Just a few months ago Sony and Microsoft changed the console game as we know it, with both tech giants unveiling brand new consoles and way sooner than we expected. But this won’t be a new generation of consoles, instead it’ll be a half-way house between this generation and the next, designed specifically for 4K and VR gaming. On one side we have the PS4 Pro and on the other, we have Microsoft’s Project Scorpio. But which one should you buy? Both Microsoft and Sony have released a lot of details about their forthcoming machines, so we can actually make some in-depth comparisons.
PS4 Pro vs Xbox Scorpio: 4K functionality
The PS4 Pro and Xbox Scorpio both will feature 4K functionality which means you’ll be able to both play games and watch films in 4K resolution. For reference, the Xbox One S has HDR for games and 4K for video (and 4K upscaling for games), while the PS4 Slim has HDR for games and video.
To talk definitively about a piece of hardware that’s still in development is hard, but Microsoft’s 6 TFLOPs should easily enable the Scorpio to churn out “true” 4K content. The PS4 Pro, on the other hand, handles 4K with technical trickery.
The current batch of 4K games for the PS4 Pro actually use a cutting-edge upscaling technique, which allows a 2×2 pixel to be extrapolated into a 4x equivalent. This bumps up the resolution from a native 1080p to 2160p. It may not be “true” 4K gaming then, but will you notice a difference between this and a full 4K picture? It’s unlikely. Digital Foundry claims that the intelligent upscaling creates a “slight softness compared to the pin-sharp precision of a native 4K presentation” but adds “even close-up, the effect works well.”
In an interview with The Guardian, Xbox planning lead Albert Penello explained a little more about the Scorpio’s “true” 4K capabilities. “On the games, we had to give ourselves a goal for what performance level we wanted to build in the box – and our goal was to be able to deliver true 4K games: the same engines running on Xbox One being about to run in Scorpio on 4K,” he said. “But we’ve said very clearly that it’s up to the developers how they want to take advantage of that power. Some developers focus on effects, some on frame rate, some on resolution – it’s up to them what they want to do.”
Unless you’re a 4K connoisseur, the PS4 Pro’s 4K capabilities should be more than enough for your living room, especially considering the Xbox Scorpio is likely to be significantly more expensive when it arrives. Outside of games, the PS4 Pro can also play Netflix and YouTube in 4K HDR. However, Sony’s console doesn’t have a 4K Blu-ray player. If you have a stack of 4K Blu-Rays, the Xbox One S may be a better short-term choice.
And obviously, for all of this to work you’ll need a monitor that’s capable of displaying 4K output.
PS4 Pro vs Xbox Scorpio: Release date
One of the biggest differences between the two high-end consoles is this: the PS4 Pro is imminent, and Xbox Scorpio is not. When Sony lifted the lid on the PS4 Pro, it gave it a clear release date of 10 November 2016.
As for Scorpio, Microsoft has said that it currently plans to make its new console available in the holiday season of 2017. With the console’s hardware still very much in development, that date could even be pushed back to 2018 – although Microsoft will inevitably want to capitalise on the Scorpio selling well over Christmas.
If you absolutely have to buy a console this year, you’re eyeing up a choice between the Xbox One S, the PS4 Slim and the PS4 Pro. If you’re looking for a serious upgrade over the next few years, you’ll need to contend with the decision to opt for the PS4 Pro or hold out for the Xbox Scorpio.
PS4 Pro vs Xbox Scorpio: Specs
Here’s where the main differences between the PS4 Pro and Xbox Scorpio really surface. Both are pitched as high-end machines, but one will be significantly more powerful than the other.
The PS4 Pro has an eight-core, x86-64 AMD “Jaguar” CPU, and a 4.2 TFLOP GPU. As a point of comparison, the standard PS4 has 1.84 teraFLOPs. While little is currently known about the Xbox Scorpio, we do know that its GPU will have a staggering 6 TFLOPs. If you don’t know your FLOP from your elbow, this video from the Frontier Scientists Channel is a useful primer.
In a nutshell, more teraFLOPs means more computational power. While the PS4 Pro has the potential to reach an impressive figure, the Xbox Scorpio mops the floor with it. Bottom line: the Xbox Scorpio is set to be considerably more powerful than the PS4 Pro.
Outside of this, Microsoft hasn’t released any real details about the Xbox Scorpio’s hardware. We don’t know what sort of RAM allocation it will have, whereas we know that the PS4 Pro is working with an improved GDDR5 218GB/sec memory. With the console still in development, details could change – and we’ll keep you updated as we hear more.
PS4 Pro vs Xbox Scorpio: Games and VR
Both Sony and Microsoft said during the launch of their consoles that the PS4 Pro and Xbox Scorpio wouldn’t get exclusive games – there will be exclusive titles for the Xbox or PS4 platforms, but these will appear across the Xbox One S and Xbox Scorpio, and PS4 Slim and PS4 Pro.
These statements have since been clarified, with Microsoft claiming that Xbox One S and Scorpio will have the same games – except for VR titles.
KILLING FLOOR 2 – PS4 Pro Gameplay in 4K
- video playing
- RESIDENT EVIL 7 Gameplay Trailer (4K / 60fps / PS4 Pro)
- THE ELDER SCROLLS ONLINE – 4K Gameplay (PS4 Pro)
- HORIZON ZERO DAWN 4K Gameplay (PS4 Pro)
- RISE OF THE TOMB RAIDER 4K Gameplay (PS4 Pro)
- HORIZON ZERO DAWN 4K Gameplay (PS4 Pro)
“We said we’re not going to have console-exclusive games for Project Scorpio. It’s one ecosystem – whether you have an Xbox One S or Project Scorpio, we don’t want anyone to be left behind,” head of Xbox marketing Aaron Greenberg told Engadget. “Now, with the power and capabilities we have, we’ll be able to do high-fidelity VR. Now, that space, we don’t think of that as console gaming, we think of that as high-fidelity VR, and so with the VR experiences those will be new things that you will get on Project Scorpio.”
This makes sense, seeing that the Xbox Scorpio is being pitched as an ideal machine for VR – something the Xbox One S isn’t. The PS4 Pro, on the other hand, will play the same PlayStation VR games as the PS4 Slim – they’ll just have a high frame rate and improved textures.
PS4 Pro vs Xbox Scorpio: Price
Sony is releasing the PS4 at £349, which is the price at which the original PS4 launched. Microsoft’s Xbox Scorpio, on the other hand, will likely cost far more. We’d expect something in the region of around £450 minimum, but it could easily cost over £500.
Throw in the fact that, by the time Scorpio turns up, the PS4 Pro will have undergone a hefty reduction in price, and you’ll see that Sony has been canny in drawing buyers away from Microsoft’s behemoth. The Scorpio’s ace in the hole is its VR capability, however. Depending on how the industry progresses over the coming year, the Xbox Scorpio could position itself as the ideal machine for high-end VR gaming – as long as you have the money for an expensive console AND a VR headset.
Definitely worth a mention in all of this is the Nintendo NX. The house of Mario has yet to fully lift the lid on its upcoming console, but expect it to be less powerful and less expensive than the PS4 Pro and Xbox Scorpio.
PS4 Pro vs Xbox Scorpio: Verdict
It’s hard to make an absolute decision between the PS4 Pro and Xbox Scorpio while one of them is largely non-existent as yet. That said, this fact makes things easier in the short term: if you want a high-end console in 2016, the PS4 Pro is your only option. If, however, you want a machine that is able to push VR into your living room for the next few years then the Scorpio may be worth saving up for.
If you’re not ready to buy into a 4K monitor – or aren’t particularly bothered about HD resolution, as long as the games are interesting – you maybe be better considering the Xbox One S and PS4 Slim. You should also take a look at our pick of the best PS4 games and the best Xbox One games.