The release of Sony’s PlayStation 4 Pro last year and the launch of Microsoft’s Project Scorpio later in 2017 are unique in that they seem to have thrown away the traditional idea of console generations. The PS4 Pro is an upgraded, much more powerful version of the PS4, but for all we know Scorpio could turn out to be a console separate from Xbox One completely.
Now that we know more about Project Scorpio, it’s easier to compare it to its rival machine. The more we do so, however, the more it becomes obvious that this may not be the Sony vs Microsoft head to head that we’ve come to expect over the last decade.
The PlayStation 4 Pro launched at £349.99 ($400), the same as the PS4 and Xbox One when they first released. Considering the specs (which we’ll get to later) Sony’s console represents very good value for money, with 4K compatibility coupled with the Boost Mode that arrived with update 4.50.
Microsoft have been quiet on Project Scorpio’s price, although looking at the technology inside it will likely be around the £500 ($600) mark. Considering it contains similar specs to a mid-range PC, most experts aren’t expecting it to go much lower than that price. If this is the case, £150 is an extremely big price gap for most people.
PS4 Pro – eight-core 2.13 GHz processor
Scorpio – eight-core 2.30 GHz processor
PlayStation Pro runs at 2.13 GHz compared to the PS4’s 1.6, making it much faster than the vanilla console. Sony decided to stick with the 8-core Jaguar CPU, which many feel is holding the console back.
Scorpio on the other hand uses a custom x86 CPU clocking at 2.3GHz. Xbox One uses the same Jaguar CPU as PS4 Pro at 1.7GHz, and Scorpio manages to be over 30% faster. The differences between Scorpio and the Pro may not seem like much, but it will help when it comes to graphic capabilities.
PS4 Pro – 4.12 Teraflops, 8GB GDDR5 RAM, 218 GB/s Bandwidth
Scorpio – 6 Teraflops, 12GB GDDR5 RAM, 326 GB/s Bandwidth
Teraflops are a measure of the overall graphical potential of a console, of which Scorpio has 6 compared to PS Pro’s 4.12. This is a massive difference, and shows that the biggest gap between both consoles from a hardware perspective will be graphics. Just to put Scorpio’s potential into perspective, a mid to high-range PC can achieve around 6 teraflops, with the most expensive reaching 9. It’s the closest we’ve seen to a PC in a console so far.
Scorpio’s 12GB of GDDR5 RAM is an upgrade on the 8GB packed inside PlayStation Pro, although t’s not entirely clear how this will be divided. It also beats the Pro on bandwidth by 326 GB/s to 218 GB/s, which will allow higher pixel count and frame rate for the RAM to store. 4GB more memory and over 100 GB/s faster bandwidth will make for much better looking games.
You will definitely be able to notice the difference graphically between Project Scorpio and PlayStation Pro, and that could be Microsoft’s trump card.
With Scorpio packing in more power it seems inevitable that 4K will look nice on Microsoft’s system. But what about the games which aren’t native 4K? The Pro already has the aforementioned Boost Mode available to owners after update 4.50, which does a good job of making non-native UHD games look better. Scorpio will have this trick up its sleeve too however, and will upscale games even better with its increased power.
Even more importantly, Scorpio will boast adaptive frame-rate technology called FreeSync, previously only used in PCs. This will prevent tears and tag from happening when frame rates frop from 60 to 30, which will be especially useful when 4K is applied. The only downside is that USB 2.1 is required, which many people don’t have access to, but when they do, it will give Microsoft the edge.
It’s no secret that Sony has the best exclusive titles, and has done for some time. Graphical capabilities can count for a lot, but without the experience of a great game to showcase them off they slowly become unimportant. However, with the biggest titles this year looking set to be cross-platform, things might not be as clear cut when Scorpio launches.
Red Dead Redemption 2, Star Wars Battlefront 2, Middle Earth: Shadow of War, FIFA, and Madden will release on both platforms, and will look even better on Scorpio. Xbox owners won’t have access to exclusives like Uncharted 4 and Horizon: Zero Dawn, but the future looks equal and bright for both parties.
The advantage Project Scorpio does have over PlayStation Pro is backwards compatibility. Not every Xbox 360 game can function on current generation consoles, but the list continues to increase. With Microsoft looking to get rid of the concept of console generations altogether, it’s likely that all games could be playable on Scorpio and all other future consoles. Sony does have a paid subscription service in PlayStation Now, but that’s no use to all the owners of dozens of PlayStation 3 titles.
This all said, Sony still reigns supreme in terms of games. With certain titles like Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy and Spider-Man released later this year, PlayStation owners have a lot to look forward to. Developers such as Naughty Dog have been working exclusively with the company for decades, and you can guarantee The Last of Us 2 won’t end that relationship. Sony even have FromSoftware on board, and Bloodborne has proven to be one of the finest titles on the system. It’s a close call, but PlayStation Pro has to win in the games department.
Sony’s PlayStation VR sold at a pace not even its bosses thought it would. It’s proven to be the most affordable way to get a mid-range virtual reality experience, and the fact that the PlayStation 4 has sold as well as it has didn’t hurt either.
Microsoft don’t have their own headset, and don’t plan to release one until at least 2018. This could be a big sticking point for Scorpio, a system which does have the capabilities, but just not the relevant hardware. If owners want to use VR then they have to turn to the high-end market of Oculus and HTC Vive, making an all-inclusive package looking ridiculously expensive.
Xbox boss Phil Spencer believes the technology isn’t there yet, but there’s no doubt that people are ready for VR. Sony knew that and are reaping the rewards, so the decision not to develop an affordable, exclusive headset could come back to haunt Microsoft.
Sony and Microsoft are both targeting different audiences, that much is certain. PlayStation Pro gives people an affordable way into UHD gaming, and whilst it may not be the full package it allows people to have a taste for what 4K can offer. Scorpio, on the other hand, is looking to appeal to buyers of higher-end technology, perhaps those who are already interested in PC gaming. It’s undoubtedly the most powerful console ever made, but this of course comes at a much higher cost. For now, most casual console gamers would probably be happy with what the PS Pro offers, and can more than likely expect a slight price drop mysteriously around the same time Scorpio releases.
What do you think about PlayStation 4 Pro and Project Scorpio? Let us know in the comments section below.