When the Xbox One released last year, Microsoft never specifically mentioned how much horsepower was being taken up by the Kinect. Similarly, when the Kinect was finally dropped, Phil Spencer only vaguely tweeted that the Xbox One’s performance would receive a boost, not detailing any hard numbers.
However, in response to an article published by Eurogamer, Xbox head Phil Spencer confirmed that the Xbox One performance boost to come was due to the Kinect no longer being mandatory. An Xbox representative stated, “The additional resources allow access to up to 10 percent additional GPU performance.”
The representative continued, “We’re committed to giving developers new tools and flexibility to make their Xbox One games even better by giving them the option to use the GPU reserve in whatever way is best for them and their games.”
This representative noted that Microsoft will be releasing a new SDK in June alongside the release of the Kinect-less Xbox One that will allow developers to tap into this additional GPU horsepower. The representative said, “With this SDK, we will include new options for how developers can use the system reserve as well as more flexibility in our natural user interface reserve. We’ll continue to work closely with developers to help them bring great games to Xbox One.”
This performance boost is definitely good news for Microsoft and the Xbox One. One of the Achilles heel’s of the system was the performance gap between the Xbox One and the PS4, which was very noticeable. A number of games running in 1080p on the PS4 are running at 720p or similar resolutions on the Xbox One. This is part of the reason why the PS4 has become as successful as it is so far.
With all of that said, gamers will still have to wait and see if this performance boost will close the gap by a significant margin. While a 10% performance boost will be noticeable, there’s no doubt the PS4 will still be ahead of the Xbox One for performance and graphical fidelity. The components are simply better, which is something Microsoft cannot change.
More importantly, both Microsoft and Sony need to actually get games running at 60 FPS on their system. Resolution matters to a degree, but the frame rate of a given title is infinitely more important as the frame rate actually effects the gameplay. Both the PS4 and Xbox One have been struggling to release games running at a rock solid frame rate, with many games dipping constantly.
All of that aside, this performance boost is very good news. It shows that Microsoft is listening to feedback and making appropriate changes to improve the system and finally, they’ve killed the Kinect for good, which will likely cause gamers to rejoice. Hopefully we’ll be able to see how this performance boost will assist titles at E3 next week.