Can Microsoft's 'most powerful console ever' really play games at 4K?

Don't drink the Kool-Aid yet

E3 2016 saw the launch of a new Xbox One console that should give Sony’s PlayStation 4 a run for its money. Gaming’s biggest show also saw the soft unveiling of what is perhaps the most ambitious Xbox yet, a gaming beast with gobs more speed and graphics power than the machine Microsoft is shipping to stores this August. It certainly will be capable of more things than playing videos at super-sharp 4K resolution.

When Xbox Project Scorpio debuts in 2017, it is said to do 4K gaming and play nicely with high-end VR gear. If all falls into place, it will shake the very bedrock of the gaming industry and drastically change the landscape for years to come. And you’d find my rather newly acquired gaming PC up for sale on eBay.

Here’s the thing, though: Despite all the firepower Project Scorpio promises to bring — six teraflops of processing power is a massive upgrade over the Xbox One’s one teraflop — rendering games at native 4K is a big ask for any rig, even if you factor the fact that it will probably run a lighter, more streamlined operating system. For perspective, consider Nvidia’s best graphics card on the market today, the GTX 1080, which pumps out nine teraflops.

You’d think it wouldn’t break a sweat pushing graphics to the 4K range, but you’d be wrong; as early reviews have shown, the GTX 1080 misses the mark occasionally. The bottom line, as Eurogamer says, is that “6TF [teraflops] of GPU power isn’t enough to power a convincing 4K experience.” But hey, we’re still a long way from 2017, and a lot of things could change between now and then. (Don’t discount the wizards, I mean, engineers, at Redmond.)

But suppose Microsoft does come through with a product worthy of the hype, at what price will Project Scorpio sell to the public? It definitely won’t come cheap.

Remember the GTX 1080 card I was referring to earlier? The reference version is priced at a whopping $700. I can only imagine how expensive a console that fully supports 4K will cost. Pricing for the Xbox One S starts at $300, and goes as high as $400 for the model with 2TB of storage. It’s not hard to imagine Project Scorpio retailing for twice the price of its predecessor, what with all its impressive capabilities.

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