Xbox Series X: The next default esports console

 Xbox Series X: The next default esports console

Microsoft teased the world with Project Scarlet in 2018. Then in 2019, they revealed that Project Scarlet was the codename of the next-generation Xbox Series X console which supersedes the current generation Xbox One. After months of speculations, rumors, teases, and leaks, Microsoft has made the real specifications of the Xbox Series X public. The next-generation console is due this year in the Holiday season and is about to change a lot more than just casual console gaming.

The official specifications revealed by Microsoft are:

  1. CPU: AMD Zen 2 based 8 Core/16 threaded chip at 3.8 GHz (3.6 with SMT enabled) on 7nm
  2. GPU: A Custom RDNA 2 Navi chip at 12 TFLOPs (52 CUs at 1.825GHz)
  3. 1 TB NVMe SSD [with a storage extension slot]
  4. 120 FPS support
  5. up to 8K resolution
  6. 16 GB GDDR6 [unified system and graphics memory]
  7. Ray Tracing
  8. Variable Rate Shading

The most interesting and exciting thing to come out of the reveal is the fact that the new console (and hopefully the PS5 as well) will be equipped with an insanely fast NVMe SSD running on a PCIe 4.0 lane. Historically, when a console was being developed and engineered, the most care was given to what GPU is being fitted into it, then the CPU, then the amount of RAM and then just a plain old hard drive is attached to it. As time passed by and hardware got better and better, it is peaking out at the upcoming generation. Allow me to explain myself.

The Xbox One X is the most powerful console out there right now. The GPU on the Xbox Series X is twice as more powerful than that. Then the CPU in the Xbox Series X is also 4 times more powerful. This is a great generational leap, but not as impressive as the shift from mechanical hard drives running on SATA interface to NVMe SSDs running on PCIe 4.0. This means that the storage is almost 10 to 20 times faster bringing quite possibly the biggest generational leap in console history.

With the help of faster storage, there will be virtually no load times. Add that with dedicated ultra-fast GDDR6 memory, the system will present frames as fast as possible for the GPU to process. While the GPU itself is not massively more powerful, the architecture level changes bring some new features like Variable Rate Shading and Ray Tracing to present a newer enhanced experience. The Ray Tracing part is not that exciting to esports gamers, but VRS definitely is. What VRS does is that it reduces the quality and resolution of objects that are too far for anyone to notice a difference between having them at maximum quality. Thanks to this smart way of maximizing GPU horsepower to produce as many stable frames as possible, the gamer will experience blistering fast response when they press a button or move around.

Combining all of that with the fact that the new console will run many games at 120 FPS and those games will also get console optimization with sub 10 ms response times, the Xbox could very easily become the default machine to pick up for eSports. And don’t forget the huge number of game studios that Microsoft has acquired in the past few years.

Because PCs have always enjoyed the most powerful hardware, native mouse and keyboard support, and free online multiplayer, it has amassed a massive catalog of esports titles over its lifetime. As PC hardware evolved, the focus on lower latency became more important.

Now, the Xbox is basically a PC now that is not upgradeable (except for the storage). It runs a modified version of Windows 10 and supports Keyboard and Mouse natively. With faster storage, memory, and features like Variable Rate Shading, it makes sense to just buy an Xbox for eSports and not have to worry about anything. No worries about whether a game works or not. No worries whether the console will give an inferior experience than a PC in any way. Just pick the console up and start playing immediately.

Talha Zuberi