Xbox Scorpio Packs Beefy Hardware To Run 'Forza' At 4K With Power To Spare

Gamers are constantly in search of more power, and it appears Microsoft might satiate that desire with Xbox Scorpio in ways that the Xbox One could not. A deep dive into the console's specs was revealed Thursday that promises gigantic gains for those in search of 4K gaming or even better 1080p experiences.

Eurogamer's Digital Foundry got the exclusive look into the Xbox Scorpio console's hardware. The outlet is best known for its gaming enthusiast tilt with analysis of how games perform on different platforms, so it was a wise choice given Microsoft's new console is targeting huge performance gains.

It's important to remember that only the Xbox Scorpio specs and performance were revealed. There is no information on what the console looks like, the official name, release date, or even its price. The latter is possibly the most important. However, Xbox Head Phil Spencer has repeatedly referred to the console as a premium piece of hardware. That plus the specs suggest a price range between $400 and $500, likely leaning to toward the higher end of that range.

The Hardware

Digital Foundry's spec comparison of the Xbox Scorpio versus the Xbox One and PS4 Pro.
[Image by Digital Foundry]

The Xbox Scorpio will be powered by a custom AMD CPU sporting eight x86 cores clocked at 2.3 GHz. Unsurprisingly, Microsoft is not making the jump to the just released Ryzen CPU architecture. Instead, the existing Jaguar CPU is customized further squeeze more power out of it than even offered for the PS4 Pro.

The GPU is partly where the major gains in the Xbox Scorpio reside. Microsoft has more than tripled the number of compute units in the custom AMD GPU and increased the clock speed to an unlikely 1172Mhz, just slightly slower than the AMD's current RX 480 graphics card.

Console makers typically try to keep clock speeds on the CPU and GPU low to ensure they don't get too hot. Microsoft is using different methods to keep the console running at high speeds while also keeping cool. Each console motherboard that comes off the production line is being tuned to its own power profile to ensure there is no wasted energy and heat. Meanwhile, a vapor chamber heat sink will be used in combination with a centrifugal fan to draw away heat.

Memory is just as crucial a factor as the GPU for a high-performance console as there needs to be enough memory bandwidth to handle enormous 4K textures for games. The Xbox Scorpio receives 12GB of GDDR5 memory with bandwidth reaching 326GB/s. Reportedly, 8GB will be dedicated to just games while 4GB will be used for the operating system.

The Performance

Forza Motorsport 6 Apex (Windows 10)
[Image by Xbox Wire]

Microsoft's goal with all the hardware was to run all existing 900p and 1080p games at 4K resolution. Based on Digital Foundry's analysis, they've exceeded this target as a Forza Motorsport 6 demo was shown running at native 4k and a locked 60 frames per second (fps). The Xbox Scorpio ran the demo with 30-40 percent of GPU power left to spare.

Unfortunately, rumors of third-party demos featuring titles like Call of Duty, Star Wars: Battlefront, Red Dead Redemption 2, and others did not come to fruition. The Forza engine is perhaps one of the most optimized for the Xbox platform, so it should be expected to perform well. Engines like DICE's Frostbite engine (Battlefied, Star Wars Battlefront) have consistently run at lower resolutions on the Xbox One, so it will be interesting to see how those games perform in the future.

Regardless, the hardware packed into the Xbox Scorpio gives developers a huge amount of processing power to work with. This is a much larger leap from the Xbox One to Scorpio than it was from the PS4 to PS4 Pro. Even existing Xbox One and backward compatible Xbox 360 titles will see huge benefits.

The Form Factor

While Microsoft and Digital Foundry did not have anything to show with the Xbox Scorpio case, there were certain details shared. The console itself is being described as "compact" with an internal power supply. This suggests something the size of the Xbox One S or smaller, perhaps owing to the company's experience from designing the Surface tablets.

Additionally, the backside of the console will essentially be the same as the Xbox One S. This decision was made to make the transition a snap for those upgrading. All the familiar ports will be in the same spots, including the HDMI In.

The Xbox Scorpio is expected to launch sometime this holiday season. What do you think of the hardware specs revealed today? Does it have you ready to leap, or do you need more information? Sound off in the comments below.

[Featured Image by Microsoft]