From the start of the current console generation, Sony looked to have an immediate edge. Its console was more powerful than Microsoft's, namely with regards to graphics horsepower. While graphics don't always make the game, we've seen Sony lay the smackdown on Microsoft by releasing a consistent stream of hit exclusives, helping it ultimately sell 60 million units to date.
For the first time ever, this console generation has seen both Microsoft and Sony open up to the idea of mid-cycle upgrades. Last fall, Sony released its 4.2 TFLOPs PlayStation 4 Pro, more than doubling the horsepower of the launch unit that pushed 1.84 TFLOPs. Both are much better than the Xbox One's 1.31 TFLOPs, but Microsoft isn't about to rest on its laurels.
We've known about Project Scorpio for some time, but recently, Microsoft let loose a handful of details about the new console, almost assuredly as a way to make those potential PS4 Pro purchasers think twice about opening their wallet. Project Scorpio is set to deliver 6 TFLOPs of compute performance, beating out the PS4 Pro by 1.8 TFLOPs (which, remember, was the entire spec for the original PS4). That essentially means that Project Scorpio should be the best 4K gaming console going, although as Microsoft now proves, 4K isn't the only target.
As Xbox Chief, it's no surprise that Phil Spencer is excited about Scorpio, but he gives us a handful of reasons why we should be, as well. He admits that 4K isn't the sole focus with Scorpio. If a game was designed to Microsoft's specifications, 1080p performance could experience a boost with the frame rate, fidelity, or perhaps even both.
Project Scorpio will take the PS4 Pro head-on
This is where Microsoft seems to have an advantage over Sony. The PS4 Pro offers similar promises of improved 1080p games, but even when using the console's "Boost" option, finding a game that utilizes the improved hardware is unfortunately rare. On the Microsoft side, developers who took advantage of the "dynamic resolution scaling" feature will exhibit graphical improvements at 1080p. That might turn out to be the equivalent of nothing more than anti-aliasing, but that's something - a welcome change if the frame rate is left alone.
What's really interesting is that it's not only Xbox One games that could experience a boost. Spencer even talks about old Xbox 360 games seeing an improvement, and given that the emulation experience on Xbox One isn't always ideal, a performance boost could actually make those games perform at parity with the original console.
We're not sure at this point what Project Scorpio is going to cost, but it seems certain it'll cost more than the PS4 Pro, given its improved graphical prowess. If it does cost more, Microsoft at least seems to be prepared with an arsenal of features to lure gamers in.