Microsoft has explained why Project Scorpio doesn’t feature a custom Ryzen CPU, and the answer is surprisingly simple - AMD Ryzen is too expensive and gamers wouldn’t be prepared to buy a prohibitively pricey console.
A lot of the rumours surrounding Project Scorpio before the official specs unveiling centred around a potential 8-core Ryzen CPU. This would’ve absolutely flew, however Microsoft instead decided to opt for a custom 8-core Jaguar CPU clocked at 2.73 GHz. This is an incremental upgrade over the Xbox One, rather than a major evolution.
The end result is a console that, according to Microsoft, is more than capable of native 4K gaming. It demoed a custom-made version of Forza Motorsport 6: Apex running at Ultra settings and achieving a rock steady 60 frames per second, all at 4K resolution. The performance is undoubtedly there, however the big question mark hanging over the Xbox One, aside from the games, is the price.
In order to cut costs, Microsoft decided AMD Ryzen wasn’t needed in order to hit its target resolutions and frame rates. It could all be achieved using a modified version of the same Jaguar CPU. “On the CPU side of things, we could still meet our design goals with the custom changes we made. At the end of the day we are still a consumer product. We want to hit the price-points where consumers want to purchase this. It's about balancing the two," said Kevin Gammill, group program manager of the Xbox Core Platform.
It's looking increasingly likely Microsoft sees the $499 figure as the absolute maximum in can get with charging for a console in the current climate, regardless of the performance it achieve.
Whether this comes back to Microsoft at a later date remains to be seen, however the important part for Microsoft will be getting the console out there early with an affordable price tag. The CPU may eventually bottleneck future games, but that’s going to hardly matter if Xbox Scorpio is the lead console platform anyway, at least in terms of raw performance. Microsoft has also been keen to praise Project Scorpio’s hard-coded DirectX 12 implementation, allowing the CPU to offload tasks to the more capable GPU, freeing up system resources.
Was Microsoft right to drop Ryzen in order to make the Xbox Scorpio more affordable? Or can you see the Jaguar CPU eventually crippling performance of future games? Share your thoughts below!