Microsoft was not kidding when they said they are aiming to create the most powerful console of all time. At the time when consoles are little more than small PCs, Scorpio is a sleek piece of work, with custom CPU, GPU and state-of-the-art cooling.
The upgraded Xbox One has a custom x86 CPU created in cooperation with AMD, clocked at 2.3 GHz. The GPU has 40 customized compute units at 1172 MHz. Together they make up the Scorpio engine, a system-on-chip based on a workflow that allowed them to look at each and every title and base the hardware on their bottlenecks and needs, rather than vice-versa. The system also has 12 GB of GDDR5 and the memory bandwith went up to 326 GB/s.
The team did not stop there, but worked with developers to try and tweak all the top-selling Xbox One games to work as well as possible on the new console without the need for a new patch. 4k/60 fps is a goal out of the box for older games, but it might not be possible without actual patch from the developers. However, just like PS4 Pro’s boost mode, it should offer games all this extra power to work with. The optimization will be already there, done “close to the metal”. As far as new games are concerned, native 4k at 60fps should be doable with some headroom, the tests suggest.
It seems that Microsoft have outdone themselves when it comes to Scorpio. What remains unknown as of yet is the actual price of the console. Microsoft has hinted before and recently at the fact that Scorpio is a console for those who are willing to pay the “premium” price. Now, some, like Digital Foundry, who were given a premiere look at the way the console works, speculate that it should be around $499. On the one hand, this is very expensive for a console, on the other, this is a native 4k/60 machine, which would cost much more if you were putting it together yourself as a PC.
It remains to be seen what Microsoft has in store for Scorpio, as they are probably leaving a lot to be revealed at E3 2017. One question remains: is Scorpio really necessary or is it too much, too late?