Xbox One S Delivers 7 Percent GPU Clock Boost Over Predecessor, Some Games Benefit

xbox one s retail box
The Xbox One S officially launched today, and it’s an evolutionary upgrade for Microsoft’s current generation of consoles. The Xbox One S is 40 percent smaller than its predecessor, gains an IR blaster and includes a slightly revised wireless controller that now features built-in Bluetooth connectivity.

But what about the hardware inside the console? What’s been changed to allow the console to support 4K scaling and HDR gaming? The folks at Digital Foundry decided to do some digging and we now have a pretty good idea of how the Xbox One S compares to the Xbox One in performance.

First of all, the Xbox One S’ SoC has been redesigned using a 16nm FinFET process, allowing for a cooler-running chip (the Xbox One’s SoC is based on 28nm process technology). While the actual processor clock speed has not been improved (it remains at 1.75GHz), the GPU clock has been increased from 853 MHz to 914 MHz, representing roughly a 7 percent increase. ESRAM bandwidth has also been increase similarly from 204 GB/sec to 219 GB/sec.

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In speaking with Digital Foundry, Microsoft marketing exec Albert Penello explained, “We stated that the SoC is the same as Xbox One while giving developers access to more power for HDR. The key is that we did not want customers to expect any change in game performance for existing titles.

“By making this change, developers creating HDR titles do not have to incur any performance hit. We also decided to make the extra six per cent available to all titles. So some games (ones that utilize dynamic resolution and/or unlocked framerates) may see a very minor performance improvement.”

The raw power increase resulted in some performance gain in the select few titles that Digital Foundry benchmarked. Hitman showed a 6.1 to 8 percent improvement in performance, while gaming in Rise of the Tomb Raider stuck closer to the 30 fps mark with less screen tearing. Fallout 4, however, barely saw any performance benefits at all from the SoC upgrade.

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With that being said, the Xbox One S finds itself in a precarious spot. It offers some nice benefits over its Xbox One predecessor, but is any of that worth going out and replacing your current Xbox One rig? Probably not. The choice becomes a bit more muddled for those looking to purchase a new console, as retailers are offering incredible deals on the old Xbox One to clear out inventory, which might far outweigh any performance or features advantages of the Xbox One S. And we can’t forget that Project Scorpio is roughly a year away and should blow both the Xbox One and Xbox One S out of the water with regards to performance.

However, if you are ready to take the plunge, the 2TB Xbox One S is available today for $399. The 500GB and 1TB models will ship August 23rd for $299 and $349 respectively.


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