I’m going to assume that most people know the basics i.e. 4K is a display resolution of 4096 x 2160 and that HDR stands for High Dynamic Range, but if you’ve got any questions or don’t understand any of the terminology please shout in the comments and I’ll explain it in detail!
I find it hard to believe that it’s already been close to 3 years since the since the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 launched (November 2013), but here we are again comparing new releases from Microsoft and Sony. I’m not convinced that console gamers are ready for 4K HDR gaming just yet, mainly due to their own hardware limitations, but it’s going to happen regardless.
The Xbox Scorpio was officially announced at E3 (13 June 2016) and confirmed for a holiday 2017 release, whilst the PS4 Pro was more recently announced (07 September 2016) and confirmed for release on 10 November 2016. Here are the basic specs for each machine:
Microsoft – Xbox Project Scorpio
£TBC / $TBC
Release: Holiday 2017
8 Core CPU / Unknown Manufacturer / Unknown Clock Speed
6 TFLOPS GPU / Unknown Amount and Type / 320GB/s Memory Bandwidth
Sony – PS4 Pro
£349 / $399
Release: 10 November 2016
8 Core CPU / x86-64 AMD Jaguar / Unknown Clock Speed
4.12 TFLOPS / 8GB GDDR5 / Unknown Bandwidth
It’s worth noting that the PS4 Pro doesn’t include a 4K Blu-Ray drive but the Xbox Scorpio will. A lot of people were quite surprised at this due to the fact that Blu-Ray is ultimately Sony’s product, but Sony have confirmed that they believe consumers are moving away from physical media so the 4K player isn’t needed. I for one haven’t used discs for a while so can see where Sony are coming from, but not everyone has internet fast enough to stream 4K so as long as it doesn’t ramp up the price too much, I think Microsoft have made the better decision here.
Now, let’s talk more about resolution and frame rate because really that’s what we should be focusing on at the end of the day. According to articles I’ve read, even the Scorpio’s 6 Teraflops is going to struggle running 4K at 60fps, that’s based on current high-end graphics card performance in PCs. That’s actually put a bit of a downer on everything for me, I feel that as a consumer if we’re going to take the plunge and throw more cash at consoles then we really need something special. It’s the same recurring problem for consoles though, they have to work with what’s available now, and unfortunately for the Xbox by the time it comes out in 2017 it’ll probably be the equivalent of a mid-range PC, that’s just how it works.
So, is the best we can expect from both the Pro and Scorpio 4K HDR gaming at 30fps, with 1080p games running at 60fps? Microsoft and Sony may have some tricks up their sleeves but as it stands I think that’s the best we’ll be getting, unless of course components in the Pro and Scorpio will be upgradable? Sony haven’t mentioned this so far, but Microsoft did say that “we think the future is without console generations”. Perhaps we’ll see 4K HDR 60fps once we’ve upgraded the GPU in our Scorpios?
If you’re considering grabbing a Pro in a couple of months, or even starting to save for a Scorpio next year, just remember to check that your TV supports 4K and HDR. HDR is a relatively new technology when it comes to TVs so it’s only the most recent TVs that support it. As an example, I’ve got a Samsung 2014 model, and whilst it’s 4K, it doesn’t support HDR. Also, according to research only TVs 55” and above will really benefit from 4K, and that will set you back £700 or more. If you’ve got an AV receiver or any kind of hub/pass-through equipment you’ll also have to make sure that it’s 4K and HDR compatible. HDMI 1.4 supports 4K, but only up to 24fps. If you want 4K at 60fps then you’ll need at least HDMI 2.0, and it’s only HDMI 2.0a that supports HDR.
It’s a bit difficult to say too much more without basing it on rumours so I’ll finish up by saying if you’ve got the cash, then why not blow it on a Pro and enjoy some 4K gaming providing you’ve got a TV to support it. A lot of console games only run at 30fps at the moment anyway, so you might as well play those in 4K rather than 1080p. If however you’re conscious of cash then I’d say hold off for now, let Microsoft confirm more details about the Scorpio then make your decision on the back of that. The next 12 months are definitely going to be interesting!
If I’ve missed anything or you’ve got any questions please let me know in the comments below!