Xbox Series X offers a look at ‘the next generation of gaming’

    
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The Xbox Series X, Microsoft’s latest entry in the popular Xbox line of consoles, is heading our way later this year. Despite a name that must have been created by a committee that lacked imagination, the machine has tremendous potential to shape the next half-decade of gaming.

Microsoft’s Phil Spencer certainly dropped a lot of buzz words in trying to convey what is coming: “We know you expect the next generation of consoles to set new standards in graphical power and processing speed, converging together in games that look incredible and feel alive. This will be defined by worlds that are visually astounding and immediately immersive.”

Spencer shared the console’s “superior balance” of stats, saying that the XSX boasts four times the processing power of the Xbox One. For online gamers, the console’s backwards and forwards compatibility will be a boon to those who want to upgrade but not lose their purchases.

Considering how many MMOs and online games currently reside on Xbox One — including Dauntless, the upcoming Bless Unleashed, Black Desert, Warframe, and Elder Scrolls Online — we’d say it’s good to hear that we might soon be playing with vastly improved hardware.

Source: Xbox
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Arktouros

Backwards compatibility and lack of cross play of games are huge reasons why I’ve never looked at consoles in the past the other being the exclusivity fuckery but that seems inescapable now even on PC.

Phil Spencer seems to be on track to undo a lot of that and I actually bought an Xbox One S a few weeks ago to check the whole thing out. So far it’s been pretty nice especially with games like Destiny 2 where my Cross Save progress on PC carries over to Console and back and forth. Being able to leave BDO running and AFK fishing on the PC and go to the living room and fire up the Xbox and play Destiny 2 while kicking my feet up and relaxing on the same account with the same progress as PC feels like I’m living in the year 3000.

In the past I’ve tried just hooking up a PC to a TV and trying to use a controller but honestly it just isn’t the same. Most PC interfaces are entirely designed for mouse/keyboard and all that is pretty awkward while relaxing in a chair/couch.

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traja

History seems to be repeating again with huge expectations from the next generation consoles. 12 Tflops GPU, 8 core CPU, super fast SSD… Then when you compare those numbers to PC it looks like a $1500 machine.

It just hasn’t played out like that in practice in the past. Tflops only makes sense when comparing within the same architecture. The CPU will probably be running 1 GHz lower than it’s PC equivalent. Also SSD speed has very little impact in gaming. What matters is that you have an SSD but it being NVMe or SATA makes no practical difference that you can see without a stopwatch.

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Arktouros

I’ll disagree on the NVMe vs SATA part as I’ve had it actually make a significant difference in some strategy games I play. For most games however I would agree, it probably makes very little difference.

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traja

In what way is it helping? I’m just curious because the potential for special cases is there. In terms of load times the differences are very small. For example a 20 second load time on SATA might be a 19 second load time on NVMe. Specifically on consoles I guess they could use the faster SSD to make up for the low amount of total RAM. In that sense it would be significant but still inferior to a PC with more RAM.

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Arktouros

Specifically load times on both Total War Warhammer 2 and BATTLETECH games. TWW2 was less noticeable, but BATTLETECH actually loaded around 2x as fast measured before and after reinstall. I don’t have the numbers I recorded as it was almost 2 years ago. For most other games I play (such as MMOs) there was basically no difference as you noted.

Obviously a console will never be equal to a PC and it’s a rather poor comparison. It’s like comparing the performance of a Sedan to a heavy duty/super truck. What makes consoles appealing is the effortless convenience involved with them not their power. Plug them in, it all works, with a controller, basically anywhere, and what usually comes in to be pretty budget compared to PC. Give it time and consoles will eventually be on par with PCs and even more time mobile devices will be as well.

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traja

That is interesting and it does sound plausible to me that some games might have load times so optimized that the bandwidth of SATA is actually the bottleneck. It’s definitely rare though but maybe developers working on next gen consoles will push things in that direction.

Console and mobile will likely never catch up with high end PC. Reason is that you can always do more by using more power and generating more heat as a result. Small frame computers like mobile, laptop and even consoles just can’t compete in cooling with a desktop tower. But ease of use and lower cost of entry will of course keep consoles relevant regardless of the power difference to PC.

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Robert Mann

Yep. Consoles are always hyped at about a $1200-1700 price in PC terms and always fail to live up to it. They know their sweet point in cost is $300-600, and the lower the better. They always sell the console at a loss, and charge more for everything else.

The thing is that there are limits on how much they can undercut and still make really good profits, based on average spending that returns to the console manufacturer. Which is roughly estimated by a few studies (although none all that wonderful in how they were done) to be between $450 and $600.

In short, they would be at a loss if the machines actually cost that much. These companies have zero interest in taking fiscal losses. Thus we can almost guarantee that the total hardware cost will be $1000 or less. Which means that, yes, they can essentially have a Ryzen 5 3600 and an Rx5700 in there, alongside the cheap (and not super-fast by any comparison to modern SSDs on the computer end) drive. Since the GPU doesn’t have internal VRAM in a console, it is cheaper, giving more margin for the rest of stuff. Which might bump other things a little here, but not a lot based on what is known.

None of which fixes that lack of VRAM as a major problem. These consoles are aiming at 12GB total RAM. That’s between CPU and GPU. Which means they will continue to have a bottleneck against the desktops being built with such components that are usually 16GB RAM and 8GB+VRAM (AKA double the effective resources). Granted, the interfaced structure is a little more efficient (~23%) but… that’s still a bottleneck when big games are regularly looking at using 10-12GB RAM anymore.

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Random MMO fan

Also SSD speed has very little impact in gaming. What matters is that you have an SSD but it being NVMe or SATA makes no practical difference that you can see without a stopwatch.

Fast SSD absolutely does have an impact on games, especially games which constantly load stuff as you move through the world and with a lot of players which may be present in specific zone. I have seen difference in FFXIV and BDO between fast NVMe and slow SATA drives. And SSD in PS5 will be very fast – according to some rumors it will be custom PCIe 4.0 NVMe drive.

https://www.tweaktown.com/news/69434/ps5s-ssd-exceptionally-powerful-beat-xbox-series-speeds/index.html

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traja

People have done tests on this and the results are not flattering for NVMe when it comes to gaming on PC. Just a couple examples from one such comparison, numbers in seconds and SATA always first and NVMe second:

Windows 10 boot: 11.9 vs 11.6
Metro Exodus loading screen: 28.5 vs 27.6
Watch Dogs 2: 16.9 vs. 16.1
Far Cry New Dawn: 18.2 vs. 16.6
…. and it keeps going on like that.

Now on console the difference could potentially be larger since they will be running very low total RAM numbers compared to PC. To compensate for that bottleneck SSD speed might really matter. It is not however something that you should consider when comparing to PC hardware since it demonstrably matters very little there in gaming applications. Of course some work related applications benefit massively from NVMe as they don’t have the same bottlenecks that games do.

For the MMO example I would need to see similar video evidence. It is possible but anecdotes have too much bias involved to be reliable. Someone who invested in an expensive SSD is likely to see benefits that are objectively not there. Also control for RAM because that is where assets are generally loaded as it is faster than any SSD. Maybe if you have 8 gigs or RAM you would benefit more as you speed up your virtual memory.

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Random MMO fan

People have done tests on this and the results are not flattering for NVMe when it comes to gaming on PC.

Most tests will not show big difference because people test games with very little assets which would benefit from faster drive speed. Try doing your own – go to an area in BDO where a lot of people standing around, log off then see how long it will take you to log in and for all people and objects to load, using both SATA and NVMe drive. There IS a VERY noticeable difference, I tested it. There is also a difference when you move using a very fast mount. Even in FFXIV you can notice it in large cities.

I would post the video to one of such tests done by someone else but YouTube links are being blocked here for some reason. You can find it by searching for “[검은사막]M.2 NVMe vs SATA3 SSD 속도테스트”, this video includes the benchmark data for each tested configuration using CrystalDiskMark.

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traja

It’s your claim so for you to provide the evidence for it. I don’t have the hardware to do that comparison anyway. That said, the video does show that there probably is a real difference in BDO. It is at least interesting but too much of a special case to call this when by far the majority of load time testing shows a very small difference. Also BDO is horrible with loading assets. That game has real issues with it.

It is possible though that in the future developers start optimizing for fast SSDs. Consoles getting a new capability can have that effect.

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Jack Pipsam

One of the thing’s I’m most curious to see in action their upgraded quick-resume feature. The current Xbox One, Switch (not sure about PS4) already has it standard for a game to be held in suspension at a point ready for you to return to it after pausing the system in stand-by or in Xbox opening up a video app. But the Series X is promising that you can hold multiple games in this suspended state ready just to hop back in.
If it works, that’ll be great. I’m thinking of games like The Outer Worlds with long-ass loading screens, the idea of skipping all that to get back to where I was, even having switched game in-between to Halo or something would be fantastic.

Also the option for developers to let you update to the best version of a game is also quite a boon for the system, Cyberpunk & Halo Infinite are already confirmed to use it, but I’ll be super curious of EA or the like feels compelled to use it for their traditionally cross-platform releases or simply go the old model of releasing it twice.
Not only great for those investing now or later that they don’t have to buy the game twice (ala me with Breath of the Wild on the Wii U), but also great for the player-base if with Halo Infinite for example, it’s just one version across all so you’re not splitting player-base between Xbox One, One X or Series X.

Backwards Compatibility is just nice to have, I seriously spent a great deal of my time just playing Xbox 360 games again, might say the state of things for my current interest in a lot of what publishers have to offer right now, but playing through a 4K enhanced Sonic Generations was just sweet!
Yes PC has been able to do that forever, but I dunno’ it’s just nice to have it all in the box.

My main question remaining is on the issue of apps, currently the Xbox One uses as sort of version of the UWP for Windows 10 using the Windows Store for their apps (hilariously allowing a Nintendo 64 emulator to slip onto the Xbox One once), if app developers don’t have to remake all their apps again so you can have Netflix, Stan, YouTube etc just work automatically, that would be really nice hopefully instead of going through the entire thing of waiting for all the video apps to trickle onto the platform over time, but still I’ve yet to see them confirm or deny this from what I can tell.

The Xbox Series X is going to be horribly expensive I assume, but eh, I’ll get one because I’m a terrible person :)

Random MMO fan
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Random MMO fan

PS4 also has suspend mode where you can quickly load game after powering on the console. It’s basically just like Sleep mode on laptop where your data that is used by OS and open programs is kept in the RAM which is powered even after you turn off the laptop or console as long as you do not unplug it from outlet. Both PS5 and Xbox Series X will have a very fast SSDs, not SATA but NVMe so this would not even be necessary.

Random MMO fan
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Random MMO fan

Never realized that you do hardware news now. Or is it just a slow day? ;-)

Anyway, it is nice to see Xbox finally catch up to PC hardware in terms of performance and features like ray tracing. The PS5 will basically be the same. Hopefully it may encourage more game developers to improve graphics quality. Even if some people do not appreciate improved graphics quality and can still be somehow immersed in a world which looks slightly better than Minecraft’s world – there is a large market for people who do and who would gladly pay a lot of money for beautiful cosmetic items.

P.S: I know a lot of “Pee Cee MaStErRaCe” users might look down at any kind of consoles but please realize the fact that consoles allow people to enjoy many games like FFXIV or BDO and others without spending a lot of money on hardware (go see how much used PS4 Pro will cost you today) and without worrying about awful quality control for Windows 10 patches or multiple issues each new video driver release brings. Consoles also allow for full keyboard and mouse controls for any developer that wants to add this to their games. Plus they decrease amount of cheaters and bot users (except human bots) since it is impossible to sideload any of such programs on current generation of consoles.

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Armsbend

I hope they continue – I don’t go searching for gaming news any longer – I’d rather get it in the one place I like.