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Xbox boss strongly hints Project Scorpio won't be an upgradable console


project scorpio

The Nintendo Switch might be getting all the attention this end of the year, but come year-end, Microsoft will undoubtedly steal the spotlight with its long-awaited Project Scorpio console.

Coming part way through the life-cycle of the existing Xbox One, the upgraded console is said to pack some significantly souped-up hardware, with talk of Microsoft introducing a device that users could upgrade themselves, much like a PC.

Now, Xbox boss Phil Spencer has poured cold water on such rumours in a response to a question concerning the whole upgradeable thing on Twitter.

Related: Best Xbox One games

Specifically, Spencer says he believes an upgradeable console is "a stretch," suggesting Microsoft isn't planning any such feature for its upcoming console.

Microsoft has already confirmed E3 2017 will bring a full reveal for Project Scorpio, with the console set to become available in the holiday season of 2017.

It's said to come with an 8-core CPU and a graphics card with 6TFLOPs (trillion floating point operations per second) of power, putting the console on a par with today's top-end graphics chips – though, by the time it launches Scorpio will be the equivalent of a mid-range PC.

There's also the promise of full native 4K on the new device, with lead planner for Xbox, Albert Penello, previously saying: "we were very clear we wanted developers to take their Xbox One engines and render them in native, true 4K."

It's all very exciting, then, but the likely lack of upgradeable components will undoubtedly come as a disappointment to some.

That said, we're still unsure exactly what Microsoft is planning, so the company could surprise us come E3 2017. Stay tuned for the latest.

Let us know what you think of Spencer's tweet in the comments.


April 3, 2017, 1:47 pm

I think I have to agree with MS here. I think the advantage of a console is that it's cheaper, just works (usually) and the hardware has all been optimised and chosen for you. I think the people saying this is a good idea are PC nerds like myself who see the advantages of upgradeable hardware and are quite adept at working around the problems associated with the upgrade process to the point at which things which would be an issue for a layperson are simply just part of the process (e.g. removing old drivers and installing new ones, dealing with a possible screen resolution screw up which ballses up your desktop icon layout, resetting up the resolution, colour bit depth, etc). The other issue is that consoles just work because the hardware is so tightly controlled, just like Apple and the iPhone (and to a lesser extent the Mac). Having different potential configurations would mean potentially going back to the bad old days of a hardware abstraction layer or whatever which is going to end up slowing things down and creating bugs. You would also have games creators having to create different quality texture packs and blah blah blah for the different possible specs and they'd have to automatically determine what settings are best as people would expect to just drop in a new component and the console to do the rest. It's not impossible but it does leave room for suboptimal set up - do you prioritise frame rate or texture quality? Some people will be inherently disappointed with the fact that frame rate will usually be preferred and so visually things don't look much better for their £300 GPU upgrade. Console gamers are likely to see FPS lag as a problem and so the onus will be to avoid it. Plus the time spent faffing around making compatibility happen and different quality graphics for different specs, etc (likely for a minority of people who want to pay out for such things) could be spent optimising a single "experience" (I hate that word with a passion in this context but I can't find a better one rocking around my head).

Consoles are supposed to be plug and play and I really don't think a halfway house between a PC and a console is going to work well at all. Brings the disadvantages of a (semi) open ecosystem to a platform which works best due to it being a closed system. If you want that kind of flexibility, just get a PC - it's not hard at all to upgrade one with a bit of research. Plus the upgrades won't be cheap at all. These things usually have pretty decent GPUs in and without the guaranteed high volume of a console specific GPU bringing down the price, you're going to end up with them being priced on a similar level to PC GPUs. I'd look at that and go "why not just sod the console, combine my PC, console and expansion budgets and just get a decent gaming PC". If you want it in the living room you can attach it to your telly and save on the monitor also.


April 3, 2017, 4:20 pm

Was anyone seriously expecting user-upgradeable hardware?

The entirely more reasonable reality is that Xbox One becomes not a single device but a series of ever more powerful non-upgradeable consoles using a common architecture, with new models being released every few years. It will take combine the timeless software library of the PC with the locked-down hardware of a console and the upgrade cycle of smartphones.

I'll be very surprised if the strategy turns out to be anything other than that.


April 3, 2017, 10:00 pm

i wasnt expecting it for a single moment. MS seem to have difficulty delivering these days; imagine what an upgradable console would take to get onto shelves

Solar Warden Gaming

April 3, 2017, 11:55 pm

since when is a console upgradeable? Upgradeable to me is buying a faster CPU and taking out the old cpu from the unit and putting the fast cpu in. Or upgrading the memory. But I guess in the console world, their idea of "upgradeable" is "Hey here is a PS4 Pro that you can "upgrade" to by paying $399.99. Ooh it has a faster processor. More FPS.. nah folks, upgradeable my butt. I don't care how fast console's get. You will never be level with PC Gaming rigs. Oh and I am a PC/Console Gamer.

Solar Warden Gaming

April 4, 2017, 12:02 am

Besides, didn't Microsoft say games released on Xbox will be released on PC? I'm already gaming with 4K on PC and doing VR. so I am not sure if I am even going to get a Xbox Scorpio

Noel Grundy

April 4, 2017, 2:41 pm

Why on earth would you want an upgradeable console. This 'news' item is nothing but click bate.

Roland Jutai

April 9, 2017, 12:40 am

He didn't say the console couldn't be upgraded. He said that users opening up the console to change compute units out is a stretch.

However, consoles in the past have been upgraded with external components that helped the console reach new levels of performance. It is entirely feasible to design a console that can be upgraded using an external box that plugs into the console so that users don't have to open the console up. I think it would be a smart move to do that.

Let's imagine Sony releases Ps5 in 2-3 years' time with 10-12 TFLOPs of processing power. Wouldn't it be great if existing Scorpio owners could simply buy a box that assists their current console to reach the same performance?

In terms of engineering, is that hard to achieve to be that forward-thinking? Sure! Can it be done? Absolutely! Just like how we can put more than one graphics card and CPU in a system. There are interconnects available today that could be used to connect two GPUs and possibly CPUs together without opening up the box. Why not just create an interface that is exposed on the back of the console for that very purpose in the future?

So watch this space. Who knows at this point...


June 10, 2017, 4:51 pm

U have heard how much they'll be wanting for that scorpio right? In the neighborhood of $800. Let that sit for a moment. You can build a pc for $800 that would "destroy" the scorpio in terms of raw Horsepower, oh and in a year or two for less than $200 you could upgrade the gpu or cpu and now ur taking the scorpio out back for some deliverance squeel like a piggy business.

I understand the whole "closed system" concept that has always enabled consoles to stay relatively competitive with pc's, but with these gpu companies coming out with new API's the whole closed architecture advantage consoles have may become completely irrelevant. What then?

Microsoft is bringing out a full upgraded console halfway through the last ones life cycle, if that.....which is ridiculous. They're saying fuck you to peopke that put down 3-400 dollars less than two years ago. Yeah i know they're saying nothing is exclusive you can still play everything on the old box's it'll just look better on the scorpio blah blah blah. We know where this is going.

Frankly, building a box that could take ONLY microsoft manufactured or liscensed upgrades is childs play. They could build plug and play boards where u just pull the cpu or gpu and slide the new ones in, dont need to open the box at all. Thos isnt done with pc's simply because thetes so many different vendors. But this would still be a "closed system" from microsoft because only one vendor woyld be providing the upgrade "specifically" for the scorpii.

$800 for a console ms could very well just release another one over it in a few years? FUCK MS RIGHT IN THE MOUTH!!!


June 10, 2017, 5:41 pm

An upgradeable console that a customer could upgrade at anytime like a pc, yes that would not be feasible. But a console that got licensed, proprietary updated cpu/gpu upgrades periodically would be easy.


June 10, 2017, 5:47 pm

No upgradeability means no business from me. $800 for a console microsoft could easily depth charge in a few years? Ummmm no. A standardized upgrsde program dictated by microsoft would be so much win its not even funny. They are idiots asking the kind of money rumored for the scorpio and not implementing upgrades.

Go look at $800 pc builds if u dont agree. By the time scorpio is released an $800 build likely at the minimum doubles the scorpios power. And with win 10 being microsofts api which allows cross platform gaming, whst is the advantage of buying a box ur locked into for years?

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