Xbox Series X will boost performance of previous gen Xbox games

Xbox Series X will boost the performance of four generations' worth of games, and may offer ray tracing and variable rate shading enhancement patches.

9 minutes & 51 seconds read time

Xbox boss Phil Spencer confirms that older-generation Xbox games will harness the power of the Xbox Series X's new Zen 2 CPU and Navi GPU hardware in creative ways, leading to boosted performance on the new console.

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Microsoft's Phil Spencer says the Xbox SX will play four generations' worth of Xbox games: OG Xbox games, Xbox 360 titles, current-gen Xbox One games, and new projects designed specifically for the higher-end hardware.

The goal, Spencer says, is to make any game that's playable on Xbox One play better on Xbox Series X than they would on any other console, hinting that the Xbox SX could offer an even greater level of performance enhancement patches and granular hardware fine-tuning than the Xbox One X. We could see a new era of enhancement patches that essentially remaster games by baking in new features like ray tracing and variable rate shading to massively transform the experience.

"One of the things we look at with the Xbox Series X is we want this to be the best place to play. And the reason we call it Xbox is because it's going to be the best place to play your Xbox games. You're going to have some amazing games that take the full power of the Series X, but you're going to also have some games that were written generations before, and we want those to run incredibly well," Spencer said in a recent interview with Major Nelson (starts around 46:54).

"When we started the backward compatible journey, it was 'could we make games run better that were written for a different version of this console. And that continues today. "

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Click to Enlarge: Xbox Series X specs compared to all current-gen systems

The exact details on how the Xbox Series X will boost performance of older games remain unknown, but we should expect similar things like enhancement patches on the Xbox One X, where developers added in extra content, textures, and code features to harness the power of the console.

It's likely Xbox One X enhanced games will carry forward to the Xbox Series X too. If a game is enhanced on Xbox One X with native 4K textures and other optimizations those enhancements should cross over to the Xbox SX.

But to get the real benefits of the new Xbox Series X features like ray tracing, which adds incredible depth to a game's atmosphere and lighting effects, and Variable Rate Shading, which can tremendously boost frame rates, developers will need to roll out special fine-tuned updates.

Some games will also likely natively play better on the Xbox Series X without any downloads or updates.

The Xbox One X did this with a native Boost Mode function, which allowed V-Sync optimization, boosted/more consistent FPS, improved texture filtering, and tightening dynamic resolution. The result was a better experience in older games without any special attention from developers.

The Xbox Series X could also improve loading times in older thanks to the Xbox Series X's custom SSD and new 8-core 16-thread Zen 2 CPU.

Xbox Series X is due out by Holiday 2020. No pricing has been announced.

Check below for confirmed specs and details, and a huge content listing of everything we've heard about Xbox Series X so far:

Xbox Series X confirmed details (Formerly Project Scarlett):

  • 8-core, 16-thread Zen 2 CPU
  • Navi GPU on RDNA architecture
  • Highly customized 7nm SoC from AMD
  • GDDR6 memory
  • 2x Xbox One X's 6TFLOPs of GPU perf
  • 4x CPU power of Xbox One generation
  • Can deliver up to 40x more performance than Xbox One in specific use cases
  • Adaptive sync supported
  • Super-fast SSD that can be used as VRAM
  • Supports 8K resolution (likely media playback)
  • 120FPS gaming
  • Variable refresh rate (adaptive sync/FreeSync)
  • Variable Rate Shading
  • Raytracing confirmed with dedicated raytracing cores
  • Backward compatible with thousands of Xbox, Xbox 360, and Xbox One games
  • New controller with a dedicated share button
  • Compatible with Xbox One accessories

Lockhart (Unconfirmed lower-end Xbox Series hardware)

  • 1440p 60FPS
  • No disc drive
  • Super-fast SSD that can be used as VRAM
  • 7nm AMD SoC w/ scaled-down 8-core, 16 thread Zen 2 CPU at 3.5GHZ and Navi GPU
  • Lower GDDR6 memory pool (Possibly 12GB)
  • ~6-8 TFLOPs of power?
  • Aims to rival PS4 Pro/Replace Xbox One S
  • Full backward compatibility with all Xbox One games
  • Cheaper MSRP

Anaconda/Xbox Series X/Project Scarlett

  • 4K 60FPS
  • Disc drive with 4K UHD playback
  • Super-fast SSD that can be used as VRAM
  • 7nm AMD SoC with 8-core, 16 thread Zen 2 CPU at 3.5GHz and Navi GPU
  • 16GB GDDR6 RAM
  • 12 TFLOPs of power
  • 2x GPU power as Xbox One X/aims to replace Xbox One X
  • Full backward compatibility with all Xbox One games
  • More expensive MSRP

Xbox Series X coverage:

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Xbox One X 1TB Console - Gears 5 Bundle (CYV-00321)

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Derek joined the TweakTown team in 2015 and has since reviewed and played 1000s of hours of new games. Derek is absorbed with the intersection of technology and gaming, and is always looking forward to new advancements. With over six years in games journalism under his belt, Derek aims to further engage the gaming sector while taking a peek under the tech that powers it. He hopes to one day explore the stars in No Man's Sky with the magic of VR.

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