Will it? Won't it? We now know for certain that the new Xbox One S does, in certain scenarios, run some games better than the existing model.
The 349 2TB version of the Xbox One S arrives in the UK today, and Digital Foundry reports that it brings with it some small improvements. As well as dropping from a 28nm processor to a 16nm version, the GPU clock has been increased from 853MHz to 914MHz. Compute performance is increased from 1.31TF to 1.4TF and the ESRAM bandwidth from 204GB/s to 219GB/s.
All of which results in improved performance from some titles. Project Cars, for instance, can at times see performance improvements of as much as 11 per cent, while Hitman reaches over eight per cent. In Io's game, it should be added, it also sees the Xbox One version pull ahead of the PS4.
There was also increased framerate stability from Tomb Raider, and less tearing and stutter from Arkham Knight. Other titles, such as Fallout 4, saw no gain, however.
It was at E3 when reports first emerged of performance improvements on the Xbox One S. However, these claims were quickly shot down by Microsoft's senior director of product marketing and planning Albert Penello, who claimed that the architectural changes in the machine would have literally no impact” on games performance.
The tune, however, has now changed.
In the hectic environment of E3 it's not always possible to get into the level of detail necessary to give a complete answer,” Penello has now told Digital Foundry. We stated that the SoC [system on chip] 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. This has caused people to ask more detailed questions which I'm glad we have time to get into. The SoC in Xbox One is the same design as the previous processor. Same GPU, same number of CUs, same memory, same CPU.
We did make some refinements for 4K support and to fit in the new chassis. We also used this opportunity to increase the GPU frequency from 853 MHz to 914 MHz. 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 utilise dynamic resolution and/or unlocked framerates) may see a very minor performance improvement. Our testing internally has shown this to be pretty minor, and is only measurable on certain games, so we didn't want to make it a ‘selling point' for the new console.”