The hype surrounding Microsoft’s Project Scorpio doesn’t seem to be slowing since the unveiling of its hardware specifications last week. As it turns out, the initial spec release was only a tip of the ice-berg, there are more interesting and worthwhile upgrades Microsoft is installing inside its 4K gaming machine.
In their follow up to Scorpio’s reveal, Digital Foundry has confirmed Microsoft will be shipping the console with HDMI 2.1. What that effectively means is that Microsoft’s console will support features that PS4 Pro cannot with its HDMI 2.0. Announced earlier this year, HDMI 2.1 is a substantial upgrade over HDMI 2.0, primarily because it brings a big boost to bandwidth that is much needed in the era of 4K. The boost in fact is so big that HDMI 2.1 can support up to 8K at 60Hz and 4K at 120Hz.
Another feature of the HDMI 2.1 spec is variable refresh rate technology. PC gamers are familiar with the technology through NVIDIA’s G-Sync and AMD’s FreeSync. In the past, displays have operated at a fixed refresh rate while the GPU kept pumping frames, which often resulted in screen tearing when the game engine produced frames slower than the display’s refresh rate cycle. G-Sync and FreeSync allows the display and the GPU to work in sync, providing frames only when they are ready to delivered, eliminating screen-tearing and providing a smoother gameplay experience as a result. The technology is now part of the HDMI 2.1 spec.
Microsoft is also equipping Scorpio with support for AMD’s FreeSync 2, which will allow the console to go beyond and play with framerates that are a little unconventional. It’s great news for people who own a FreeSync display.
HDMI 2.1 also gives Scorpio access to dynamic HDR. It’s a feature through with HDR can be adjusted on a scene-by-scene basis, giving more control in the hands of content creators. And with Scorpio’s 4K UHD drive, it is a perfect feature to have.