Yesterday, after building it up for months, Project Scorpio, now the officially (and awkwardly) named Xbox One X, is real. And it’s expensive; while the Xbox One is usually about $300, the One X will be almost double at $500. So is it worth it? Let’s cut through the jargon and find the real answer.
If you’re thinking of buying this system, ask yourself this first: How big is your 4K television? And how much do you care about nitty-gritty graphics details? Because, despite the hype, this is a luxury version of the One aimed squarely at professionals. Microsoft has made it clear that the Scorpio will not be receiving any exclusive games; it’s simply an upgrade for those who want it.
Ah, but what about your fancy 4K TV? Surely the One X matters there. And, yes, technically, it does. One small problem, though: If your 4K TV is smaller than your average fifth-grader, there is, scientifically, no difference. This is because of three factors: Your eyes, the size of your living room, and how many pixels you can cram into a display. In terms of your eyes, how much “resolution” you can see is a complicated question, not least because everybody has different eyesight. But anything above 7 megapixels (or seven million pixels) is more or less “better than 20/20” in terms of raw resolution. 4K TVs have about eight million pixels, so for the vast majority of us, those pixels are wasted.
If that weren’t enough, you probably sit too close to the TV to notice. The rule of thumb is, the closer you are to your TV, or the smaller your TV, the less resolution actually matters. To notice any difference between 4K and 1080p on a fifty-inch TV, you need to sit about five feet away. Really the TVs these ‘pro’ consoles are designed for are the giant displays at trade shows. Unless your living room looks like something out of Star Trek, you’re sitting too close, and your vision is too puny, for the resolution to matter. Similarly, the faster frame rate the One X can crank out simply doesn’t matter to most players. If you haven’t noticed, or cared, about frame rates before, then why start now?
Finally, there’s the budget issue. Supposedly, the Xbox One S’s price drop to $250 is only for a “limited time.” But we’ve been here before; Microsoft is likely to have a lot of “limited time” offers before just making the de-facto price $250. So if you’re gaming on a budget, that’s another factor worth considering.
Make no mistake, the Xbox One X is impressive, and for people who care intensely about frame rates and 4K resolution, it’s excellent news. Expect to see it at fighting game tournaments, at trade shows, and tucked in a little cabinet near the giant TV of your buddy who obsesses over his home theater. But if that’s not you, then there’s no point in paying for more console than you’ll use.