Sat. Jan 28th, 2023
What boosts does the Xbox One S hide?  Quite a bit, according to Digital Foundry.

What boosts does the Xbox One S hide? Quite a bit, according to Digital Foundry.

Sam Machkovech

The Xbox One S is out and our review takes a detailed look at some of the system’s major changes, including a total visual overhaul and a test of the 4K content. Turns out we missed one thing: the system launched with an unadvertised boost to the visuals of some older games!

The frame rate analysis wizards at Eurogamer’s Digital Foundry confirmed the good news after testing older Xbox One games. Many titles won’t get a boost at all – which is what we found in cursory testing of 15 games, both for the normal system and the backward compatibility library. However, if an older game is running on Xbox One S with unlocked frame rates (so not tied to v-sync) or dynamic resolution (meaning it can be scaled down from 1080p on the fly to improve performance), players can get the boost by just no less than nine frames per second.

That maximum boost was measured Project CARS, a graphics-intensive driving simulator whose rain-soaked racetrack variants can bring down framerates on the normal Xbox One. Other games that enjoyed noticeable boosts included a remaster of Capcom’s Resident Evil 5 and the latest game in the assassin series.

These boosts are entirely due to the new GPU’s higher clock speed (from 853MHz to 914MHz) and higher ESRAM bandwidth ratings (from 204GB/sec to 219GB/sec). Microsoft PR confirmed the boost for older games in a statement, while also downplaying expectations of major performance differences: “Our internal testing has shown this to be quite small and only measurable on certain games, so we didn’t want to make it a big deal ‘selling point’ for the new console,” Microsoft’s Albert Penello told Digital Foundry. (That might explain why Microsoft never notified the press or fans of this performance update, either during our hardware review period or even at this year’s E3 conference.)

Indeed, it is not a magic wand solution for other games with frame rate or optimization issues. Digital Foundry, in particular, found that Bethesda’s Fallout 4 plays almost identically compared to both the older Xbox One and the newer Xbox One S. Still, these GPU boosts, added primarily to support HDR imaging on future titles, are certainly welcome in this retrospective way. Our own testing found zero crashes or bugs with the new GPU on older games, so this change seems to bring only good news.

Frame image by Sam Machkovech

By akfire1

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