthusing about these days.

Jaguar

The aging Jaguar isn’t the fastest tech in the world today. Hopefully this mooted DX12 hardware scheduler can really drive…

More poignantly, the hardware inside the Scorpio is fundamentally of the same generation and family as the innards that make up the Playstation 4 Pro, which released at the tail end of last year. Like Microsoft’s latest creation (abomination? Pick your flavour), the Pro also features Jaguar cores, Polaris based GPU tech, and GDDR5 memory. In one sense that information made the reveal fairly anti-climatic, but at the same time it opens some very interesting points for comparison.

For one thing, Microsoft have essentially been shopping at the same store as Sony, but they have seemingly thoroughly out-engineered their console rival. On paper, the Scorpio goes harder, faster, and stronger, and with a cheeky swagger as it goes.

The ever-raging question of “Why buy an Xbox if you have a good PC?” still doesn’t have a very convincing answer.

We expected the console to out-perform the Pro because Microsoft have been posturing and positioning the console that way for a long time. However, achieving it with the same generation and range of components is no trivial achievement. Perhaps even more important than bragging rights over their engineering peers, is the fact that the hardware in the Scorpio shouldn’t be priced astronomically highly. Sure, it’ll be more expensive than the PS4 Pro. The additional 4GB GDDR modules, UHD Blu-ray player, and customised chips don’t come free after-all. But they aren’t likely to add more than £50-80 quid to the cost, which could mean a fairly conservative price increase for the enthusiast market.

Sony still have 60million consoles out there, and powerful exclusives like Horizon Zero Dawn.

Sony still have 60million consoles out there, and powerful exclusives like Horizon Zero Dawn.

It does raise further questions of just why the Scorpio is releasing around a year later than the PS4 Pro though. It doesn’t seem to be down to the availability of the components, but then it is unlikely we’ll ever know what is going on behind the scenes at Microsoft, AMD, or TMNT (yes, I mean the turtles. I don’t particularly want to know what goes on at the far more relevant TMSC).

As the resident PC nerd round these parts, I’m both impressed and unimpressed with the Scorpio. The hardware won’t turn my head away from the pages of overclockers.co.uk, and the ever-raging question of “Why buy an Xbox if you have a good PC?” still doesn’t have a very convincing answer. However, I have never really felt that question needed an answer. For me the Scorpio is a console for people that love playing games on consoles, and I am impressed by the package Microsoft are delivering, as I believe they can offer tremendous value to that crowd with the hardware shown today.

Of course Microsoft still have a long way to go to prove the true worth of the Scorpio and achieve any kind of commercial success. The price isn’t settled, and the closest thing to a game we’ve seen is a cop-out port of Forza 6 that will never see the light of day. We haven’t even been given a name yet, so it is clearly early days. Sony also still hold a massive trump card in their deck with their exclusive games library, and they have done a sterling job of building up that reputation this year.

Still… Welcome back, Xbox.

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Asa W

I am just some British chap that is enthusiastic about games and related technology. I put my opinions into articles thinking other people might want to read them, so you could probably call me egotistical as well. Any publishers or platform holders reading this: My integrity can be bought for a low low price. Call me xx

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7 Responses

  1. Anonymous says:

    Ho w can you ‘bitchslap’ the competition without software to sell your hardware? Ted’s right, there are no games announced that are even making me think about getting this thing. No current games either to tempt me into getting a One S.

  2. Theodore Marvin "Ted" DiBiase says:

    I own all the consoles and have been very much enjoying both Zelda and Horizon for the last month or so and for me to say “Welcome back XBox” it would take a game of similar ilk to this rather than a hardware revision. When I look at the recent and upcoming releases on the XBox One, nothing really stands out as much as the two games I’ve just mentioned. If I look at Zelda for example, that is running on an inferior powered Switch but yet the game is better than anything I’ve played on the XBox One in some time, which make me wonder if Microsoft is putting too much focus into hardware rather than software.

    I guess time will tell. I’ll ultimately end up getting the Scorpio on release anyway and maybe E3 will have some announcements that will change my opinion from a software point of view!

    Just a note to these “fanboys” on here, it doesn’t matter to me which console has the best games as if you have all of the consoles, then you won’t miss out on any of the games and there is no need to be angry! Save up, Work hard and play all the best games.

  3. Nix says:

    You can say the same when Sony released for next year. See how irrelevant that is7

    • Asa W says:

      Rumbled! I originally wrote this article about the Dreamcast, and I simply re-use it every time a new console comes out.

    • Theodore Marvin "Ted" DiBiase says:

      I don’t think Sony will be releasing another console next year. It feels like a new console every 3-4 years at the moment, so if that rhythm remains the same, we could see the Microsoft having a more powerful console for 3 years, then Sony for 1 and so on.

      Ultimately it doesn’t matter though if you just buy both. That’s my recommendation, this isn’t a sporting event, you are allowed to support both teams here.

  4. 6>4 says:

    Bye bye Playstation power domination! Scorpio about to bitch slap all competition

    • Theodore Marvin "Ted" DiBiase says:

      I don’t think it’s as straight forward as that. They need some big games too. It’s like the equivalent of having a massive p*nis but an ugly face.

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