Xbox One X's pricing at £449/$499 may have disappointed many users, but it's indicative of a substantial challenge facing console platform holders: the pace of technological advancement is slowing, and existing hardware components are holding their price for longer. It's a trend that shows no sign of changing and projecting forward, we do wonder - just how much will the actual next generation of consoles cost, when will they arrive and how powerful will they be?
We went to E3 looking for the software pay-off to the Xbox One X hardware reveal and emerged baffled by the lack of games - specifically, the true 4K titles promised from so much of the marketing. These titles do exist, they are coming, but for now, the only taste we have is the brilliant Forza Motorsport 7. And there's no doubt about it, Turn 10's latest series entry is beautiful on Xbox One X - but does it have the 'highest quality pixels' anybody has ever seen? One year on, Project Scorpio's most infamous meme and its connection to Forza Motorsport can finally be explained.
We've seen it, we've played it, and it's beautiful. Nvidia is proudly displaying the PC version of Destiny 2 at its E3 booth, running on a system powered by the GTX 1080 Ti graphics card. All quality settings are pushed to the max, resolution is set to full-fat 4K and the action is completely locked to 60 frames per second. Paired with precision mouse and keyboard controls, it's safe to say that we're looking at a very different experience to the standard console versions of the game.
Is this just too good to be true? After a Microsoft media briefing with so many spectacular moments, we couldn't help but wonder. As the briefing progressed, new Xbox One X titles arrived thick and fast, the majority promising 4K visuals with high dynamic range rendering - a target that has proved a touch elusive for PlayStation 4 Pro. But some of the major reveals went further - they showed us a level of visual accomplishment we hadn't seen before, in addition to that stratospherically high 4K resolution. The more we watched, the more we began to wonder: can the reality of Xbox One X match what we were shown? Perhaps more pertinently, how much of what was shown was actually running on Microsoft's new hardware? How much was authentic, dare we say it, real?
We are mere hours away from Microsoft taking the wraps off Project Scorpio at the firm's E3 2017 media briefing. We'll find out what it's called, we'll see final hardware, and hopefully we'll be told how much it costs. But the big story will be software and the continuing transition of console gaming to 4K displays. Comparisons with PS4 Pro are inevitable, with Microsoft promising the best versions of the top games. But if the arrival of Scorpio sounds like bad news for the Pro, we beg to differ - another 4K games console on the market can only be a good thing.
Microsoft has revealed that it has freed up more memory for Project Scorpio game developers. The machine ships with 12GB of GDDR5 memory - and now 9GB of the total is available for titles, with the remaining 3GB used for system-level operations and other applications, including a native 4K dashboard. The news comes via a tweet from Mike Ybarra, corporate vice president of the Xbox and Windows gaming platform.
WipEout's Omega Collection revamp has already scored a Eurogamer Recommended badge, but here at Digital Foundry, we simply had to weigh in. This release is sensational and for PS4 Pro owners especially, we consider it an essential purchase. Whether your Pro is hooked up to a 4K screen, or whether you're still gaming at 1080p, the experience delivers.
It's been a long time coming. Nintendo originally collaborated with semi-conductor giant Nvidia for a follow-up to the DS that never made it to production - though prototype devkits based on early Tegra processors were produced - but only now with Switch do we see just how potent that partnership can be. Nintendo's hybrid game console idea paired with Nvidia's class-leading performance and efficiency have combined to create the platform holder's most successful console launch of all-time. The question is, what's the next step in this partnership?
Checkerboarding, upscaling, temporal anti-aliasing, dynamic resolution. Let's give credit where it's due: at its best, PlayStation 4 Pro's utilisation of these techniques produces some impressive results for 4K displays - no mean feat considering that the Pro's GPU is relatively underpowered compared to today's mainstream PC graphics hardware. And this led us to wonder - what if those techniques were rolled out in the PC space? Could the cost of admission to the world of 4K gaming drop dramatically if the techniques championed by Sony worked just as effectively for PC gamers?
UPDATE 25/5/17 1:00pm: Sony has been in touch to point out additional 1080p features in Gran Turismo Sport for PS4 Pro users, specifically that along with the significantly improved in-game frame-rate and unlocked replay performance we've highlighted in the 1080p comparison further down this page, anti-aliasing is also enhanced with the inclusion of 8x multi-sampling (MSAA).
Bungie has confirmed that Destiny 2 will offer full PlayStation 4 Pro support, but some users have voiced concerns that the developer has chosen to target 4K display support instead of 60fps gameplay. The thinking is straightforward enough - ultra HD offers prettier visuals of course, but smoother gameplay offers lower latency and a higher level of precision response. This is exactly why franchise FPS titles like Battlefield and Halo transitioned across to 60 frames per second. So why not Destiny too?
Could Sony be releasing its next-gen PlayStation in 2018? That's the notion put forward by Maquarie Capital Securities analyst Damian Thong, cited in a recent edition of The Wall Street Journal. But is the time right to replace PlayStation 4? And what kind of hardware could Sony conceivably deliver next year?
It's been a long time coming. The arcade version of Tekken 7 first went on test in Japan three years ago, enjoyed a general arcade release in 2015 and was updated with new content a year later. Fast-forward to 2017 and the long-awaited home version is just weeks away from release. An initial hands-on test of the PS4 version suggests that not only has the wait been worth it, but there's an interesting bonus mode too - for the first time ever, a major franchise fighting game is testing the water with a virtual reality mode.
4K displays are becoming mainstream now, prices are tumbling and graphics rendering technology is finally able to take advantage of these new screens, whether it's through checkerboarding or other upscaling, as seen on PS4 Pro, or else through sheer brute force in the PC space. Nvidia's GTX 1080 Ti still commands a price premium, but it's the most affordable GPU we've seen yet that powers PC gaming to native 4K at 60fps without too much in the way of visual compromises. And this led us to wonder: what would happen if two of them were paired in SLI?
Whether we like it or not - and let's face facts, it's probably the latter - 8K display technology is coming. 8K support is baked into the upcoming HDMI 2.1 standard, and in fact, if you live in the US and you have $5000 to spare, you can buy a quad-UHD screen right now: Dell's 32-inch UP3218K. The question is: using today's top-tier graphics technology, is 8K PC gaming viable? We broke out a pair of Asus Strix GTX 1080 Tis, ran them in SLI and gave it a try. The results were unpredictable, unstable, but at the same time, also quite awe-inspiring.
Just how much faster are the new second-gen Polaris cards?
The big surprise of my first Project Scorpio tech briefing? That's obvious: the fact that Microsoft has managed to push GPU frequencies all the way up to 1172MHz - far higher than anything we've seen from any current-gen console. When the silicon architects first revealed this spec point, I wondered how the hardware team had managed to achieve desktop PC-level GPU clocks in a console-sized form factor. "You've not seen the form-factor yet," replied Microsoft's Kevin Gammill wryly.
Editor's note: This one is for the hardcore. We've already covered Project Scorpio's hardware specs in broader detail, and posted critical analysis of everything we've seen so far, but for those of you hungry for more detail, who want to know absolutely everything shared with us, this is the place to be. We'll be running a similar deep dive on the construction of the retail console tomorrow.
Last week, we published the hardware spec for Microsoft's next Xbox - Project Scorpio. However, there was one little detail we held back, an aspect of the new console we didn't want to get lost in the noise. In the here and now its applications will be limited, but in the fullness of time, it may help to bring about a profound shift in how displays interface with games hardware. To cut a long story short, Scorpio supports AMD's FreeSync - and the upcoming variable refresh rate support baked into the next-gen HDMI 2.1 spec.
Just prior to Digital Foundry's visit to the Microsoft campus, Xbox's Senior Director of Console Marketing, Albert Penello, asked me what I needed to see on the day, what I thought was critical to the story. The answer was obvious and immediate: beyond the specs and the tech deep dives, I needed to see software running on actual hardware. Promises had been made concerning Xbox One engines scaling up to 4K and as compelling as the tech talks would be, only a real-time demo could really validate the claims made for the machine. Penello sat back confidently, nodded, smiled and the conversation moved on.
Last week, Digital Foundry was invited to Microsoft's Redmond campus for an exclusive preview of the technology in the next Xbox, codenamed Project Scorpio. As specs reveals go, this one is unprecedented: it's a first in terms of early access to key system architects, and one of a kind in terms of timing. Scorpio is seemingly running ahead of schedule, to the point where we're likely six months away from release at least, and we've already seen impressive software running beautifully on production silicon.
The next Xbox, codenamed Project Scorpio, features 100 per cent compatibility with any software that runs on the existing Xbox One console, be it the latest triple-A blockbuster or any one of the hundreds of Xbox 360 titles successfully adapted via Microsoft's backward compatibility programme.
In 2005, Microsoft launched Xbox 360: a piece of hardware at least a year ahead of its time from a technological standpoint, introducing multi-core CPU processing and state-of-the-art advanced graphics technology. PlayStation 3 arrived a year later - an absolute age in technological terms - but the Xbox 360 still shone through. It was the product of a company determined to do everything it could to create the most powerful games console ever made. After the media missteps of Xbox One and the loss of performance leadership, Project Scorpio is a return to that fierce determination to produce the best possible box. This is the result of an Xbox team with something to prove - exactly the reaction we hoped for.
AMD's cheaper eight-core CPUs cut little and offer big value.
We're late with our Ryzen 7 review for a number of reasons, and some might argue that the key story has already been told. We can confirm that the top-tier Ryzen 7 1800X does indeed match and occasionally even exceed Intel's mighty Core i7 6900K octo-core/16-thread monster on a great many benchmarks and heavily multi-threaded workloads. By this measure alone, AMD's return to a competitive footing in the x86 processor market is a remarkable achievement. But equally, our own tests confirm less impressive results posted by many: Ryzen 7's gaming performance does not match up to Intel's on most titles. The question is - why?
The final piece of the puzzle has seemingly fallen into place. Hardware analysis site Tech Insights updated its own Nintendo Switch teardown with die-shot photography of the new console's Tegra processor, mooted as a custom design by the platform holder. Only here's the thing - the configuration is a match for the standard Tegra X1, as seen in the Shield Android TV.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild uses dynamic resolution scaling in order to help maintain its target 30fps frame-rate, to varying degrees of success. It's an aspect of the game we didn't pick up on previously, but eagle-eyed users have spotted a drop in pixel-count in challenging areas, with some suggesting that this is the reason why Zelda in portable mode runs more smoothly than the docked configuration. Our results lead to different conclusions, however.
Mere weeks after its release, hackers have already begun to peel back layers of Nintendo Switch's security - with a simple browser exploit now available. The exploit was revealed by iOS hacker qwertyoruiop, who claims he did nothing more than to very simply re-purpose a hack originally used to 'jailbreak' Apple iOS 9.3 devices. Later on, another hacker - LiveOverflow - confirmed that the exploit works and a proof of concept was publicly released.
The best choice for 4K PC gaming at 60fps.
If you own a PlayStation 4 Pro console and you've not added Resogun to your collection, you're missing out on one of the best showcase titles available for the system. Developer Housemarque has delivered a brilliant 4K presentation and vibrant HDR, while retaining a locked 60fps during gameplay. It's the same Resogun gameplay we've loved since launch, but beautifully retooled for the new generation of ultra HD displays. Essentially, it delivers the full promise of the Pro hardware where so many titles have come up just a little short.